Social Services Chief Resigns Over £6m Bill

The head of social services in Wiltshire, Dr Ray Jones, has quit his job, amid the Who pays for care?’ row between the county council and primary care trusts.

The respected director of social services for the past 14 years resigned because the council’s integrated health and social care programme has been left in tatters by a £6m bill from the county’s NHS bosses to fund social care they say they cannot afford.

The county council said that, under Dr Jones’s leadership, it had been at the forefront of integrating health and social care as the best way to provide services to those people who needed to use them.

A spokesman said: “This is now threatened by the current financial situation facing the county council. “Tackling these issues will require significant changes to how adult social services are organised and delivered.”

The council said Dr Jones had agreed that “these changes” would best be undertaken by a new director.

Health bosses are grappling with a £20m deficit in the merged Kennet and north Wilts and west Wilts primary care trusts. They have axed 85 jobs and are closing all but three of Wiltshire’s nine community hospitals.

Earlier this year, there was controversy involving the south Wilts primary care trust and the county council over who would foot the bill for the care of 18 elderly and mentally-ill patients. This followed the closure of the Amblescroft South unit, based at Salisbury’s Fountain Way hospital, in Wilton Road. Matters came to a head with the decision of primary care trust chief executive Carol Clarke to cut £3m in social care funding just 12 hours before the county council’s new budget year began. This threw the council’s budget programme into disarray.

In a statement, Dr Jones said difficult actions would be necessary over the coming months to tackle the funding problems. He said: “We have tackled financial problems together before, but what is exceptional this time is the scale of the difficulties and the significant and unplanned costs being passed to the council by the NHS. Since 1992, I have been the senior director who has led, with colleagues, the successful development of our social care services across Wiltshire. The council and I agree that I would find it very difficult now to be taking the actions to tackle the financial difficulties that are arising.”

Dr Jones said the council was a “good authority”, that he had been pleased and proud to have worked with “committed, caring and competent colleagues”, and that he valued what had so far been achieved.