General Social Care Council
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Social worker whistle blowing going unheard, GSCC poll finds


Responses to a General Social Care Council (GSCC) poll indicate that employers are failing to take action when social workers report concerns or barriers to their work.

Almost 50 per cent of respondents to the poll in Social Work Connections, the GSCC’s newsletter for social workers and students, said that when they had reported operational difficulties or concerns about a colleague, their employer had not taken action. Similar numbers said they did not feel confident that their employer would take action if they spoke up.

However, when asked if they would feel able to report concerns about colleagues to their employer, 85 per cent said they would. Social workers are bound by the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers, which says they must ‘use established processes and procedures to challenge and report dangerous, abusive, discriminatory or exploitative behaviour and practice (3.2)’. The most common fears cited by those who said they would not speak up were victimisation and a negative impact on their career.

The GSCC’s Chair Rosie Varley said: “I am encouraged that the majority of social workers will report barriers to their work or concerning behaviour to their employers.. That said, their fears that no action will be taken are extremely worrying.

Workers and employers share a duty to address anything that jeopardises high standards of care and the protection of service users – they need the support of employers to follow up their concerns.”

The Code of Practice for Employers of Social Care Workers says they must ‘deal with reports of dangerous, discriminatory, abusive or exploitative behaviour and practice promptly, effectively and openly. (4.2)’ Earlier this year, the government accepted Lord Laming’s recommendation that the employer’s code become mandatory. The GSCC is in talks about this with Ofsted, CQC and the government and will meet local authority employers in October.

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