Concern about staffing levels was first raised in 1998 and followed through in 2000. The subsequent two-stage review reveals that some 67 per cent are over the age of 45 and only 89 are under 40. Twenty-five posts have proved difficult to fill and the shortfall is not being met by the numbers trained.
The number of students will now rise from the current 34 in training to 48, ensuring that 24 graduate each year. Dundee University could take a further 12 students but problems with placements remain. Most students are women and many courses have had only one male trainee, the inquiry notes.
Authorities are urged to sponsor traineeships in their own interests. Two-thirds report difficulties filling vacancies, 11 of them because of their rural nature. Covering for absences adds to the headaches.
"When authorities are ranked in terms of recognised poverty indicators, the poorer authorities on average have less favourable staffing ratios and also higher vacancy levels," the inquiry states.
The review recommends removing the senior psychologist's post. "The basic grade post should instead be the main grade post and psychologists working at this level should be valued and rewarded appropriately for being good practitioners, rather than feeling that they have to climb a career ladder."
Leader, page 22