Information about my work as a Labour Councillor for East Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet

Friday, 27 July 2012

Health and Wellbeing Board

Just a quick rundown on the Barnet Health and Wellbeing Board meeting that I attended (from the public gallery as I am not a member of the committee (yet)) today.

The first thing I noted was some concerns Cllr Helena Hart, the chair and Cabinet member for Health raised about C Diff. I could not hear the exchange properly due to some very loud construction work going on outside, but I understand that Cllr Hart was concerned about C Diff in Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals, but that they could not tell which hospital the problem lay at, because the stats are not collected by location. I will try to look into it and see if I can find an answer, because we could not see on the latest statistics that C Diff had been red flagged, which is what I thought I had heard was said at the meeting. The medical professional who answered said that the target is extremely strict and that it was a very small sample.

There was also concern expressed about the quality of nursing care homes, especially dementia care at these homes. They will be examining what "good" care is, in the context of care homes being businesses, so how much does "good" care cost while keeping the home as a viable business. We are also working on this at the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, so will keep readers posted. You may know that I have a close relative in care, so this is of close personal interest to me as well.

Cllr Sachin Rajput spoke about his area of Adult Social Care, and he seemed to be on the ball and focused on safeguarding vulnerable people financially. In fact there will be a safeguarding month which will hope to raise awareness throughout the council. Cllr Andrew Harper spoke at length about his area of Child safeguarding. He mentioned that Ofsted had done an inspection, and that the only area he marked the department down for was not having a named doctor for children in care, which Cllr Harper said was unexpected criticism, but can be fixed shortly.

They also spoke about community engagement, and there was a presentation from the Barnet LINk, (Local Involvement Network), but no proper written report. The Council are looking to completely redo this area, through a Healthwatch. There was a bone of contention that this would be provided by one paid staff and "volunteers", to which it was questioned why anyone would want to volunteer to assist a paid worker? They said transition costs were likely to be £20,000 Apparently Islington are the best practise at community engagement, so they will be looking to them for guidance and ideas.

There was a report on care integration. It is becoming a theme of the council to try and get rid of duplication of effort to improve efficiency and reduce cost. That isn't helped by there being an expensive change to the computing system. There was a feeling among some board members that this is unnecessary becuse the old system could be modified to incorporate the desired chnages. I was not allowed to ask questions, as I was a member of the public, but I would have liked to query some of the costing that were included. They are to spend £290,000 on "CCG Relationship Management and Developing" which I think is really just a waste of money on the totally unnecessary top down reorganisation. Total waste when you consider that there are £17 million of cuts to find in the NHS. ("I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS" / "we are increasing spending on the NHS above inflation" - remember that Mr. Cameron?)

There may also be a new management structure put in place to help with the transition from PCTs to CCGs.

It was an interesting meeting, but difficult when there is no one there to explain things you don't know about, and this was my first encounter with a number of the issues that were discussed. It isn't helped by not being able to hear what was being said properly! But \I think there were a lot of good people there who knew thier stuff, so I think there should be good progress on the issues they raised. Recognising there is a problem is half the battle won.