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INSIDER - DON'T MENTION THE NHS OR TESCO TO SOCIAL CARE CHIEFS

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Worse than Enron...
Worse than Enron

Social care is seemingly jostling with the state of California, Leeds United and Enron at the top of the financial woe league table.

But it must always bear in mind that, no matter how bad things appear, there is always someone else worse off. That someone is the NHS.

Health service budget deficits are resulting in some primary care trusts no longer paying for services such as community hospitals and district nurses, therefore increasing social care's workload and exacerbating its own cash shortage.

'Financial pressure from health service cuts mean we are spotting increased activity in all of our main service areas,' a county social care director complains.

Meanwhile, a London director moans that the goodwill of his local care trust was not backed up by cash.

'The reality is that the trust can only bring an IOU to the table. They are all retrenching to sort out their issues behind closed doors - frankly a misguided approach that will inevitably lead to more pain.'

Across social care there is widespread cynicism that next year's comprehensive spending review will finally result in a major shift of resources from acute care.

'We've made our case but I'm worried our argument will go off the boil, given the enormity of the political debate involving hospital cuts,' a metropolitan borough's director states.

Bosom buddies

A rare glimpse of serenity. Scottish councils have now shared boundaries with their NHS counterparts for 10 years and it seems the two sectors have become bosom buddies.

'Relationships with NHS colleagues have never been better and we're making good progress on our strategy to co-locate key staff,' a director exclaims.

'It's no longer possible for one sector to transfer a financial problem onto the other.'

So is Scotland a social care Utopia?

Sadly not. 'I'm pessimistic about future settlements - social care will never have enough to support the most vulnerable,' the director adds.

Supermarket sweep

Moving back to England once more, the financial crisis is contributing to a shortage of staff.

'We've been struggling to keep pace with demand for home care hours over the summer months,' a county director states.

'Even if you get staff, they're hard to retain. Supermarket checkouts pay as much and it's less demanding work,' one northern director complains.

Tesco, incidentally, last year made an annual profit of£2.2bn; social care says it is under-funded by£1.77bn. The wages might be close but the similarities end there.

Views published anonymously. To join the social care Insider email: nick.golding@emap.com

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