Claire Wright fights for proper scrutiny and transparency at DCC

Owl says: it beggars belief that (a) councillors are banned from asking public experts any questions and (b) minutes do not reflect PUBLIC anxieties!

And what would we do without INDEPENDENT councillors like Claire Wright!

“A recommendation will be put before Devon County Council Chairs of Scrutiny Committees on relaxing the rules around asking questions of members of the public, following today’s Procedures Committee meeting.

I proposed that there should be flexibility in the rules relating to public speaking in allowing questions from councillors on the committee. This was after I was prevented from asking a local GP a question following his submission relating to concerns on care at home, at January’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting.

There was some discussion at today’s meeting and it emerged that other scrutiny chairs (Cllr Rob Hannaford in this instance) exercise discretion for points of clarification. I asked that this be made into a formal policy and it was agreed that the issue would be put before the next Chairs of Scrutiny meeting, which I will attend and make my case.

It is difficult to see a reason to argue against this modest change! My proposal to reduce the length of time that members of the public must register, from four days to two days, was not supported, unfortunately.


However, my request for more detailed recording in the minutes of members of the public submissions was backed by the committee this morning – after a bit of persuasion! This is important for the sake of balance. I argued that the committee exists to investigate matters of public concern. And it’s also important for the audit trail if the local health service did (heaven forbid) catastrophically fail and the health scrutiny committee was held to account.

Currently, the NHS presentations are recorded in detail, but members of the public representations are so glossed over in the minutes that no one would have a clue what their position was on the subject or what they said. With a simple tweak this will hopefully now be altered, which I believe more fully reflects what we are are here to do as councillors … which is represent members of the public.”

DCC cabinet refuses to accept decision of Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee and rushes in Accountable Care Organisation without checks and balances

Claire Wright’s blog:

“The all Conservative Devon County Council Cabinet has thrown out its own health watchdog’s unanimous resolution on deferring the implementation of Devon’s Integrated Care System, while a range of assurances were received.

Dozens of objections from members of the public came flooding in at the 22 March Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting and my resolution on the thorny issue, which can be found here –…/devons_nhs_asked_to_provide_…

… had been backed unanimously by councillors.

A revised resolution that the Cabinet supported yesterday, merely noted that a new system was being set up and everything else was so watered down as to be almost meaningless.

The message was repeated at length that this was not an endorsement but simply noting that it was happening and that progress will be monitored.

I reminded the cabinet of the County Solicitor’s advice to the Health Scrutiny Committee in November that it is unique in scrutiny committees in that we provide a legal check on health services – the only legal check – and that our remit is to take up issues of public concern. And we were flooded with emails of public concern.

I then went through the issues as I saw them.

When summing up, Cabinet member, Andrew Leadbetter, accused me of bringing a set of ‘pre-determined’ proposals to the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee.

This is a serious allegation and I immediately asked him to withdraw it. Leader, and Cabinet Chair, Cllr John Hart, backed me up and Cllr Leadbetter retracted his statement.

I had in fact prepared the proposals during the lunch-hour before the meeting. it is quite permissable (and very common) to conduct business in this way.

There was cross party support for the Health Scrutiny resolution with Cllrs Alan Connett, Brian Greenslade and Rob Hannaford also addressing Cabinet along similar lines.

Here is the Cabinet’s final resolution, which you can compare with my proposals which are set out in yesterday’s post below:

(a) that the original recommendations of the Cabinet (a – d), as outlined in Cabinet Minute *148 and reproduced below, be re-affirmed:

(i) that the key features of an emerging Devon Integrated Care System being a single Integrated Strategic Commissioner, a number of Local Care Partnerships, a Mental Health Care Partnership and shared NHS corporate services, be noted.

(ii) that the proposed arrangements in Devon as set out in paragraph 4 of the Report be endorsed, reporting to the Cabinet and Appointments and Remuneration Committee as necessary.

(iii) that the co-location of NHS and DCC staff within the Integrated Strategic Commissioner, subject to agreement of the business case, be approved; and

(iv) the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee be invited to include Integrated Care System governance in its work programme.

(b) And, in light of the Scrutiny Committees deliberations, Cabinet further RESOLVE

(i) that the Health and Wellbeing Board is reformed to lead new governance arrangements for the development of integrated strategic commissioning of health and social care; and

(ii) that there is continued proactive communication to the public using clear and consistent messaging and where appropriate there will be relevant involvement and engagement.”

Here’s the webcast –…/po…/webcast_interactive/325467

“DCC cabinet decides tomorrow if to back Health Scrutiny resolution over controversial health plans”

Claire Wright’s blog, as she ploughs (with EDA DCC Councillor Martin Shaw) the lonely furrow of integrity and common sense – both sadly lacking in the DCC Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee:

“Devon County Council’s cabinet will decide tomorrow whether to back the Health and Adult Scrutiny Committee’s resolution on deferring the implementation of the controversial Integrated Care System, which many local people have huge concerns over.

At the last Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee on 22 March, I proposed the following which was supported by the majority of the committee.

An additional line on a public engagement, was voted down by Conservative councillors:

Here’s what the cabinet will be considering. If it supports the resolution, it will be implemented with immediate effect…..

I will be speaking in support of the resolution tomorrow…… If you are keen to know the outcome or hear the discussion, the meeting is webcast live here –

(a) record the Committee’s concerns over the emerging Devon Integrated Care System being a single Integrated Strategic Commissioner, a number of Local Care Partnerships, Mental Health Care Partnership and shared NHS corporate services;

(b) defer the implementation of the Integrated Care System process until assurances are provided on governance, funding, the future of social care from a democratic perspective;

(c) recommend Councillor Ackland’s paper and proposals on the reformation of the Health and Wellbeing Board as a sound democratic way forward to provide the necessary governance on a new integrated system;

(d) give assurance that the proposals will not lead to deeper cuts in any part of Devon as a result of the ‘equalisation of funding’; and

(e) provide a copy of the business plan being developed and a summary of views from staff consultations.

For more background on Integrated Care Systems see my blog
post –…/devons_nhs_asked_to_provide_…

Should Randall-Johnson remain chair of the DCC Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee (or even be a councillor at all?)

We all know our problems with Randall-Johnson as Chair of DCC’s Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee (or, if not, we should). Here are just a few of many Owl posts on this councillor and her behaviour as its Chair:

NOW, it seems, she was EXTREMELY reluctant to allow the CCG’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans to be a standing item on her committee’s agenda and inly the intervention of a “committee adviser” led to this being agreed. See Claire Wright’s blog for details:

“… Essentially, the NHS in Devon is looking at a £500m overspend by 2020 unless major cuts and centralisation of services take place.

It is absolutely vital that the committee keeps a very close eye on what cuts are to be made and how this is affecting patients. We are their only ears and eyes on this.

When I made this proposal yesterday – that we receive a detailed report at each committee meeting. Chair, Sara Randall Johnson appeared to be reluctant to introduce such a standing item, given all the other issues that needed to be examined.

I could not see her point of view at all. Surely, this is the most important issue facing Devon’s patients today?

Committee adviser, Anthony Farnsworth suggested that councillors have sight of the CCG’s own financial reports relating to the STP on a regular basis and this was a legitimate area of scrutiny. …

This was agreed.

Here’s the webcast –

What is this woman’s problem? Is it simply that she knee-jerks a “no” on any and every proposal from Independent Claire Wright” – putting personalities before what is best for Devon, its healthcare and its scrutiny? We know she has problems with Ms Wright’s forthright defence of our NHS against cuts and privatisation (though the problem seems to stem from further back when the then Leader of East Devon District Council was ousted from her seat by the likeable, knowledgeable and planning policies aware winning candidate – Claire Wright).

Or is it even more dangerous than that? Putting HER personal political beliefs and ideology above those of others – including moderate DCC Tory councillors – and forcing them on others by whatever means she has at her disposal?

Questions, so many questions, and so few answers.

DCC Councillor Martin Shaw (East Devon Alliance) updates on NHS changes

This is a long article but if you want to know where we are with NHS changes in Devon this gives you all the information.

Our pressure has led to Devon NHS joining a national retreat from privatising Accountable Care Organisations. However the Devon Integrated Care System will still cap care, with weak democratic control – we need time to rethink

We must thank ALL our Independent Councillors – particularly DCC Independent Councillor Claire Wright, DCC Councillor Martin Shaw (East Devon Alliance) and EDDC Councillor Cathy Gardner (East Devon Alliance) for the tremendous work they have done (and continue to do) in the face of the intransigence (and frankly, unintelligence) of sheep-like Tory councillors.

At EDDC Tory Councillors told their Leader to back retaining community hospitals, so he went to DCC and voted to close them (receiving no censure for this when Independents called for a vote of no confidence).

At the DCC, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee Tory members were 10-line whipped by its Chair Sarah Randall-Johnson to refuse a debate on important changes and to vote for accelerated privatisation with no checks or balances.

At DCC full council – well Tory back-benchers might just as well send in one councillor to vote since they all seem to be programmed by the same robotics company!

Swire sees the light on hospital beds (because it could be a big vote loser?)

Owl is concerned that local MP Hugo Swire is very, very slow in the uptake. After resting on his laurels by seeing community beds in his constituency staying while those in Neil Parish’s patch of EDDC have all gone (except for Tiverton – not part of East Devon which can’t be closed because it is a PFZi hospital), he finally wakes up and realises that it has left a black hole that will stop many people voting for either of them next time! AND result in people switching their votes to Claire Wright (Independent, East Devon) and maybe Caroline Kolek (Labour, Tiverton and Honiton)!

Sir Hugo Swire said the area’s demographics are 20 years ahead of the national average and it was ‘absolutely ridiculous’ the two services should have separate funding.

This comes after Dr Mike Slot raised concerns to Devon’s health watchdog that carers are not available to implement ‘care at home’ – the model the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) moved to after it closed 140 community hospital beds across the county.

Dr Slot said: “The loss of community hospital beds was intended to be offset by increasing the capacity of community care so that patients could be cared for in their own homes.

“This may or may not have been realistic since many of the patients in the hospital system cannot be managed in the community, even with excellent community services.

“However, with or without community hospital beds, it is an excellent idea to expand community services so that all those patients who can be cared for out of hospital can remain at home.

“Unfortunately, there is not sufficient capacity in the home care services to do this job.

“When GPs ring the single point of access number asking for rapid response or night sitting, the carers are not available.”

In a joint statement, the CCG and provider trust the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital acknowledged that recruitment had been ‘challenging’ in a few places, but the bodies were working hard alongside other agencies to address the issues.

A spokeswoman said more than £2.5million had been redirected into growing and strengthening their community teams so more people can be cared for at home.

They added: “A large part of the reinvestment has been to increase the number of nurses, therapists and support workers and in most areas we have successfully recruited the additional staff.”

Social care was brought under the remit of health secretary Jeremy Hunt in the last cabinet reshuffle – a move welcomed by Sir Hugo, who said: “I think in future there will be far greater use of hubs.

“We must look to do the same with social care. It requires brave, strategic thinking. We have to get it right.

“The East Devon demographic is where the country is going to be in 20 years’ time. Sidmouth is even ahead of that. East Devon should be a template – use us as a guinea pig for integration of health and social care.”