Behind the headlines

The Queen’s Speech contained seven new pieces of legislation
relevant to the social care field.

Adults needing social care, young offenders, and the future of
local government itself will all be affected, although there was
jubilation among practitioners and users that the Mental Health
Bill had been left out. Alas, the celebrations were short-lived,
with health secretary Alan Milburn announcing later in the week
that he would press ahead with the controversial legislation.
Perhaps top of the government’s list was the Anti-Social Behaviour
Bill. There will also be legislation to allow councils to be fined
for delayed discharges, a Sexual Offences Bill to clamp down on
internet paedophiles, and a Criminal Justice Bill to place more
emphasis on community sentences.

The Health and Social Care Bill will open the way to the
creation of “foundation” hospitals free from Whitehall control, as
well as the establishment of the two new inspection authorities,
the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Commission for
Healthcare Audit and Inspection.   

Bill Badham, development officer, National Youth
“We were nearly saved from the Mental Health Bill – that
was the surprise. But the obsession with crime is no surprise:
there is always more political mileage in generating moral panic
about antisocial behaviour (especially if scapegoating young
people) and setting up a centralised antisocial behaviour unit
rather than resourcing preventive measures such as effective youth

Bob Hudson, principal research fellow, Nuffield
Institute for Health, University of Leeds

“The creation – and likely roll-out – of foundation hospitals is of
huge significance for adult social care. Acute trusts are already
the weakest links in local partnership chains, and this new status
will only increase their insularity. The government urges the NHS
and social care to work more closely together, then introduces
policies like this and the ill-judged fines for delayed discharge
of people from hospitals, which will make the job so much harder.
The proposal to have foundation hospitals run by locally elected
bodies is bizarre, taking us back to a 19th century model where
separate local services like boards of guardians and school boards
were run by separately elected bodies. That’s why local government
was invented!”

Julia Ross, executive director for health and social
care, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
“Overall it’s good to see the prominence of health and
social care, although instead of the Community Care (Delayed
Discharges) Bill I’d have preferred to see a “Whole Systems Working
Bill”. Ever optimistic, I hope there’s still a chance to influence
this. I was delighted to see the implied rethink in the absence of
the Mental Health Bill, a very welcome chance for us all to
influence Home Office thinking towards a better outcome.”

Felicity Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and

“It is incredible to reflect that in the past 10 years, there have
been 11 Criminal Justice Acts – it is tempting to believe that
being seen to take action on crime is a pre-requisite of a
successful government. I despair about the size of our prison
population and the increasing public intolerance of our young
people; every new measure results in a wave of hysteria about how
bad the problem really is. Why can’t we pay more attention to
getting the current legislation right, resourcing our youth justice
teams and the National Probation Service – now that might really
make a difference.”

Martin Green, chief executive, Counsel and Care for the
“I welcome the government’s desire to improve discharge
processes for older people, but I have grave concern’s over the way
this is proposed in the Queen’s Speech. Fining local authorities
will further distort the discharge of older people and patients
will be placed on the basis of the need to empty a bed rather than
on the criteria of the best placement for the older person.”

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