False names ‘disguise staff shortage’

Union members in Devon have claimed that some children at risk
are being allocated fictitious social workers as evidence of a
crisis in the council’s children’s services.

They claim that pseudonyms have been created for social workers
who do not exist because there are not enough staff to cope with
the number of child care cases.

Bernie Crean, senior Unison shop steward, warned that a child
could die unless the service was better resourced. He said social
workers in the child care teams would be balloted on strike action
unless the council provided more investment in the service.

“We genuinely believe that the environment exists for a tragedy
to happen, and we don’t believe this is fair on our staff,” he

“They have been placing cases under fictitious names when they
should have a named social worker,” said Crean. He said one example
was “Mr T Child”.

He also said there has been a dramatic increase in stress
suffered by staff battling with huge caseloads.

But David Padfield, the council’s deputy social services
director, said no children on the child protection register had
been allocated a fictitious social worker. He said that under the
IT system currently used by the council each case had to be
allocated to a name, and sometimes it was necessary to create a
false one. A new system was being planned, he said.

“There is no policy to use fictitious names for children who are
under child protection,” Padfield said.

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