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Ministers can't hide the joins

The delivery of integrated services (page three) has become a mantra of central and local government since Labour came to power nine years ago, more so with the advent of the Scottish Parliament. Pre-five services must be joined up, primaries must work with other services to head off problems at the pass and secondaries must liaise with social workers and others to combat social difficulties. These are all very fine sentiments.

But, as we have reported over recent years, there is precious little evidence to support the radical overhaul of services along integrated lines and ministers may even now be acknowledging that fact. As researchers confirm, there are few ways to judge if any of the many initiatives have worked. But evidence alone is unlikely to halt the integrated bandwagon, not least because chief executives and councillors favour corporate working. They will not drop service integration because it is their principal means of delivery.

And don't hold your breath waiting for outstanding returns on professional co-operation. Some efforts will be effective, some will be invisible and some will simply not materialise.

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