Approved social workers fear for jobs

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Government attempts to reassure approved social workers that
they will still be needed once measures in the Mental Health Bill
come into force are failing, writes Sally
Gillen
.

Fears among ASWs that they will be defunct once the role of the
mental health practitioner is established persist and they are
leaving in droves to enter other careers.

A delegate at the mental health plenary session said that ASWs
were drifting away because of the uncertainty over their future,
indicating a failure by the government to persuade them to take on
the mental health practitioner role.

Head of mental health legislation at the Department of Health
Adrian Sieff said: “Social care remains at the heart of that
role and will remain the responsibility of local authorities to
provide mental health practitioners.”

He added: “The government’s view is that social work
is absolutely core to this. It is key to moving forward with mental
health practitioners. But we do want to open up the role to others
too.”

Concerns over the dilution of the social worker input in mental
health services surfaced when the controversial Mental Health Bill
was published in 2002. 

The long-awaited revised bill may now be delayed until after the
general election. Earlier, chief executive of mental health charity
Rethink, Cliff Prior said the bill should be renamed the
“mental failure bill”. 

He reiterated fears that mental health was in danger of falling
off the government agenda. 

“There is a big danger the government thinks because of
the National Service Framework we have done that. But it has not
been done and we must raise its profile.”

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