Stop, look and listen

One of the key messages from a new report on child protection in Wales could surely be applied across the whole of social care in the UK. The multi-agency team who produced the Safeguarding Vulnerable Children Review conclude: “There is a need to slow down the rapid rate of change”.

Isn’t there just.

The Welsh team rightly urge a more sustained focus on what works before a rush to introduce yet more new initiatives. This point really needs to be taken on board by ministers who seem to be obsessed with change for change’s sake.

It’s true that some of the reforms that have been introduced were needed, but now, nine years into Labour’s term in office, isn’t it time to pause and take stock? Yet in a speech about the social care white paper earlier this year, health secretary Patricia Hewitt said: “Now is the time to increase the pace of reform.”

Somebody ought to tell the health secretary she needs to stop moving the goalposts and let people get on with the job. And if she feels an irresistible desire to tinker with the system in future, how about asking front-line staff what they think needs doing rather than imposing yet another reorganisation from above?

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