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Survey finds social workers in Northern Ireland stymied by bureaucracy overload

Social workers in Northern Ireland want to spend more time with families but are prevented from doing so by paperwork and bureaucracy, a survey by the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW – part of BASW) has revealed.

The study shows the pressure social workers are under with 76% working more than their contracted hours, and half putting in between 20 and 60 hours extra a month.

Nearly all the 149 social workers polled (96%) said they wanted to spend more time with clients, claiming the burden of bureaucracy means they spend less than a third of their time with users of services.

NIASW manager Carolyn Ewart said the report highlights both the concern and dedication of social workers in Northern Ireland.

“It is very clear from the findings that social workers really are going the extra mile for their clients. They are working above and beyond the hours because of their passion and commitment for the work they do.

“However, it also highlights a profession under extreme pressure. It is unacceptable that social workers are spending less than a third of their time seeing the children and families with whom they are supposed to be working and two thirds of their time doing paperwork. It is bound to impact on the quality of social work services people are getting.”

Ms Ewart said NIASW will be pressing the Northern Ireland administration to act, urging ministers to draw on the findings and nine recommendations included in the report, as part of a ten year strategy for social work currently being consulted upon.

Click here to see the full report: