Social care could suffer under department changes

Plans to radically overhaul the department of health could
damage the status of social care within government, the Association
of Directors of Social Services has warned, writes
Sally Gillen.

ADSS president David Behan said that under the proposals, which
will be see the doh split into three divisions by October next
year, there was a “danger that social care would become overpowered
by health”.

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 senior team of three, one of whom will
be responsible for social care.

Currently, as 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 government.

“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,” said Behan.

He added that the ADSS would write to NHS chief executive Sir
Nigel Crisp, architect of the new structure, requesting 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.”

John Ransford, director of education and social affairs at the
Local Government Association, 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 comment.

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