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Reporting Back: Cabinet

This week was the regular meeting of the Council’s Cabinet. This is made up of the ruling (Labour) group cabinet members. A representative of the two largest opposition parties is invited to attend but not vote. Councillor Steve Wright reports:

Radcliffe Strategic Regeneration Framework
The Cabinet received an update on the Radcliffe Strategic Regeneration Framework. This is a continuation of the £500,000 approved in 2018 much has already been spent. The council will now be consulting stakeholders and and develop the Strategic Regeneration Framework, and then take it to public consultation.

Bury, Town of Culture 2020
Bury has been chosen to be Greater Manchester’s ‘Town of Culture’ for 2020. There are various events planned across the Borough in a roughly six months festival linked to the town’s association with Victoria Wood. The project has a starting budget of £150,000 made up of £60,000 from the Victoria Wood Foundation, Greater Manchester Combined Authority £50,000 and Bury £40,000. The council will be looking for to have many and various events in different areas and will be looking for offers from local groups.

Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone
The Cabinet received an update on the proposed Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone – the plan to charge lorries, buses, vans and taxis (that do not meet stringent emission standards) a daily fee to drive in Greater Manchester.

Further implementation of this has been delayed until after the local and Greater Manchester mayoral elections in May this year (readers will remember a similar delay to the next proposals of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework………). They are hoping to get funding for Automatic Number Plate Recognition and that this might help with enforcement of ‘ no idling zones, e.g. outside of schools). The cabinet were reminded of the Liberal Democrat motion on no idling outside the boroughs schools and that there has been little or no action on it in past two years. The cabinet agreed that this plan should be pushed forward.

Mayor of Bury 2020-21
The Cabinet agreed that Holyrood Ward Councillor Tim Pickstone be nominated as Mayor for 2020-21. Tim will be the first Lib Dem Mayor of Bury for 17 years. The Mayoral year starts with the annual ‘Mayor Making’ event late in May 2020.

Papers for the meeting are here, any questions please ask.


Reporting Back: Strategic Commissioning Board

Last night was the regular meeting of Bury’s Strategic Commissioning Board, this is the relatively new body which brings together the Coucnil and NHS Bury to make joint decisions about health and care services. Opposition Group Leaders can attend but not vote. Councillor Tim Pickstone reports:

Public Health Priorities in Bury: 
The Director of Public Health gave a report on the public health prioritis in Bury, based on the health needs of local people. These are identified as:

• A good start in life

• Adverse Childhood Experiences & Mental Wellbeing

• Primary and secondary prevention of Long-Term Conditions (including MSK)

• Comprehensive behaviour change strategy which emphasises making healthy options the default options.

• Income & wealth equality

• Supportive relationships & social connections & community empowerment

• Decent Affordable Housing

• Ensuring all residents benefit from clean & green environments

This report set out the rationale for each of these priorities and summarises what ‘good’ would look like, the current position in Bury and provides a series of recommendations designed to help move us further, faster. 

Urgent Care Review
The Board agreed to go ahead with public consultation on a review of Urgent Care services in Bury. This review and consulation focuses on all the services that are available to people who need urgent health care – GPs, Walk-In Centres, and services at hospitals like A&E and Urgent Care Centres. 

People will recall that there was a similar review a few years ago which resulted in proposals to close Bury’s two Walk-In centres. This doesn’t mean that this will be the proposalst this time, though it is important to note that this is ‘phase 1’ of the review, focussing on Fairfield hosptial, and that there will be a phase two, focussing on North Manchester General Hosptial, later in the year.

The consultation will test the following principles with members of the public:

• Making it easier to book a same day appointment at your GP practic

• Upgrading and enhancing some of our facilities so that they are open longer and have access to diagnostic tests you might need such as X rays and blood tests.

• Making the service offer streamlined, simplified and standardised with consistent opening hours, a Bury wide triage system and a number of options to refer you to once you have been assessed either in the Community or at FGH

• Making it easier to speak to a local clinician in Bury if you have rung 111

• Making sure you get the right advice and are booked into somewhere to be seen to reduce the time you would have to wait if you had just walked in somewhere 

We will circulate details of the consultation when it happens. 

Intermediate Care Review 

A review is also taking place of Intermediate Care services in Bury. Typically these are services where people are cared for when leaving hospital. 
Bury currently has a number of intermediate care sevices, this includes: 
– Bealey Intermediate Care Unit (Radcliffe) 
– Killelea Intermediate Care Unit (Bury) 
– Discharge to Assess Beds 
– Reablement 
– Intermediate Care at Home Rapid Response Service

In summary the proposals are to reduce the number of physical beds availablee from 74 to 49, but making more efficient use of them to deliver 658 admissions per year and a average length of stay of 26 days – AND to increase capacity of reablement to 70 and delivering 983 admissions per year whilst delivering an average length of stay of 26 days. 

Review of Learning Difficulty Respite Servies 
A review is currently taking place of the above service, which particularly focusses on the future of the Cambeck Close service in Whitefield. 

The papers for the meeting are here. Any questions please ask.

Reporting Back: Greater Manchester Scrutiny – High Rise Buildings

The fire safety of high rise buildings was the main topic of discussion at last month’s regular meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority ‘Corporate Issues and Reform Scrutiny. This meeting brings together 15 councillors from across Greater Manchester. Councillor Tim Pickstone, one of the Bury reps on the committee reports back:

High Rise Task Force
The main item for consideration was an update from the work of the Greater Manchester High Rise Task Force. This was set up in June 2017, following the fire at Grenfell Tower to coordinate the response to the issues that the fire raised for Greater Manchester.

This has been followed by the establishment of a dedicated High Rise Team within Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, to ensure that there is a targeted response on following up on inspections of all high rise buildings.

For the purposes of the high rise strategy, ‘high rise’ means a building over 18m high. There are issues with some types of cladding on buildings and this remains a very serious issue for some buildings, particularly where building owners are facing very large bills to replace cladding.

At the moment there are around 80 high rise buildings in Greater Manchester that Fire Service maintains with interim measures to ensure public safety.

I also asked about buildings under 18m which might be affected by cladding issues which are currently not required to be on a register (an example being the student block in Bolton affected by fire last month, which is mostly under 18m.

School Readiness Update
One of the main priorities for Greater Manchester is to increase the number of children who are ‘ready for school’ (school readiness levels). As a county, Greater Manchester is behind the national average for school readiness, and this has been identified as a key issue that needs to be solved.

The Committee received an update on this issue, particularly looking at the performance date for the 2018-19 academic year. Bury is actually second best in Greater Manchester (behind Trafford) with over 70% of children ready for school.

The report noted that significant progress has been made across Greater Manchester to increase school readiness levels, and that additional funding (£1.2 million) had been secured to take this forwards over the coming two years.

Budget Update Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority
Following the ‘buying out’ of the PFI contact by GMWDA, the authority seems in good financial health. The forecast budget outturn for 2019-20 is in line with the budget. The projected levy amounts for 2020-21 and 201-22 are £177 and £180 million respectively (this is the total amount charged to Greater Manchester councils for waste disposal).

The full papers for the meeting are here. Any questions please ask.

Reporting Back – Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Last month was the regular meeting of Bury Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Michael Powell reports back:


Performance in schools
Headteachers from a high-performing college, secondary school, nursery school and primary school academy trust gave presentations on how they’ve managed to establish and maintain high levels of attainment and process amongst their pupils. Amongst the points discussed were the importance of sharing ‘best practice’ between staff members, departments and also other schools, well as maintaining strong links with ‘feeder schools’ to ensure progress is maintained when children move up to Secondary school. Some of the headteachers also discussed the emphasis they’ve placed on staff wellbeing and development, including regular ‘drop-ins’ to offer support, as well as improving teaching and assessment through CPD (Continuing Professional Development).


Ombudsman Report
A report was presented summarising all the complaints dealt with over the past year by the LGO (Local Government Ombudsman) involving the Council’s different service providers, such as highways, adult care services, housing and education services. The total number of complaints and enquiries received in 2018/19 was 67, up from 44 from the previous 12 month period. Only 6 of these complaints were upheld and the Council were found to comply with the recommendations of the Ombudsman in all of these cases.

Finance Monitoring Report
A finance report for the last quart period (April-August 2019) was also presented. Four themed Budget Recovery Boards have also been established to oversee the implementation of savings plans, to develop further pipeline schemes, to monitor additional pressures arising in year, and to identify mitigations. The Council is currently projecting to overspend by £0.467m, which represents approximately 0.34% of the total net budget of £138.862m.

Papers for the meeting are here.

Reporting Back: Planning Committee and Cabinet Meeting

Earlier this month was the Nmonthly meeting of Bury’s Planning Control Committee. This is the meeting made up of the 11 Councillors. The committee determines planning applications for certain major developments and others where objections have been received. Councillor Cristina Tegoloreports: 

Prior to the Committee meeting, a site visit took place in respect of planning application 63992 and 64437.

The following application was notapproved:

Harrington House Estates Ltd, 79 Bury New Road, Whitefield App No. 64719
The application relates to a large red brick/slate end terraced property on the west side of Bury New Road in Whitefield, to the south of the Higher lane junction. The formerly a single house, it has recently undergone refurbishment and conversion to a 6 person House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). 

The proposed development involves: · Change of use of the existing 6 person HMO in to an 8 person HMO. The two additional bedrooms and kitchen/diner would be on the second floor, in the existing rooms within roof space.

The previous planning application for the change of use to an 8 person HMO was refused in July 2017 on the following grounds: “The lack of dedicated off-road parking provision is likely to lead to vehicles parking and carrying out manoeuvres on the highway to the serious detriment of the free flow of traffic and road safety. The proposal is therefore unacceptable and would be contrary to the NPPF and UDP Policies HT2/4 Car Parking and New Development and H2/4 Conversions and supplementary guidance document SPD13 Conversion of Buildings to Houses in Multiple Occupation.”

During the meeting residents raised objections that the traffic generated by the two additional residents would cause parking problems and be detrimental to highway safety. Several Councillors raised issued regarding parking and privacy. I pointed out that in the proposed 8 double bedrooms HMO layout there could be up to 16 people sharing two kitchens (one at ground floor and one on the second floor) with only one dining table (with 6 dining chairs) showing at ground floor level.

The following application received approval but we raised some concerns:

Land between 60 and Unit 6 Millett Street, Bury, App No. 63992
We discussed a proposed development to the west of Millett Street, in Bury, for the erection of 36 no. x 1-bedroom apartments, provided over 3 floors with the main entrance on the side elevation facing the associated car parking. 

The site itself comprises hardcore and tarmac surfacing, with areas of overgrown and unmaintained vegetation. To the rear of the site is a line of mature trees, beyond which is a steep embankment which drops down to the River Irwell and which is designated as a Wildlife Link and Corridor under UDP Policy EN6/4.

The scheme will provide 100% Affordable Housing to be delivered by a Registered Social Provider. 

We analysed the merits and I raised at the meeting the following points:

  • I fully appreciated that the scheme provides 100% affordable housing but I pointed out that in this block of apartments there are only one-bedroom flats and there isn’t a lift.
  • I also said that in a 3-storey apartment block without lift, people with long- and short-term mobility impairments, elderly couples that wish to downsize, parents with toddlers will be excluded or disadvantaged
  • I was happy to see that some EV charging stations have been included in the scheme. However, the scheme should also allow for infrastructure to be built so that more charging stations can be added in a near future

I also mentioned to the planning officer in charge of this application that this block of apartments is located near the river Irwell, which is designated as Wildlife Link, and its flat roof is, in my opinion, a great missed opportunity to create a green roof to support wildlife and create a thriving eco-friendly habitat.

More information and the full papers for the meeting are here.

Cabinet Meeting
The following week was the regular meeting of the Council’s Cabinet. This is made up of seven Cabinet members from the ruling Labour Group. The two largest group opposition leaders are invited to attend and speak but not vote. Councillor Tim Pickstonereports: 

Corporate Financial Monitoring Report 
The Council is currently predicting an overspend of just under £1/2 million for 2019-20, out of a total expenditure budget of £139 million. It is important to note that the budget only balances this year by the use if ‘balances’, and the amount of balances being used has been increased by £2.8 during the year. 

I asked about saving targets. There are significant levels of ‘unmet historic savings targets, e.g. waste collection, civic venues, leisure services etc that are not being delivered, and providing additional pressure on the Council. There are also savings that have been agreed to this year, that have already been ‘slipped’ into next year.

Childrens Centres Management Arrangements
The Council is proposing to move the management and running of five children’s centres (Woodbank, Broad Oak, Coronation Road, Radcliffe Hall and Butterstile) outside of the Council – e.g. to the voluntary sector or schools. This would save the Council about £136,000 a year. Two Children’s Centres would be maintained by the Council (Redvales and Ribble Drive). 

Radcliffe High School Bid
The Council has agreed to move forwards on a bid for a ‘Free School’ High School in Radcliffe, partnering up with STAR Academies as the sponsor. The site would be on Spring Lane where the old Radcliffe Riverside school was. The bid will now go forwards to Government and is subject to their funding. Obviously Radcliffe does need a high school, but I did ask about whether or not there was enough demand for secondary schools in the whole Borough for an additional school. 

The papers for the meeting are here

Reporting Back: Greater Manchester Combined Authority Corporate Issues Scrutiny

There are three Scrutiny Committees to scrutinise the work of the Greater Manchester Mayor and other Combined Authority functions in Greater Manchester.

Prestwich councillor Tim Pickstone represents Bury on the Corporate Issues and Reform Scrutiny Committee, and is this years chair of the Committee. Tim reports from the last meeting:

Greater Manchester Plan
The main focus of our meeting was to review performance against the Greater Manchester Plan. This is the strategy document that sets out the objectives that the Mayor and Combined Authority want to achieve and what measures they will use to determine how successful they have been.

This meeting is one of two meetings a year where the Mayor is in attendance himself to report back this. He used the opportunity to highlight three things he felt he was achieving on in the 2.5 years since he has been elected:

Homelessness
In the 2017 election, the Mayor made eliminating street homelessness in Greater Manchester by 2020 his goal. Recently there has been the first fall for some years in the official figures for people sleeping rough in Greater Manchester. 300 people have been helped already in the ‘bed for all scheme’.

Young People
The Mayor highlighted take up of the new ‘Our Pass’ scheme, a £10 bus pass which means 16-18 year olds can travel for free on buses in Greater Manchester (not trams or trains). Apparently 32,000 young people have signed up for the pass so far (well over half). There is an estimate that 9-12 million journeys will have been made on the pass in the next year.

Transport
The Mayor highlighted the four aspects of a future Greater Manchester transport strategy developing:
– trams – with the opening of the Trafford Centre line next year. The Mayor identified Metrolink as the big ‘Greater Manchester transport success story’.
– buses – with the current consultation on bus re-regulation which MAY lead to re-regulation of buses in the future (though there is a significant cost to the taxpayer of this, currently estimated at £130 million)
– trains – a future aspiration to play more of a role in franchising rail services in Greater Manchester
– active travel – the aspiration to develop more walking and cycling travel routes.


Members of the Committee asked a number of questions to the Mayor, particularly focussed on the transport issue. I asked about why – if Metrolink was the success story (and bus ridership is going down), why we future focus was so much on buses, and not on further Metrolink? Councillors from Bury, Manchester and Trafford (including me) all complained about the existing congestion on the the tram lines coming into Manchester in peak times. Apparently there are more trams coming from next year, but much of this will be to cover the new Trafford Centre line.

Greater Manchester Full Fibre Network
The Committee received an update on the Greater Manchester Full Fibre proposals. This is an allocation of £23.7 million Greater Manchester has received from the Government to connect 1,300 public sector sites (buildings, traffic lights etc) with full fibre broadband, the aspiration of increasing the full-fibre coverage from 2% to 25% within three years.

The project is currently being tendered to private sector providers to deliver. One aspiration is that further private sector investment will extend the full fibre network to other sites in the Borough.

More information and the paperwork for the meeting is here. Any questions please ask!

Reporting Back: Council Cabinet – Prestwich regeneration and Sedgley Children’s Centre

Earlier in the month was the regular meeting of the Council’s Cabinet. This is the meeting consisting of the eight Labour Cabinet members. Opposition Group Leaders are invited but cannot vote. Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Tim Pickstone reports back: 

Prestwich Regeneration
Residents will be aware of the VERY longstanding discussions about regenerating the Longfield area in Prestwich ‘village’ centre. A couple of years ago the Council announced that it was working with a developer – MUSE Developments, but is now reporting that this company, although it is still interested in being involved, is not interested in being the ‘lead developer’.



The Cabinet agreed a report that the Council would proceed with looking at whether or not the Council itself could be the lead developer for the site. The first stage of this is for the Council to spend £1.2 million out of its ‘capital programme’ (essentially money that is either borrowed or selling assets) to undertake the detailed work to take this possibility to the next stage. 

Most of the £1.2 million will be spent on external consultants. It is in addition to the money that the Council spent to buy the building which Istanbul restaurant is in. The report makes clear that the Council would need to buy the lease for the shopping centre from its current owners to proceed (presumably more money). 

I raised two questions. The first was around ‘risk’. Essentially the Council is saying that it can do what private developers don’t feel they can do in developing the site. For everything to work a lot of things would need to fall into place at the same time, and if they don’t there is a risk that taxpayers money would be at risk. In particular the Council would need to find a scheme that included paying for new community facilities to replace the library, which is no easy task.

It was hinted at very strongly in the report that the Council saw no future for the existing Longfield Suite I asked them to confirm that they did indeed see no future for the suite, which they confirmed. They did say that they were committed to a new community facility as part of the scheme, but I will be amazed if this provides a space as large and flexible as the existing Longfield Suite.

Sedgley Children’s Centre
The Cabinet also agreed to hand over management of the Sedgley Children’s Centre (Bishops Road/Kings Road junctions) to the Jewell Foundation, a local Jewish charity. 

As part of the agreement, the charity will increase engagement between the local Jewish community and the council.

I asked about whether the existing services, which run from the Children’s Centre would continue (they will), and also if there would be an impact on the ‘spoke’ children’s centre run from the building next to Butterstile primary school (they will be unaffected by this change). It would seem that proposals are to come forwards shortly to move all Children’s Centres to being run by third party agencies.

Full news story on the Jewell Foundation transfer in the Bury Times.

Papers for the meeting are here. Any questions please ask!

Reporting Back Strategic Commissioning Board

Earlier this month was the first meeting of Bury’s ‘Strategic Commissioning Board’. This is a completely new meeting which brings together Bury Council and NHS Bury in one decision making structure to make sure that the work that both organisations are doing in Bury is fully integrated. Significant steps have already been taken to achieve this, for example we now share a single Chief Executive and single Director of Finance, and there are more joint workings to follow.

The meeting is made up of the CCG (NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group) with 50% of the votes with the remaining 50% of the votes being the six Labour councillors who make up the Council’s Cabinet. The two opposition Leaders are invited to attend and contribute, but cannot vote (though the Conservatives didn’t turn up). Liberal Democrat Group Leader Tim Pickstone reports on the two main items which will be of interest: 

Health Needs in Bury
The Director of Public Health presented a paper summarising people’s health in Bury. Headlines included: 

– Historic increases in life expectancy are stalling
– People are generally living for moreyears in poorhealt

– The poorer people are, the shorter their lives and the more of those years are spent in ill health. There is a 15 year gap in healthy life-expectancy between the most and least deprived areas of Bury
– Bury’s rates of preventable mortality are significantly worse than England as a whole and among the worst compared to our statistical neighbours. Musculoskeletal conditions are the prime driver of poor health followed by depression and anxiety. These conditions often go hand in hand.
– Around 50% of the burden of disease is associated with smoking, excess alcohol consumption, poor diet and low levels of physical activity.

There are significant differences between different parts of Bury (e.g people expect to live 8 years longer in the better off areas of Bury, than in the worse off areas of Bury.

It was interesting to note that Bury is worsethan similar areas in:
– smoking rates
– diet (number of people who eat our ‘5 a day’ is significantly worse than in similar areas
– high body mass index (BMI)
– drug use
– physical exercise
(We were better than similar areas in terms of alcohol consumption). 

Bury is currently looking at developing a ‘Bury 2030’ plan about what we want to our priorities to be over the next decade, and the Board needs to identify which health priorities form part of that plan. 

I made the point that it was very disappointing that there had been no significant change in the last 15 years in the differences between the health of the poorer areas of Bury compared to the more well off areas of Bury, and that we should be critical of ourselves for failing to achieve this change. I also made the point that we need to identify a small number of priorities for making improvements in, to make a real difference to people’s health in Bury.

Urgent CareReview and Redesign 
The second important issue was an update on the review of ‘Urgent Care’ services in Bury. 

A review is tasing place with the following objectives: 
– Improve performance of 4 hour waits to reach 92% at Fairfield by March 2020 
– Reduce Non-Elective Admissions at Fairfield 
– Deliver £2.6m savings from current spend from Urgent Care Services 
by April 2020 
– Redesign to simplify access points to improve patient experience

The following services are being considered as part of the review: 
– Accident and Emergency at Fairfield 
–  Urgent Care Treatment Centre at Fairfield 
– Walk in Centres at Moorgate and Prestwich 
– GP Out of Hours Service (BARDOC) 
– GP Extended Access and GP Extended working Hours 
– GP in hours – availability of appointments 

This is a very sensitive topic. People will, no doubt, recall the public anger at the plans to close the walk-in centres a few years ago. I asked: 
– When the decisions would be made (December 2019)
– Whether the proposed model which was promised to replace walk-in centres ‘locality hubs with some element of walk-in access to GPs’ was still the aspiration, or if things had moved on from this promise (things have moved on from this promise).

Papers for the meeting are here. Any questions please ask! 

Reporting Back: Greater Manchester Corporate Issues Scrutiny meeting about Fire Services

Last month was the regular meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Corporate Issues and Reform Scrutiny Committee. This month the meeting largely focussed on issues around the Fire Service. 

Prestwich councillor Tim Pickstoneis one of Bury’s representatives on the Committee, and is also the Committee Chair this year. Tim reports: 

Greater Manchester Fire ‘Programme for Change’ Consultation Outcome 
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is at the end of a long process of review which has been called the ‘Programme for Change’. 

The Committee received an update on the main issues coming out of the consultation that had been undertaken. Highlights were: 

– The comments from the public (including individuals, groups and organisations) and staff on the proposals were predominantly negative.
– The main issues amongst staff of GMFRS included the ridership numbers (proposals to reduce the numbers of fire fighters on somefire engines from 5 to 4) and increasing the role of the firefighter to include greater place based and partnership working. Operational firefighters also raised that they do not feel that they have the skills, training or expertise to deliver this work, as well as the potential conflict with operational duties – with there being a potentially detrimental impact on both operational incidents and training
– The main issue amongst the public was the reduction in overall number of fire engines in Greater Manchester, with repeat comments about not reducing below 48 (as quoted in the proposals) due to emerging risks of protracted moorland fires, high rise buildings, future developments and the threat of terrorism.

The Committee also heard from the Mayor’s Office, about the changes he was minded to make in response to the consultation. These included: 
– Retaining some specialist prevention staff, and allowing more time for fire prevention activities to be taken. 
– Looking for an alternative delivery model for the current cadets and volunteering programmes within GMFRS.
– Reducing the number of non-firefighter jobs that would be lost (113 to 60), and working across the Combined Authority to see if there were suitable jobs for people who were at risk. 
– No Fire Fighter redundancies until April 2020 – which means maintaining crewing levels of 5, 4 and 4 for fire stations that have three fire engines. 

There remains significant financial uncertainty for next year – a potential big pensions bill that nobody knows whether the Government will fund or not, and also whether or not the Mayor will want to propose an increase in the Fire element of Council Tax that we all pay. It may well be that some difficult decisions are going to have to be made when these processes are being considered early in 2020. 

HMICRFS Inspection of Greater Manchester Fire
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service (HMICRFS) undertakes inspections of fire and police services. This is a new merged inspection body, so the first time GMFRS have been inspected in this manner. 

The outcome of the inspection was:

“We are satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. But there are several areas where the service needs to make improvements.

Greater Manchester FRS requires improvement in its effectiveness at keeping people safe. It requires improvement at:

  • preventing fires and other risks;
  • protecting the public through fire regulation; and
  • responding to national risks.But we judge it to be good at understanding risk and at responding to emergencies.The service requires improvement to the efficiency of its service, in particular at making best use of resources. But it is good at making its service affordable now and in future.The way the service looks after its people requires improvement, in particular:
  • promoting the right values and culture;
  • getting the right people with the right skills; and
  • managing performance and developing leaders.And we judged the way it ensures fairness and promotes diversity to be inadequate. Overall, we would like to see improvements in the year ahead.”

The Committee agreed to in-particular receive more detailed progress updates from GMFRS on the culture within the service and on equality and diversity issues.

Hope that is useful. Papers for the meeting are here. Any questions please ask! 

Care Quality Commission Report critical of failing health services.

This week the Care Quality Commission published its annual ‘State of Care’ report. This report covers the financial year 2018-19. The report concludes that there are more inpatient services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism that were rated inadequate, and more child and adolescent mental health inpatient services rated inadequate.

Key comments include:

  • Some people are detained in mental health services when this might have been avoided if they had been helped sooner, and then find themselves spending too long in services that are not suitable for them.
  • Too many people with a learning disability or autism are in hospital because of a lack of local, intensive community services.
  • We have concerns about the quality of inpatient wards that should be providing longer-term and highly specialised care for people.
  • Waiting times for treatment in hospitals have continued to increase and, like many areas within the NHS, demand for elective and cancer treatments is growing, which risks making things worse.
  • In hospital emergency departments, performance has continued to get worse while attendances and admissions have continued to rise.

Jeremy Hughes, CEO at Alzheimer’s Society said: “Today’s report once again highlights the desperate situation people with dementia find themselves in as a result of our unjust social care system.  Published on the day that the Government has omitted any detailed plans for social care reform from the Queen’s Speech, questions need to be asked as to how the Prime Minister intends to fulfil his promise to ‘fix the social care crisis, once and for all.’  

“All we’ve had today, aside from promises, is a reiteration of the spending review announcement that councils could be allowed to increase their tax by 2% to fund social care. It’s not new money from the Government.”

Responding to the report, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Vince Cable said:

“It is rare for a public body such as the Care Quality Commission to be so scathing of the effects of Government policy. Their honesty is to be congratulated.

“They highlight graphically the decline in standards for mental health and learning disability inpatient services. This means some of the most vulnerable are not receiving anything like the standards of care that they need.

“Staffing shortages, coupled with inadequate funding solutions has meant the strained care system is beginning to crack.

“Liberal Democrats have long argued that mental health in particular should be raised to parity with other forms of healthcare.

“Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech pays lip service to improvements in these services but it must be followed up with real resources.

Read a summary of the full report here (with links to download the full report).