Health and Social Care Bill

Memorandum submitted by BASW - The College of Social Work (HS 10)


The Health and Social Care Bill is a vital opportunity to improve services and improve people’s lives. However without significant amendment it is an opportunity which will be missed.

In placing key responsibility for providing, developing and commissioning services with GP's it is vital that we recognise the social roots of so many 'health problems'. The experience of multi-disciplinary teams based for many years in GP Practices is that a social worker can often actually address problems more effectively than a doctor.

Social Work in England is in crisis but it is often the case that high profile cases in Children's Services mean that the situation in services for Adults is overlooked.

At a time when unprecedented attention is being given to the need for people with disabilities, older people, people with mental health problems to be able to manage their own person centered support and to benefit from more localised, more integrated care it is a terrible irony that some 50% of Directors of Adult Services state that they do not see a role for social work.

BASW - The College of Social Work is lead by and accountable to some 13,500 social workers in the UK. We are international representatives of a profession whose significance is recognised across the world. BASW firmly believe that the skills and principles of Social Work are vital to safeguarding, supporting and empowering the most vulnerable people in our society and can be invaluable to all of us when we need to make important decisions sometimes at the most vulnerable times of our lives.

We are deeply concerned that the current move to reduce the numbers of social workers will undermine the well being of some of the neediest people in every constituency in the land. Moreover we are very worried that the current tactic to replace social work roles with people with different job titles will reduce the requirement for registration and thereby reduce the protection of the public.

· BASW - The College of Social Work believes that the following issues must be addressed in the Health and Social Care Bill:

1. The Definition of Social Work

It cannot be good enough to say that social work is what social workers do which is the current stance of clause 193(5) of the Bill. Social Work has an international definition approved by the United Nations.

BASW therefore recommend an amendment to S193 (5)

After 'England' insert 'and meets the international definition of Social Work set out below'.

'The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well being, utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work.'

2. The Role and Function of Social Work

Having defined social work it is surely important for the Bill to set out the role and function of social work in England.

BASW recommend a further amendment to S 193 (5)

After subsection 27A insert -

(27AA) Social Work in England is that which through the exercise of its statutory functions and/or the employment of its range of skills works to:

(a) Promote social justice by helping people to achieve change in their lives.

(b) Meet the needs of people and enable their social inclusion and the cohesion of society.

(c) Protect those who may be at risk of abuse or harm from others.

(d) Reduce the risk of people abusing or harming others

(e) Enhance self respect and respect for others within families groups and communities.

(f) Reduce conflict and distress in families, groups and communities.

(27AB) Social Work operates within a wide range of legislative frameworks and with Government guidance and regulations

(27AC) Social Work puts individuals, families, groups and communities at the forefront of its concern and works with all others to promote their health, socio-economic well being and empowerment.

(27AD) Social Work provides the necessary challenge to governments and institutions through advocacy which is rooted in internationally recognized ethical principles and undertaken alongside individuals, families, groups and communities

3. Protection of social work function as well as social work title

Protection of the title of social worker as established by the Care Standards Act 2000 was an important measure to ensure that those who have job titles which include 'social worker' are registered and regulated. However there are currently a myriad of job titles under development and already in place which re-label work with the most needy people at the most vulnerable time of their lives. The argument of far too many employers is that if you aren't described as a 'social worker' you don't need to register thus denying the public the protection which Parliament has decided that they require.

To fail to protect social work functions as well as title is to drive a coach and horses through the Bill's amendment of current procedures for the registration and regulation of people who have such close contact with the public.

· Proposed New Clause

· New Clause 1.

Insert after clause 61 (1) Care Standards Act 2000

(a) The title of Social Worker is a protected title.

(b) A person may use the title of Social Worker only if they have the qualification of social worker and are registered as a social worker.

(c) If a person who is not registered as a social worker in any relevant register with intent to deceive another:

(i) takes or uses the title of Social Worker

(ii) takes or uses any title or description implying that he is so registered

He is guilty of an offence.

61 (2)

(a) Any organisation which employs individuals to undertake the functions and roles of a social worker must ensure that any individuals occupying such posts are appropriately qualified and registered as a social worker.

(b) All qualified and registered social workers should operate at all times within the International Ethical Principles for Social Work.

BASW -The College of Social Work would propose a further amendment to recognise that the values, principles and skills of Social Work are actually vital rather than superfluous to those undertaking the fundamentally important role of an Approved Mental Health Professional where the liberty of a human being and the safety of the public are at stake.

BASW therefore recommend an amendment to S 193(8)

Remove the word 'not' in line 2

(2ZE) The exercise of functions of an approved mental health professional by a member of a profession to which subsection (2) applies is to be regarded as social work of the kind engaged in by the Social Work profession in England.

4. Social Work and Health Professions Council.

The proposal in S198 of the Bill to acknowledge the new role of the Health Professions Council in registering and regulating social workers by changing its title to the Health and Care Professions Council is absurd because it will have no 'care professions' under its control and disgraceful because it doesn't even mention the profession whose numbers will far outweigh all of the other professions it regulates. To call the body anything other than the Social Work and Health Professions Council will be regarded as an insult to social workers.

BASW - The College of Social Work therefore recommend the following amendments to S198


1(b) is to change its name to the Social Work and Health Professions Council

198(3) replace 'Health and Care Professions Council ‘with 'Social Work and Health Professions Council'.

198(4) replace 'Health and Care Professions Council ‘with 'Social Work and Health Professions Council.'

5. Establishment of the Office of Chief Social Worker.

In order to maintain the presence and visibility of Social Work at the heart of Government it is now vital to establish the role of a Chief Social Worker.

· New Clause 2

There will be a Chief Social Worker

(a) To report to and advise Ministers

(b) To make an annual report to Parliament on the state of Social Work in England

(c) To work in close co-operation with the College of Social Work, the Social Work and Health Professions Council, the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence , Inspectors and Employers,

6. Statutory duties in respect of a College of Social Work

The Social Work Taskforce recommended the establishment of a College of Social Work to raise the standing and the status of the profession. BASW originally promoted the idea of a College of Social Work with the Taskforce and a referendum of our members in April 2010 confirmed that Social Workers require a powerful body to advance our profession.

BASW - The College of Social Work is an independent body financed by and accountable to members of the social work profession which operates within the International Ethical Principles for Social Work and which benefits from our work as a professional association over 41 years.

We are very clear that if there is no statutory duty on Government, Local Government, regulators and others to consult with the College then it has no power.

At the same time we recognise that it is vital for the College of Social Work to demonstrate its own credibility through obtaining and retaining 51% of all social workers in membership.

· New Clause 3

(a) There will be statutory guidance and regulation to ensure that Government, and Local Government, the Chief Social Worker, Social Work and Health Professions Council, inspectors and employers consult with and respond to the advice offered by the College of Social Work.

(b) The statutory entitlements of the College of Social Work will be dependent on its ability to demonstrate every four years that it has 51% of registered social workers in membership. If it fails to do so its statutory role will be suspended for 12 months and thereafter indefinitely until this can be rectified.

7. Social Work, Health Services and Social Care

The Bill which passed through Second Reading talks about Social Work and Social Care without being able to distinguish between them. The amendments prepared by BASW - The College of Social Work draw the distinction between a profession which has international recognition and definition and a vitally important activity which has not.

BASW believe that Social Work and Social Care are inextricably linked and that it is vital that the two are increasingly integrated with a very wide range of Health professions in order to serve people well. However, in order to deliver integrated services well it is important to respect the identity and the coherence of the various parts.

People will be served well by giving Social Work much greater recognition in this Bill. As we can't now change the Bill title to reflect the significance of our profession BASW - The College of Social Work would make a final recommendation to add 'Social Work' wherever in Part 8 it is proposed that the National Institute for. Health and Care Excellence attends to 'health services' and 'social care.'

February 2011