Milburn rejects naming and shaming as he pledges to raise sector’s status

People working in social services should not be named and shamed
because they have some of the most difficult jobs in the public
sector, health secretary Alan Milburn told the Labour Party
conference in Blackpool last week.

The remarks came as something of a u-turn, contrasting strongly
with his speech to the National Social Services conference in
Harrogate last year. Then he reeled off a list of the country’s 14
worst performing social services departments in a naming and
shaming exercise that infuriated social services directors.

Last week in Blackpool, answering a question about how he would
tackle low morale, Milburn admitted that press coverage of social
services errors was partly to blame for the profession’s poor image
and had affected recruitment. He said: “We can’t have a situation
where we are naming and shaming workers when they are trying to
help people.”

His comments were applauded by delegates, who also welcomed his
promise to raise the status of social services so that they would
no longer be the “poor relation to health”.

Milburn told the conference that the government’s £2m
three-year recruitment campaign, launched a year ago, would “help
make a difference” to the staffing problems blighting most social
services departments.

He also admitted that delayed discharge of patients from hospitals
caused by a shortage of nursing home places was “one of the biggest
problems we have”. He added:”When I go around the country I am
struck by how powerful partnership is, but too often it doesn’t

“We have the health system here, social services there, and never
the twain shall meet. We need to get to a situation where we have
one health system rather than two.”

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