White paper spurns structural change

The white paper on social care and health will provide “huge levers” for reforming services but will shun “massive structural change”, according to a senior Department of Health official.

Julia Ross captionJulia Ross, the national programme lead for social care, told a conference on commissioning care services that the paper, expected this month, would also emphasise local area agreements as a route to integrating social care and health.

The agreements provide councils and their partners with greater freedom to spend government money in return for pursuing targets agreed with Whitehall.

Ross, the former social services director at Barking and Dagenham Council in Greater London, was appointed in November to head a social care improvement team in the Department of Health’s Care Services Improvement Partnership.

The team will draw up an improvement strategy for adult social care with the Improvement and Development Agency, and support the delivery of the white paper.

Ross said she was appointing change agents, similar to those deployed by the Department for Education and Skills to support the children’s services reforms, to drive improvement in each region.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley told the Care and Health conference that GPs should be able assume councils’ social care commissioning function to promote integration with health. He said: “Families need someone who has a holistic view of their circumstances.”

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