Concerns after top staff leave Haringey Council’s learning disability team

PUBLISHED: 06:45 17 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:51 18 June 2015

Haringey Civic Centre in Wood Green. Picture: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive

Haringey Civic Centre in Wood Green. Picture: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Concerns have been raised after two senior members of Haringey Council’s learning disability staff left their posts at the same time, plunging the department into uncertainty.

Both the interim head and deputy head of learning disability services resigned from their positions, prompting concerns about a lack of leadership in the department at a time when Haringey is implementing millions of pounds worth of cuts.

Sue Hessel, who organises regular coffee mornings for carers, expressed concerns about high levels of staff turnover in the department.

She said: “Who would want a job imposing a further £25m cuts on the most vulnerable people in the land?

“Haringey Council’s adult social care cuts are far higher than those being imposed by other boroughs.

“All its day centres and luncheon clubs are closed or closing, it’s closed down its residential homes. We’ve just had the damning Sevacare CQC report on paid carers not doing their job properly in Haringey. Surely any manager will be worrying about the lack of safety net here.

“I could not even start to count the number of staff management who leave - you get told that someone is starting in post and the next thing you hear they’ve left – neither Michael Murphy [interim head] nor Charmaine Wiggins [deputy head] were here for more than a few months. There’s no stability.

“It’s so sad for our family carers - who do they turn to?”

And Mary Langan from campaign group Save Austism Services Haringey (SASH) added: “The simultaneous departure of Michael Murphy, interim head of learning disabilities, and his deputy, Charmaine Wiggins, underlines the lack of a stable leadership in social care in Haringey.

“There is a lack of experience and continuity at every level: even the current director of adult social care was appointed on an ‘interim’ basis, more than 12 months ago.

“At a time when Haringey is embarking on a three year programme of drastic cuts in adult social care services, the absence of consistent leadership can only intensify the anxieties of service users, families and carers.

“Save Autism Services Haringey urges the Council to sort out this staffing crisis as a matter of urgency.”

A Haringey Council spokesman said one of the posts had been filled, although the new employee had not yet started work, and applications for the second post were due to close this week.

He said: “Comments suggesting that there is instability in the Haringey Learning Disability Partnership team are both unfounded and untrue.

“We have recently recruited for two permanent leadership roles in this team, after two interim members of staff left Haringey to take up permanent positions elsewhere.

“This level of staff turnover is entirely normal for a team this size and reflects standard council practice to recruit people permanently for posts wherever possible.

“We would like to thank the previous post-holders for their excellent work whilst at Haringey and we look forward to welcoming new permanent recruits into these important roles to help us to deliver improvements in adult social care in Haringey.”

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