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NHS SPARKS BATTLE OVER CARE CONTROL

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NHS Confederation proposals to pass care for the elderly and disabled from councils to the health service have been...
NHS Confederation proposals to pass care for the elderly and disabled from councils to the health service have been savaged by local government.

The confederation claims the switch would solve problems such as different charging regimes, accountabilities and audit trails for streams of funding.

The move comes after LGC revealed the government is considering handing care of the elderly to the NHS (LGC, 7 April).

Confederation policy manager Janice Miles said the change would allow the health service to treat the 'whole person'. She said: 'At the moment there are many [hospital] admissions that could be prevented by better co-ordination of health and social care services. There are a substantial number of patients who stay in hospitals who could be adequately cared for in other settings.

'We're saying 'let's be radical'. Perhaps the way to achieve a seamless service is to remove the seam.'

The confederation badly damaged its relations with the Local Government Association by passing its plans to the press and the government without consultation.

LGA chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham said: 'This badly thought-out proposal would remove yet another vital area of public service from local democratic control and move it into a remote bureaucracy.

'The argument that the NHS is better able to deliver a seamless service is a nonsense, considering the wide variations in performance and cost that have existed in the health service for more than 50 years.'

Head of social affairs John Ransford said: 'If they want sensible discussion about this weÕre in enough joint arrangements to talk about it. They ought to talk to us about these things.'

He said the recommendation revealed ignorance of a highly complex area: 'Councils have been planning the delivery of services for years. There's no evidence this would be better run by the NHS. Primary care trusts are based on GP services.

They're very good but they have no experience of running very complex care services which cover a range of providers.'

He said the measures would damage accountability, flexibility of services and funding since councils spend above standard spending assessments on social care.

Camden LBC social services director Simon White said the NHS had historically organised its care around the needs of the acute sector, leading to poor management of residential and nursing care.

The NHS Confederation is a lobbying organisation which represents NHS trusts and health authorities. The recommendations, contained in a paper embargoed until next week, arise from research commissioned by the government into how the health and social care systems could work better together.

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