Social workers demand child protection investment

A union representing social workers has said some of its members are concerned about the impact financial cutbacks are having on child protection services.

NIPSA has written to the chief executive of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust highlighting staff shortages and administrative gaps.

In the letter, a union representative said the trust must end its policy of cutting frontline services.

The Belfast Trust said its number of vacancies were “within normal levels”.

Kevin McCabe, the union’s officer representing the health sector, said that the McElhill case in Omagh and the Baby P case in Haringey had caused heightened scrutiny of child protection policy.

Necessary means

He added that the trust needed to invest more in childcare services.

“Belfast Trust must face up to its responsibilities to protect children, support families and discharges its corporate parenting responsibilities,” Mr McCabe said.

“Clearly from NIPSA’s point of view we will continue to make ourselves available for discussions on these issues at any stage.

“But given the seriousness of the situation we must emphasise our commitment to using any and all means necessary to protect public services and the NIPSA members struggling to deliver them.”

A spokesperson for the Belfast Trust said child protection was one of its top priorities and that its staff turnover was “normal”.

The Belfast Trust has a robust system in place for ensuring effective recruitment and selection of staff to vacant posts,” the spokesperson added.

“At present the Belfast Trust vacancies in child care are within normal levels and are kept constantly under review.”