A lack of social care policymaking capacity in the Department of Health will not be fully redressed by David Behan’s appointment as its first director general for social care, according to sector leaders.
The Commission for Social Care Inspection’s chief inspector was appointed to the board-level post last week.
Behan will hold the first social care-specific post on the DH board since the controversial departmental reorganisation in 2003. It stripped out huge numbers of social care posts and preceded the abolition of the DH-based Social Services Inspectorate.
Behan’s appointment at the helm of a new social care directorate has been widely acclaimed but there are warnings he will need more support to give the sector greater voice and status within the DH.
British Association of Social Workers chair Ray Jones said: “One person alone will not make a difference. It will need an increase in social care capacity which was stripped out when the Social Services Inspectorate was disbanded.”
Andrea Rowe, chief executive of Skills for Care, agreed, saying: “He’s got a tall order putting social care high on the agenda as a single director general on effectively an NHS board.”
Care services minister Ivan Lewis told Community Care last week there will be further social care appointments to the DH but could not confirm any details.
The government could also not confirm whether care services director Anthony Sheehan and national director for social care Kathryn Hudson, currently the DH’s most senior social care officials, would report to Behan, nor whether he would head the Care Services Improvement Partnership.
Behan’s chief responsibilities will be helping deliver the health and social care white paper, providing social care leadership across central and local government and “securing resources for adult social care provision”.
He has not yet decided when he will take up his post.