Plans to slash emergency duty payments to social workers by about 60% are “utterly unacceptable”, says the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers.
Under the proposals, the allowance for health and social care staff in Northern Ireland who are on call for 12 hours or more will drop from £60 to £23.
The plans have been agreed by the Health and Social Care Board’s joint negotiating forum and are set for a phased introduction in October, and will be fully in place by March 2012.
NIASW’s deputy chair, Gerry Madden, who is also a senior social worker, said the proposals would reduce the number of staff who could carry out vital social work services.
“We are dismayed that the joint negotiating forum considers it appropriate to reduce the modest payments to social workers for being on-call,” he said.
“GPs are apparently exempt from these cuts and will continue to be paid considerably in excess of the rates paid to social workers out of hours – sometimes for simply providing their advice.”
Community Care is awaiting a response from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
The changes come against a backdrop of widespread cuts to social work services in Northern Ireland.
Last week, it was revealed that social workers and care staff are set to strike over fears that budget cuts will cause job losses.
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