County council leaders have warned against the ‘knee jerk’ centralisation of the social care system in the aftermath of coronavirus.
It comes after reports in the national press that the government is considering bringing social care under the control of the NHS, with commissioning and budgets controlled by the health service rather than councils.
A BBC Panorama documentary will explore this issue tonight (30 July).
However, the County Councils Network (CCN) today warns against overly simplistic arguments for a centralisation of the care system, potentially removing it from democratically elected councils.
The CCN has warned that it is a misconception that adult social care is purely for those in old age and say the system is hugely complex but embedded in local communities.
Adult social care services comprise of support for people not just in old age, but extensive care for working-age individuals with severe learning disabilities and those with chronic health conditions too. These services require local knowledge which councils have.
The warning follows a highly critical report by the public accounts committee, which accused the government of having a ‘slow, inconsistent, and at times negligent approach’ to social care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘The harrowing scenes that we have witnessed in our care sector deserve scrutiny, but we should be wary of a knee-jerk reaction that removes democratic oversight from adult social care and places it in a centralised system that Coronavirus has shown contains huge drawbacks,’ said the CCN’s spokesman for health and social care, Cllr David Fothergill.
‘Many of the people supported by councils require their care more embedded in their community, not provided by a one-size fits all, system which cannot make the best use of localised knowledge and networks.
‘The coronavirus has exposed the fragility of the adult social care system due to years of underinvestment and no reform. It is only right that the dialogue turns to how we can re-shape the system so that individuals receive a world-class care service, but in order to provide this councils must be part of the solution,’ he added.
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