Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Thursday 4th February 7.30pm

Health & Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee

We had a record breaking agenda for this committee meeting – one of the longest ever with a total of 424 pages.

We started with a joint briefing from the Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) and Consultant in Public Health Fiona Harris on how joint working with the NHS can help target interventions or health promotion for residents living in SHP managed estates. We learnt that SHP was willing to extend its activities to encourage positive health outcomes through communication and practical applications.

I enquired whether the PCT would consider putting some funding towards this ‘joint working’ as part of its prevention programme.

Next the committee scrutinised the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults action plan prepared following the Care Quality Commission inspection. I enquired about the frequency of the case file audits and who they were undertaken by. I also highlighted the need for information to be fed back to those persons making the referral so that they could be assured that someone had taken ownership of the matter and that it was being dealt with. Overall the committee was reassured that appropriate work was being done to address the matters raised in the inspection report.

The next item was for the committee to see the latest draft of the Mental Health Commissioning strategy. We learnt of the status of this draft and next steps.

The committee also received the PCT Strategic Plan with particular focus on the development of Integrated Care Organisations.

Under this item I highlighted the lack of any real consideration for carers in the strategy. I pointed out that wherever you find someone with an illness, nearly always you will also find a carer for that person, whether for a short time or a longer period. If a carer becomes ill you will have two patients – the carer and the cared for, not just one. In this way looking after the carers saves the NHS money. Carers are also more prone to certain health problems, such as stress or back problems. Acting to prevent this will reduce their call on the NHS. I therefore found it disappointing that of the £720,000 allocated to the Sutton & Merton PCT under the National Carers Strategy, none of it was planned to be spent on providing respite breaks for carers as was the government’s intention. In response Bill Gillespie, Chief Executive of the PCT stated that carers were mentioned in the strategy under long-term care, and that they already spent £1 million on carer related services. However in the current financial climate he considered spending on carers not to be a priority for the trust.

Item 7 on the agenda was a report of the work of this committee and lessons learned.

 Under ‘Updates from other joint committees’ I noted some information I had received relevant to the Henderson Hospital – Tier 4 Personality Disorder scrutiny, which was that the Birmingham residential treatment centre for Tier 4 personality disorders, Mainhouse, was also scheduled for closure. As there are only three such facilities in the country: Mainhouse, The Henderson & Cassell, the closure of both Mainhouse & the Henderson represented a significant loss of specialist expertise in this field. I was aware that the closure of Mainhouse was due to similar funding changes to that which prompted the closure of the Henderson. It would appear that lessons are not being learned about the funding of highly specialised NHS services and I worry how many other examples of such loss of expertise are happening.


March 12, 2010 - Posted by | Committee Meeting

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