Hello everyone. I have spent most of last week at the annual LGA Conference in Harrogate. The town and the weather were beautiful, but we didn’t get to see much of either as the Conference was incredibly busy and successful. Thank you to everyone who helped put together sessions and materials, it was very good. 


There were three major sessions on Care and Health Improvement. The launch of our report on strengthening health and wellbeing boards “Making it better together” was packed out and the presentations from Cllr Linda Thomas, Dr Graham Jackson and Dr Andrew Furber set out clear ambitions and a shared approach.


The Plenary session with the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt and the NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens presaged important changes in health and care. Jeremy Hunt announced a new strategy for carers, a commitment to integration and devolution, a new scorecard for integration and explored a new deal between the citizen and the state – quoting Beveridge directly.


Simon Stevens set out the Five year forward view as being about three integrations – physical and mental health, primary and specialist care and health and social care. He acknowledged that the health system is a fog of acronyms and pledged to work through devolution and digital services to make services accessible and personal. He invited localities to bid to design healthier new places with new types of health infrastructure.


Ray James from ADASS, Rob Webster from Confed and Steven Knight from Newton Europe addressed the challenge of delivering better services for less and stressed that only by working with people who use services and front line staff to get the care offered right would we get better quality and sustainable services. The initial work from Newton Europe suggests that there are real benefits from increasing staff knowledge of community options for people in hospital and investing in preventive services. This will continue in two other areas over the summer and be published in the autumn.


Cllr Izzy Seccombe did a sterling job of chairing all the sessions and announced that the LGA regarded protecting social care as the top priority for the spending review even if that meant deferring the implementation of phase two of the Care Act. We are still expecting Ministers to make a decision on the Care Act during July.


The Conference also saw the launch of our recommendations for the Comprehensive Spending Review. We are having further conversations with government officials next week and will continue to make the case for protection of adult social care and funding for transformation. Other themes from the Conference were the immense challenge of continuing to reduce spending and the opportunities for devolution and decentralisation. The Innovation Zone showcased some great local work including presentations on health and care featuring such things as the Cheshire Digital Care Record.


This week I'm using my blog to introduce you to Cecil Sinclair. Cecil has been with us since October 2014 and joined the programme team as an advisor with a dual focus on both national implementation support for the Care Act via the joint Programme Management Office and supporting Mark Golledge on the Integrated Care Pioneer Informatics Programme.

This has involved co-designing and delivering cross-programme consultation and stakeholder events, contributing to the Integrated Care Pioneer One Year On report and scoping development projects to support implementation of the Care Act. He has been leading on the development of national support products and tools where appropriate. 

Cecil has varied cross-sector experience with a focus on effective policy implementation. This includes areas such as adult social care and building community capacity, the Prevent strategy and community cohesion, and mental health and suicide prevention, previously supporting implementation of both departmental and cross-government strategies through roles working for Weber Shandwick, Samaritans and Buckinghamshire County Council.

As of April, his role has focused on supporting implementation of the funding reforms (part two) of the Care Act for April 2016 and supporting local councils to embed the 2015 reforms including promotion of new and emerging service delivery models, engaging citizens online and linking across to the wider work of the informatics programme team.

So, all in all, last week was a very productive and stimulating one with no time for tennis, strawberries and cream or enjoying the sunshine! I hope you found time to enjoy the summer weather over the weekend and manage to stay cool this week.


All the best