Councils have rejected a proposal from unions for a national register of violent incidents involving social care staff, arguing local reporting systems are the most effective solution. Unison, Aspect and the British Association of Social Workers are calling for more funding and national monitoring to tackle the “chronic problem” of violence and threats against practitioners.
Unlike the healthcare sector, there are no national or regional statistics on the number of attacks on social care staff in spite of the daily risks they face.
Roger Kline, social care spokesperson for Aspect, said a national register would enable research to identify common high risk situations and enable better planning to reduce risk in the future.
However, the Local Government Employers have rejected the plan, citing differences in the way information is recorded in different areas as a major obstacle.
Steve Sumner, national health and safety policy advisor for the LGE, which represents 375 local authorities in England and Wales, said different councils applied a variety of titles to similar roles.
He added: “The NHS may have their own system but they are a small sector compared to local government.
“Collecting national data is not the solution to the problem – the solution is local authorities responding to the risks in their local areas and putting proper interventions in place.”
Sumner said there was “very good guidance out there” for councils, including updated guidelines from Skills for Care which the LGE helped to draft, adding that high-quality risk assessments were key.
Ruth Cartwright, professional officer for England at BASW, said she was “disappointed” by the LGE’s stance.
“The act of having to report will keep employers’ minds focused on this issue in a helpful way,” she explained.
“Yes, there are difficulties with doing this, but that is not a reason to dismiss the possibility when such a serious problem is being discussed.”
Unison, which represents 300,000 social care workers across the UK, proposed the national register as part of a 10-point plan to combat the “chronic” problem of violence in social care.
“Threats and assaults contribute to stress, ill-health, sickness absence and high staff turnover,” according to Helga Pile, Unison’s national officer for social workers.