Social work goes into hospital

A couple of weeks back I was in and out of our local hospital on daily basis as my father was poorly. Learning to use the rear exit for easy access to the car park I noticed this sign which I snapped and tweeted, \’Hospital #socialwork – life in the NHS portakabin\’.

Whilst not trending as such it created two separate flurries of activity – considerably more than my normal response rate

Was it because social workers are amusingly ‘way out’ or because their offices are actually frequently located in a portakabin in the car park? Both interpretations brought about knowing chuckles from tweeters across the land.

It did strike me though that if we are to secure the benefits of integrated health and social care (as intended in the Care Bill) then social workers should be:

• located at the heart of hospitals not outside in temporary office accommodation in the car park

• included in the governance of hospitals at practice management level to advocate for patients, argue the corner of the profession and make the case for resources

• have access to the excellent support facilities of a hospital – administration, equipment and training budgets

Over the years I have been involved with hospital social workers in several major hospitals and they were always led by a ‘Principal’ grade located on site. My guess is that is no longer the case. Perhaps it would not be too ‘way out’ to reconsider professional leadership of hospital social work as one feature of the integration agenda that will help realise some of the benefits for the users of hospitals.