Social care chiefs fear Department of Health plans will sideline sector

Plans to overhaul the Department of Health could damage the status
of social care within government, the Association of Directors of
Social Services has warned.

ADSS president David Behan said that under the proposals, which
will see the DoH split into three divisions by October 2004, there
was a “danger that social care would become overpowered by

None of the groups will be headed by a professional with a social
care background. One – the Health and Social Care Standards Group –
will be led by chief medical officer Liam Donaldson, who will have
a team of three, one of whom will be responsible for social

Currently, chief inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate
Denise Platt advises ministers on social care issues and Behan said
it was essential that whoever took the role in the senior team had
similar clout.

They should have the power to provide a credible voice for social
care within the department by giving professional advice, having
access to ministers, and carrying out a co-ordinating role across

“At the moment there is no clear indication from the document that
whoever has the senior role for social care will have access to
ministers,” Behan said.

He added that the ADSS would write to NHS chief executive Sir Nigel
Crisp, architect of the new structure, to request a meeting “to
discuss our concerns”.

Others within the sector have also expressed worries over the
restructure. Unison senior national officer for local government
Owen Davies said: “Unison is very concerned. Social care is already
marginalised within the Department of Health and this will push it
further to the edge.”

Director of education and social affairs at the Local Government
Association John Ransford said it was important that social care
was not seen as “some sort of adjunct to health, as some sort of
sub-division of the NHS”.

But he added that the details of how the structure would work had
yet to be figured out and that those within local government would
be given the opportunity to contribute their thoughts.

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