Local authorities express interest in health and children's services link-ups

Neil Puffett
Monday, April 18, 2016

More local authorities could be set to hand over responsibility for children's services to NHS trusts, with a number of enquiries being made to a council that has already taken the pioneering step.

Trafford Council is introducing a system that integrates health and social care for children, families and adults. Picture: Peter Crane
Trafford Council is introducing a system that integrates health and social care for children, families and adults. Picture: Peter Crane

Trafford Council, which formally handed responsibility for children’s services to Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust on 1 April, told CYP Now that a number of councils have expressed an interest in the way the local authority has reorganised services.

Cathy Rooney, director for safeguarding and professional development at the service, said it has fielded multiple enquiries from other councils, with particular interest from local authorities in Greater Manchester.

"People are obviously always centred on trying to find different models [for children's services]," she said.

“There is a lot of interest in Greater Manchester, and other organisations are trying to get a sense of where we are going.

"They are going to see how it progresses and see if there is anything transferrable to their particular circumstances.

“I would say probably in Greater Manchester particularly we are good at sharing our learning and seeing how models can be adapted. We feel we are leaning on an open door."

There are a total of 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester, of which Pennine Care provides services in six – Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford.

Rooney said the approach adopted in Trafford, which involves health and children's social care staff working together in integrated teams, based in four localities, could succeed elsewhere but would have to take into account local circumstances.

"It takes a long time to build up this approach," she said.

"We built up our own solution. It's a model of something that we think is working well, but it is not necessarily a solution that would work everywhere."

Alternative methods of delivering children's services are high on the political agenda at the moment. Earlier this month, Dudley Council became the latest local authority to be considered for removal of children's services following a critical Ofsted inspection.

Just last week the Department for Education refused to release the findings of a controversial study examining how children’s services can be delivered outside of local authority control following a five-month Freedom of Information (FOI) battle.

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