Mental health social workers are “angry” about job and service cuts that are undermining their ability to care and increasing workloads, a social work chief has said.
Claire Barcham, national co-ordinator for the Approved Mental Health Professionals leads network, said practitioners were being left to manage higher risk levels in the community because of falling numbers of inpatient beds, and the quality of care was being eroded.
Her comments follow news today that some mental health trusts are planning 15% job cuts, as part of total NHS job losses of 53,150 from 2010-15, despite government pledges to protect the health service from reductions.
“People are quite angry because they come into the service because they care and they see things they’ve built up and works well being changed and eroded,” said Barcham.
She warned the job losses would impact upon frontline care, particularly if administrative support were cut, as this would reduce the time that social workers could spend on the front line.
“We are talking about extra work loads,” she added, though acknowledged that providers would do all they could to protect frontline workers,
Psychiatry leaders also expressed concerns.
“We would have grave concerns if frontline posts are being cut, because it is doctors, nurses and other health and social care professionals who are delivering the care that patients need,” said Dr Laurence Mynors-Wallis, registrar of the Royal College of Psychiatrists,
“We believe reductions in staffing should only be made if the quality of services and outcomes achieved for patients remain unaffected,” he added.
Steve Shrubb, director of the Mental Health Network, which represents mental health trusts, had said that providers were doing all they could to protect the front line, but job losses were unavoidable, because the NHS had to find £20bn in efficiencies over the next four years.
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