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Unpaid hours worked by social workers save Northern Ireland health and social care system £11.4 million a year

The Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) today launches its report Above and Beyond. The document highlights that workload pressures faced by social workers result in 88% of staff working additional unpaid hours, saving the health and social care sector £11.4 million annually.

Speaking about the report’s findings, NIASW Country Manager Carolyn Ewart stated: “When NIASW surveyed social workers to examine the pressures they face we discovered a range of challenges result in staff working a total of 740,000 unpaid hours a year. While this represents a huge saving to our health and social care sector it comes at a cost to social workers”.

Ms Ewart continued: “Social workers are dedicated to helping the most vulnerable individuals in our society and our research shows changes are required to reduce stress and enable social workers to work as effectively as possible. We are calling on social work employers to fill the many vacancies present in social work teams, reduce unnecessary paperwork and provide additional administrative support, so social workers can ensure their time is spent directly engaging with service users.”

Having reviewed the report’s findings, Paula Bradley MLA, Chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly Health Committee stated: “social workers play a crucial role in improving outcomes in the lives of many people in Northern Ireland. This report highlights the commitment and dedication of our social workers, and I welcome NIASW’s recommendations for change that, if implemented, will improve support for all social workers delivering services”.

Ms Ewart concluded by saying: “While as a profession we face challenges, none are insurmountable. Where our research has found problems we have recommended solutions and NIASW is committed to working in partnership with the Department of Health and all other stakeholders to see these solutions implemented”.