Deal, no deal

Posted on June 3rd, by geoff in Caring Times head, CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson

The merger of the National Care Association (NCA) with the English Community Care Association (ECCA) has been called off.

The intended merger was announced last August and scheduled to happen on 1st January this year. It hasn’t happened and it isn’t going to happen (although ECCA has gone ahead with a name-change and is now ‘Care England’). Last week the NCA removed any doubt by announcing it was pulling out of the merger and would paddle its own canoe for the forseeable future.

This is not the first time that two provider associations have teetered on the brink of union – about 15 years ago the NCA was left standing at the altar when the Registered Nursing Home Association failed to turn up for the ceremony, having had second thoughts at the eleventh hour.

The NCA and Care England have somewhat refined the non-merger process, keeping the sector guessing for five months and talking quietly of a ‘transition year’. Well, now we know the deal’s off. The Care Providers’ Alliance (CPA) – a loose association of associations – remains as a fig leaf for the sector’s disunity and is perhaps doing some good work behind the scenes – conferring with government agencies and so on, but if it has actually achieved anything, it is making remarkably little noise about it. But then, fig leaves are all about modesty.

The various associations say they are each finely attuned to their membership and can lobby most effectively for their interests and that may well be true, but there must have been compelling reasons for a merger to have been contemplated. The problem is, so often the multifarious bodies are giving essentially the same message to government, that ponderous edifice with hundreds of years’ experience at shrugging-off that which it would rather not hear from little voices. The care sector needs clout, and we don’t have much of that in the present set up.

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



2 responses to “Deal, no deal”

  1. Bob Ferguson says:

    Never say never, I concluded, still reeling from surprise and slightly tipsy with euphoria. That was my reaction last summer when I learned about the impending NCA/ECCA merger.
    I should have known better.
    The tone of NCA’s valedictory press statement reflects a harsh new reality. It certainly does not speak of a cuddly relationship. Goodwill is conspicuously absent. Pique, on the other hand, is all too conspicuously present. In fact, I swear I could hear the sound of teeth being ground. Such a pity.
    You’ve got to ask why, when – admittedly on an altogether higher plane – bitter rivals like Hamas and Fatah, who have been cutting each other to ribbons for years, shedding real rather than metaphorical blood, can unite in a Palestinian unity government, these two tiddlers can’t pull it off.
    When the history of organised representation in the care industry comes to be written – and we may have to wait for that to find out what really caused the plug to be pulled – this opportunity lost will probably be assessed as a tragedy. Not necessarily for the associations concerned, but for their members, particularly the very many who are not within the more muscular ranks of the corporate sector.
    After a year of fannying around, perhaps it’s time for members of both bodies to take control and insist on having a vote on the issue – a sort of a referendum. Power to the people! How democratic would that be?

    • John Burton says:

      I think they’ve been watching East Enders or listening to The Archers – both scenes of recent jiltings.
      I’m not so sure that amalgamations of associations is such a good thing – it ain’t necessarily so!
      All we end up with is the middle view with those who want the more radical reform required with nowhere to go. The suppression of dissent. Social care clients suffer from the people at the top agreeing with each other, creating employment for more people like themselves, and foisting their expensive and bureaucratic “solutions” on people who need help.

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