One of Scotland’s most senior social work officials has played down fears that new reforms could lead to more practitioners being prosecuted for mistakes.
Val Cox, head of social work policy at the Scottish executive, said moves to give social workers more independence and decision making powers weren’t about “hanging them out to dry”.
The measure was a key recommendation of the executive’s 21st Century Review of Social Work and subsequent Changing Lives implementation plan. The review found social workers were too bogged down with paperwork to do as much frontline practice as they wanted, and felt unable to make decisions without first consulting managers.
Cox said measures to empower professionals were aimed at making them “accountable and autonomous”.
She added: “When I say that to practitioners they recoil in horror – they think they are going to be hung out to dry and not be supported in the decisions they make. That’s not what we’re talking about. We want professionals that have the skills, knowledge and understanding, and that are supported by line managers, to take complex decisions and no longer have to punt further up the line to get the go-ahead.”
Cox added that displaying leadership in practice for front line workers as well as managers was a key feature of the reforms.
“It’s not something that just rests with the great and good. It is very clear all of us have a capacity to exercise leadership,” she said.