Sunday 17 December 2017
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Revised Bill a real foundation for Government to build social care reform - ADASS

GOVERNMENT LISTENED, CONSIDERED and has now spoken and for social care, the Future Forum has opened a new basis for changes within the NHS. As chair of the Future Forum Steve Field puts it in his accompanying letter “The NHS must change. It must reassess the old model of hospital-based care. A high priority now needs to be given to meeting the needs of the increasing numbers of older people.”

According to ADASS President Peter Hay, “in accepting in full the recommendations made by the Future Forum, the Government has also given a certainty to the direction it wants to set for the NHS. It’s now up to our members to turn that into local realities and better outcomes for people. ADASS welcomes this new focus upon long term conditions and older people, and sees this as one of the major benefits of looking at the needs of older people through the lens of the GP.

"The Bill offers the beginnings of that new approach which will, over the coming years, help set a new, integrated and collaborative style."  He said that ADASS particularly welcomes:

  • `No decision about me, without me’ – a core value in social care for some years now being used as a guiding principle for the whole system.
  • Commissioning informed by multi professional input and advice, within a system that requires open and transparent decision making, in public. Some of the blocks to joint working that have come from different approaches to these issues of governance have been removed.
  • The duties to reduce health inequalities and in so doing to ensure that there is a focus upon the most vulnerable in our society.
  • The strengthened role and influence of local Health and Wellbeing Boards. ADASS believes this represents a way of ensuring a better balance between the nationally driven NHS and the local accountability of councils with social care responsibilities. It also creates a way of bringing together local views and being held accountable for the direction of local commissioning in meeting the needs of a locality.

The Association believes that this is a good outcome for the NHS, a good day for partnership working and trying to solve problems together, and a good start to creating a basis for reforming social care for adults.

Reforming a care system that is less well understood than the NHS will present complexities, like those that the Future Forum wrestled with. Reform will also need to build a case in the public eye. So, professionals working in health and social care who support integration and a new system will need to find ways of developing a consensus view for national policy. As befits the new emphasis on sector-led improvement, it will also now be up to councils, directors and staff to promote great examples of what can be achieved locally.

Peter Hay added: “This is a Health and Social Care Bill, with a programme for reform of social care to follow it – the Dilnot Commission’s review of funding and the Law Commission review of adult care law being significant parts of the architecture of these changes. We welcome the strengthened voice of people and local communities and councils, giving a real opportunity to design a new approach to meeting needs. This is a real foundation upon which the Government can build the reform of social care”

“But integrating the NHS with the current broken system will need to be more than just a repair job. The need to reform adult social care is more urgent than ever – and the Government now needs to deliver as promised on social care reform and resources. If professionals working within the Forums could see the value and purpose of integration across the current,  broken system, just imagine the strength that could be harnessed if we get the proposed changes right.”