Health secretary Alan Milburn announced a radical vision of reform
of the way social services will work and be structured in the
future, writes Derren Hayes.
During his keynote address to the National Social Services
Conference in Cardiff, Milburn outlined a range of initiatives
which the government expects to break down the barriers of the “old
monolithic, single social services departments” to the point where
they won’t exist in the future.
Instead, he envisages new organisations run by a combination of
voluntary agencies and statutory and private bodies to add
flexibility and improve performance of services.
Milburn announced that the government is to push ahead with
children’s trusts, and will be looking for organisations to express
interest in running the first wave of pilot projects by the end of
the year. Trusts will plan, commission, finance and deliver
children’s services, and have the power to commission health as
well as social care.
There could even be specialist children’s trusts where projects
are geared specifically around the needs of client groups, such as
children with learning difficulties, incorporating greater
partnership between health and social services.
The reforms to children’s services will mirror those for older
people. Milburn said he expects to see health and social services
in every part of the country pooling resources and skills to
deliver a “seamless” service either through care trusts or Health
He said: “The one size fits all approach embodied in the
traditional social services department may have been OK in the
1970s, but as more and more councils are recognising, it does not
belong to today.”
Milburn also said new professional posts would be created to
reflect the changing shape of the social care profession because
the role of general social worker was unsustainable in a world of
To the dismay of the delegates, Milburn confirmed the
government’s plans to push ahead with its controversial fines for
social services departments if patients are discharged from
hospital later than necessary. He said the system would drive
reform of the service and help different departments work closer
He also announced a £140 million investment over the next
three years to build capacity, improve access and help deliver
child and adolescent mental health services.
To read a full copy of Alan Milburn’s speech