The Local Government Association was hopeful that “substantial
progress” had been made following negotiations with health minister
John Hutton this week over proposals included in the Health and
Social Care Bill.
Prior to the meeting, the LGA and other public sector and
voluntary organisations had been threatening to demand that care
trusts be removed from the bill.
The bill looks likely to reach the statute book now that Prime
Minister Tony Blair has delayed the general election.
The bill’s social care provision survived the Lords committee
stage unscathed. An LGA amendment calling for care trusts to be
established as new organisations was rejected.
The rebuff means that care trusts will only be developed from
existing NHS bodies. According to LGA chairperson Jeremy Beecham
this could effectively graft social services onto the NHS, and hand
over care of the most vulnerable people to “unelected quangos”.
LGA leaders warned that such trusts would be dominated by the
NHS, with local authorities treated as junior partners.
“We have repeatedly pressed for specific information about the
nature of the trusts and have relied on health ministers’
assurances that the trusts would be equal and democratically
accountable,” said Beecham.
“Anything other than this would signal the end of social care
under democratic control and the dominance of a clinical approach
to the assessment and care of users.”