Milburn points to key role of therapists in developing joint work

Health secretary Alan Milburn called on allied
health professions last week to lead the way in breaking down
traditional barriers between health and social care.

Speaking at a Department of Health conference
on health care 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 that 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.

“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.”

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

“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 up.”

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 needed”.

“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

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