Councils set to miss deadline

About a quarter of social services departments fear they will
not reach agreement with their district health authorities on
continuing care eligibility criteria by the government’s April

Directors are reporting widely varying progress in talks with
district health authorities, with departments in north west England
and south west London appearing to be in danger of missing the

Ram Ramadhan, social services director in Oldham and a
spokesperson for the North West Association of Social Services
Authorities, said about half were having difficulties.

He identified three key stumbling blocks:

* a lack of specific and clearly stated eligibility

* district health authorities’ refusal to indicate their
investment in continuing care services; and

* a lack of clear information on current health service spending
on continuing care.

Ramadhan claims pressure from NWASSA led the Social Services
Inspectorate and National Health Service Executive to intervene,
and the North Western Regional Health Authority wrote to remind
several district health authorities of their responsibilities.

A NWRHA spokesperson confirmed letters had been sent to all
district health authorities: ‘Some may have seen it as “get a move
on”, but they were intended to be firm but fair,’ she said.

David Townsend, social services director at the London Borough
of Croydon, said definitions of respite care currently favoured by
Croydon Health Commission would shunt costs on to his

Charles Waddicor and Peter Walters, directors of social services
in the London boroughs of Sutton and Merton respectively, said they
were still some way from agreement with the Merton, Sutton and
Wandsworth Health Authority. Waddicor said agreement in principle
could be reached by April with the detail thrashed out later.

Chris Vellenworth, community care spokesperson for the National
Association of Health Authorities and Trusts, claimed most DHAs
still to complete their plans were nearly there. But he admitted
that some had been advised by the SSI and NHSE to amend drafts,
often because they were not adequately focused on local needs.

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