The Welsh government is setting up a task group to look at ways of improving recruitment and retention of social workers and boost the status of the profession.
The move comes after a survey of Welsh practitioners revealed concerns about excessive bureaucracy, high staff turnover and risks to those at the frontline. It also follows the creation of the Social Work Task Force in England last December in the wake of the baby Peter case.
Negative press coverage
Welsh practitioners told the British Association of Social workers they faced numerous challenges including poor implementation of the employer’s code of practice and negative press coverage. They also felt their views were not being “fully heard” and said those at the frontline felt “vulnerable” due to a lack of information about complaints procedures.
BASW’s survey was published alongside a seperate poll of Welsh Assembly members that showed many were keen to reform the current “tick-box culture” in social work. Almost all of the 14 respondents also identified the need for a national pay structure for “underpaid and undervalued” practitioners.
Responding to the findings, Welsh deputy minister for social services Gwenda Thomas said the task group would lead to social work reforms. She also urged assembly members to “champion social workers” in their own communities.
Director of social services Wales Graham Williams is to lead the group and report directly to Thomas.
BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson welcomed the announcement, adding: “This Assembly could put itself ahead of the rest of the UK in supporting the social work profession and ensuring that vulnerable people recieve the highest possible standard of service.”