All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for December 2003

Social Services Improvement is "slow and patchy"

December 16, 2003
Multiple Sclerosis Society

Most disabled people still do not have the opportunities they seek and the support they need to live independently and take control over their lives, says a Government report. It paints a picture of "slow and patchy improvement".

Direct payments are not yet sufficiently available and too many people experience home care which encourages dependency, according to the Social Services Inspectorate. "While many people expressed satisfaction with the services they received, we found these views often stemmed from low expectations of both quality and flexibility."

Managers responsible for disability are highly committed to developing and improving services, says the report. But they are sometimes frustrated by the failure of councils to view disabled people as a priority. Funding problems are often linked to the lack of a national policy framework for developing disabled services. Managers said this made it hard to compete against other service priorities.

The Inspectorate says it is essential that disabled people and other partners are actively involved in reviewing commissioning strategies to make sure they are coherent. The National Service Framework for people with long-term conditions, due to be published in 2004, will help but preparatory work is urgently needed.

"Where disabled people and carers are engaged at a strategic level and also with specific initiatives, frontline services are becoming more responsive to service users' needs and wishes."

The report highlights the need for:

The findings of 'Independence Matters' were based on information gathered from 150 local authorities and inspections of eight councils. The report and a summary version are available on the Department of Health website at

Copyright © 2003, Multiple Sclerosis Society