‘Research fails to prove benefits of partnership’

Partnership working between health and social care does not definitely improve outcomes for service users, social care academic Jon Glasby (pictured) said.

Glasby, head of health and social care partnerships at Birmingham University’s Health Services Management Centre, said there was insufficient evidence to back the widely held belief that partnerships worked.

He told a session on joint working between the NHS and social care: “In research terms the relationship between partnerships and better outcomes is unproven. How do you prove that something did not happen because your partnership was in place? It is very hard to unpick all the 101 things other than the partnership that you do that also impact on services.”

But he added that this did not necessarily mean partnership working should be abandoned as it was clear that single agency responses did not work.

Speaking at the same session David Stout, director of the NHS Confederation’s Primary Care Trust Network, said one of the challenges for constructive partnership working for health and social care was to maintain effective relationships in times of political turbulence.

“The NHS is a political football and there are politicians out there, at national and local level, who are quite willing to use it to get at the government. When that happens we have to make sure that local relationships do not suffer,” he said.

Elsewhere, care services minister Ivan Lewis said the Department of Health needed to put pressure on GPs to engage with social care in promoting well-being.

He said the development of practice-based commissioning, under which GPs are given virtual budgets to purchase services, made good relationships vital, and added: “The health side of the Department of Health needs to be a bit more strident with their primary care colleagues about what it’s like to be a partner.”

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 Anabel Unity Sale

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