When Is A Social Worker Not A Social Worker?

Below are examples of why Wirral Social Services is one of the worst in the country. Myopic to the point of being unable to see the wood for the trees.

Back in 2010 ASO’s replacing Social Workers was seen very much  as Branch head of Assessment Rick O Brien’s “baby”- So let see what he said in Community Care magazine(below)



 Our 2008 survey found 27% of practitioners expected to see a reduction in the number of social workers in their own teams, 44% expected an increase in staff without a social work qualification, 14% more staff from a health background and 17% no change.

 That survey followed Wirral Council’s decision to cut 29 social work posts and increase the number of non-qualified staff by 26, with social workers focusing on managing complex cases and non-qualified staff taking on the assessment of users with lower-level needs.

 Two years on, the level of change anticipated by the 2008 survey has not taken place. One in eight 2010 respondents has seen a reduction in social workers in their teams while 16% have seen an increase in the number of non-social work qualified staff and 7% an increase in health staff; 53% have seen no change.

 Cartwright says we should have seen more workforce change by now, given that “personalisation was supposed to be a revolution”. Hawkins say the results indicate that councils are avoiding some of the “tough issues” on reconfiguring staff, evidence that personalisation is “starting to stagnate”. He adds: “There should be a different skills mix and fewer social workers.”

 Unsurprisingly, Cartwright disagrees, saying the importance of social workers’ unique skills for delivering personalisation ought to result in more professionals.

 However, Rick O’Brien, head of branch, access and assessment at Wirral Council, says that since its reorganisation the authority now has a “fairly balanced workforce” in terms of the number of social workers and other staff. Social workers, he argues, are better deployed now, managing complex cases and handling safeguarding.

 Despite their reduced numbers, he says personalisation is opening up new opportunities for social workers. For instance, he says care reviews would previously often be carried out by non-social work staff, but because they are now more focused on outcomes, social workers are more involved.



 Now fast forward to 2012. The new head of Social Services Graham Hodkinson, it appears has completely the opposite view..


Graham Hodkinson, director of Adult Services at Wirral Council,  emphasised the importance of social work in the local authority’s future performance.

 Commenting on Mr Hodkinson’s views, set out in a Community Care interview, Ruth Cartwright, BASW England manager, said: “Social work with adults is ill defined and, as such, more at risk. BASW is campaigning to have this work respected and protected.

 “Two years ago, we listened with concern to news from members that social workers had been made redundant from Wirral Council but today we can take heart from the fact that Wirral has realised it needs social workers and that getting rid of them was a false economy – 16 new posts have been created and there will be greater professional support for social workers.



NB. And so Wirral in their infinite wisdom got rid of  29 social workers, and  replaced them with lower paid unqualified ASO’s. Yet The ASO’s have been increasingly given complex work. Word reaches us that ASO’s in at least one team on the Wirral have allegedly put in a claim for a pay increase.

 Apparently they have put  a compelling case to their manager (let’s call him Peter.)  He tried to argue the ASO’s aren’t doing complex work, but the ASO’s pointed out that the only thing Social Workers do that they don’t is adult protection.

Apparently Peter has passed this matter to the Head Of Branch , lets call him Rick.

You couldn’t make it up. And we haven’t.

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