Mid Wales

High staff sickness at troubled Powys children's service

Boy sitting on a bench Image copyright Thinkstock

High levels of sickness and staff leaving their jobs have left Powys' under-fire children's services "unsustainable", a report warns.

In October, a watchdog warned children were at risk of harm due to failings in the department.

While a new report says improvements have been made, it raises concerns about significant numbers of agency workers.

Powys council has been approached for comment on the findings.

The report, to go before the authority on Tuesday, says that while agency workers have helped to bring stability and reduce case loads, there are staffing issues.

It points to pressures in some social worker teams, including Newtown and Welshpool, where staff are leaving and there are high levels of absence.

The report by Rachel Powell, cabinet member for children's services, says: "Plans are in place to strengthen these teams with additional agency social workers."

In October, a report by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) said there was evidence of missed opportunities to safeguard children which put them at "considerable risk".

After the CSSIW's findings were published, it emerged the authority was also talking to police about the potential manipulation of performance data in children's services.

Powys council was given 90 days to improve by the Welsh Government or risk being taken over by ministers.

A further CSSIW visit in December showed early signs of improvement in many areas, but the inspectorate said it remained concerned "about the quality of operational practice", the frequency of statutory visits for looked-after children, and safeguarding practices.

The report says Powys council has a "considerable number of actions" in place to improve safeguarding.

"Working together, we will deliver not only the priority actions set out in the plan but also sustainable improvement and good outcomes in the lives of our children and young people", it reads.

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