Norfolk Council’s Cabinet has today (Monday, 27 January) agreed that the social care mental health service for adults of working age should return to their direct management after the end of the current section 75 partnership agreement with the Trust ends later this year.
Their aim for the new arrangement is to deliver a specialist social care service model for mental health in line with arrangements already in place with community and acute trusts, with a robust working partnership.
In January last year, an independent review commissioned by the Council and NSFT identified a number of areas for improvement and the current arrangement was extended for the period of April 2013 to March 2014 with an action plan put in place.
The latest review has shown that while we have made improvements, further changes need to be made. Adult social care has changed enormously in the last few years, with the introduction of personal budgets, better collaboration with health and a much greater emphasis on promoting individual choice and independence.
As such, the County Council feels it needs to revise and strengthen the way social care for people with mental health needs is provided and the best way to achieve this is to manage the service directly. They are not the only council to take a decision like this in this context, so this isn’t simply a Norfolk issue.
Members of the County Council’s Cabinet have agreed that, in the meantime, the existing agreement should be extended for up to six months from April to allow for service transition.
We want to reassure you that both the Trust and County Council remain committed to providing an integrated service with health and social care staff located in the same place. We believe that the changes decided today will lead to an improvement in the way that social care is delivered and ensure issues such as service users receiving their personal budgets more quickly than under the current arrangements are resolved.
We appreciate that this news may cause some anxiety as many of you have only ever been employed by the Trust and wanted to advise you about this decision as soon as we were aware. We do not yet have a definite plan as to how this transition will happen and there is much work to be done in the coming months.
We cannot as yet say who is individually affected as this will only become clear as we work with the County Council in developing the new model.
What we can be definite about is that you will continue to be co-located with health colleagues after the transfer as the priority on better integration between health and social care services remains.
We will be holding open staff meetings later this week (details to follow) so you can ask questions and give feedback. As this decision has only been made today, we do not have full details, however we want to assure you that we will keep you updated as things progress in the coming weeks and months.
Andrew Hopkins, Acting Chief Executive
Kathy Chapman, Director of Operations (Norfolk)