Health secretary Andrew Lansley’s proposals for abolishing primary care trusts and transferring commissioning to GP clusters could damage joint working between health and social care, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said.
The union said vulnerable service users could be radically affected by the shake-up proposed in Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS.
In its response to the white paper, union policy development worker Joe Godden said relationships between council social services departments and primary care trusts had “not been without problems” but that a decade’s worth of good work could be put in jeopardy by the new proposals.
“It could affect all areas of social care, including child protection, mental health services, rehabilitation, hospital discharge and learning disability partnership boards,” he said.
Ruth Cartwright, the union’s England manager, said GPs would be faced with having direct responsibility contracting and for rationing services, and questioned their preparedness for the work.
“Social Workers have years of experience of managing budgets and rationing services and they know that this can be painful,” she said.
“We need to ask some difficult questions such as; will GPs be equipped to enter the complex world of contracting?”
BASW said it was urging the Government to “change the white paper into a green paper” to allow more time for consultation and has expressed grave concern about the speed and the scale of the proposed changes.