Skip to main content

BASW hits out at social worker scapegoating in Essex caesarean row

Responding to media reports of an Italian woman who underwent a caesarean procedure while under sectioned under the Mental Health Act and whose baby remains in the care of Essex County Council, the Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers Bridget Robb said:

"This is undoubtedly a sad and difficult case and the past 15 months must have been extremely traumatic for the mother concerned.

"There are clearly complexities in this case that have not been publicly revealed, including very serious concerns about the welfare of those involved.

"We will not get into speculation about what those details might be but on behalf of the profession we have a duty to point out that some of the coverage of this case has conferred on social workers a power beyond all recognition.

"Social workers were one of a number of agencies that decided over the course of a sustained period of time that action was necessary to safeguard the welfare of those involved. Social work professionals were engaged in a process that began with the police, continued with psychiatric health professionals, doctors and two high court judges.

"The Daily Telegraph's assertion that 'A pregnant woman has had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section by social workers' not only reduces the debate to the absurd but makes a sweeping dismissal of the professional code to which doctors, who actually carry out such procedures, adhere.

"The debate has also been ill-served by the use of the term 'secrecy' in some of the deliberations involved in this woman's case when 'confidentiality' is the actual starting point for social workers and other professionals engaged in sensitive matters about people's well-being.

"Social work, as with other professions, must always be prepared to consider how it might do things differently but so too elements of the media with an axe to grind might question whether their prejudicial approach does anything to support improved public understanding or better public services."