Sector concern as NHS regulators encroach on social care

Government plans to give healthcare monitoring bodies powers over social care have sparked concerns from sector head, including Ruth Cartwright, of the British Association of Social Workers

Government plans to give healthcare monitoring bodies powers over social care have sparked concerns from sector heads.

The health White Paper, published this week, pledged to extend both the National Institute for Health and Clincial Excellence and Monitor’s remits into social care.

Nice will develop quality standards for social care, as it does in health, that would form the basis of outcomes that councils and care providers will be judged against. The government has confirmed it will take some of the Social Care Institute for Excellence’s existing roles in developing and disseminating good practice in social care.

Responding to the proposal, Ruth Cartwright, British Association of Social Workers joint manager for England, said: “There has been thoughts that not enough of the staff at Scie, despite them being excellent and hardworking, came from a social work and social care background and we have to be careful that Nice doesn’t fall into precisely the same trap.”

Monitor, which regulates foundation trusts, will be given a new role as an economic regulator across health and social care, with the power to use competition law to prevent anti-competitive behaviour.

This sparked warnings from Martin Green, chief executive of the English Community Care Association, who said: “I’m concerned that a body that has had little or no exposure to social care will be heavily involved in regulating parts of it.”

He added: “I’m also concerned that the experiences of independent providers are not well represented in any of the regulatory bodies.”

Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of Anchor Trust, said the experiences of health and social care regulator Care Quality Commission, which has come into criticism for its approach to regulating providers, showed it would be very challenging for both Nice and Monitor to reach across health and social care.

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