Now I know, after years of experience in these matters, I shouldn't expect accuracy from County Council nabobs but this is pure ignorance of very important probable changes in legislation. Talking about The failed Norwich City Council application for unitary status he says:
However, when the Local Government and Improvement in Health Bill (my italics) becomes an Act....
There is no such Bill - what he is obviously referring to, because he is talking about potential local authority boundary changes, is the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill.
What is more important than the Leader of the County Council getting his facts wrong about which Bills are in Parliament is that in his mindset, he has ignored the really important Part 14 of the Bill, which is the Public Involvement in Health bit.
One of the things Part 14 of that Bill is seeking to do (apart from unnecessarily wasting more public money abolishing PPI Forums which the Government expensively set up only 3 years back) is to include local authorities in the service user and public scrutiny of social care services in addition to the now established scrutiny of healthcare services in the NHS.
Part 14 seeks to make local authorities (those with social services responsibility) the lead for what is presently Patient and Public Involvement in Health (PPI). And Part 14 makes provision for those local authorities to be allocated substantial non-ringfenced finance to do so.
A difficulty with this either naive or solidly cynical government measure is, of course, that local authorities are delighted to get finance that is not ringfenced as they immediately slosh it off into other budgets in deficit.
And it's, possibly, already started:
21 August 2007
Funding given to each Local Authority to help ‘Get ready for LINks'
With Local Involvement Networks (LINks) planned to replace patient forums from 1st April 2008, £1.5m has been allocated to help communities prepare.
Guidance has already been published outlining (a) what steps local communities need to take to plan their LINk and (b) giving local authorities the information they need contract a ‘host’ organisation to set up and support a LINk.
The £10,000, given to each local authority with a social services remit, is aimed to support the implementation of this guidance.
The money has been allocated and should with all local councils by 24th August 2006.
A letter has also been sent from the Department of Health to each local authority LINk Lead flagging the new guidance, the new money and the next steps in terms of getting ready for LINks.
Once the legislation to establish LINks receives Royal Assent, a further announcement is planned outlining the funding available to each local authority for the three-year period from 08/09.
So Daniel Cox, we immediately have problems with Norfolk: the DoH (Florella Baker) has for some months now been asking each relevant local authority to produce a named person who will be a focus for the development of LINks. They have been chasing Norfolk to no avail - there is still no named person here. So. Norfolk received £10,000 at the end of August to prepare guidance. Where has it gone?
Obviously not to enlighten their leader!