Social work stress case goes to court

A social worker who claims she became so
stressed by her 100-hour a week caseload that she suffered a mental
collapse has begun a high court bid for damages.

Maureen Pratley, of Honiton in Devon, said her
work for Surrey Council between 1994 and 1998 became so
overwhelming she contemplated suicide.

Her barrister told Mr Justice Buckley that
49-year-old Pratley’s workload shot up from 75 to 150 cases at any
one time after she was promoted to case manager for elderly people
in the Leatherhead area in November 1994.

Soon Pratley was working from 8am to 10pm
every day, taking work home with her to complete in the evenings
and at weekends, he told the court in London.

In October 1996 she was signed off sick
suffering from depression and ended up receiving treatment in West
London’s Priory Clinic. When she finally sought retirement on the
grounds of ill health, Pratley was refused, dismissed from her job
in May 1998 and hasn’t worked since.

The council maintains that Pratley was fit to
return to work and says it has done nothing wrong.

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