Monday, 19 May 2014

Audit Committee summon Health finance meeting

Last Thursday I attended an extraordinary meeting of the Audit Committee called to 'interview' the Health and Finance Portfolio holders and to highlight its 'grave concern' about the continued large overspend in the Adult Social Care budget.

Recommendations had been made a year ago as to how the issue should be resolved but very little progress had been made.
We now have the new appointments of Trevor Doughty and Cllr McKenna.  Let us hope they can extricate the Council from its parlous state while dealing sensitively with those in receipt of Council services.

The ludicrous situation is that the Audit Committee cannot do anything.  It can only highlight its grave concerns to those that should do something.  In the case of Health this is actually three committees:
1. The Health and Well Being Board
2. The Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee
3. The Health and Adult Care Portfolio Advisory Committee (PAC).

Trevor Doughty, Director of Health is required to report to all these committees (as well as the Children's PAC) which in my view is likely to hinder rather than help him do his job.

As the Health PAC is a creature of the Council rather than statute it should be scrapped.

If it has taken the Audit Committee to step in and get to grips with this issue, then the matter is urgent and the Director's  time is valuable.  It is not reasonable that he should spend unnecessary time reporting to multiple committees the structure of which has clearly failed.

It is a pity that the Council did not take greater heed of the recommendations  from the Independent Peer Review on Health last December.  This crucial piece of work has received a lot less exposure than other rather mundane issues.

The Council needs to get a grip on its priorities.   This is  a very large portfolio in budgetary terms and it is in financial crisis.   The portfolio holder for finance appears in the media claiming credit for everything from job creation to cardboard voting booths. Will he accept responsibility for improving this as well?

PS  The Health PAC then had a closed session meeting after the Audit Committee.

PPS Lastly credit where it is due to Andrew Wallis for supporting the call for an open debate on the issue of Cornwall Music Tuition Service at the last cabinet meeting.   Originally scheduled to be split into open and closed sessions he asked for it to be held in the open; and all the better for that.  Well done Andrew: you've shown that it can be done.

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