Councils told the status quo not acceptable

Local authorities have been told they must form partnerships
with health boards in Scotland or the executive will intervene, writes
David Callaghan.

Hugh Henry, depute minister for health and
community care, told social work directors they had an important role to play
in ensuring councils meet their responsibilities under the ‘Joint Futures’
agenda and work with health bodies.

“You have got to demonstrate that you are equally able to
deliver. It is about asking what we are doing at a local level to ensure we are
delivering our part of the bargain,” he told the annual Association of
Directors of Social Work conference in Dunblane.

“We will not accept the status quo and we want to see
results on Joint Futures. Failure is not an option and we will take action if
necessary,” he added.

He told delegates health boards were being given the same
firm instructions, but there were areas where either the local authority or the
health board, or even both, were refusing to co-operate in the programme.

Henry, who is a former leader of East Renfrewshire council,
said he was frustrated when he was involved in local government by health
boards’ reluctance to release funds for projects run jointly with councils.

But local authorities had to overcome their historical
reticence and break down the barriers preventing the two sectors from
delivering services together. If they failed to do that the executive would
consider, as a “last resort”, using its powers to intervene and force the

Henry was eager to reassure directors that the Scottish
executive was not considering the formation of new bodies, such as the care
trusts in England.

“Let’s be quite clear that when we say partnership we mean
partnership. This is not about health taking over your responsibilities,” he

In a tough speech Henry also warned local authorities not to
spend money from the executive and earmarked for community care, on other

“We are starting to look at outcome agreements very very

“This is about a political commitment for care in the
community. We have to do our bit,” he said.

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