Inadequate funding of social care, rather than poor relationships, is responsible for 'Berlin walls' between health and social services, MPs were told this week.
Without 'considerable co-operation' between the two agencies it would have been impossible to develop the current range of services, the Association of Directors of Social Services says.
'If they exist at all, 'Berlin walls' between health and social services are the exception... and are more reflective of unsatisfactory resourcing than relationships,' the ADSS says in written evidence to the Commons health committee.
Joint working is likely to be reinforced by recent government initiatives on winter pressures and emergency medical admissions, the ADSS says. But 'however committed we are to (it), mechanisms alone cannot overcome a failure to resource social care adequately.'
The health action zone approach offers the potential for testing more flexible partnerships at a local level, the evidence says. But it also carries a risk of continuing public confusion about who is responsible for providing services.
The ADSS calls for the NHS and local government to develop 'common local accountability', building on social services' track record of working in partnership with users and carers.
It also wants stronger roles for joint consultative committees and community health councils, and partnerships with GPs for both commissioning and providing care.