Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today's Health and Adults Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Today saw the monthly meeting of the Health and Adults Overview and Scrutiny Committee. I haven't blogged about this for a while but I thought it was time that I did again...

We spent quite a lot of time talking about 'Delayed Transfers of Care', commonly known as 'bed blocking'. Something that seemed to interest everyone was the level of 'reimbursement for delayed discharges', commonly known as 'fines', that may have been levied on the Council for not being ready to accept discharges (for whatever reason). We should have some definite numbers for the next meeting.

I was interested to know what the actual consequences of bed blocking are: if someone needs a bed, does this mean that they might not get one? It seems that this happens rarely and the main consequences are that more beds are provisioned than need to be, and there's sometimes quite a lot of work involved in finding someone a bed. So the consequences are serious but apparently more financial than clinical.

We also had quite a long discussion on the white paper published by the Department of Health called 'Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS'. This proposes massive changes to the way that the NHS is organised, many of which I've blogged about before. The response must be in by 11th October, so we need to get our skates on.

We received a short presentation on mental health services for older people. This was interesting and clarified in my mind why older people need specific mental health services, and the point of a separate Foundation Trust for mental health in the first place.

But in my view, the most important comments were made by Jim McManus, Joint Director of Public Health for the Birmingham Health and Wellbeing Partnership during his presentation. According to Mr McManus, in Birmingham:

1. Last winter, there were 48 preventable deaths.
2. Primary care is one of the major contributors to avoidable deaths.
3. We do prevention very badly.

In the world of scrutiny, bad news is often couched in fluffy sentences and I was taken by the directness and seriousness of these comments. Through the Chairman, I have asked Mr McManus to furnish the Committee with further information; if we have enough time to look at joint commissioning strategies, needs assessments and the like, we definitely should make time to investigate these comments further.

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