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DAYCARE KILLING PUTS JOINT WORKING TO FORE

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Poor co-ordination of health and social services care contributed to a fatal stabbing in a Newham LBC social servic...
Poor co-ordination of health and social services care contributed to a fatal stabbing in a Newham LBC social services day centre, an inquiry has concluded, reports Alex DesForges.

Newham has pledged to act on the report published this week which calls for the council and the local health services to commission jointly, and to agree a joint strategy to address the needs of young people with mental illness.

The inquiry by Len Woodley QC examined the stabbing of Bryan Bennett by Stephen Laudat, a former psychiatric patient at the Worland Day Centre, in July last year.

Shortcomings highlighted in the report include poor communication between health and social services.

The main criticism is that attempts to provide good social care were undermined by inadequate healthcare. 'Social care was not properly complemented by understanding and provision of Mr Laudat's continuing health needs,' health minister John Bowis said in response to the publication of the report on Monday. 'The Laudat case starkly illustrates the need for health and social service authorities to work together to achieve effective care in the community.'

Kevin Jenkins, chair of Newham's social services committee, highlighted the financial constraints the council was forced to work under.

'Newham is the most deprived area in England and Wales, according to the DoE's local conditions index. Yet the council's annual standard spending assessment is consistently lower than six other London boroughs,' he said.

- The Woodley report was published the week after NHS chief executive Alan Langlands urged health and social services authorities to work more closely together.

'Joint working across health and social services is no longer an optional extra - it is an absolute necessity,' he told the Association of Directors of Social Services annual conference in Bournemouth.

'The NHS has not always given enough attention to people who need both health and social care . . . but we are working very hard to change that.' He said there was broad agreement for the NHS to move away from long-stay hospital care towards community-based care, with reference to the introduction of continuing care arrangements next April.

Mr Langlands said the NHS needs to recognise its ongoing role in arranging and funding continuing care.

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