Withdrawing social workers from NHS mental health teams will hamper personal budget integration, says guide

Social Care Institute for Excellence guide urges staff to support people in positive-risk taking around personal budgets

Picture: West End 61/Rex Features

Plans to integrate health and social care personal budgets are less likely to succeed where local authorities have withdrawn their social workers from NHS mental health teams, according to guidance issued this week.

The guidance on integrating personal budgets in mental health says integrated assessments across health and social care are essential but more difficult where social workers have been pulled out of integrated teams. The guide is published by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (Scie) and is based on a review of research, examples of emerging practice and site visits.

The integration of social workers in mental health services run by NHS trusts has been an issue of debate in the sector in recent years. In 2012, a survey by the British Association of Social Workers found that two-fifths of local authorities had considered pulling their social workers out of integrated arrangements. Where social workers have been withdrawn by councils, it is usually due to concerns that social care outcomes have not been given enough priority by the NHS-led services.

The Scie guide is backed by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens. In July, Stevens unveiled a new pilot scheme giving people with complex care needs the chance to control a merged NHS and social care personal budget. The Integrated Personal Commissioning programme will be piloted in 2015-16. People with severe mental health problems are one of four groups involved in the pilots.

The Scie guidance makes seven recommendations. These include that staff should support people in positive-risk tasking and health and social care organisations should cut bureaucracy and cede some control over personal budgets to service users.

“Complicated resource allocation systems, assessment processes and excessive monitoring merely reinforce a feeling that people with mental health problems are not trusted to have their own budgets,” the guide said.

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One Response to Withdrawing social workers from NHS mental health teams will hamper personal budget integration, says guide

  1. Jerry December 15, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    Personalisation has been rolled out piecemeal without due consideration to its huge contribution to bureaucracy (already barely manageable) in mental health teams. One might be led to believe an aversion on the part of staff to offering care packages is taking hold, coincidentally saving funders a lot of money. We have to get support to implement spending, we just don’t have time, and service users are visibly suffering right now.
    Keep up the good work, Andy, highlighting the very rocky roads mental health provision is heading down.