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BASW seeks views on integration of health and social work services

BASW is seeking practitioners' views on one of the biggest issues facing social workers in England today – the integration of health and social care. The Association wants the voice of social workers to inform a policy position on this transformational reform to service delivery.

The key aim of the BASW England policy will be to help social work practitioners better understand the concepts of integration and to examine the implications for social work and the social model of care.

Government policy is for health and social care to work much more closely together. Some politicians and policy makers are calling for the creation of a single health and social care organisation in a geographical area. Others stop short of a completely ‘integrated’ model, but want to move to much more integration. The implications for social workers of this policy direction are great.

Social workers are already working closely with health agencies in a range of settings including mental health trusts, hospital discharge teams and GP practices. Social workers are also members of interagency youth offending, drugs and alcohol teams and child mental health and child protection (MASH) teams. The level of integration and perceived effectiveness of these arrangements varies but provides social work as a profession with useful experience to contribute to the national debate.

BASW England wants to create better services for people across health and social care and other related organisations such as housing, criminal justice, education, police and youth work. The Association supports work to enable better co-operation between organisations and, where appropriate, to integrate services structurally.

However, concerns remain that the voice and perspective of social work could be lost, to the detriment of service users and patients. BASW’s draft policy statement highlights ways in which the contribution of social work to a more integrated health and care service needs to be recognised.

BASW England Professional Officer Joe Godden said: “BASW supports policy development that will improves services for people, however we have very significant concerns that the voice of social work could be lost in the rush to created more integrated services.

“Current national policy regarding integration runs the risk that the roles of social work and social care services are seen as being adjuncts to health services.”

BASW England’s Social Work with Adults Reference Group has drawn up a charter for social workers who are working within formal integrated systems or within a partnership arrangement. The charter applies across various models of integration, from structural – the creation of a single integrated organisation, through to partnership arrangements and co-operation agreements. BASW is supportive of partnership working where it is done well and properly and is appropriate.

To read BASW England’s draft position paper, click HERE

To read the charter on integration, click HERE

To submit your views on integration click HERE