Latest Public Sector News

11.08.17

Strong equal partnership ‘essential’ between councils and NHS trusts

An influential social care director in England has today called on councils to work with NHS trusts and be “equal partners” in order to drive better care outcomes across the country.

A blog by David Pearson, director of adult social care in Nottinghamshire County Council and lead for the region’s sustainability and transformation partnership (STP), said that “strong, equal partnership” is essential to the future transformation of health and care in England.

Pearson argued that while the debate about funding is important, the ambition of STPs should go wider, suggesting that the partnership approach represented “our best way forward” – with the tough financial backdrop making it even more important that local authorities collaborate closely with NHS colleagues.

“The sense of shared enterprise is in its early stages in many areas. Local government and the NHS are two different worlds with distinct cultures and (it sometimes seems) languages,” he wrote. “The NHS has historic local quirks and complexities of its own – addressing these was rightly the priority of many STPs and they will take time to solve.

“We know that not every council has felt welcome in the early stages to contribute as much as they could and should. Local councillors have felt this particularly acutely,” Pearson continued. “To quote a Health and Wellbeing Board leader I know: ‘When I am not consulted early I become capricious’.

“However, we have seen new partnerships grow and strengthen considerably during the past year, and they are now beginning to yield results for the communities we serve.”

Pearson added that the progress local authorities have made all happened because of a sustained joint effort between them and their NHS counterparts, and a shared focus on tangible improvements.

“I believe that the residents of 2017 need the best of health, social care and wider public and community services,” he explained. “Over the last 70 years the health service has helped us to live longer, whilst when funded appropriately social care provides person centred co-ordinated care for those who need it. We need the blend of these two traditions.

“The progress we have made – and there is still a long way to go – has all happened because of a sustained joint effort between colleagues in our councils alongside NHS counterparts, and a shared focus on tangible improvements.”

He did recognise that challenges still remain, and that both parties need to find governance arrangements that reflect the “symbiotic relationship” between councils and the NHS.

“But this is not a time for criticising from the side,” he concluded. “It is crucial that we all take a seat at the table and seize the opportunity to lead conversations that should have been happening for years, if not decades.”

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