Social Workers Picket For Safer Staffing Levels

Social workers in South Eastern HSC Trust picket to improve safer staffing levels and for children and families

Roisin McConnell, a social worker on the Newcastle team, explains why the social workers are on the picket line seeking safer staffing levels. (Photos by Jim Masson / Down News. ©)

Social worker members of NIPSA are picketing outside the Downshire Estate today for safer levels of staffing to protect the social workers from burnout and to ensure the wellbeing of the children within the service.

Roisin McConnell, a social worker on the Newcastle social work team, said: “This is about the wellbeing of our staff and the wellbeing of the children who come through our services.

“At the moment we are simply understaffed and many of us are doing the workload of two or three social workers and eventually we get burnout.

“This results in staff having time off work and when they return they still face a mountain of work and the problem continues. This is unacceptable. We just need more staff to get the job done safely.

“It’s about the frontline care of the children and their families in the Trust area. Special needs is looked after by the Education Authority.

“There are just not enough social workers in post and the universities need to be training more to fill this gap.

“Today we have teams from Newcastle, Downpatrick and Ballynahinch on this picket line calling for change.

“And it is about defining the very future of social work profession itself. This service is badly underfunded and our politicians need to understand this when they are making policy decision at the Assembly.

“The South Eastern HSC Trust itself is supportive of us but they too recognise the issues of staffing and resourcing which need to be addressed urgently.”

Roisin added that the problem had been running for a number of years and is now at a critical stage for the social work service.

Social workers on teams from Newcastle, Downpatrick and Ballynahinch picketing for safer, improved staffing levels to prevent staff burnout and to protect the wellbeing of children and families.

She added: “What we are doing is unsustainable. It is affecting the wellbeing of the staff and this will ultimately impact ion the children and families in our care. Something has to change. Funding needs to be in place to allow this to happen.

“We just can’t have a service where social workers just burn out on a regular basis.”



NIPSA Social Work members are taking selective strike action in order to protect services and to ensure safe staffing levels. 

There will be 3 days of strike action from 3 to 5 July inclusive, with pickets at the following venues:

VenueDate / Time
NEWTOWNARDS3 July – 8am to 11am
Front entrance
Newtownards Hospital
BT23 4AS4 July – 9am to 12 noon
LISBURN3 July – 8am to 11am
Main Entrance
Lagan Valley Hospital
BT28 1JP4 July – 9am to 12 noon
DOWNPATRICK3 July – 8am to 11am
Downshire Hospital
BT30 6RL4 July – 9am to 12 noon
20-32 Chichester St,

NIPSA implore the public to support this action by gathering at Erskine House, Chichester Street Belfast at 10.30am on Friday 5 July, as the stance these workers are taking will ultimately be to the benefit of all users of the NHS.