Thursday 6 May 2004
Failures are accepted but social work pressure
must be recognised
UNISON, the union representing Scotland's social care
staff, today (Thursday) commented on the Social Work Inspectors report on the
Scottish Borders Social Work Department.
Mandy McDowall, UNISON's Regional
Officer for the Borders, said: "The first response has to be that UNISON accepts
that Social Work failed thisvulnerable adult and others, and that is something
that we all deeply regret, but it is not the time to single out scapegoats. They
were failed by many agencies and in Social Work the faults went right through
the system - the Black report recognised this system failure and the consequent
need to avoid blaming individuals.
"This has been acknowledged since
the case and there has already been considerable action taken in Social Work -
including implementing many of the recommendations of this report - such as reviewing
all cases involving vulnerable adults and improving case recording and case review
mechanisms. UNISON will be looking at the full report in detail and commits itself
to work with the council the health board and the police to deliver any further
The union is clear that attacks on social workers
either individually or collectively will not help improve the service.
Workers do the job because they care about their clients." Said Linda Jackson,
UNISON's Scottish Borders Branch Communications Officer.
"It is a job that
involves pressure, and it has involved working short-staffed - something that
can only increase the chance of this type of failure. But increasing the pressure
by political or other attacks only serves to exacerbate the staffing crisis -
making it less likely that people will choose to become social workers - and increasing
that chance of failure.
"We all need to accept that social workers work
with risk all the time - no amount of resources or procedural changes can absolutely
guarantee that people will not be abused, although we always want to deliver the
best service we can. It is time that politicians and some elements of the media
recognised that, and delivered the back-up that diminishes that risk"
to look more seriously at the role of social work, and to change the law on the
protection of vulnerable adults will be cautiously welcomed by the social work
Linda Jackson said "Whilst we will need to look at the proposed
legislation, it is certainly the case that anything that allows social workers
to take emergency action in cases involving vulnerable adults would be welcome.
Indeed we asked for this at the time of the previous legislation. We have also
been asking for sometime for a review into social work - so this too could be
For Further Information Please Contact: Mandy
McDowall, (Regional Officer - Borders) 0845 355 0845(w) 07973 931318(m) Linda
Jackson, (Borders Br Communications Officer) 07900 468871(m) Edith Moody (Borders
Br Chairperson) 01896 757839 (h) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)