The association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has responded to a BBC report which suggested that the use of temporary social workers can jeopardise the standard of care. The report highlighted a Community Care Magazine Freedom of Information request which revealed that local authorities’ reliance on locum social workers has increased by over a third. Critics of social work locums have suggested that they are expensive and do not provide the consistency of care needed in today’s society.
Debbie Smith who is the CEO of social care recruiter Caritas Recruitment, and also Chair of APSCo’s Social Work Sector Group, was also featured on the report and said: “Locum social workers are in fact some of the most experienced practitioners in the UK and often they can add valuable insight, particularly when they have been working in a high performing local authority and then go on to work with those which may need improvement.” Additionally she adds that ‘there is no correlation between the use of locum social workers and poor performance; a report released by the Department for Education in Mar 2014 showed that those local authorities deemed by Ofsted to be ‘outstanding’ had a higher than the national average usage of locum social workers’.
Nick Bowles. Head of Stakeholder Engagement at APSCo added: “Of course the real problem is that there just aren’t enough permanent social workers around and so flexible workers fill an absolutely crucial skills gap. The Local Government Association ( LGA) has recently said that council leaders are concerned that a lack of suitable vetting procedures has resulted in an inability to attract the very best professionals – just one of the reasons why APSCo developed Compliance+ – a best practice standard for the suppliers of both permanent and locum social workers which goes above and beyond statutory requirements to ensure that local authorities get the best prepared, the best trained and the most appropriate social worker for their particular setting.”