Fears a child could die because of "unbearable pressure" on Welsh social workers

A Welsh social worker has spoken to ITV Wales about his concerns for the future of the profession and safety of children.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he says he knows colleagues on anti-depressants, feeling bullied and high case loads.

It comes as we've learnt that most Welsh councils have vacancies and many are using agency workers to fill the gaps.

  • Watch the report from ITV Wales' Health & Social Affairs Correspondent Rob Osborne below:

Due to their inexperience, they make inexperienced decisions and it puts added pressure on the workers and added pressure on everyone else.

– Social Worker speaking to ITV News

He lists complaints he says are common around Wales and are contributing to fewer people wanting to become a full-time social worker.

They include:

  • High case loads
  • Long hours
  • Stress
  • Pay
  • Retention of experienced workers

I think the fears are of another Victoria Climbié, another Baby P and social work staff being blamed for something which they have very little control over because social work is a very very difficult role and its hard to get it right, you speak to staff and colleagues and you speak about your concerns but its the time you have to do the things you need to do.

– Social Worker

The social worker uses the word "unsafe" to describe the system and pressures colleagues face.

His biggest fear is that a child is seriously harmed or dies and points to the cases of Baby P and Victoria Climbié.

The Children's Commissioner has concerns Credit: ITV Wales

The Children's Commissioner Keith Towler says he hasn't heard of a Social Services department where the current levels of vacancies are high enough to warrant it being unsafe but he does believe there are areas to be concerned about.

What is being brought to my attention is that things are at a very difficult stage and we need to bring more social workers into the profession

– Keith Towler

The Welsh Government says work has been done to increase the level of social workers and to learn from the best, but it acknowledges demands are increasing

At the present time, and in the context of increasing demands and pressures on resources, most councils are performing reasonably well.

However it is recognised that this is very demanding work and workforce stability and frontline leadership are critical to delivering a reliable service.

– Welsh Government Spokesman

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