The chairman of the health select committee has warned that joint social care and health commissioning could be destabilised by the government’s health reform plan.
Stephen Dorrell called on the Department of Health to ensure that responsibility was clearly set out for ensuring the continuity as consortia of GPs took over commissioning from primary care trusts, as prescribed by the health White Paper.
Speaking at a Conservative conference fringe session, Dorrell, a former health secretary, predicted that different commissioning systems would be implemented in different places.
“It’s likely that there will need to be different solutions in different parts of the country. The challenge that we as a select committee will put to the government is that someone must own this process,” he said.
He suggested that in some areas GPs were likely to make commissioning for some conditions less of a priority.
“What I’m less persuaded of is that every GP in the land is going to be engaged with pathways to care with regard to people with diabetes, or whatever condition.”
Tory councillors with social care backgrounds had a mixed response to the White Paper.
Philip Gretton, the portfolio holder for adult social care on Worcestershire Council, said: “We’ve made great steps forward on joint health and social care budgets. The threat now is that we face working with a number of GP consortia. [Health secretary] Andrew Lansley needs to make sure that GPs work with social care.”
However, Jacqueline Slater, who held a similar post on Blackburn with Darwin Council before the Tories lost power there, said she was optimistic the authority’s groundbreaking work on joining health and care together could be built upon under a system of GP commissioning.
Dorrell also warned the session that social care could not expect to prosper from the comprehensive spending review.
“There will be some very tough decisions,” he said.
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