An NHS trust is to axe what is believed to be the country’s only executive director of social care in statutory mental health services.
South East Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust is cutting the executive director of social care and partnerships post, currently held by Amanda Reynolds, in a drive to cut management costs. Two other executive director posts are also being cut.
An analysis of the executive directors listed on the websites of England’s 58 mental health trusts found that Reynolds’ was the only role with social care in its title to be listed as an executive director. Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has a strategic director of social care but the post is not listed as sitting on the board .
The lack of social care leadership on NHS boards comes despite a large proportion of mental health trusts being responsible for the delivery of mental health social care. Over half of England’s local authorities have signed official agreements with mental health trusts to integrate social care functions in the NHS.
Ruth Allen, chair of The College of Social Work’s mental health faculty and director of social work at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, raised concerns over the loss of such a senior social care post in the NHS.
“It is a worrying sign when NHS organisations are choosing to reduce the level of social care and social work leadership just at a time when we’re needing to move towards much more creative ways of working that require strong support for social care in mental health,” said Allen.
In a statement, South East Essex Partnership NHS Trust said it made the decision to cut the social care executive director post after discussions with local authorities. The savings from the management redundancies would “minimise the impact” of cuts on frontline services, the trust said.
“As integrating health and social care services is a key part of the trust’s plans, the trust’s chief executive, Sally Morris, talked with local directors of social care prior to the board decision being made. Departure dates for post-holders have not yet been agreed, as the staff affected are being consulted with as part of the Trust’s HR processes,” the statement said.Andy McNicoll is Community Care’s community editor