Agenda and minutes

Adults, Communities and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee - decommissioned on 26 June 2013.
Tuesday, 12 July 2011 2.00 pm

Venue: Guthlaxton Committee Room, County Hall, Glenfield

Contact: Mrs R. Palmer (Tel. 0116 305 6098)  Email:

No. Item

In attendance.

Mr E F White CC      minute 8 refers

Mr D A Sprason CC minutes 9 – 15 refer

Liz Rowbotham         Director of Quality, NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland (minute 8 refers)

Sarah Prema             Associate Director of Estates, NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland (minute 8 refers)



Minutes. pdf icon PDF 89 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 14 March 2011 were taken as read, confirmed and signed.




Question Time.


St. Luke’s Hospital, Market Harborough


(A)       District Councillor P Knowles asked the following question under Standing Order 35:-


“Would the Chairman agree that the PCT should as a matter of urgency supply publicly a full copy of the audit document covering all information relevant to investigations into the procedures, contract award and all other aspects of the contract with Modcon? This in the interest of public accountability and transparency.”


The Chairman replied as follows:-


“I have been advised by NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland that they have taken advice on this matter and will not be publishing the audit report. This is because it contains many references to individuals, organisations, contract details and other information which is commercially sensitive - particularly at a time when they will be retendering for the completion of the works. However, they have committed to publishing the key findings of the report along with details of the actions they have taken to ensure that an incident such as this could not be repeated in future.  In these circumstances, I do not consider it would be appropriate for me to seek to obtain a full copy of the audit document from the PCT.”


Councillor Knowles asked the following supplementary question:-


“Having been involved in the Harborough Hospital campaign for almost twenty years and having noted the reply, may I ask that, as the PCT has committed to publish its key findings, this Committee takes the opportunity to urge the PCT to contact key executives, managers, staff and directors who may no longer be with the PCT to encourage them to offer their comments on the matter in full?  This would avoid any possible loss of corporate memory.  I also ask that this be included in the PCT consideration when furnishing the final published document.”


The Chairman replied that she would refer this request to the PCT.


(B)       District Councillor P King asked the following question under Standing Order 35:-




Considering that there is a great deal of public interest in this matter not least because it was identified perhaps as long ago as 15-20 years ago that Health care services in South East Leicestershire needed upgrading. Numerous projects have come and gone over these times, and a great deal of public money has been spent on numerous consultants reports etc, the last time cumulating in 2007, with the cancellation of a then agreed £30M PFI scheme for a new hospital. This has since then been downgraded and 2 years or so ago re-worked as a £7.5 M scheme that requires a PFI partner to deliver.


In the meantime, phase 1, so to speak was supposed to be this £2.3M day case unit scheme, which was announced in Oct 2009. Supposed to have been open in Summer 2010, it is now a building site and incomplete as the contractors Modcon UK Limited, although paid, did not complete the works according to plan and were wound up by the HMRC on the 16th June 2011.The official receiver in Nottingham is handling the liquidation The PCT have announced that they need to re-tender the works, and they expect the unit to be operational by Jan 2012, some 18 months after the original date.


The PCT have stated in their communications and at stakeholder meetings that :-

  1. that there was a failure by them and unidentified employees to carry out financial due diligence in respect of letting this contract. Contract was signed in April 2010.
  2. that the requirement for a financial bond from the Contractor was deleted, (whilst it was a key part of the tender  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Questions asked by members under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).


The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).



Urgent items.


The Chairman informed the Committee that she would take an urgent item for consideration elsewhere on the agenda.  This concerned the status of the residential care homes owned by Southern Cross that the County Council placed service users in.  The urgent item was considered under minute 15 below.



Declarations of interest.


The Chairman invited members who wished to do so to declare any interest in respect of items on the agenda for the meeting.


Mr. D. A. Sprason CC, Cabinet Lead Member for Adults and Communities, declared a personal prejudicial interest in the following items, as he had attended meetings of the Cabinet at which decisions had been made on those matters:


Proposal to Amend Opening Hours of Libraries, Museums and the Record for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland (minute 9 refers)

Strategic Review of Carers Services Commissioned from the Voluntary Sector (minute 12 refers).



Declarations of the Party Whip in accordance with Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 16.


There were no declarations of the party whip.



Presentation of Petition to Save Melton's Museum.


Dr. O’Callaghan presented a petition, signed by 309 residents, in the following terms:-


“We, the undersigned, call on Leicestershire County Council to reconsider its proposal to cut visiting hours at Melton Museum by as much as 59% as it will badly affect the town’s economy, tourism, schools and the ordinary visitor”.


Dr O’Callaghan spoke of the importance of tourism to Melton Mowbray and that the Museum was a major contributor to the town’s tourism activity.  Dr O’Callaghan was grateful for the new proposals but disappointed that they did not encourage winter tourism in Melton Mowbray.




That the petition be received and that officers be requested to respond to the petition during discussion of the report on the proposals to amend opening hours of libraries, museums and the record offices for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland.



Day Case Unit at St.Luke's Hospital, Market Harborough. pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Sue Bishop, Director of Finance at NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland will attend the meeting for this item.


Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report from NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland which provided an explanation of the delays to the development of the Day Case Unit at St. Luke’s Hospital, Market Harborough and an update on the current status of the scheme.  A copy of the report marked ‘C’ is filed with these minutes.


Comments on this item had been received from the Leicestershire LINk.  A report setting out the concerns of the LINk was circulated at the meeting and a copy is filed with these minutes.


The Chairman welcomed Liz Rowbotham, Director of Quality and Sarah Prema, Associate Director of Estates, from NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland (NHS LCR) to the meeting for this item.  The Chairman also welcomed Mr E F White CC, Cabinet Lead Member for Health, to the meeting.


In accordance with the response to the question referred to in minute 2(b) above, the Chairman invited Councillor King to speak on this item.  Councillor King stated that he was concerned regarding the corporate memory loss suffered by NHS LCR about the problems with the Day Case Unit.  He also expressed concern regarding the lack of effective management and financial control over the project; in particular, the fact that financial due diligence checks had not been carried out on Modcon before the contract had been awarded.


The Associate Director of Estates at NHS LCR reported that a summary of the Audit Committee’s findings would be published in August.  NHS LCR acknowledged that there were some gaps in its understanding of the issues because the staff involved no longer worked for the organisation.  The Audit Committee was considering inviting these staff to a meeting to provide the missing information.  NHS LCR accepted that mistakes had been made and was committed to finishing the Day Case Unit by the end of January 2012.


The Cabinet Lead Member for Health commented that he understood the public disquiet over this issue but felt that since May 2011 NHS LCR had taken all the necessary steps to save the project.


Arising from discussion the following points were raised:-


(i)            Members of the Committee were pleased to note that NHS LCR was trying to resolve the issues around the delays to the Day Case Unit.  Members were also pleased to note that, although no evidence of fraud had been found, the NHS Counter Fraud Service was still investigating the issue.


(ii)          Concern was expressed that the contract issued to Modcon had not been checked by a lawyer and that staff involved in the letting of the contract had not been sufficiently supervised.  Concern was also expressed that the contract had been awarded to Modcon only four months after the company had been established.  Members were assured that the staff involved who were no longer employed by NHS LCR would be urged to co-operate with the Audit Committee so that these issues could be better understood and lessons learnt.


(iii)        It was noted that a summary of the findings, recommendations and action identified by the Audit Committee during its investigation would be published, but requested that a redacted copy of the Audit Committee’s report be made available to them.


(iv)         The cost of the delays would not be known until the retendering process was completed.  NHS LCR was due to retender the contract during the week commencing 18 July with a view to the contractors starting work in September 2011.  Members commented that they would have serious concerns if the work was not completed by the deadline of the end of January 2012 and would consider using their powers of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Proposal to Amend Opening Hours of Libraries, Museums and the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland. pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report of the Director of Adults and Communities which invited comments on the proposals for revised opening hours for libraries, two museums and the Record Office, based on the outcome of consultation.  A copy of the report marked ‘C’ is filed with these minutes.


In response to the petition to ‘Save Melton’s Museum’, (minute 7 refers), the Cabinet Lead Member stated that the original proposal had been amended as a result of the consultation and the proposed seasonal closure of the Museum had been reduced from four months to one.  The Museum would also open when special events were held in Melton Mowbray in order to support the tourism of the town.  Some interest had been expressed by members of the public in helping to run the museum on a voluntary basis and this would be pursued.


Arising from discussion the following points were raised:-




(i)      It was noted that the current proposals would only achieve 10% of the savings identified in the Medium Term Financial Strategy.  Further proposals would be developed and consulted on.  Some of the responses to the current consultation would be used to inform future proposals, for example those about volunteering.




(ii)     The Committee welcomed the fact that no libraries had been closed in the County.  The commitment from the Cabinet Lead Member that no libraries would close during the lifetime of the Medium Term Financial Strategy was also welcomed.


(iii)    Concern was expressed that the reduction in library opening hours would have a disproportionate impact on young people, one of the groups identified by the Equality Impact Assessment, particularly those that did not have access to IT facilities at homes.  However, it was noted that some of the proposals were designed to minimise the impact on young people, for example ensuring that each library opened for at least one morning, afternoon, evening and weekend session even if these were not the busiest times. It was also intended that individual libraries within a cluster would open on different evenings to allow access to facilities throughout the week in each area.


(iv)    The Committee welcomed the proposal to develop an on-line library offer.  Members of the public could already request books and access reference books on-line.  An E-book loan service was expected to be introduced in autumn 2011.




(v)     It was noted that the County Council had maintained a positive relationship with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which had recently invested in the Melton Carnegie Museum.  The HLF had commented that the revised arrangements were an improvement on the original proposals.  It had been involved in the Libraries, Heritage and Arts Review and was generally supportive of the direction of travel.


(vi)    The HLF had queried how the County Council had determined the level of reduction in opening hours of the Melton Carnegie Museum and had been advised that this was based on the periods during which visitor numbers were lowest.  HLF had also queried what would happen during the closed period and were informed that it would allow staff to give the museum a deep clean, refresh the exhibits and undertake repairs and conservation work.  A final concern raised by the HLF was that the museum would be closed during the Christmas Market in Melton Mowbray, however it was advised that this would not be the case and that the museum would be open during all special events in Melton Mowbray that were expected to bring tourism to the town.


(vii)   Concern was expressed that, whilst Donington Le Heath Manor House would be closed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Change to the Order of Business.


The Chairman sought and obtained the consent of the Committee to vary the order of business from that set out on the agenda.



Final Report of the Scrutiny Review Panel on the Personalisation of Adult Social Care. pdf icon PDF 186 KB


The Committee considered the final report of the Scrutiny Review Panel on the Personalisation of Adult Social Care.  A copy of the report marked ‘E’ is filed with these minutes.


Mr Max Hunt CC, who had chaired the Panel, introduced the report and commended its recommendations, which were intended to help mitigate the risks in the process that the Panel had identified.


The Committee welcomed the report and its recommendations.  The ‘risk matrix’ style of setting out recommendations was also supported.  Mr Hunt undertook to report back to the Committee in March 2012 if the recommendations had not been implemented.


It was noted that the Council’s internal audit team had examined all stages of the personalisation process to ensure that the system was sufficiently robust.  The level of misuse and fraud related to personal budgets was negligible and the pilot for personal budgets had shown that service users were worried about wrongly using their budgets and were therefore more modest than they needed to be.





(a)          That the findings of the Panel be welcomed and submitted to the Cabinet for consideration;


(b)          That the recommendations of the Panel be reviewed through the Chairman of the Panel with the Cabinet Lead Member for Adults and Communities in March 2012.



Strategic Review of Carers Services Commissioned from the Voluntary Sector. pdf icon PDF 126 KB


The Committee considered a report of the Director of Adults and Communities which provided an update on the progress being made to consult on a number of proposed changes to Carers Services that were commissioned from the Voluntary Sector by the Adults and Communities Department.  A copy of the report marked ‘D’ is filed with these minutes.


Arising from discussion the following points were raised:-


(i)            It was noted that the Children and Young People’s Service was the lead department for young carers.  However, the Adults and Communities Department had worked closely with it over the Carers Strategy and had recently discussed having a local agreement in place to strengthen the support given to young carers.


(ii)          It was noted that the Older Carers Project would be recommissioned and that NHS LCR had made a commitment to commission it jointly.  However, the service would be provided by the provider that best met the service specification, regardless of whether they had previously provided the service.




That the report be noted.



Member Reference Panel on Quality and Safeguarding in Residential Care Homes. pdf icon PDF 56 KB


The Committee considered a joint report of the Chief Executive and the Director of Adults and Communities which sought the views of the Committee on proposals for a Member Reference Panel on the quality of care and arrangements for the safeguarding of vulnerable adults in residential care homes.




That the proposals set out in the report be supported, subject to the terms of reference being amended to include the monitoring of the implementation of the Quality Assessment Framework.



Date of next meeting.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 25 October 2011 at 2.00pm.



It was noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Tuesday 25 October at 2.00pm.



Urgent Item: Southern Cross.


The Committee considered an urgent oral report of the Director of Adults and Communities on the status of the residential care homes owned by Southern Cross that the County Council placed service users in.  The matter was urgent because there had been an announcement on 11 July that Southern Cross was to cease trading as a result of the company failing to secure an agreement on reduced rents with the landlords of its care home buildings.


It was noted that the Coalition Government had made a commitment that the needs of residents would be protected during any transition.  Information was expected by the end of July on the homes that were most vulnerable to closure.  However, it was expected that most homes would continue to operate as usual throughout the transition with no disruption at all to residents.


There were nine residential care homes in Leicestershire owned by Southern Cross and two in Leicester City.  Approximately 170 of the residents in these homes were funded by the County Council, with a similar number funded by NHS LCR and a similar number of self funders.


The County Council was working closely with NHS LCR on contingency arrangements.  Although it was not yet known which homes would close, market intelligence, such as the number of vacancies, was being collected so some assumptions could be made.  Consideration was also being given to how to manage the closure of homes should this be necessary.  Work was taking place on a regional level to address cross-boundary placement issues.


Further information would be circulated to all members of the County Council via the Members’ Information Service as soon as possible.




That the information now provided be noted.