Speaking on the last day of the conference, the Rt Hon Andrew Lansley MP, Secretary of State for Health, outlined how local and central government need to work together to realise real change in health and wellbeing. He said that any reforms had to be evolutionary and build on what is already working such as JSNAs (Joint Strategic Needs Assessments) that would be taken seriously.
Reflecting on the establishment of 138 Health and Wellbeing centres to date, he was positive about the role councils should play saying that local government would bring strategy and leadership to drive the changes forward. However an area he singled out for better leadership was social work and he said that the College of Social Workers should play a key role, whilst maintaining that registration was voluntary.
Referring to the recent Dilnot report, he invited views on this saying he wanted consensus so he could be part of a government that sorts this out. However when asked by a member of the audience what the timescales would likely be, he gave a very politician-like response by suggesting an update in Spring in conjunction with a White Paper that would lay out further timescales.
He acknowledged that it had been a tough time financially for councils this year but did imply that it could have been worse. He also said that we shouldn’t repeat the failures of the past and that experience of care must improve. However, to end on an upbeat note, Lansley complimented Peter Hay and ADASS for their incredible leadership of Southern Cross that helped to protect residents’ interests.
There wasn’t too much time at the end for questions but then again, there were only a few hands in the air! Not sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing? Quite honestly, it had been a long morning, it was a bit chilly in the auditorium and I think everyone was thinking about a warming cuppa.