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
    said.

    “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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