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SOCIAL WORKERS TO FOLLOW CODE

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A national register of qualified social workers is to be created to regulate standards across the profession. ...
A national register of qualified social workers is to be created to regulate standards across the profession.

The register is part of proposals by the General Social Care Council, which has launched the first-ever draft code of conduct for social workers.

All social care staff and their employers will be required to abide by the code of conduct in order to practice in the UK.

The care council will set up a disciplinary body, similar to the General Medical Council's professional conduct committee, which will have the power to strike off social care staff from the register.

The draft codes set out nationally agreed standards for 1.5 million social care staff in various sectors. They represent a milestone in the history of the profession, which until now has had no nationally agreed standards.

It is hoped the mandatory guidelines will give professional kudos to social workers who have historically suffered with a bad image and poor understanding of their work.

The code for staff contains six main statements and the code for employers has 16. The registers will be launched next year and will begin by registering qualified social workers, care home managers and residential childcare staff.

For the next three months, the council is inviting social care staff, employers and the public to offer views on the draft standards. These include statements placing duties on staff to strive for, and maintain, the trust and confidence of service users and to take responsibility for their own practice.

Lynne Berry, chief executive of the GSCC, said: 'It comes as a surprise outside the social care world that there aren't nationally standards. The move is about accountability. For the first time the public will know what's expected.'

Ms Berry said national standards were vital as two thirds of social care staff work outside councils and one could not count on public sector values being adopted.

She stressed the standards would complement rather than replace existing codes. 'We're not taking away from employers their responsibility to ensure their staff adhere to guidelines. We envisage only cases of malpractice and serious misconduct will come to us,' she said.

Depending on location, staff and employers will register with the GSCC in England, the Care Council for Wales, the Scottish Social Services Council, or the Northern Ireland Social Care Council.

Six main statements for social workers

--Safeguard and promote the interests of service users and carers

--Strive to maintain the trust and confidence of service users and carers

--Respect the independence of service users and protect them as far as possible from danger or harm

--Balance the rights of service users and carers with the interests of society

--Take responsibility for their practice and learning

--Justify public trust and confidence in social services.

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