Cambridgeshire battles to keep qualified social workers, report says

Shire Hall Cambridge.

Shire Hall Cambridge. - Credit: Archant

A battle is on to keep qualified social workers employed across Cambridgeshire with the news that 57 have left in the last year leaving the vacancies to be filled by higher paid agency staff.

In the last 12 months the children’s social care unit employed 30 qualified social workers but 57 left, a report revealed this week.

In the adult social care and older people’s services department five qualified social work staff were employed but 12 left.

In one month alone, in August, agency staff cost the county council £218,000, according to the report, which is looking at ways of keeping social workers working within its care system.

Head of HR Janet Maulder, who compiled the report for the county audit and accounts committee, said they must recognise the issues and challenges faced in recruiting social workers and care managers.

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“It has always been a challenge for the council, but more recently this has become increasingly difficult, resulting in higher agency costs and the loss of some staff to neighbouring local authorities and agencies,” she said and added the problem was a national issue affecting almost all local authorities across the UK.

“The higher level of media scrutiny of serious cases and the critical view on the social care profession has a detrimental impact on the number of entrants to the social work profession,” she said.

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To ease the situation the county council has sought to create a “positive environment for social workers to practice” so that they feel “safe,secure and valued which allows good safeguarding social work to flourish,” her report says.

A training scheme called Transforming Lives is being put into place for staff in social care teams with further training available in managing risk and difficult conversations.

A high emphasis is being placed on exit questionnaires to work out why staff are leaving and the authority is reviewing the way it advertises its vacancies to ensure it sells the Cambridgeshire area to potential staff moving into the county.

The county audits and accounts committee are due to discuss the issues tomorrow (Tuesday 23).

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