Liverpool shake-up putting client confidentiality at risk, says union

Cuts and new working practices at Liverpool social services
department risk compromising confidential client information, union
leaders have warned.

Unison is planning to hold urgent talks with management to tackle a
series of problems in social services. One issue that needs to be
resolved, Unison claims, involves 200 social workers who are forced
to share 100 desks because management believes the job is not

The cost-saving measure has resulted in social workers having to
take confidential files and case notes out of the office because
there is not enough space or storage in the notional paperless

Unison convenor for social services Christina Doyle said there were
too few desks and computers for staff, with many having to hot-desk
which has resulted in work regularly being lost.

Ian Johnston, director of the British Association of Social
Workers, said hot-desking was sensible if managed properly because
social workers could increasingly work remotely. But he added that
it was “completely unacceptable” for a lack of space to force
social workers to carry files with them.

“Social workers have to protect confidential information and this
could potentially breach data protection requirements,” he

Managers are also considering scrapping the duty out-of-hours
social work team, replacing it with a telephone-based service run
by assistant team managers and staffed by regular social workers on
a rota.

There are also plans to cut social workers and administration staff
in its child protection unit from 31 to 11, even though Unison says
there is already several unallocated cases – something the council

Up to 200 children’s social workers are being balloted on whether
to take industrial action over high job vacancy rates, poor staff
retention and allegations of bullying by management.

Tony Hunter, director of supported living at Liverpool, denied
there was any reason to breach confidentiality as a result of
hot-desking, and said many of the changes were needed to implement
measures in the children’s green paper.

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