April 5, 2011


Filed under: Secret family courts — Granarchist @ 10:06 pm

A duty to whistleblow

20 December 2010

If you fear that a colleague is working in a way that puts the safety of service users at risk should you report them? It’s a dilemma that many social workers will face at one time or another and your response will say a lot about the way you see your job and your profession.

Registered social workers are bound by the GSCC’s code of practice. The code is all about the social worker’s duty to protect service users from harm. Part 3.5 says that you must

‘inform your employer or an appropriate authority where the practice of colleagues may be unsafe or adversely affecting standards of care’.

This is easy to say but immensely difficult to do as Owen Davies, Head of Policy and Research at the GSCC, recognises: “As a former social worker, I know that the prospect of reporting a fellow professional is fraught with difficulties, but equally the consequences of not doing so can be serious.” We all feel loyalty to colleagues who may be under great pressure and we are all reluctant to ‘shop’ someone. But where we are convinced that there is a real danger of harm to a client, the first duty is to the service user. Every employer or commissioner should have procedures in place to allow for a social worker to report such concerns.

But that is not the only form of whistle blowing that the code of practice covers. Part 3.4 says that you must

‘bring to the attention of your employer or an appropriate authority resource or operational difficulties that might get in the way of the delivery of safe care’.

The GSCC sometimes gets calls from registrants who say that they are being asked by their employer to do something which they think will bring them into conflict with their obligations under the code of practice. A regulatory body cannot interfere in the relationship between the registrant and their employer – and anyone in such a situation is best advised to seek the support of their union or professional body – but the code says that there is a duty ‘to bring to the attention of the employer’ and you need to be able to show that you have done this where you believe that safe care might be compromised.



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