Behind the headlines

This could be a make-or-break year for the government’s policies
on social care and the public sector more generally. With the
possibility of war with Iraq, the economy on a knife-edge and the
chancellor’s public sector spending plans under scrutiny, the
government will want measurable proof that it is getting something
in return for its investment in public services. The Health and
Social Care Bill will help create foundation hospitals that work
more independently of Whitehall and the new commissions for social
care and for health care audit and inspection, which will ensure
that public funds are well spent. Local government legislation also
seeks to give better councils more independence. But much will
depend on how social care workers and their managers cope with the
demands that are being made of them. From child protection, where
the forthcoming Laming Inquiry report will have an impact, to
services for older people, where new pressures to end delayed
discharges are building up, social care workers face important
challenges in 2003.

Karen Squillino, senior practitioner,

“I would like to see some more changes to, or at least some
discussion about, the legislation related to people who commit
sexual offences. At present the Sex Offenders Act does not offer
different provision for young people who commit sexual offences
other than the length of registration. Young people who commit
sexual offences often need monitoring. Registration can be
effective, but having one sex offenders register for adults and
young people often creates difficulties for young people as they
feel labelled and pessimistic about their futures.”

Martin Green, chief executive, Counsel and Care for the

“This could be an important year for services to older people. The
development of primary care trusts provides us with a chance to
improve co-ordination and set up better services. I also hope we
will see a much stronger commitment from the government to
residential care and an acknowledgement that residential provision
is an important and necessary part of a continuum of care.”

Julia Ross, executive director for health and social
care, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
“We believe at last in the reality of only being able to
improve people’s health and well being by improving health and
social care together. So, to make 2003 a stunning year, we’ll
confidently take our place alongside our health colleagues to bring
about a surge of new care pathways and networks of care and support
for vulnerable children, adults and older people.”

Bill Badham, development officer, National Youth

“What do I most want in 2003? Just for government to fulfil its
legal obligations to children and young people: a Budget of tax and
benefits that brings maximum resources to tackle poverty among
children and a policy swing towards support and care, not control
and incarceration, in mental health and juvenile justice. And how
to finance all this? Don’t go to war against Iraq. The youngest in
both countries would suffer most.”

Bob Hudson, principal research fellow, Nuffield
Institute for Health, University of Leeds

“I would like to see four things. First, a period of stability – a
chance to get on with implementing the huge social care agenda
rather than dancing to new tunes in new structures. Second,
something like the Wanless Report on NHS funding so that we can
have a proper debate about appropriate funding levels for social
care. Third, a recognition that social care is a valuable service
in its own right and is more than a mere adjunct to the NHS. And
finally, a search for reasons rather than knee-jerk punishment.
Hopefully, this would move us towards a service with a sense of
mission in which staff feel valued and there is a real opportunity
to put people first.”

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