There is concern that the Government is bringing in prescriptive bodies to manage joint health and social care – where modern partnerships are already working. The Local Government Association leaders have asked that health ministers to focus on what local and health authority partnerships have delivered and not the mechanism for delivery.The concern is that the NHS plan does not acknowledge that many health and local authorities have already integrated their health and social care services within existing legislation, prior to the flexibilities established in the Health Act 1999. The LGA wants the proposed new care trusts to be jointly owned and jointly directed by health and local authorities.
And it points to developments that show that best practice in delivering joined-up services is already available. It cites Medway Council, which has converted rooms in a sheltered housing unit for use as early hospital discharge rehabilitation facilities. These are staffed by care managers and care assistants, who work with Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and community nursing staff to enable people who might otherwise need residential care, to regain mobility and confidence to return home with a package of support. And it has pointed to Wiltshire County Council, where social workers and occupational therapists are increasingly linked with and located with primary care settings – such as GP Surgeries – with over 70% of GP’s in Wiltshire now having a social services employee specifically linked, and where possible located within their practice. In Surrey it has pointed to pooled budgets to establish a joint strategy for children with emotional and mental health needs, with eight workers appointed to ensure joint working across all specialties.