Letters

By proposing to remove obstacles and promote the new duty of partnership, the government's consultation document, Partnership in Action, is to be welcomed ('A hole in the wall', News Focus, page 14, 24 September). The new measures should enable progress towards better integrated health and social care for individuals and communities, as well as expose laggards and pressure them into action.

But in truth, progress in joint working has been possible and encouraged for several years, as demonstrated in places such as Northumberland, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Greenwich and elsewhere. Attitudinal change is required as much as anything. The document really catches the eye with references to notions such as core business, dealing with every link in the chain and joint national priorities guidance. Most welcome is its recognition that the sterile arguments - still all too common - indicate that organisational needs are being put before those of individuals and communities.

The proposals' main impact may be in acknowledging the big picture and emphasising the importance of capturing hearts and minds.

Skilled leadership and support are crucial for ensuring real progress, rather than collaboration being treated as only a technical process. It would be good to see this aspect given greater prominence in the government's proposed way forward.

Richard Poxton Senior consultant Community care development centre King's College London