Promises promises, and of course some mindless retribution
We tend, on this blog, not to write posts about social work despite it making up a sizable chunk of the budgets of the councils we work for. This is for a simple reason; none of us are social workers and the work they do is incredibly skilled and complicated.
This post is a rare exception but nothing in it should be taken as claiming any sort of social work expertise. (Incidentally, if you are looking for a blog with that sort of knowledge check out fighting monsters).
Naturally, as this unpleasantness unfolded everyone looked to the Government; would they look to ‘bail out’ Southern Cross and what would they do about Winterbourne View?
I missed the Sunday morning TV shows but found a summary of the Government’s official response, courtesy of Paul Burstow MP, to Winterbourne View on the BBC website. The bits of the story that are direct quotes are as follows:
“It comes as a surprise to people that the statutory basis for the safeguarding of vulnerable adults in this country is much weaker than that which exists for children.
“I’m committed to follow through on some recommendations we have received recently from the Law Commission to implement statutory safeguarding rules that will require the police the NHS, social services to work together.”
Mr Burstow told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend that he did believe the chief executive of the CQC, Cynthia Bower, should resign over the failures.
This made me a little grumpy and here’s why:1) According to my colleagues in adult social care (which is treated differently to those in childrens for obvious reasons) their budget for this year is going to be cut by something like 10-15%. This is despite there being no difference in need of the people involved and no sign of demand going down. This will be done by squeezing suppliers (Southern Cross anyone?), reducing the level of service and cutting staff.
So, if the Minister wants to make any statement about additional activities that need to be carried out by our hard-pressed social work teams, does he not also need to accompany this with a sum of money to pay for it? And the same must surely apply to the law commission’s call for a more rigorous safeguarding role for local authorities too? Once again, the difference between the treatment of local authorities social care functions and the NHS seems a tad on the inconsistent front.
2) Calling for the head of Cynthia Bower seems a bit on the ‘short-term mindless retribution’ side of fair. Was Ms Bower involved in the inspection that failed? Has the Government adjudicated that the CQC is carrying out consistently bad inspections? Is there something faulty with the organisation that was not faulty seven days ago? Will firing Cynthia Bower make any difference at all other than to satisfy some public blood lust? The answer is of course no.
So what have we got from Mr Burstow this weekend? An unfunded commitment and a mindless firing of a member of staff who as far as I can tell has done nothing wrong.
Surely, even within the context of the massive budget cuts the Government are making we could expect better from our ministers than that?
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