Heavy paper weight

August 18, 1995

Overworked? Stressed? Burned out? Spare a thought, then, for the social worker disappearing under a mountain of paperwork.

The profession's main training body has drawn attention to growing workloads for its staff resulting from education and training reforms and changes in its own structure.

A report from Tony Hall, director of the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work, says workloads and the pressure of deadlines have grown dramatically over the past two years as the council has tackled new Government demands for a review of professional qualifications at a time of major staff cuts.

Four meeting cycles per year, too many tasks and too much paperwork is placing an unnecessary burden on officials and administrators, says the report - itself part of a CCETSW meeting agenda which runs to more than 300 pages.

It recommends a cut in the number of meetings, rescheduling of timetables "to provide a more realistic time-scale for the work to be done" and that "committee chairs and members do not inadvertently add to workload pressures by calling for extra meetings, requesting additional papers or setting tight deadlines for work without reference to the workload implications for staff". It is generally recognised that the social work profession itself suffers the burden of bureaucracy, and recent changes in training are likely to add to this.

Mr Hall notes there will be "inevitable disadvantages" to some of the proposed changes in his report. "Agenda of meetings when they are held are likely to be even more pressured than at present," he says. But these disadvantages "are considered easier to handle than the present number of meetings".

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