Directors approve joint boundaries, but voice doubts over white paper

Directors of adult social services have given strong backing to the government’s plans to cut the number of primary care trusts and create more joint boundaries with councils, an exclusive Community Care survey has found.

Fifty-four of 58 directors who responded to the joint survey with the Association of Directors of Social Services backed the proposals for greater coterminosity, while 50 said this would make it easier for councils to achieve the aspirations of the adult green paper.

However, there was a marked difference in the attitudes of different types of authorities towards the effects of the proposed reorganisation of PCTs.

While nearly every county council social services director who responded said the plans would make it easier for them to administer partnership arrangement with health bodies, all those from London boroughs thought the opposite, highlighting fears that the plans will break up existing joint boundaries.

Julie Jones, the incoming president of the ADSS and deputy chief executive children and community services at Westminster Council, said councils had “done well” where they shared boundaries with PCTs.

She warned that the government had to be “careful” about the “unintended consequences” of breaking up good partnerships through the PCT review.

The survey also reveals that directors are not convinced by the idea of a joint white paper on social care and out-of-hospital health services; more than half thought this would diminish social care’s role.

And more than half thought the timetable for change in adult social care was too fast, although two-fifths said it was about right.

There was also major concern about the way practice-based commissioning in the health service has been rolled out.

No directors thought the government had given them satisfactory guidance on the new arrangements, which allow GPs to commission services including long-term care, and more than three-quarters were unhappy with the way practice-based commissioning was developing in partner PCTs.

Most directors also felt that joint working with health would be made less effective by the planned removal of service provision from PCTs.

But there was massive support – from 50 of 57 directors – for more joint health and social care appointments at senior managerial level.

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