Essex’s skills and initiatives are praised

Committed, skilled staff and cutting edge initiatives were
highlighted in Essex social services department’s joint review this

Family group conferences, the take-up of direct payments, and
the learning difficulty strategy were picked out for praise by
government inspectors.

A wide range of services for people with mental health problems,
learning difficulties and physical and sensory disabilities were
also among the department’s key strengths.

Other strengths included good relationships with health
authorities, trusts and primary care groups, and the department’s
new supervision and performance management review scheme.

Recruitment difficulties meant that not all statutory work with
children was allocated to a qualified social worker. Inspectors
acknowledged that recruitment was a national problem, but said that
in Essex it occasionally led to crisis management, with not all
child protection cases reviewed on time and some young people
having a frequent change of social worker.

Financial and supply problems led to delays in obtaining
assessments and services for older people.

Essex Council’s chief executive Stewart Ashurst said: “The
report offers us some sound advice for the future. We’re
particularly pleased that the commitment and dedication of our
staff has been recognised.”

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