The Department of Health is to create a post of director of social
care for England in a bid to ensure the voice of social care is
heard in Whitehall.
In his first speech to the annual National Social Services
Conference, health secretary John Reid said the director would
“strengthen the relationships the department has with social care
in local government and elsewhere” and “ensure that all policy
development in the department starts by thinking about the health
and social care system as a whole”.
“For those who say social care will not be at the centre of what we
are trying to do, that will not be the case as long as I am
secretary of state,” Reid said.
The new president of the Association of Directors of Social
Services, Andrew Cozens, said the director of social care was
needed to champion the voice of social services within the
Department of Health. He said it should be a senior post as close
to the chief executive and permanent secretary as possible.
However, Reid said the post would be “similar in style to the
directors of patient and public involvement and of primary care”,
implying that it would not be at the same level as the heads of the
three new directorates within the restructured DoH.
Denise Platt, shadow chairperson of the Commission for Social Care
Inspection, welcomed the plans to give social care a new leadership
role within the DoH, but added that she was unsure who the new
director would be accountable to. She said she hoped it would put
social care back on level terms with health within the department.
Meanwhile, education secretary Charles Clarke said the Department
for Education and Skills’ new director of children’s services would
be announced imminently.
Director of education and social policy at the Local Government
Association John Ransford said the new DfES post would report
directly to the permanent secretary.
“You can’t get higher than that,” Ransford said. “The issue now is
who gets the post. They have got to have someone with the right
skills and abilities to change things. I would have hoped the
government would appoint someone with a very wide experience base
to the job.”