Ex-social worker appeals over stress

A former social worker who last year failed in a High Court bid to
win compensation from the employer she claimed caused her
stress-related breakdown, launched an appeal last week.

Maureen Pratley, a care manager for older people who said her
caseload meant she worked a 100-hour week, lost her earlier claim
against Surrey Council (news, page 13, 8 August, 2002).

She said her workload had pushed her to a breakdown in 1996 and
left her suicidal and depressed, leading to a two-year break from

Last week, Brian Langstaff QC told the Court of Appeal that Mr
Justice Buckley had wrongly concluded that the council had not
breached the “duty of care” they owed Pratley. He said that Pratley
had told her line manager her workload was “intolerable” and she
was “going under”. But despite promises to reduce her caseload,
Pratley returned to work to find this had not been done.

But Edward Faulks QC, for Surrey Council, argued that Pratley’s
line manager thought she was dealing with a “professional and calm
member of staff who showed no signs of an immediate

The case continues.

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