The Independent London Newspaper

 

Islington’s care-in-the-community social workers face axe and a trebled workload

Published: 17th December, 2010
by TOM FOOT

SOCIAL workers caring for mental health patients at home have been told they must treble their caseloads before their jobs are axed in March.

Islington’s care-in-the-community teams, who visit mentally ill patients in their homes after they are discharged from hospital, must “spend less time with clients” and “close cases more quickly”, an insider has revealed.

Psychiatric home care workers typically manage about a dozen cases – a figure expected to rise to at least 40 over the next few months. They have been told their jobs are only guaranteed until April.

Shirley Franklin, chairwoman of Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition, said: “This is really dire for people with mental health problems.” The changes cast doubt on mental health chiefs’ claims that community service can replace beds at two hospitals earmarked for closure.

Camden and Islington Foundation Trust has unveiled plans to close up to 130 of Islington’s mental health beds, claiming it has 70 “vacant” beds that are surplus to requirements.

But a Freedom of Information request revealed that 46 of these “vacant beds” have been shut down “temporarily” in the last five months. 

A trust spokesman said: “Vacancies have been growing due to the successes of community-based alternatives to hospital care.”

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