Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Name, Shame, Blame

I have severe reservations about bringing cases before the Health and Care Professions Council like the one described recently in Community Care|SC|SCNEW-20130605

The social worker concerned is acknowledged to have had a hitherto unblemished record and so far as I can see from the reports, and the full notice of the decision, her main offence is that she ignored procedures.  

In my experience a very common reason for ignoring procedures is that it is the only way to get the job done – a ‘workaround’ in the jargon. We should not be naming, shaming and blaming people just because they find a difficult job sometimes too difficult. If people are dishonest, or worse, deliberately cause or allow harm to a child then discipline is the correct response. But not following the rules should prompt us to ask:  “Can the rules always be followed?”

And, of course, there is another reason why this kind of heavy-handed response is so wrong. It inhibits people who make mistakes from confessing them and helping to put matters right. We want people who stray from the rules, or who find themselves creating a mess, to be open and frank with management and colleagues about what went wrong. That’s the only way it will get put right.

Coming down heavily on people who are simply trying to get a job done is not only the wrong response, it is a dangerous response.