Monday, 5 October 2009

Not fit for purpose?

The newspapers today are full of snippets from the Birmingham City Council scrutiny report into child protection in the city. As usual it seems difficult for members of the public (me, for instance) to find the actual report. What looks like a promising link on the Birmingham council website doesn't work. So I am relying on the sketchy details in the papers for this initial comment.

What struck me most strongly was the report in The Times that Birmingham was experiencing a shortage of experienced staff and 20% sickness absence. The Guardian talks of reliance on inexperienced staff and quotes Cllr. Les Lawrence (Birmingham's Lead Member for Children's Services) as saying that there is no quick fix for the problems of retention and recruitment of social workers, which he believes are national in scope.

It is mind-boggling that nearly a year after the furore over the death of Baby Peter we still seem to be discovering serious problems of this sort, rather than hearing about effective solutions. Despite all the promises of change we continue to be in a situation where the basic conditions for creating quality services are not being met.