The price of stress

Clients have often been said to have been in a position of
‘blame of the victim’. Now it looks as if Cheshire social services
department is going one step further.

If services are cut who is to blame? The government? The
council? The management team? No, silly people – all those social
workers who suffer from stress.

A letter from JR Kealey, senior manager (operations), draws
attention to an increase in sickness absence. Most staff, says JR
Kealey, are good attenders and are committed to the provision of
high-quality services.

But there is ‘the unacceptably high level of absenteeism’.

And, for those of you who are ill and off work because of
stress, it cost nearly £800,00 in six months ending 31 March
in cover for salaried and manual staff.

The letter continues: ‘The costs have to be met from within our
budget and therefore reduces the money available to use on direct
services to clients.’

Cheshire will be developing ‘a whole range of strategies’ to
improve work attendance.

Whether these include setting up absentee detection squads to
tour the streets looking for stressed-out social workers lighting
up cigarettes behind the loos remains to be seen.

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