Published: 24/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5947 Page 6

NHS organisations will be encouraged to work more closely with councils' social services departments under new government proposals.

The adult social care green paper, published on Monday, sets out ideas for more joint commissioning between local authorities, the NHS and voluntary organisations to provide better, more seamless care for older people.

The government wants to see more use of existing powers to pool health and social care budgets. And the wider roll-out of care trusts, on which primary care trusts jointly commission services with social services, is proposed. There are only eight care trusts in England at the moment.

The document says: 'We do not want to impose solutions. Decisions about the best models to suit local circumstances should be made locally. However, we are clear that doing nothing will not be an option.'

The document says resources should be concentrated on promoting the health and independence of the general adult population, rather than those in greatest need.

NHS Confederation chief executive Dr Gill Morgan said she hoped 'PCTs do not find their time diverted by yet more structural changes'.

A white paper, due out after the election if Labour wins, will give greater details on governance arrangements.

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