Most staff oblivious to white paper plan while suspicion of NHS
remains Most social care professionals are unaware of the
government’s policy agenda for adult services, despite it
commanding the support of senior managers, exclusive by
An exclusive Community Care survey of almost 1,000 staff
finds 56 per cent are unaware of the planned white paper on health
and social care, announced on 21 July.
The plan for a joint paper has the support of the Association of
Directors of Social Services, but the findings suggest knowledge of
it has not filtered down to front-line staff.
The respondents were mainly social workers and front-line managers,
with two-thirds working in older people’s services, learning
difficulties, mental health and physical disabilities, and a
similar number employed by councils.
John Dixon, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social
Services disability committee, was not surprised by the lack of
awareness. He said: “The profile of the white paper has been lower
than the [adult] green paper. We didn’t know there would be one
until 21 July.”
Attitudes to the joint white paper among staff are ambivalent,
reflecting social care’s suspicion of health and the assumption the
government places greater value on the NHS.
While 85 per cent feel it is a good idea, almost three-fifths
believe it will diminish the role of social care and a similar
figure say the sector should have a stand-alone white paper.
And although 86 per cent say their relationship with health
professionals is good or excellent, 72 per cent say health
counterparts do not understand social work’s values.
Eighty-eight per cent say the NHS treats people as patients rather
than looking at their individual needs, while 92 per cent say the
government values health staff above social care workers.
Ian Johnston, director of the British Association of Social
Workers, warned the government not to “railroad” through the
changes and to involve staff in their development.
Dixon said he understood the concerns, adding: “There are big
cultural differences [between social care and health]. But what we
have to bring to the table is extremely important. I don’t think
the NHS can afford to have a medical model of treatment.”
The survey also shows that, despite the significant increase in
joint working over the past few years, the majority of staff do not
work in joint teams with health professionals.
Main findings of survey
- 56 per cent are unaware of the white paper.
- 85 per cent believe it is a good or excellent idea.
- 58 per cent believe it will diminish the role of social
- 59 per cent back a stand-alone white paper for social
- 72 per cent believe health professionals do not understand
social work’s core values.