Agenda and minutes

Venue: Conference Hall - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ. View directions

Contact: Toby Howes, Senior Democratic Services Officer  020 8937 1307, Email: toby.howes@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, any relevant financial or other interest in the items on this agenda.

Minutes:

None declared.

2.

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 9 September 2014 pdf icon PDF 102 KB

The minutes are attached.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 9 September 2014 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.

 

Councillor Daly commented that her question regarding duty of candour and the response to it in respect of item 5, ‘Closure of A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital’, had not been recorded, however she would raise the same question at this meeting.

3.

Matters arising

Minutes:

None.

4.

North West London Hospitals Trust Care Quality Commission inspection compliance action plan pdf icon PDF 57 KB

This item includes the compliance plan produced by North West London Hospitals Trust in response to the Care Quality Commission’s recent inspection of the Trust. The Trust, with covers Northwick Park hospital, was the subject of a Care Quality Commission inspection in May 2014 and was found ‘to require improvement.’

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Chris Pocklington (Deputy Chief Executive, North West London Hospitals Trust) presented the report which set out the action plan that had been produced as a result of the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) inspection in May 2014.  Members heard that a Quality Summit at Northwick Park Hospital (NPH) had taken place in August 2014 between the Trust and partner organisations and had been chaired by the CQC in order to identify what suitable measures should be included in the action plan.  The action plan had been presented to the Trust’s Board the previous week and had been approved.  Against each recommendation made by the CQC, details of the action to address this were included and with a deadline for completion.  Chris Pockington advised that progress on the action plan would be regularly reported to the Board and it was anticipated that there would be a follow up inspection from the CQC to see what action had been taken to address the issues raised in the first inspection. 

 

During discussion by members, it was queried whether a more detailed report on the action plan would be produced in future.  A member expressed concern about risks to the health of local residents and asked whether there had been a reduction in the number of nurses at NPH when the inspection had taken place in May.  She sought confirmation as to whether there had been a freeze in staffing numbers at the Accident and Emergency Unit (A&E) at NPH and if so for what length of time.  The current number of nurses and GPs in A&E at NHP and the vacancy rate was requested.  The member referred to a £3 million reduction in staff budgeting for doctors in nurses and the impact in terms of safety this would have in respect of the CQC inspection report.  The member sought clarification that there were in fact ten less beds overall within the North West London Hospitals Trust (NWLHT) than there were a month ago.  She also referred to the duty of candour the Trust was required to provide to the committee in respect of members being told that the modelling for patient numbers for NPH after the A&E closure at CMH was apparently inaccurate and she emphasised the need for the committee to receive accurate information. 

 

A member referred to the action plan and asked what steps were being explored in helping to retain existing staff and had the reasons for staff leaving been identified.  He also enquired whether retention of staff was a performance indicator for NPH.  Another member remarked that waiting times at NPH had risen to crisis levels since the closure of the A&E at CMH and asked what measures were planned to address this, particularly as winter would shortly arrive.  A member asked for further information on plans in respect of major emergencies and emphasised the importance of ensuring key roads were open as is this had been an issue, for example, during the 7 July 2005  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Local Safeguarding Children Board annual report pdf icon PDF 72 KB

The purpose of this report is for the independent chair of the Brent Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) to present the annual report to members.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Chris Spencer (Independent Chair, Brent Local Safeguarding Children Board) presented the annual report and advised that the Brent Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) consisted of statutory partners, such as health representatives, the police and the council, and other non-statutory organisations, such as those from the voluntary sector and schools.  The LSCB met approximately every six weeks and considered reports on a range of issues identified in its business plan based on priorities agreed as a result of local and national drivers influenced by the key safeguarding priorities of partner agencies.  This involved creating a number of work streams and sub-groups to address these priorities and Chris Spencer drew members’ attention to the seven sub-groups as set out in the report.

 

During members’ discussion, further details of the background of the Chair of the LSCB were sought.  A member commented that the report did not provide a particularly clear picture of child wellbeing and welfare and safety in Brent.  She felt the report lacked comparative statistics with other London boroughs and information on the pressure on school places in Brent.  She also stated that there was no information on child suicides, the growing use of food bags and the number of children at risk in the borough and she hoped for more detail in future reports.  Another member enquired how effective was Brent at early intervention compared to other boroughs and she sought views on what level of support young people who had been placed outside the borough received.  A number of children in Brent also lived in poverty and she enquired how the LSCB oversaw a multi-agency approach in addressing this.  A member sought further information regarding unexpected deaths including the causes and what steps were being taken to address this.  He felt that this was an issue worthy of further scrutiny and the next report should provide more detail on this. 

 

Another member asked whether the LSCB’s role extended to analysing whether there was a sufficient budget to undertake all the priorities that had been agreed.  In view of the need for savings to be made and the resulting pressures this would create, such as social worker caseloads, he asked whether safeguarding measures were robust enough.  A member emphasised the importance of early intervention where children were not doing well at school, for example in identifying dyslexia, in order to ensure they had a good education which was vital to their future.  A member sought clarification that the LSCB currently had a vacancy for the position of second lay member and in respect of an apparent dispute over payments between the LSCB and the NWLHT.  She also asked whether she could be provided with a copy of the Section 11 audit report in respect of NPH.  Another member enquired what steps were being taken to combat trafficked children in the borough. 

 

With the approval of the Chair, Anna Tulley addressed the committee.  Anna Tulley advised that she worked for a disabled childcare charity and stated that she was aware  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Draft school places strategy

Members will receive a presentation on the draft school places strategy.

Minutes:

Sara Williams (Operational Director – Early Help and Education, Children and Young People) gave a presentation on the draft school places strategy.  She began by stating that consultation on the strategy had started in March 2014. The strategy needed to take into account a number of challenges that the borough faced, such as the rise in demand for school places, including a 38% increase in under five year olds in the last ten years, increasing population density and limited supply of land and changing composition of the borough.  Members noted the aspirations for Brent schools and school expansion would only take place with good or outstanding schools where leadership was secure.  The council was to establish a joint body with schools to oversee school place planning and school organisation.  An initiative in helping pupils stay close to home was also proposed both for primary and secondary schools.  Admission policies for secondary schools were to be reconsidered and the creation of free schools would also help reduce pressure on school places.  There would also be efforts made to ensure the community benefitted from school facilities and there would be better consultation and engagement with local communities on new schemes, building inclusive provision into expansion of new schools and improve accessibility for all pupils, especially at secondary level.  Sara Williams added that better contingency arrangements would also be in place, such as early opening of classes in expanded primary schools rather than ‘filling from the bottom’ and keeping temporary accommodation modules on standby.  Members noted the projections and demand for both primary and secondary schools.

 

During members’ discussion, it was enquired if there were currently any children living in the borough who did not have a school place and how was performance compared to the previous year.  In noting the ambitiousness of the Schools Capital Programme, it was asked whether achieving its targets were realistic.  In respect of helping pupils to stay close to home, a member asked if a limit on distance had been determined as to when it would become unacceptable.  The member felt that details of pupils’ distance from their home to school should be closely monitored and situations where parents were having to coordinate transport of pupils to different schools should be an exception, particularly if they had made their applications on time.  Another member suggested that it would be useful to receive figures regarding pupil distance from the school they attended.  In addition, details of pupil access to the schools should also be included, as for example, if a pupil needed to get two buses to school as this would impact upon the time taken and also on the family’s finances.  She added that a report providing more details would have been beneficial and allowed members to properly scrutinise the matter.  Another member, whilst appreciating the opportunity the presentation gave for pre-scrutiny prior to a report going to Cabinet, enquired whether officers were confident that primary schools could maintain educational standards as they got larger.  She also  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Children's centres pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Members will receive a presentation updating them on plans to extend childcare at Treetops, Barham Park and St Raphael’s Children’s Centres.  The reports from the Cabinet meeting on 21 July 2014 are attached for information.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sara Williams introduced the report that went to Cabinet on 21 July outlining proposals to extend childcare at Treetops, Barham Park and St Raphael’s Children’s Centres.  She advised that children’s centres were used as an early intervention vehicle and it had been agreed by Cabinet that it was both viable and offer value for money to extend the three centres identified.  The changes at the centres were in the process of being implemented and involved cooperation across a number of council service areas. 

 

During discussion by committee, a member suggested that the children centres were concentrated in a particular area and neglected the north of the borough.  Another member sought advice on what members should be focusing on in view of the fact that the report had already been approved by Cabinet.  A member sought clarity that the children’s centres provided for those children up to and including four years of age.  In noting that children were entitled to nursery places between two to three years of age, she sought further reasons for how children’s centres were being used.  In respect of the  Barham Park building, she noted that there were proposals for a nursery to be included, however she sought clarity on this matter as Barham Park Trust had stipulated that the building was for community use only and the lack of consultation on this proposal had also angered residents.

 

Councillor Harrison then addressed the committee and stated that children’s centres were for the community and they delivered a wide range of services and it was also beneficial to bring services into children’s centres.

 

In reply, Sara Williams advised that children’s centres were located across the borough, however the ones proposed for extended childcare were located where the most disadvantaged communities were and these proposals were only part of a wider strategy for children’s centres.  She confirmed that children’s centres were for children up to and including four years of age.  The purpose of children’s centres compared to nurseries was that they also provided services to the children’s family and examples included paediatric first aid training for fathers and cooking courses.  Sara Williams confirmed that the advice of the council’s Legal and Procurement department was that nursery use in the Barham Park building was in accordance with the Barham Park Trust.

 

Cathy Tyson confirmed that the Cabinet report on children’s centres had been requested to be looked at by the committee.

 

The Chair commented that the long term future of the children’s centres would be clearer in around four months time and he requested that an update be provided to the committee at around that time.

8.

Scrutiny Committee forward plan pdf icon PDF 44 KB

The current Scrutiny Committee forward plan is attached.

Minutes:

The Chair referred to the forward plan and noted the committee’s requests at the meeting for further updates on the NWLHT CQC inspection compliance plan, school places strategy and children’s centres.  In addition, an item on the PREVENT programme was to be added to the forward plan.  Councillor Daly stated that she would like an item on what plans NPH were making to cope with additional demand in the winter months and on GP waiting lists.  She added that residents had expressed dissatisfaction about the week of action in Sudbury ward and she asked how this could be discussed at a future meeting. 

 

The Chair then stated that Cathy Tyson would circulate the draft forward plan to members with the additional items of interest that had been raised and inviting members to make any further suggestions.  The timing of when these items could be put to the committee would then be considered.

9.

Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Democratic Services Manager or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 64.

Minutes:

None.