Parliamentary Report into Care System Seeks Professional Input

The Parliamentary Education Committee has recently announced an inquiry into the mental health and well-being of ‘looked after’ children.

In this context, the term ‘looked after’ refers to children residing within the care system.

The Parliamentary Education Committee will build upon the recent report produced by the Health Committee and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

Ahead of this important investigation of a critical aspect of the healthcare system, the Department for Education and Department of Health are seeking contributions from healthcare professionals.

Indeed, written contributions will be accepted, with the following points considered to be of particular interest:

  • The inquiry intends to address whether the Department for Education and Department of Health guidance on promoting the health and well-being of looked after children is sufficient to ensure that mental health and well-being are prioritised for children in care and care leavers. Should there be any confusion about this particular piece of legislation, it refers to a report first published in March 2015.
  • Additionally, the inquiry will examine the extent to which the aims articulated in the aforementioned guidance are being successfully implemented at a local level.
  • Quality of the dedicated mental health and well-being services will be another major subject area of the inquiry. The extent and quality of services is of particular interest to the Select Committee, and any information and / or evidence related to services provided for looked after children and care leavers, including training and support for carers and social workers, will be of interest.
  • Government departments are often criticised for being insufficiently joined-up, so the inquiry will also investigate the level of coordination within care services. In particular, the relationship between relevant elements of the education system, the care system and the health system in supporting the mental health and well-being of looked after children and care leavers will be examined. The intention is to discover and further understand any ways in which this system can be significantly improved.
  • Education is another focus of the inquiry, and that there is a particular enthusiasm in investigating the contribution that schools makes in supporting the mental health structure. Additionally, the inquiry will also assess the well-being of looked after children alongside services such as CAMHS.
  • Finally, participation and inclusion is also considered to be a critical issue. Thus, the inquiry will discuss and debate how it may be possible for young people and their carers to be more actively involved in designing mental health and well-being services for looked after children. One particular area of interest is how making the transition to adult services when people are leaving care can be carried out more effectively.

Written submissions for this inquiry should therefore be sent via the Education Committee website hereThe deadline for receipt of evidence is noon on Thursday 29 October 2015. Those interested are advised to read the full Parliamentary guidelines which can be accessed here.

 
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Monitor Rejects Devon Commissioning Bias Complaints

A recent Monitor investigation has discovered that Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has not breached NHS commissioning regulations.

But the CCG will be suspended from carrying out further duties as the next phase of the investigation is concluded.

Monitor has since published the results of the investigation, after question marks were raised regarding the process for selecting community service providers in east Devon.

The sector regulator for health services in England was called upon to explore how commissioner selected Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust as its preferred provider of community services for adults with complex care needs.

But the investigation revealed that the commissioner did indeed satisfactorily consider patient needs and the service improvements required.

The process designed by the commissioner was thus deemed to be satisfactory to enable an adequate number of proposals to be considered appropriately.

However, the CCG still has further work to do in order to establish that the requisite level of value for money is being achieved before finally confirming the contract.

Catherine Davies, Executive Director of Co-operation and Competition at Monitor, noted that “patients are likely to be better off as a result of our investigation because the CCG will do further work before awarding the contract, especially around ensuring value for money.”

Monitor found that the CCG’s process was entirely proportionate, and thus the provider selected from the available options was appropriate according to Monitor’s conclusions.

Thus, the CCG’s process did not breach transparency requirements. “Having set out its vision for community services in the local area, NEW Devon CCG chose between providers in a way that was tailored to its needs,” Davies explained.

However, the Executive Director did point out that this particular process might not be applicable in other cases. “The approach NEW Devon CCG took won’t work in all cases, but it shows that commissioners can be flexible in their processes for selecting providers,” Davies opined.

In conclusion, Monitor found that there was no discriminatory or unequal treatment of potential providers in the process, and that it was unaffected by conflicts of interest.

Monitor had begun an investigation after it received a complaint from Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust.

The trust is currently responsible for community services in the region, having been awarded the contract to provide them.

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust claimed than the CCG had carried out a process that was inadequate and unfair, but this notion has ultimately been rejected by Monitor.

 
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