Milburn urges health professionals to bridge gap with social care

Health minister Alan Milburn called on the allied health
professions to lead the way in breaking down traditional barriers
between health and social care, writes Lauren

Speaking at a department of health conference on healthcare
leadership in the 21st century, Milburn told speech
therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other
professionals allied to health that they were ideally located to
encourage more joint working.

“In the way that you work with your colleagues in social care
you can develop a joint approach so the user of the services should
really no longer be able to distinguish between what is health and
what is social,” Milburn said.

“You can use the opportunities of your role in the new primary
care trusts to put in place a single process for assessing a
person’s need met by one professional rather than a multitude
of agencies. And you can help develop new community-based services
across the traditional divides that have separated the NHS, local
government and the private and voluntary sectors,” he said.

Hinting that his department would be in line for additional
funds when the outcome of the comprehensive spending review is
announced in the summer, Milburn stressed that extra investment in
health and social care would be “conditional on more reform”.

“If more money is available for social services as well as for
health services – as I believe there needs to be –
there must be no more excuses for shifting responsibility for
people who are old, or disabled, or mentally ill backwards and
forwards between the two sectors.

“Joint working must become the norm for all and not just for
some. The powers to pool budgets, and to form care trusts so that
health and social care functions can merge really must be taken

Milburn said the government would also explore other “new
incentives” to encourage closer working and bring an end to
“buck-passing” and “cost-shifting”.

He said he was aware of the real pressures social services
departments were under and that “more investment still is

“That is necessary not least to stabilise the care home crisis
and to develop new rehabilitation, intermediate and home care
services that can actively promote independence,” he said.

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