(A) Question by MR HUNT
“1. “Many people, particularly those of a certain age or vulnerability, will have been struck by the interview on East Midlands BBC (13/2/22) with a gentleman from the County who could not obtain timely treatment due to rising waiting lists, worse than elsewhere in the East Midlands. Could the Chair of Scrutiny Commission provide some reassurance that we are positively scrutinising these key rising waiting lists, not tinkering at the edges but identifying ways in which Leicestershire can improve against other areas, and publishing our findings, which can all too easily be buried in minutes?”
Reply by MR MULLANEY
“1. Can I begin by thanking Max for his question. The pandemic has had a significant impact on an already stretched health and social care service and this has been acknowledged by all. It now appears that we may be over the worst of the large surge in cases that occurred as a result of Omicron and Christmas gatherings with Covid pressures easing on acute and community services.
Members of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee have been aware of the concerns and worry of people who have had delays in treatment which have been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic and it has raised these concerns with NHS colleagues.
On 10th November the Committee received very informative reports and presentations on (link to meeting below):
(i) Current data access to primary care services, the challenges being faced by GP practices and initiatives being introduced to improve access;
(ii) The Restoration and Recovery Plans of health care providers, particularly on dealing with the significant backlog that has built up in terms of diagnosis and elective care.
NHS managers who attended the meeting acknowledged the significant backlog that had built up and had prepared the plans so that there was transparency in the way in which they would seek to prioritise and deal with this. They, along with the members of the Committee, were aware that the task ahead was monumental and would require significant investment of resources and staff, and even then it was unlikely that significant reductions in the backlog and waiting times could be achieved in the short term.
The Government has made promises of significant new resources as a result of raising National Insurance contributions. Most of these resources are to be directed to the NHS with very little to support the social care sector. This I believe is a mistake as the ability of the NHS to deliver will be dependent upon hospitals being able to discharge patients to a social care setting for after care and rehabilitation. Without significant national investment in social care the social care market cannot develop and function on a sustainable level and this will impede the NHS in its delivery. The Adults and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 1st November was advised of significant demand pressures. The financial impact of the increased need and demand is such that the Department is forecasting a significant overspend against budget in this financial year and this is likely to grow in subsequent years. As a consequence the Council is allocating £25m growth for social care within the MTFS for 2022/23 rising to £35m over the four year period.
Over the coming year the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be monitoring the position and members will be raising issues and concerns. I am sure that the County Council as the social care authority will be working closely with NHS colleagues on this.
Finally, I think you make a valid point regarding publishing our findings. The next edition of our residents’ newsletter, Leicestershire Matters, will include an update on the work of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and I am sure that the Chair and Spokespersons of that Committee working with the Lead Member and our comms team will want to look at anything further for the future.”