A trade union is calling for Scottish Government intervention in an investigation into mismanagement and bullying within East Dunbartonshire’s social work services.
UNSON has written to Health and Social Care secretary Humza Yousaf, Scottish Social Services Council chief executive Lorraine Gray, Edith Macintosh of the Care Inspectorate and Iona Covin who is the Scottish Government’s chief social work advisor claming that East Dunbartonshire Council and the local Health and Social Care Partnership have failed to provide meaningful engagement on an internal report which highlighted a number of issues with management, culture and bullying.
In the letter, the union states: “The Council has so far chosen not to publish their full report to staff. There has been no dialogue with UNISON on any actions to take forward the recommendations of their own report nor any discussion on our response.
“We therefore lack confidence that there is any intent by the council or health and social care partnership to take forward their own recommendations, let alone engage with us meaningfully on our concerns.”
UNISON regional organiser Simon Macfarlane added: “The councilinvestigation into serious allegations about social work management in EastDunbartonshire was set up in November 2019. From the outset we asked for an independent element to ensure objectivity and build confidence, the council repeatedly refused this. Despite this we engaged with the process andsupported members to submit evidence as it was the only route open to them.
“Notwithstanding the pandemic the council took an excessive time to investigate the issues, over two years. The final report, published in December 2021, has still not been shared with social work staff, we think this is a major omission.
“We have sought to engage constructively with the council and HSCP on these matters and sent a detailed response to the report to the Council’s Chief Executive on 11th February 2022. In addition a number of our members have submitted individual appeals to their outcomes.
“To date there has been no action plan from the council or HSCP to takeforward their own recommendations, nor a meeting with UNISON to discuss our response and members have no indication when or if their appeals will beheard. We therefore lack confidence that the council and HSCP intend doinganything and have therefor written to the Humza Yousaf and regulatorscalling on them to act.”
East Dunbartonshire Council’s chief executive, Gerry Cornes, said: “The Council investigated the initial allegations in relation to social work, which were made through whistleblower and grievance procedures and were addressed as such. The investigation was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but concluded in late 2021.
“Detailed fact finding reports were undertaken as part of the investigation. These will not be shared, but the outcomes have been communicated to those involved. A comprehensive 51-page outcome summary report was produced on conclusion of the investigation and shared with trades unions, including UNISON, and with the relevant regulators in December 2021.
“The conclusion of the investigation is that there was no evidence of bullying or intimidation in our social work services. Additional work was identified as required in a small number of areas so that effective relationship building and communications are in place to ensure all employees feel supported and valued in the teams in which they work.
“It is the Council’s intention to publish the outcome summary report after the local government elections. It will be shared with the relevant employees in the first instance and the Council is also finalising the arrangements for the procedures that remain pending following the communication of investigation outcomes to individuals.”