Kettering Borough Council agreed plans earlier this week at their Executive Committee to formalise a partnership working arrangement with Kettering General Hospital, the local NHS Trust, and themselves to try to make it easier for Council tenants to be returned home after a stay in hospital.

They might need adaptions to their properties or even moving to more suitable accommodation of any number of other ways of supporting them for example. This makes a lot of sense as one of the biggest pressures on the hospital at the moment is from patients unable to be discharged as there isn’t the support ready at home to look after them. This is putting a huge financial cost on the hospital and restricting the number of beds available for other patients.

I asked to address the Committee and said that I welcomed partnership working between public bodies as it not only leads to greater financial efficiencies and savings, but also to a better understanding between different organisations of each other’s priorities which can in itself have knock-on benefits for the local community.

I did however ask quite clearly why Social Services were not involved in this partnership? The County Council have a statutory responsibility for Adult Social Care and therefore have a key role in assessing the care and support people might need before they can be discharged from hospital.

I appreciate that there are all sorts of problems with Social Services and the County Council’s funding of it, and I also understand the relationship between the County Council and Kettering Borough isn’t always an easy one, but it seems crazy to me to go ahead with this partnership scheme while excluding the key player from it.

In the following debate which included Councillors and Officers nobody even referred to my question let alone answer it, which makes me wonder if there is another agenda at play here? Could this for example be seen as an opportunity for KBC to prove itself in this field without County Council support in preparation for some kind of Unitary Authority bid outside of the County Council’s plans?

If that were the case, it worries me that this partnership is going ahead without the experts in the field, because regardless of anything else, it is the outcomes for residents that should be the number one priority.