Wirral Council – Whistleblowing – Louder Than Bombs.

The meltdown continues over at Wirral Council Social Services Department were a  “culture of bullying and intimidation” in the “dysfunctional” social services department seem the norm. As do the allegedly immoral practices that are accepted as ‘the way things are’  – But at least there are some within the organsiation who have had the courage to speak out   “To impose an artificial four-week delay is illegal because the authority is failing in its duty to meet the assessed need. “The likely impact is the individual will suffer for longer than they need to.”

Are these the people we want looking after the most vulnerable in society ?Would this be acceptable if your mother or grandmother’s care was delayed for no other reason, we can see, other than to save money and make senior managers look good ?

Read More http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/09/30/whistleblowers-claim-wirral-council-operated-illegal-delay-on-care-92534-29513038/2/#ixzz1ZSh58637

Wirral Councils lamentable response, full of bluster and breathtaking in it’s self serving arrogance, does not,  it should be noted, include an outright denial that such a blanket policy was in place and quite clearly ignores the fundamental questions. It instead concentrates on transparent and woeful arse covering.

“Dysfunctional” “Toxic” “Corrupt” “Self Serving” ? are comments that have been used to describe this local authority and yet there are still no sackings or resignations ?   It’s a crying shame that it took a report at the cost of £250,000 of tax payers money to get the truth into the public domain.

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/09/30/whistleblowers-claim-wirral-council-operated-illegal-delay-on-care-92534-29513038/

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Wirral Council – Meltdown

Front page news again.  And still no resignations….

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Wirral Council – “An Inward-Looking Basket Case”

According to todays Private Eye Magazine –  Page 13 -Rotten Boroughs.

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The reports findings should come as no surprise to anyone who has had the misfortune of having to deal with Wirral Council’s Senior Officers who lacking in both vision and values have comprehensively failed the citizens of Wirral. The primary concern of these Elite Officers is self advancement; they operate within a culture of collective self preservation that obviates constructive challenge and creativity in either forming policy or implementing practical solutions. It is a culture that is mirrored by the total lack of leadership provided by our local political clans who in the absence of any real competency or creativity default to tribal squabblings and cronyism; contenting themselves instead with posturing. With one or two notable exceptions our Senior Officers and Political Leaders are a throroughly self interested, self absorbed and self referring group that lack the talent and drive to arrest the economic and social decline of much of Wirral. Thank goodness that the Council’s services are delivered by a core of committed public servants who have not forgotten that the Council exists to serve its Citizens and not the reverse.

Comment on Wirral Globe website regarding how Wirral Council conduct it’s business.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/9263872.Shocking_report_demands__corrosive__culture_at_Wirral_Council_must_change/?ref=mr

How Not To Deal With A Sick Employee Part 2- The Wirral Way.

More enlightening news reaches us on how Wirral BC manipulate ‘procedures’ to rid themselves of troublesome staff with disabilities.

The Scenario :  When you have a condtion covered by the Disability Discrimination/Equalities Act, and your employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments and you fall ill due to the sheer chaos of your working environment, do you get support? 

The Answer :

So if you are lucky enough to be in the employ of Wirral Council, and  if the strain of your caseload has made your  illness so debilitating that you cannot function then  it’s your own fault. It’s a character defect within you – you are of no use to them !

  In a nutshell your employers make you ill, offer you no support and then threaten you with the sack for having the audacity to be ill.  Welcome to the wonderfully twisted world of Wirral Borough Council were compassion and empathy are as valued  as speed limits and  health and safety are by Jeremy Clarkeson.

 And they wonder why, even in such harsh economic times, when Voluntary Serevrance was offered well over 40% of Social Services staff applied. It appears the dole and an uncertain finacial future seemed eminently more preferable than remaining in a miasima of dysfunction and intimidation.

How Not To Deal With A Sick Employee – The Wirral Way.

An ex Wirral Council employee suffering from a chronic condition covered by the Disability Discrimination Act has given us access to his records obtained under the DPA.  This employee was actually moved to Social Services due to ill health as a solution to excessive stress which exacerbates his condition. As Social Workers will doubtless testify,(if they weren’t so frightened of speaking out)  Wirral Social Services is possibly not the best place to move an ill employee.

It reveals an Authority that would rather seek to use their Serious Absence Capability procedures to threaten and ultimately get rid of an employee rather than make reasonable adjustments to the working environment (which is required by law for disabled people.) And this from a department charged with looking after vulnerable adults!!

This is an email/letter exchange between the employee’s partner and his managers, don’t worry about the technicalities too much, it’s the managers action at the end of this post that highlights part of the myriad of problems highlighted by Anna Klonowski’s report in WBC’s culture of bullying and bad practices.

**********************************

From: XXXXXX

Sent: 14 March 2011 14:43
To: Tomlin, Peter R.
Cc: Ryan, Thomas; Traynor, Jacky; Woodcock, Maria A.; ricko’brein

Subject: Your Letter

I am slightly puzzled that your letter commencing ‘Further to the letter sent by Mr. Tom Ryan’ is dated 09/03/11 when Mr. Ryan did not send his e-mail until 10/03/11. You had obviously discussed and planned how best to apply pressure to XXXXX to return to work despite his not being anywhere near ready. 

Also,the letter we received today was written prior to our e-mail of 11/03/11 sent to Tom Ryan for which you sent a read receipt.I feel that we need a response to the points raised in that before we can proceed further. 

  

Unfortunately XXXXXX is not well enough to see you at present and , for future reference, we will need more than one day’s notice of a meeting in order to ensure that XXXXX has someone with him to act as advocate/witness . We would also request that any conversations are audio recorded as XXXXX has problems with recall and concentration at present. 

As I wrote on Friday, XXXXX has never refused a face to face meeting but has requested that any proposals you might wish to put forward were put in writing first. We consider this to be a reasonable adjustment under the Disability Discrimination Act. Unfortunately we have still had no response from you on this matter despite documented requests and the passage of a great deal of time. Is this or is this not a reasonable adjustment? Or do you plan to simply plough on with your policy of harassment regardless of XXXXXX’s  health and rights under the DDA. You made no reasonable adjustments to the role when XXXXXXXX  was in work. You have made no reasonable adjustments to your absence management policy so why should he be confident that you would make reasonable adjustments now?

You state that this is a ‘return to work ’ interview. I would draw your attention to our request for a copy of your risk assessment documentation.

I reiterate the point that it was the Council’s failure in its duty of care to my husband that caused him to relapse and now the Council is threatening to discipline him for the sickness that they caused. This is completely unacceptable.

I look forward to your response to these points and to the points raised in my e-mail of 11/03/11.

Yours sincerely

********

Fair enough ?

The manager responds thus –

Dear XXXXX

 Thank you for your e mail, and just to confirm Maria and I will not be visiting tomorrow – I’d be grateful if you could let ****** know this.  The letter was written before I saw your response to Mr Tom Ryan and refers to his letter / e mail sent to you that prompted your reply. 

I will respond to the other points once considered.

 Many thanks

 Peter Tomlin

 **************************

Great you may think, despite phrasing his reply in a way that would do Yoda proud, it does appear he’s going to respond and fully consider the points raised. Reasonable adjustments to assist this employee back to work are surely on the horizon …..but wait …. what’s this …the employees personnel file, show a different story and reveals his managers first action (SEE BELOW) was not to seek out a solution or consider the points raised in the email as promised. Instead he writes to the much loved HR manager in an attempt to instigate the Serious Absence Capability procedure ( a disciplinary procedure)  – If ever an acronym was appropriate it was this one (SAC).

 The employee has since left the authority with a £47,000 pay off, £25,000 of which was to settle any claims the employee may have with regard to disability discrimination. Although of course the Council say such a payment does not constitute an admission of liability. No of course it doesn’t. 😉

Whistleblower reveals how Wirral Council dealt with concerns

Wirral Leaks has been given an insight into how everybody’s favourite Council deals with Whistleblowing/Confidential reporting…. erm it doesn’t … And this in the wake of the Martin Morton debacle,where we were assured lessons had been learnt

Here is an actual extract from the Whistleblowers email rasing his initial concerns to Social Services Director Howard Cooper about delays to care packages .

“One of my roles within the section was to assess vulnerable clients
eligibility for  packages of care if they met FACS criteria I was then
required to commission the appropriate services. The resulting electronic
‘paperwork’  was then checked and  authorised by my line manager and then
forwarded to the Brokerage team. After a while I started to receive queries
from Brokerage asking me if my requests to commission services needed a
‘waiver’ from my principal manager. As a new employee within the department
much of the terminology was unfamiliar and I sought clarification. It was
explained that there was an automatic four week delay built into the system
and that if I required this to be lifted I needed to request authorisation
or a ‘waiver’ from my principal manager to lift the delay.  Somewhat
confused I asked my line managers what was the reason for this delay and was
told it was for cases ‘in the community’ and all I needed to do was request
a waiver.”

The Whistleblowers email continues

” Another social worker informed me we were not supposed to talk about it, that it’s not really an official policy, but that everybody is aware of it and that it’s designed to save the department money.

Again I  asked Brokerage why there was a four week delay they stated ‘orders
from above’ and when pressed for more information they shrugged and said ‘we’ve never been told why’.  I questioned finance and they also knew about the
delay, and were under the impression it was ‘a money saving tactic.’

I then discussed this with a social worker who told me that this policy was
‘probably illegal’ and was certainly putting vulnerable people at risk

And

“Therefore   I would like my concerns to be investigated. namely
Are you aware of a ‘four week’ delay?

If so :

How long the four week delay on care packages has been in place ( is this an
official policy? )

Who was responsible for overseeing and implementing such a procedure?  And
what really was its purpose ?

Is this delay is still in place.? Are there still in built delays in
providing care packages?

*********************************************

And the response from Mr Cooper ?

*********************************************

——- Original Message ——-
From: “Cooper, Howard” <howardcooper@wirral.gov.uk>
To: XXXXXX
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2011 2:06 PM
Subject: Not read: Confidential Reporting procedure

Your message

  To:      Cooper, Howard; Norman, Bill D.
  Cc:      Unison
  Subject: Confidential Reporting procedure
  Sent:    Thu, 17 Feb 2011 10:00:32 -0000

was deleted without being read on Fri, 18 Feb 2011 14:06:53 -0000

***********************************

The Whistleblower did receive an answer to his concerns eventually, at the end of August, some six months after his original concerns were raised  after being promised by Council leader Steve Foulkes in June…..

“The latest update on your whistleblowing complaint, following my last e-mail, is that the solicitor has now drawn up a formal Opinion on the legal position on the Council practices you complained of. This Opinion is now being referred to an external lawyer for an independent view on whether it is legally correct, to be absolutely sure we are getting an unbiased view.

 

When this has been received, you will receive a full response with both Opinions so you can see for yourself what is being said.”

  Needless to say this has never happened. The Whistleblower has since gone public as he feels the whole sorry process did not seek to investigate his claims in a robust fashion, but instead attempted to pass delays off as ‘misunderstandings.’

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As Wirral Council is left reeling from one of the most damning reports into the way a Local Authority conducts it’s affairs ever, we at Wirral Leaks can reveal the Council’s inspirational, almost Gervasian  ‘Staff Incentive Scheme.‘  In something that resembles a particularly toe curling episode from  ‘The Office’,  employees who met certain targets were awarded a ‘Golden Cone’ each month …yes an ACTUAL golden traffic cone, lovingly painted (during office hours? ) and presented to said employee in a monthly ceremony imbued with disturbing echos of ‘The Wicker Man.’  This cone could then be used in the Council car park to reserve a car parking space, and acted as a sort of “Netto Willie Wonka Access All Areas Golden Ticket.”  

We suggest the only cone shape objects in Wirral Council following Anna Klonowski Associates report (which cost £250,000 of public money) will be the ones marked with huge ‘D’s’ worn by Senior Managers and elected members before being shown the door. Laughing stock ?  Yup. But it’s not really funny is it ?

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/09/22/wirral-council-leader-pledges-to-repair-corrosive-impact-on-council-after-damning-report-92534-29465177/

You wanna work there ? Think on.

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a £3m shortfall has been discovered due to potential “slippage” in savings that were predicted from reducing staff numbers through early retirement and redundancy.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/9267245.Social_services_needs_to_spend___1_5m_on_hiring_new_staff/

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Looks like the ideal alarm clock  for Councillor Steve Foulkes, a leader who’s local authority needs more wake up calls than Rip Van f**king Winkle

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/09/22/wirral-council-leader-pledges-to-repair-corrosive-impact-on-council-after-damning-report-92534-29465177/