Government plans to engage family doctors in the Children Bill’s
agenda through the new GP contract received a frosty reception from
directors of social services.
Children’s minister Margaret Hodge said she had been told that the
best way to engage GPs was through their contract with primary care
trusts rather than placing requirements on them in the bill.
Mike Leadbetter, interim executive director of Ealing social
services in London and head of the practice learning task force,
disagreed, saying there was not enough emphasis on doctors in the
“There need to be very explicit requirements [on doctors in the
bill]. To leave it to the PCT at best will have a variable response
and at worst will have little impact,” he said.
Leadbetter called for long-term, targeted, ring-fenced money for
preventive services for children.
But Hodge said the government was moving away from ring-fencing in
line with what it understood directors wanted. Councils that
achieved “the right balance” in their children’s trusts would have
the flexibility to spend what they wanted on preventive services,
Sure Start and the Children’s Fund could be seen as preventive
services, Hodge said.
However, Leadbetter said Sure Start had increased the number of
referrals to social services and that the latter needed money to
set out preventive packages for referred families.