A Croydon Council mental health social worker who helped prevent a woman being wrongly sectioned has been named a finalist in a national awards ceremony.
Andrew Thomas has made it to the finals of Social Worker of the Year, which will be held in London in November, where his entry will be pitted against the other mental health social workers nominated as the best in England.
Andrew is Croydon Council’s lead Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP), who are specially-trained social workers that make assessments under mental health legislation. When NHS and social services professionals assess someone’s mental health needs, the AMHP contributes what they know of their social circumstances instead of the case being just based on their medical history.
The Social Worker of the Year awards, which will be held at the Lancaster Hotel in central London on 24 November, recognise the achievements and successes of the profession’s most innovative and dedicated social workers. If Andrew is named mental health worker of the year, he will also be in the running against 15 other category winners to become overall Social Worker of the Year 2017.
Andrew’s nomination centred on the case of a service user who had been accused of significantly harming and neglecting her young child. After her arrest by police she was initially thought to need long-term admission to a secure psychiatric unit because of symptoms including delusions, confused speech and hallucinations that unseen voices were ordering her to do things.
Based on the woman’s history, Andrew said she had not been fully assessed by medical staff so he got another doctor’s independent second opinion. After he did further detailed work with health service colleagues, it was agreed that the woman’s symptoms had been caused by drug use rather than her mental health. She was not detained in a secure unit, but discharged from psychiatric care after treatment to get the support she needed from substance misuse services. The child now lives with other family members.
Andrew, who is 49 and has worked for the council for three years, said: “It is really humbling to be recognised by my peers, and I was proud to share the news of my nomination with my family. I’m in this job because I love helping people, and these awards are good because they reflect the kind of situations that health and social care professionals deal with all the time.”
“I am very proud that Andrew has been nominated as a finalist for this national award. Andrew works relentlessly to make a positive difference to the lives of Croydon residents who have mental health needs. He is respected by colleagues, partners and service users for his knowledge, skills and ability to empower and motivate those he works with. All this has been rightly recognised through this nomination, and I wish him much success on the night of the awards.”
Councillor Louisa Woodley, cabinet member for families, health and social care