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The government is to visit 40 health and social care communities to gather good practice for winter planning. ...
The government is to visit 40 health and social care communities to gather good practice for winter planning.

The Winter Emergency Services Teams will make the visits to 'look at all issues of health provision from immunisation through to aftercare and social services', said health minister Gisela Stuart.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: 'It's a bit like an audit, but seeking good practice to cascade it to the rest of the country. The WEST teams are now finalising which areas we're visiting. We are seeking to cover a cross-section of England and Wales over a couple of months, starting in a few weeks.'

The announcement coincided with a Local Government Association warning that

councils and health authorities must plan all year round to meet winter pressures.

It warned that care for older people will be used to establish whether local and health authorities are delivering on joint-working arrangements, as outlined in the government's NHS Plan.

In a paper that forms part of the local democracy manifesto presented to all the major parties this week, the LGA asks councils to commit themselves to an 'ambitious agenda' to 'break new standards in care'.

The paper said: '[Councils should] turn winter pressures into an effective all year round prevention agenda, [and] maximise the contribution of all council services to tackle winter pressures.'

Councils can do this by taking the lead in working with the NHS, making maximum use of new power's to jointly deliver new services and consulting users and carers, the association said.

The paper adds: 'The NHS Plan clearly put NHS working between health and local councils at the heart of the new NHS. Care for older people will be the litmus test of new ways of working and the measure of whether they drive up standards for those in real need.'

The government has said that where these arrangements are not working, care trusts will be imposed (LGC, 4 August).

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