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LGA ANGERED BY NHS PLANS FOR ELDERLY CARE

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The Local Government Association reacted angrily yesterday to proposals for the National Health Service to take ove...
The Local Government Association reacted angrily yesterday to proposals for the National Health Service to take over commissioning social care for the elderly and physically disabled, reports The Financial Times (p5).

Stephen Thornton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, called for the move, saying: 'Twenty years of trying to achieve seamless services for older people have failed the individual, and frontline staff are struggling to provide those services.'

He argued that allowing the NHS to commission social care would make it easier to ensure that people were not admitted to hospital unnecessarily and that they were discharged to the right setting as quickly as possible after they no longer needed an acute hospital bed.

But Jeremy Beecham, the LGA leader, said such a move would be 'a mistake, both in practical and philosophical terms'.

'It would remove another area of public administration from effective democratic control and move it into a bureaucracy,' he said. 'Local authorities have demonstrated a tremendous capacity for improving services, particularly for the elderly. The notion that the NHS could run all of this well is a distinctly unproven notion on the basis of past experience.'

And John Ransford, head of social affairs for the LGA, said: 'To go for organisational change ... would be an error. What we need is improved performance, not the huge disruption caused by re-drawing boundaries.'

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