Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Thursday 9th July 7.30pm

Health & Well Being Scrutiny Committee

The main items on this agenda were a presentation by Sutton LINK about the work this organisation does and how they work with the Health & Well Being Scrutiny Committee; scrutiny of particular mental health services; and scrutiny of the management of long term conditions.

 The Mental Health scrutiny item was a follow up on the issues around the closure of the s136 secure suite that had been raised by the police at the previous meeting. When the police detain a person suspected of having mental health issues they have an obligation to take them to a place of safety where they can be assessed. This detention can legally last 72 hours although a shorter period is recommended as good practice. With the closure of the s136 suite at Sutton Hospital Sutton Police were having to transport people detained under this section to Tadworth Hospital – a much longer journey for both the patient and meaning extended use of police time.

A report on the s136 procedures by the South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust had been circulated with the agenda. I asked a number of questions to establish whether the transportation time was included in the detention period and whether the tables provided included the transportation time. I also pointed out that the figures did not account for people detained by the police but not accepted by the Trust for lack of capacity. I suggested that efforts should be made to collect this information in future.

It was also suggested that the Mental Health Trust offer some training to police officers to help them better identify persons who may be suffering from mental health problems and how to best deal with them.

 The report prepared for the committee by the Sutton & Merton PCT regarding the management of long term conditions contained some great double-speak which I just had to highlight. It mentioned referring patients for self help bibliotherapy resources. It was clarified that this meant patients were advised to read a book. I found the rest of the report quite non-specific about the services it offered to patients with long-term conditions and it became clear that this is an area that would benefit from increased attention. It was worrying that a specialist nurse has been trying to set up a neurology clinic at a local hospital but barriers to that were being raised by the Hospital Trust. It was felt that a specialist nurse-led practice could offer support in the later stages of illness and be able to offer information at a more appropriate time. This was in contrast to doctors who tended to see a patient when the condition was first diagnosed but then contact often fell away quite sharply.

 There may well be further scrutiny of this topic.

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September 2, 2009 - Posted by | Committee Meeting

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