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NHS PLAN - CHIEFS TREAD CAREFULLY ROUND CARE TRUSTS

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Social services practitioners have mixed views on the circumstances that may lead to the imposition of care trusts....
Social services practitioners have mixed views on the circumstances that may lead to the imposition of care trusts.

Care trusts, announced in the NHS Plan (LGC, 4 August), are new hybrid bodies providing social and primary care. They will be voluntary except where there are severe service failings or where informal joint-working procedures are not making progress.

Darlington BC social services director Colin Morris said that in some areas joint working was steaming ahead. But in other areas 'people are still tied to whatever bit of the service they have got and will act as predators in terms of trying to get other people's bits of service'. These were the areas vulnerable to the imposition of care trusts, he said.

Middlesbrough BC corporate director of social services Glenys Jones said: 'It might be that in some areas it makes more sense to have a care trust bigger than a primary care trust boundary. Even in Teesside we could end up with four quite small trusts.'

She said the onus was on care trusts, as much as the better established social services departments, to prove they had effective jointworking arrangements.

Association of Directors of Social Services resources committee chair Bruce Buckley said: 'I would expect a lot of authorities to have made sufficient progress [on joint working]. It would be surprising to see if anybody imposed care trusts.'

The NHS Plan says the first wave of care trusts could be on line some time next year.

It is not yet clear whether the trusts, which will provide social services under delegated authority from councils, will lie closer to the health service or local

government.

Draft guidance on governance, which will clarify the balance between health and local government leadership on the trusts, has yet to be published.

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