Elite councils consider plans to take control of adult services from NHS

The country’s best councils would take control of hospital care for
older people, under radical plans discussed this week.

The proposal would see social services departments take control of
the entire budget for health and social care for older people,
allowing them to develop preventive approaches to care and reduce
hospital admissions.

The idea is the brainchild of Kent Council, one of 22 rated
excellent in the comprehensive performance assessment who came
together with central government to form the innovations forum this

The group, which will work on ideas to improve public services and
is co-chaired by local government minister Nick Raynsford, was set
up as part of a government promise to offer greater freedoms to the
highest performing councils.

Kent Council leader Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, said: “The idea was very
simply about us feeling on the issue of hospital capacity that
there is too much concentration on the discharge side and the shift
in government emphasis to talk of fines.”

He added that Kent had been developing alternatives to hospital
with the NHS, such as recuperative homes and a hospital-at-home
scheme. “The idea about us taking over the budget grew from the
fact that we keep people in hospital at a cost of between
£1,200 and £1,500 [per week] when we could look after
them at home for half that.”

Kent Council will continue working on the plans, in partnership
with the NHS, and will meet the forum in a few months.

Health secretary Jacqui Smith said: “The innovations forum will
provide an excellent opportunity to discuss and develop innovative
new services and initiatives to ensure older people get the right
care, in the right place and at the right time.”

Health select committee chairperson David Hinchliffe MP, who has
argued for a common budget for social services and the NHS for many
years, added that the idea was “very attractive” in

He said he was not overly concerned that primary care trusts, which
were recently given responsibility for 75 per cent of the NHS
budget, could lose it to social services departments.

“I just want to see a common, integrated service which comes out of
one budget and I’m not unduly bothered what sector it is based in,”
Hinchliffe said.

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