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Frank Dobson, secretary of state for health, today highlighted joint working between the NHS and local authorities ...
Frank Dobson, secretary of state for health, today highlighted joint working between the NHS and local authorities as the priority for managing demand for health services over the coming winter.

In a letter to health authority and trust chairs, leaders of councils and chairs of social services and housing committees, Mr Dobson urged further work to build on joint achievements and improved cooperation between agencies to tackle the pressures winter inevitably brings on

health and social services.

To assist with this work, Mr Dobson enclosed with his letter the summary and conclusions of recent visits to the NHS regions by Alan Langlands, NHS chief executive and Herbert Laming, chief inspector of social services and the report produced by the emergency services action team on lessons learned from last winter.

Mr Dobson said:

'The only predictable thing about winter is the inevitable demands it places upon the NHS. It is vital that in the coming months everyone involved in the delivery of care joins forces to prepare for the winter months. That is why the government is taking action now so that the NHS and local authorities jointly prepare for winter.

'The experience of last winter and the Alan Langlands and Herbert Laming tour clearly demonstrates that the quality of planning and preparation is variable. In some places it is excellent and in others, it is not so good. We must learn the lessons and ensure that best practice becomes normal practice.

'Our aim must be for a seamless service so patients get the best possible care. Ministers and the department of health will ensure full support is provided in this important work.'

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