Role of emergency teams needs ‘rethink’ says chief

Emergency duty teams (EDTs) must be ready for major change,
delegates to a conference on emergency social services were told
last week.

Sue Okell, director of social care in Somerset Partnership NHS
and Social Care Trust, said that the direction of the government’s
mental health policy points to a 24-hour, seven-days a week

This would have an obvious impact on EDTs, along with the
development of assertive outreach and crisis intervention teams,
she told the Emergency Social Services Association second national

“We need to rethink the whole of mental health services and
where EDTs fit in. There is a proliferation of models but many of
them are not well thought through,” said Okell.

The Somerset Partnership is the first integrated partnership in
England and was set up in 1999. It manages the council’s 120
approved social workers (ASWs), although they are still officially
employed by the social services department. Daytime services are
delivered by the partnership, but out-of-hours services are
provided by the EDT.

There was no distinction between the partnership and EDT in
terms of management or involvement of ASWs, claimed Okell. The
trust’s creation had not changed the EDT’s position in the social
services department, but with major changes on the horizon, this
was not “an indefinite position”, she added.

Okell said the Emergency Social Services Association needed to
prepare itself for changes. She said it ought to promote EDTs’
skills, and be open to evolution or revolution. “I don’t think
integrating with health should be anything about diminishing social
care and its value base. We have to be assertive and say we offer a
damn good service,” she said.

ESSA was set up in 1997 with 11 local authority members. It now
represents 83 local authorities as a professional development

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