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Date 1 February 2007

Midlothian social work staff problems raised over a year ago

UNISON, the union that represents Social Work staff in Midlothian today said that recruitment and retention had been problems in the department for some time, which meant increased pressure on staff.

Lesley Greig, Branch Secretary of UNISON's Midlothian Branch said "Social Workers deal with the most vulnerable in our society. They know that risks of a tragedy are always going to be present, but in this case UNISON is well aware that the risks were increased by problems of recruitment and retention, which have meant sections working under staffed and pressure increasing. Indeed social work team leaders in Midlothian raised a grievance in April 2005 alerting management to the seriousness of the situation, and in July 2006 basic grade social workers also wrote to the management raising their concerns regarding staffing, organisational issues, IT support and administration systems.

At that time experienced social workers were leaving the service in Midlothian. Team leaders made it clear that the service was seriously understaffed and many other issues were raised. The grievance was not pursued as staff were promised solutions would be forthcoming. However, despite attempts to increase recruitment recently, currently the service is still being run with many inexperienced social workers and agency staff and experienced staff are leaving.

Lesley Greig said "We have been working with the council to try and put reforms in place to counter these problems for some time, but it is clear that we still have a way to go. We want to continue this work and ensure that Midlothian can have a social work department that provides the level of resources needed to give the proper support to vulnerable people across the area.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Lesley Greig (Branch Secretary) 0131 654 1129 (o) 07766 513 216(m) Mandy McDowall (Regional Officer- Social Work) - 07903 846427 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications officer) 07715 583 729(m)

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