Haringey Unison blames staff shortages on media ‘witch hunt’

Children’s services across London are suffering from an “acute shortage” of qualified social workers, a Unison representative at Haringey council has said.

Branch secretary Sean Fox made the comment following reports that Haringey was seeking staff from other councils in the capital to help alleviate pressures in the children’s department.

In a leaked email, Haringey’s new children’s director Peter Lewis called on each of the 30 boroughs to give “careful consideration” to providing one “good quality person” to help for four weeks.

In another leaked email, Kensington and Chelsea’s children’s director Ann Marie Carrie suggested freezing referrals that would normally have been transferred to Haringey as another option.

In response, Fox said staff shortages could only be tackled if employers worked together and claimed media coverage of Baby P had had a “devastating” effect on recruitment. “I do not believe the effect of the witch hunting type of coverage of workers is limited to our borough,” he added.

A Haringey council spokesman said: “We are in contact with a number of organisations including councils and charities to take forward our improvement work and have already received support from other local authorities. We want to ensure that sufficient staffing resources are available to deliver social care services.”

Community Care has also learned that Doncaster council has been recently been offering experienced front line agency staff £35 an hour to work in children’s services. Last year inspectors found vacancies in the department were around 40% although interim children’s director Dr Paul Gray has said numbers are now up to full complement.

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