Systems leadership and other issues at NCASC14

04 December 2014

The annual Adult and Children Services Conference took place in Manchester at the end of October. We were very pleased to be there, both attending sessions, and also at Speakers’ Corner, where one of our clients, Elaine McHale, spoke about our work with Leicester City Council.

The integration of services was a key theme throughout the conference. There was evidence of broad political agreement from both Labour and the Tories about the need for full budgetary integration. Despite this, however, there were a number of voices questioning whether or not there are real savings to be made in this way.

‘Wicked problems’ and how to deal with them was another recurring issue at the conference. In particular, there was much discussion of how we can deal with the tensions between the need for evidence-based interventions, and the drive for new, innovative services, as well as how best to enable a whole-system approach that includes, for instance, partners, health, and housing. There have been huge increases recently in both the Better Care Fund and the Innovation Fund, but there is a real fear that the underlying aim is to ‘save the NHS’, rather than institute true partnership. There’s widespread recognition, too, that health care, adult social care, and children’s social care all take money away from each other. The unaffordability of these services is also broadly acknowledged to be a misnomer: the cost of such care undoubtedly exists, and has to be met by someone. The challenge is how we can minimize system cost and failure, as well as working out who is going to pay.

John Bolton delivered an interesting session, in which he suggested that most of the problems and opportunities that were being discussed at the conference are really about practice ‘on the ground’; they’re not really things that can be solved at policy, strategy or commissioning level. Link here.

Some of Benjamin’s favourite tweets from the conference (#NCASC14 if you want to search for more):

'sometimes I think that if policymakers knew what happened and the challenges of implementation, they'd never make a new policy’

 Barker: not 'is it affordable' but 'who pays the cost?' #ncasc14

 "Integration could save £4.4bn annually" (and biggest barrier is culture) - so how much is being invested in culture shaping work? #ncasc14