NHS chief moves to allay fears that social care will be sidelined in rejig

The restructuring of the Department of Health is intended to ensure
wider understanding of social care issues rather than allow the
sector to be marginalised, NHS chief executive Nigel Crisp said
last week.

Describing the change as “behavioural rather than structural”, he
said there would still be “someone senior” from social services in
the new-look department.

Crisp was speaking at the Association of Directors of Social
Services’ spring seminar in Liverpool.

Under the change outlined last month the DoH will be split into
three divisions, none of which will be headed by a professional
with a social care background.

The Health and Social Care Standards Group will be led by chief
medical officer Liam Donaldson, who will have a team of three
including one responsible for social care (news, page 8, 27 March).
The Social Services Inspectorate will no longer sit within the

Crisp said the rationale behind the change was to move
understanding of social care from the hands of the few into the
hands of the many. Merging the SSI with the majority of the
National Care Standards Commission to form the independent
Commission for Social Care Inspection would also “build confidence”
in the system.

His only praise for the sector was reserved for its role in helping
hospitals meet their targets on delayed discharges and A&E
waiting times. Yet he denied there was too much focus on acute
targets, although directors insisted the obsession was hindering
joint working.

Directors rejected Crisp’s suggestion that social care jobs were
often filled through informal networks. They also criticised his
comments about using the seminar to recruit directors to work in
the NHS.

Wiltshire social services director Ray Jones said: “There is
concern around the restructuring of the DoH and whether it is going
to leave social care more and more marginalised.”

He said Crisp’s “NHS-centric” presentation suggested that this was
“even more of a concern than it might have been”.

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