Report of the Cabinet Support Member for Public Health and Integrated Care
The Cabinet Support Member for Public Health and Integrated Care introduced the Annual Report of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Safeguarding Partnership Board and Mr John Wood, Independent Chair of the Board gave an outline of the Board’s work.
Members understood that the Care Act 2014 required adult safeguarding boards to produce an annual report which was scrutinised by several bodies including the Local Authority.
Members considered detail of the SSASPB Annual Report 2020/21, noting key findings that:
· 12,176 occasions of concerns reported where adults with care and support needs had been, or were at risk of being, abused or neglected, a significant rise from the previous year which may have been reflected in changes to reporting;
· 62% of Section 42 enquiries involved females which was disproportionately above the average for females in Staffordshire (50.3%);
· the most prevalent types of abuse were broadly similar to those reported in the previous year: 36% neglect and acts of omission; 18% physical harm; 15% financial abuse;
· 98% of adults involved in a Section 42 enquiry confirmed their desired outcomes had been fully or partially met, higher than the national figure of 95%.
Members noted two recent headline issues around problems developing where Covid 19 positive patients had been discharged from hospital into care homes and, separately, with Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) instructions added to patient files without appropriate consultation. Members were reassured that there had been no specific safeguarding concerns highlighted with regard to either of these matters in Staffordshire. They requested further data on the number of Covid positive patients discharged into care homes and details of the use of DNRs, which it was agreed would be forwarded to Committee Members after the meeting.
Whilst this was a very positive report Members remained concerned at the continued lack of consistency nationally in the recording of Section 42 enquiries by LAs. Work was ongoing to improve this, including through the LGA. The issue was around reporting differently and work continued to reach a consensus on this. Members were reassured that whilst there were differences in recording, the practices followed in response to concerns were similar.
The Chairman shared concerns over the ability to identify issues because of a lack of data in some circumstances and sought reassurance that the figures were reliable. Entries of “unknown” or “not recorded” had been discussed at the Safeguarding Board, with an acknowledgement that information needed to be input effectively to support decisions taken and work continued to address poorly reported areas. This was an ongoing focus.
There had been a significant rise in the number of Section 42 concerns raised in Staffordshire in comparison to the previous year. This increase was not reflected in the Stoke-on-Trent figures and Members queried the reasons for this. The disparity resulted from a change in the method of reporting by Staffordshire and whilst in real terms there was an increase, it was not as marked as figures indicated and was in-line with the national average increase of around 8%. The Independent Chair of the SSASPB commended Staffordshire for their approach in reporting which allowed visibility and greater discussion to enable more appropriate safeguarding measures. He added that an increase in the number of reports should be seen as a positive as the nature of abuse and neglect is such that much of it is hidden.
Members noted the list of vulnerabilities within the report which were those defined by the Care Act.
The impact on quality of life resulting from missed appointments during the pandemic (eye appointments, hearing aids, dental work etc) was raised as a concern. These should be available again now and concerns should be reported in instances where this was not the case.
Members were reassured that quantitative and qualitative audits were undertaken to ensure robust safeguarding.
a) the Annual report be received in accordance with the requirements of the Care Act 2014 Statutory Guidance;
b) data on the number of covid positive patients discharged from hospital into care homes be forwarded to Members after the meeting;
c) information showing how DNRs are used in Staffordshire be forwarded to Members after the meeting; and
d) efforts are made to ensure appropriate data is recorded in those areas currently shown as “not reported” or “unknown” for future annual reports.