Leaders fear agenda for change

Local government leaders have raised major concerns about the
implications of the Wanless review of health and social care in
Wales, writes Alex Dobson.

In their initial response to the Wanless review, the Welsh Local
Government Association detailed fears about recommendations
concerning the redesigning of services and the links between health
and social care.

Derek Wanless’s review, published earlier this month,
found that increasing demand for care could overwhelm providers
unless health and social care services were modernised and brought
closer together.

But the WLGA’s report warned that Wanless’s
recommendations could be the precursors to the kind of structural
changes to health and social care that are occurring in

Their fears came despite reassurances from Welsh ministers over
the past month that their emphasis is on integrated thinking, not
structural change.

The WLGA said it is important to ensure that action to break
down the barriers between health and social care systems
“does not weaken the links and capacity for a seamless
service between social care and other local government services
such as education, housing, environmental services and leisure,
which can deliver prevention and earlier intervention and a
holistic approach to individual needs”.

It raised concerns about an over-emphasis on a seamless approach
that may encourage local health boards and local authorities in the
principality to focus on an agenda for change that is very

“If the objectives from the recent health reforms are to
be achieved and the pressures on acute hospital services reduced,
we must ensure that health and well-being strategies are more than
health and social care plans,” it warned.

Overall, however, the report gave a broad welcome to many of the
recommendations contained in the review, and called for the WLGA to
be fully involved in the operational detail of the Welsh
assembly’s long-term intentions on how best to implement the
review’s findings. A formal response to the Wanless review
from the Welsh assembly is expected in the autumn.

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