Venue: HMS Brave Room. View directions
Contact: Rebecca Brough Democratic Services Manager
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R S Walkden and P Walker.
Appointment of Substitute Members
To note appointments of Substitute Members.
The Democratic Services Manager advised that no notice had been received for the appointment of substitute members.
To receive any declarations of interest from Members in respect of business to be transacted on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest made by Members.
Please note that in accordance with the agreed Protocol for Public Speaking at Overview and Scrutiny, the right to speak only applies to agenda item 5 (Housing Management Options Appraisal).
Members of the public wishing to speak must register to do so by no later than 2.00 pm on the second working day (Thursday) before the meeting.
The Democratic Services Manager advised that no members of the public had registered to speak on items on the agenda to which the public speaking protocol applied.
To consider the attached report of the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources).
The Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) presented the repot on outcome of the formal consultation over the Council’s continued participation in East Kent Housing. The results of the tenant and leaseholder consultation, the cost/benefit analysis and the risk analysis all supported bringing the management of the Council’s housing stock back in-house.
Members were advised that this would be a complex task to undertake and that the Council had set-up seven work streams to do this. As part of these work streams tenant engagement and communication would be examined. However, the immediate priority was to restore stability to the service and ensure compliance was achieved.
There were also a number of risks in the process of bringing the management of the Council’s housing stock back in-house such as ensuring that the work needed to ensure compliance with key indicators carried on and retaining key staff during the transition period. In addition, East Kent Housing would remain a sovereign body during the transition process but at this point it only had one senior staff member on a full-time contract.
The Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) advised that the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) remained in good condition and that savings had never been the driving purpose behind the formation of East Kent Housing and examples of where East Kent Housing had been granted extra funding by the Council were cited (such as the development of the single IT system or supporting work in respect of Universal Credit).
The Council was not yet able to quantify the exact costs involved in bringing the service back in-house due to several variables and unknown costs. This included costs around the single IT system, compliance works and TUPE arrangements for staff.
Members expressed support for the decision to bring the housing stock back in-house and dismay at the findings of the Pennington report. In respect of issues around asset management and tackling anti-social behaviour where some Members felt there were failings in East Kent Housing, the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) advised that these were areas in which Dover District Council was traditionally strong and when the service was brought back in-house it was hoped that these strengths would pass into the housing service.
RESOLVED: That it be recommended to Cabinet:
(a) That a report be made to Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny Committee at key milestones in the process of bringing housing services in-house.
(b) That the Cabinet be commended for taking control and tackling the issue.
To receive answers in respect of the key questions submitted by the committee.
The Chairman welcomed Caroline Selkirk (Managing Director of Ashford, Canterbury and Coastal, South Kent Coast and Thanet clinical commissioning groups) and Nicky Bentley (Director of Strategy & Business Development, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust) who were in attendance to answer the key questions set by the committee.
Q1 What is the current and planned status of the Buckland hospital maternity unit?
There was no Maternity Unit at Buckland. In 2012, east Kent’s Clinical Commissioners consulted on closing the two stand-alone midwifery-led birthing units that were provided at Buckland Hospital in Dover (and at Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury) in favour of establishing co-located MLUs (Midwifery-Led Units) at the Trust’s two acute hospital sites in Ashford and Margate. The consultation document outlined a number of key reasons underpinning the proposed closure of the two stand- alone MLUs, namely:
· There were times when services had to be suspended to ensure safe levels of care in maternity wards on the acute sites;
· They needed to ensure that they had the right staff with the right skills in the right place when they needed them. Sudden and unexpected staff absence and ensuring they had enough midwives where need was highest, meant that they sometimes needed to close the MLUs;
· They were delivering an unfair service where the healthiest mums with lowest risk were likely to receive more one-to-one care than those high-risk mothers giving birth in the consultant-led units. They needed to make sure they provided a fair service for every woman and her baby.
The Trust now provided midwifery-led units that were co-located with full maternity services at both the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate. Low-risk mothers who have previously had a non- complicated, natural birth were also offered the option of having a home birth where they were fully supported by an experienced midwife throughout the labour and birth process.
In response to a question from Members it was stated that the standard of care in maternity had not been to the level it should have been. The key to solving this was to make changes quickly and improve the organisational culture. A helpline had been set up to provide information and encourage communication. It was acknowledged that one preventable death was one to many.
Q2 What services are currently available at Buckland hospital – are there plans to increase the range of services here?
Buckland Hospital in Dover had a Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) which was soon to be transformed into an Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) as part of a recent tender process by the CCG. The site also offered a range of outpatient facilities, renal satellite services, day hospital services, child health and child development services, day surgery for ophthalmology and diagnostic facilities.
Adjacent to the hospital was the new Harmonia (Dementia) facility which was discussed in greater detail in the response to question 7. The Trust would always keep the range and type of services available ... view the full minutes text for item 118.