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BASW urges Jeremy Hunt to put social work skills at the forefront of reforms

This week, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt, gave his first speech on social care at BASW’s World Social Work Day celebratory event in London.

Hunt delivered seven principles he said would shape the Social Care green paper due out this summer and outlined a new ten-year workforce strategy that would integrate health and social care.

He admitted the current system fell short, with families struggling to access the care they want within “fragmented services” under “unprecedented pressure”. Hospitals found it difficult to discharge patients due to lack of social care support packages, he said.

Hunt’s seven principles focus on better quality of provision; greater focus on the whole person within an integrated system; more control for those receiving support; reforming the workforce; more support for families and carers; a “sustainable” funding model and “shared responsibility” between the state and individuals.

Asked at the event by BASW chief executive Ruth Allen how he would ensure social work skills, ethics and values were at the forefront of the reforms, Hunt replied: “It is really important that we recognise interdependency between the health and social care system also means interdependence between the health and social care workforce. We need to create career structures that are much more interchangeable. This is starting to happen on the ground.”

Allen later added: “Hunt's attention to the complexity of adult social care in his speech has been cautiously welcomed across the sector. However, we need to understand the financial principles driving the approach of the Department of Health and Social Care and Secretary of State.

“We need to see social care reform tackled in context of tackling wider impacts of austerity and growing poverty, and we need to hear a commitment to work with the profession on the distinctive offer of social work and social care in the Green Paper and what follows.

“Social work and social care is not an adjunct to healthcare; it is a transformative approach to empowering and protecting citizens, and developments in integration must build on this to really improve people's experience and outcomes.”