Command Paper on NHS/Social care reform 'broadly welcome'Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Wednesday 15th December 2010
Embargo: Immediate

Directors of Adult Social Services have broadly welcomed the governments Command Paper published today outlining enhancements and modifications of the July NHS and Social Care White Paper Liberating the NHS.

According to ADASS President Richard Jones, the document has incorporated many of the recommendations that the Association made in its response to the White Paper, and has begun to articulate more clearly the local democratic content of the legislation and what it is going to look like."  

In particular, ADASS was glad that some of the earlier concerns about the statutory basis of the Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) had proved unfounded, that there will be a statutory duty to create one, and that there will be a duty on relevant GP consortia, the directors of public health and childrens services, as well as the local HealthWatch, to participate alongside DASSs.

According to Jones, the documents were striking an effective balance between prescription and flexibility where they leave it open for local authorities to invite relevant representatives to the Boards  meetings. He fully endorsed the vision for the Boards to become `a key forum for public accountability of NHS, public health, social care for adults and children and other commissioned services that the health and wellbeing board agrees are directly related to health and wellbeing.

The Association also welcomed the decision not to include local authority overview and scrutiny committees within the HWB, and to follow ADASS advice that all commissioning should be driven by the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) or shared assessments across local authority boundaries, whether these are GP commissioning, council commissioning or joint commissioning.

The new legal obligation on NHS and LA commissioners to have regard to the JSNA will be important, although whether it strikes the right balance between JSNA and HWB could be open to further discussion, Jones said.

He added: This new Bill, when published next month, is going to set the relationship between health providers and local government on a converging path that will take them both well into the next decade. It is unfortunate that the reforms are being forged in the heat of severe financial restraint. But it is important that, despite those concerns, the broad direction of travel follows the path the government is currently setting out.

The watchword for ADASS for many years now has been integration, and the purposeful steps to closer integration between health and social care revealed in this paper, and reinforced by some of the financial measures set out recently, are highly encouraging.

The real change needed now, though, is a shift in our approach to local leadership that recognises that collaboration is the key to making positive changes for all our citizens and their communities.

For further information contact:
Richard Jones, ADASS President, 01772 534390
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors of adult social services in local authorities in England. DASSs have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people and adults with disabilities, while over 50 per cent also run social housing departments. ADASS members might also share a number of responsibilities for the provision and/or commissioning of housing, leisure, library, culture and arts services within their councils.