Leak reveals fears over loss of social care voice at Department of Health

The deputy chief inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate has
admonished NHS chief executive Nigel Crisp over his plans to cut
social care jobs within the department by two-thirds, Community
has learned.

Averil Nottage’s e-mail, leaked to Community Care by a DoH
source, was sent less than two months after the chief inspector
Denise Platt publicly backed Crisp’s plans to re-organise the
department despite fears from the sector that the new structure
would sideline social care.

In her e-mail, Nottage said she was “appalled at the implications
of these arrangements for social care”, highlighting the impact of
such “ill-considered actions” on the department’s relationship with
the social care sector.

Nottage said the 100 posts allocated to the director of care
services under the restructure represented a loss of 200 social
care policy posts. This would be on top of the loss of SSI staff,
who will be moved out of the DoH and into the new Commission for
Social Care Inspection in 2004.

“The proposals suggest a cut of about two-thirds – far greater than
the sorts of levels to be achieved overall,” Nottage said. “It
gives an overwhelming message to those staff and the external world
that the department does not consider that these services [social
care] matter.”

The department is believed to have an overall target to reduce
staff numbers within the department by one-third. The
disproportionate cuts proposed within the social care division will
confirm fears voiced by many in the sector when the restructure was
first announced in March that social care’s profile within the DoH
would be reduced.

At the time, Association of Directors of Social Services president
David Behan said he was concerned that the changes, which would see
the department spilt into three divisions by October 2004, none of
which would be headed by a professional with a social care
background, could see “social care become overpowered by health”
(news, page 8, 27 March).

A DoH source added: “Over things like hospital discharge, you can
already see how the NHS agenda can hijack what is important in
social care.”

Crisp will meet with 60 people from the DoH and from local
government this week to discuss the restructure.

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