Health minister John Hutton told social services directors not
to be afraid of the “big brother NHS” and actively seek much closer
working arrangements with health bodies.

He said new care trusts were at the centre of the
government’s agenda, and social care had to move closer to
the NHS.

The introduction of trusts is a key part of the health and
social care bill, which is progressing though parliament and
expected to become law in the next few days.

Last minute negotiations between local authority leaders and
ministers were prompted by fears that social services will be the
poor relation to NHS organisations once the two come together to
form care trusts.

Hutton told the Association of Directors of Social Services
spring seminar in Oxford that social care “is not going to be taken
over by the big brother NHS”.

“We should be absolutely confident and not fear the unknown as I
know some people do,” he said.

Hutton said the sector had to “roll up its sleeves” and work
more closely with the NHS and the independent sector because the
government believed “very strongly” that was the right thing to

He praised social care as one of the “engines” that drives
society, and that he was proud of the work done by social

The quality agenda promoted by the government will help to put
social care “up in lights” and address some of the negative
publicity social workers have received in recent years, he

The introduction of the three-year degree would help to
establish social work as a profession of equal value with teachers
and the medical profession.

The “breakneck” speed of reform would continue if Labour wins
the general election, he said, with legislation to follow the white
papers on adoption and mental health.

Moira Gibb, ADSS president, paid tribute to Hutton as an
“important friend of social care”, and that no-one should
underestimate the contribution he has made to the development of
social care services.

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