MISTAKES will be made similar to the Baby P scandal while social workers struggle with unmanageable workloads, it has been claimed.

One Greenwich Council social worker, who would not be named for fear of disciplinary action, describes a situation in which morale in her department is at its lowest ever, claiming staff are being disciplined for struggling to cope with large numbers of cases.

The Unison union raised concerns at a council joint committee meeting last month, demanding an urgent review of “dangerously high” caseloads and the scrapping of new disciplinary procedures.

A lack of children’s social workers in Greenwich is reflected nationally, with claims that closer scrutiny following Baby P has led to less people wanting the job.

The council is trying to fill its own recruitment gap - which last month stood at 26 social worker vacancies - using workers from Romania and temporary staff.

But Greenwich Unison representative Onay Kasab said: “It still won’t really be a large enough dent in the problem.

“I’ve got social workers who are burnt out.

“People aren’t even getting to see their own children.”

Mr Kasab says individual workers are being saddled with up to 25 cases each, sometimes working past midnight and over weekends in an attempt to get the job done.

He claims between five and 12 cases per worker would be a more realistic amount.

Mr Kasab said: “It’s not possible for a human being to do that level of work. People are saying there are no more hours or minutes left for them to fill.

“There’s so much pressure on staff on staff at the moment especially with what happened to Baby P.

“They’re overstretched and massively stressed.”

A spokesman for Greenwich Council said: “In comparison to many boroughs, we have good levels of staff and plans in place to better support our child protection work in the future.

“A recent unannounced Ofsted inspection found that child protection enquiries are thorough, timely and carried out by well trained and competent social workers.

“It also states that case files are regularly audited by senior managers and that the needs of children in Greenwich are prioritised at an early stage.”


A social worker told News Shopper: “We’re extremely short-staffed with excessively high caseloads which are unmanageable.

“If we haven’t enough people to do all the work then you don’t see the children as much as you should do. You don’t see the families enough.

“Mistakes will be made - more Baby Ps.

“I think most social workers are very afraid to have their name against a particular child that they know they’re not seeing enough.

“Caseloads shot up around the time of Baby P and also the expectations.

“There’s more bureaucracy around too. We reckon 89 per cent of our time is spent on paperwork - that just leaves 10 per cent for the children.

“God knows what will happen if this keeps going. People will burn out - they are already leaving.

“I think people have got out because of Baby P, knowing it could be one of us next.

“Since Baby P we’re being more thorough but we’ve still got the same amount of people to get through. So we’re probably more thorough but six weeks too late.

“The frustration for social workers in Greenwich is they’ve raised this with our unions and we’ve raised it with councillors but we’ve seen no improvement at all.”