New friend in high places

For anyone seeking reasons to be cheerful, this is a good week. The summer holidays are nearly here, England are still in the World Cup, Wimbledon fortnight is in full swing – and social care is getting a new champion at the Department of Health.

The appointment of David Behan as the first director general for social care is good news and could mark the start of a resurgence for the sector. The last three years have seen some testing times for the profession’s leadership. Since the axe was wielded back in 2003 and swathes of social care posts were chopped at the DH, followed by the scrapping of the Social Services Inspectorate, the lack of social care clout at the top table has been keenly felt.

Behan may not come across as an overly dynamic figure, but his quiet authority, his integrity and almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the sector has won him many friends.

He has an ability to cut through the crap and get to the heart of an issue which should stand him in good stead at the DH.

His record at the Commission for Social Care Inspection speaks for itself. As chief executive of this pivotal organisation he has fought social care’s corner but has not been afraid to challenge local authorities on standards when necessary. Meanwhile, the CSCI’s publication of the first ever State of Social Care report has help push forward the drive for improved outcomes as well as raising the sector’s public profile.

So Behan has demonstrated he has the credentials for the top job and we wish him well. But the DH’s gain is the Commission’s loss. Who on earth are they going to find to step into his shoes at the CSCI – an organisation whose days are numbered?

Next year it loses responsibility for inspecting children’s services to Ofsted and the year after that the job of inspecting adult services passes to a new body made up of the
CSCI and the Healthcare Commission. In the interim, Dame Denise Platt as CSCI chair will need a highly competent right hand man or woman to replace him and help her ensure that the social care element is not lost during the handover to the new agencies.

Any takers?

See Behan needs support to succeed as national director, say sector leaders

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