Headlines: November 2nd, 1999

In a move that parallels efforts to raise standards in the NHS, Health Secretary Alan Milburn is considering creating a new national social care institute of excellence.It would mean that social services, run by local councils, would be subject to the same standard-setting as faced by the NHS with its new National Institute of Clinical Excellence.

The move is an attempt to end the widely varying standards of social service provision from authority to authority.

The new Health Secretary outlined to a conference of social services managers that he intended to step up the pace of modernisation in the service.

Other moves will include a new national strategy for excellence, a green paper on Quality in Social Care next year, and the establishment of a General Social Care Council to raise standards of professional development amongst social care staff.

Mr Milburn also announced the Government’s intention to extend the direct payments scheme. This scheme gives money directly to people so they can buy their own services.