Shuffling to some purpose – or just fancy footwork?

Posted on January 15th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. Comments Off on Shuffling to some purpose – or just fancy footwork?

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

Spare a thought if you will for the hard pressed people who have to update government information. Well into 2018, for example, the Department of Health website still had a section starting, “From 2016 to 2017 our priorities will be …”. Just keeping abreast of changes to the names of ministries is challenging. DoH, which became DH a few years ago, is now DHSC, the cabinet reshuffle having added social care to its responsibilities.

Actually that’s not quite true since the Department has long had a minister with ‘care’ in their title. There has been an issue over whether the role has Minister of State status, one grade below the Secretary of State who heads the whole show, or is held at the lower tier of Under Secretary. In 2016 it dropped to the junior level and that arrangement will continue under Jackie Doyle-Price, the holder of the post since June 2017. So much for raising social care’s profile.

The DH – sorry DHSC – website claims that “We lead, shape and fund health and social care in England”. Again, not true. The bulk of the money for adult social care comes through the (also recently renamed) Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which is why councils’ social care budgets have been cut so drastically compared with those of the NHS, a major factor in the present crisis across both sectors.

What really has changed is that Jeremy Hunt, having resisted the PM’s pressure for a move, succeeded in his bid to take over from the Cabinet Office the responsibility for preparing the social care green paper promised for the summer. Some would regard this as a poisoned chalice, but maybe Mr Hunt thinks he really is in sight of the holy grail. We would like to share his optimism, but it will take rather more than a departmental name change to achieve this vision.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

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