Page last updated at 01:26 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Baby P 'deterring social workers'

Baby P
Baby P died after months of abuse despite being monitored by officials

A growing number of social workers are leaving the profession following the Baby P case, a survey suggests.

The Local Government Association (LGA) found six out of 10 councils in England have reported problems retaining staff - a 50% rise on the year before.

Officials say strained staff have been "put through the mill".

Seventeen-month-old Peter Connolly died after suffering 50 injuries and despite 60 visits from social workers, doctors and police in Haringey, north London.

The LGA fears the struggle to retain "thousands" of frontline staff follows the criticism of the profession in the wake of the high-profile case.

Shireen Ritchie, chairman of the children and young people board, said: "The vilification of children's social workers has increased the risk of harm to some children by opening up gaps in the safety net which works so hard to protect them."

'Demonised'

Mrs Ritchie added: "During the past 12 months too many social workers have clearly decided the strain of this difficult work is more than they can handle."

Peter Connolly - known as Baby P until the court case over his death ended - was on Haringey Council's at-risk register when he died at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger in August 2007.

Children's Minister Delyth Morgan said the government was investing £109m over the next two years to support social workers and attract more people back to the job.

And she said more than 30,000 people had already applied to become children's social workers following the Be The Difference campaign run by the Children's Workforce Development Council.

Annette Brooke, children and families spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, said social workers were under "huge pressure" from a lack of resources and that the profession had been "demonised" by the Baby P case.



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