Baby P media witch-hunt to make filling social worker posts even harder

The media witch-hunt of Haringey social workers in the wake of the Baby P case will add to the profession’s recruitment and retention problems, experts have warned.

Front-line social workers were singled out for criticism in national media coverage after the toddler’s death from abuse on 11 November.

Campaigns included a petition in the Sun calling for named individuals to be sacked, which attracted more than a million signatures.

A spokesperson for trade union Unison said the fall-out from the Baby P case “and the hounding of social workers by some sections of the media”, would deter people wishing to enter the profession.

“There will inevitably be an impact on people making decisions about entering children’s social work,” she said.

Unison, which represents 40,000 social workers in the UK, is also concerned that the adverse publicity may force existing social workers to consider changing careers.

“We’ve already got huge problems with retention, with many professionals saying they are carrying huge caseloads,” the spokesperson added.

Local Government Association chairman Margaret Eaton said that unless considered steps were taken, there would be irreparable damage to social services.

“People make a positive choice to work with the most vulnerable children because they want to make a difference, but if we’re not careful, we’ll create a climate in which the [personal] cost of entering this area of public service so massively outweigh the benefits that we will force good potential entrants to the children’s workforce to think again,” she said

Haringey Council’s head of children’s services, Sharon Shoesmith, was removed from her post last week after the publication of a damning independent report into the circumstances that allowed Baby P to die despite being seen by professionals 60 times.

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