Haringey Social Services: A View From The Inside

I worked in the Child Development Centre in Haringey. I left before Baby P was seen by the service (»  Media witch-hunt puts more children at risk, 22 November), but would like to share my thoughts.

In my opinion, the place was being run down – where I worked, the chair and window were broken and the room rarely cleaned.

I felt I was barely trained. I was told by a paediatrician that no working weighing scales were available even though these are essential tools for checking children’s well‑being.

The same paediatrician’s pay was delayed.

Secretaries were paid little but had massive workloads to deal with – often because no secretary had been previously working in the post. They had an enormous amount of responsibility.

Some management seemed to spend more time in surveillance of these workers than in doing something about the state of the place.

This made it almost impossible to work effectively.

There was incredible pressure on “targets” – making sure appointments happened when they were scheduled. I heard one manager say that “anyone” should see a child rather than miss a target. An entire meeting was devoted to this topic.

Social workers, physiotherapists and health visitors seemed to be battling to stay confident and effective under enormous caseloads. I believe cost-cutting was to blame for this.

Despite the warmth and support of my fellow workers, it became a hellish place to work.

I could see the rapid deterioration of a crucial centre for the well-being of children. Management seemed more focused on saving money and meeting targets – which is all wrong for such a vital centre.

In my view, this was no place for the effective support of children, or for their parents, carers and families.

Next time I watch the unveiling of a new hospital built with private funding elsewhere in the country, I will think of the Child Development Centre and how its values were sacrificed to the gods of privatisation.

Emma Hall, North London