Seamless day and night service may signal end of emergency duty teams

    Emergency duty teams could soon be a thing of the past, with
    social services departments providing seamless, 24/7 cover
    throughout the day and night, senior managers believe,
    writes Derren Hayes

    Liverpool social services is to follow the lead of Westminster and
    field out-of-hours contacts through a call centre with support from
    a social services manager, doing away with its current EDT set-up.
    Meanwhile, Staffordshire Council is discussing with the ambulance
    service whether to develop a joint out-of-hours service.

    Robert Lake, emergency social care lead for the Association of
    Directors of Social Services, said recent debate had focused on the
    “withering” of emergency duty teams because of the
    increasing 24/7 culture.

    The changes in the Children Bill, which could potentially see
    adults and children’s departments completely separated, also
    threatened EDTs’ existence, he added.

    “Where EDT struggles is that very rarely are they locked into
    the care plan for individual service users, which can inadvertently
    lead them to make the wrong decision,” he added.

    However, he said management needed to decide whether it was an
    emergency service or comprehensive out-of-hours social work service
    they wanted, adding that the latter would have “massive
    resource implications”.

    Liverpool is recruiting 64 on-call social workers to form a pool of
    professionals working on a rota basis out-of-hours. Some maybe
    daytime staff, with extra payments linked to being called
    out.

    Terry Hawkins, delivery and improvement manager at Liverpool, said
    the new system would create better continuity between day and night
    services, with greater emphasis on preventive work.

    “The current model generates more work for daytime staff.
    There are more children accommodated during the night because it is
    easier than supporting the families.”

    Hawkins said EDTs’ days were numbered. “We want to
    break down the notion that at 5pm another group of staff come
    on,” he added.

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