The Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) will attend all five Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust Board extraordinary meetings today to highlight the social work profession’s opposition to cuts to the HSC budget.
Trust bosses, who called the meetings today, have been told by the Department of Health that savings of £70 million must be made before the end of the 2017/18 financial year.
Carolyn Ewart, NIASW Country Manager, said: “Social workers are currently operating under increasingly constrained budgets and with ever more complex caseloads. We know that half of all social workers report at least one vacancy in their team and as consequence nine out of 10 social workers routinely work additional unpaid hours. This marks a saving to the Health and Social Care sector of £11.4 million annually. To ensure staff continue to deliver high quality services to the most vulnerable in society it is fundamentally important that budget cuts do not result in additional staff vacancies.”
Ms Ewart added: “Spending on locum and agency staff is spiralling across the HSC. Relying on these types of contracts is proving unsustainable and it does not always result in the highest standards of care. It is essential the HSC Trusts and the Department of Health urgently devise and implement a plan to significantly reduce spend on agency and locum staff across HSC.
“Pressure is increasing across the board, not least in adult social care. For example, we expect to see a 15 per cent increase in the number of care packages required by 2020. We must not see cuts to these vital services, the impact on the people who rely on them would be unacceptable.”