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Council considers financial incentives for key roles.

A SHORTAGE of applicants for vital mental health roles has prompted a South Wales council to consider major financial incentives in an attempt to recruit workers.

A report, set to go before Caerphilly county borough council's cabinet tomorrow, says attempts to recruit approved mental health professionals (AMHPs) in recent years have "experienced a very poor response". The report adds that difficulties in recruiting "has impacted on service delivery".

Social workers within mental health teams are required to qualify as an AMHP in order to undertake assessments for individuals to be admitted to hospital without the agreement of the person or a family member.

There have been 2,309 AMHP assessments in Caerphilly over the past 10 years, according to the report, meaning it remains "consistently high compared with some neighbouring local authorities". Despite this, recruitment statistics for the last three years "shows the response rate to be poor with vacancies not being appointed to on a number of occasions". Adverts for four positions in October 2012 resulted in just five applications, with only one appointment being made. No external candidates have been recruited since January 2011.

The document also states: "The low number of qualified AMHPs currently employed is having a clear impact on the capacity and sustainability on the way in which the authority is able to discharge its statutory responsibility in responding to the need for Mental Health Act assessments."

The report proposes a "market supplement" of either PS2,500 per annum or a 7.5% supplement to the salary to make the roles more attractive.

According to the report, the authority currently employs 11 qualified AMHPs, equating to nine full-time equivalent positions - six fewer than needed.

The report recommends the market supplement be applied to staff employed to undertake the functions of an AMHP, adding that there are "continuing risks to the service in light of the continuing low response to advertised vacancies resulting in key positions unfilled".
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 21, 2014
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