Country’s first social services and health management role “dismantled”

The country’s first role of social services director and
chief executive of a primary care trust has been
“dismantled”, writes David

Barking and Dagenham Council announced that Julia Ross will now
only work as social services director, leaving Barking and Dagenham
Primary Care Trust to find a new chief executive.

A council statement said the arrangement was being
“dismantled”. Council leader Charles Fairbrass said:
“It is our judgement that the differences in culture between
the NHS and the council, and the different accountabilities mean
that this joint management is no longer the best way of improving
services to the people of Barking and Dagenham.”

The PCT was given a zero star rating recently, which was
identified by the council as the “clear opportunity”
for the arrangement to be reviewed. The council was awarded one
star last year.

The post was heralded as a pioneering move two years ago
signalling the way forward for joint working between social
services and health authorities, but it has only been copied in a
few places, including Southwark and Knowsley.

Ross said: “I am disappointed at the current situation,
but am pleased to see the council has identified the need to work
with the NHS to improve local health and social care in the longer

The council also blames expansion of the PCT’s work as a
reason for the split, and the need for Ross to concentrate on her
job in social services to accelerate the rate of improvement. She
helped the department to be taken off special measures for the
first time in four years in 2001.

A PCT statement said the trust was “both surprised and
disappointed” by the council’s decision. A new chief
executive would now be appointed.

It said there have been many benefits of the arrangement
including significantly reduced numbers of delayed discharges, down
from 75 to 10.

Ross was quoted earlier this year as saying she took on the dual
role because she wanted to “pull things together”, and
create a merged social care and health organisation.

She was sacked from a previous job as social services director
with Hillingdon Council in 2000 after a fall out with members of
the social services committee.

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