The Department of Health was given a makeover last week following
the shock resignation of health secretary Alan Milburn and the
sideways move to the Department of Trade and Industry of social
care minister Jacqui Smith.
Milburn, who left last week to spend more time with his family, has
been replaced by former leader of the House John Reid, while Smith
has been replaced by former family policy minister at the Lord
Chancellor’s Department Rosie Winterton. However, Winterton is not
expected to take up Smith’s old social care brief.
As Community Care went to press, social care
responsibilities were expected to be handed instead to Thanet South
MP Stephen Ladyman, one of three new junior ministers to join the
department following the departure of Hazel Blears and David Lammy.
Ladyman will be joined by Melanie Johnson – who will take on
Blears’ old public health brief – and former Youth Justice Board
chairperson Lord Norman Warner. Warner, who will be replaced at the
board by another board member, is expected to be given
responsibility for steering the Health and Social Care Bill through
the House of Lords.
Chief executive of the Association for Residential Care James
Churchill welcomed the choice of Ladyman, chairperson of the
all-parliamentary committee on autism, but said the decision to
move the social care brief from minister to junior minister level
“seemed to a confirm a lot of the messages coming from the
Department of Health”.
Churchill warned that the “demotion” of the social care brief would
compound fears within the sector about the status of social care.
These fears have already been raised by plans to cut social care
jobs within the DoH by two-thirds and to split the department into
three sections, none of which would be headed by a professional
with a social care background.
Echoing the sentiments of deputy chief inspector of the Social
Services Inspectorate Averil Nottage last week in her highly
critical e-mail to NHS chief executive Nigel Crisp about the plans,
British Association of Social Workers director Ian Johnston said he
“was appalled” adding that social care was already in danger of
being overpowered by health.
“The problem for social workers is marginalisationÉand this
would be direct marginalisation at the highest level,” he added.