Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Public representations for the Council’s September 16th Health Housing and Adult Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee NHS

1. It is to be hoped that substantial progress will be reported on the end state of Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare under agenda item 9.

NHS London will however be concluding its review of HRCH by this September. In the event of the SHA vetoing its continuation as a ‘standalone’ agency, will the Committee please confirm that full and formal consultations will be held - either on the PCT’s initiative or at the Committee’s request - on the range of alternative options? These should include the social enterprise model adopted by Kingston.

2. It is good to see, agenda item 11, the importance Whitehall and the NHS pays to individual PCTs and their corresponding Overview and Scrutiny Committees, by ‘pre-consulting’ the latter on changes in Children’s Heart Surgery Services. For these particular services a regional or London-wide scrutiny arrangement might seem appropriate, but for maternity services, now being considered by SW London NHS, does not the Committee agree that scrutiny should be undertaken by each of the six OSCs in the sector, even if their responses are routed through a Joint SWL OSC?

2.1 According to DH policy guidance of 2003 the duty of SHAs and PCTs to consult patients and the public is not confined to occasions when a ‘substantial variation’ of services are proposed (see top of page 55). The duty also applies in ‘developing and considering proposals for changes in the way those services are provided.’ Does this policy guidance still hold good?
3. In its comprehensive annual report, agenda item 10, the Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board identifies priorities for 2010-11. ‘Embedding the performance framework and ‘good practice’ is included in the second of these priorities, but the sixth draws attention to a major concern, the need ‘to respond to high levels of staff and role change.’ If staff turnover is considered by the Partnership Board to be a priority concern, why does its Report make no mention of a much more serious concern, the high level of vacancy rates for social workers in Richmond - at 35.6%, the second highest in the country and more than double the average for London, as reported last month in ‘Community Care’ and the local press? If the Partnership Board is reluctant to draw attention to this lamentable state of affairs, the Council’s Committee, overviewing and scrutinising adult services, can not afford to do likewise. Can an explanation please be provided for the present situation and how it will be remedied?

Francis King