Wirral Council’s ‘Radical Change’ – “The Turn Around Team”.

Details of how  Wirral  Council plans to make “radical improvements” after a damning report into how it was run were revealed yesterday… they are going to create a, [no don’t laugh] a  “Turn Around Team” …  yeah, that should do it shouldn’t it . No sackings, no clean sweep, just another peice of woeful spin and doubtless some nice fat honoraria payments to staff seconded into the elite “TT”  …. They really are beyond parody.

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/10/25/wirral-council-begins-to-set-out-plans-to-improve-after-critical-report-92534-29654316/

Advertisements

Councillor Blakeley – The Dignified Face of Wirral Politics.

Following on from Councillor Blakeley’s ill-advised, puce faced ranting about Anna Klonowski ( in which he chivalrously calls her “Klown-owski” -give me ribs of steel for I fear my sides may split with mirth!) it appears he’s not adverse to dignified online spats, calling one member of the public “Victor Meldrew,” on his blog.  After he’d calmed down had his meds like a good boy, he decided to delete these comments, but alas not before said member of the public had screen capped them.  Which we can reveal exclusively below. He’s very much a type first, think later kinda guy don’t’cha think ?Just what we need on the Wirral a cool head…..

And …………….

Oh dear, Oh dear, oh dear ! Blakeley may be on the Merseytravel committee, but really, is their any need to act like Blakey from ‘On The Buses?’

UPDATE:  Its seems Blakey has come up with an explanation for his Klown-oski tweets. He was hacked.  I do hope he reports it to Twitter, and publishes their response.  Oh look !! A Flying Pig…..

How To Waste Your Time Part 101 -“Talk To Frank”

Remember the Wirral Council whistleblower, who as a last resort, wrote to his local MP, Frank Field MP ?  ( See HERE)  Well Frank responded and Wirral Leaks have been given access to his fullsome response. Below are his missives based on forensic research and robust questioning of Wirral Council’s senior officers – plus the Whistleblowers follow up, including their final email which to date they have had no reply to.

REPLY 1 FROM FRANK


Thanks for your email about Wirral Council and your own activities as Whistleblower.  I am grateful for you writing to me.  I have referred your email to the Chief Executive and asked him to report back to me but might I ask please which Councillors you have contacted in respect of this complaint?  It is to them that your email should have been address and I’m anxious to link up with those you are working with.

With best wishes and I look forward to hearing from you.

Frank Field

*******************************************************

Whistleblowers response

Dear Mr Field

 

Thank you for your reply

Unfortunately my trust and confidence in local councillors and Senior Officers at Wirral Council [including Jim Wilkie]  is at an all time low[see Anna Klonowski’s Corporate Governance report]  which is why I have written to my  MP.


 However I have been in correspondence with Council Leader Steve Foulkes who promised me a full investigation and that I would be furnished with the legal opinions they  apparently requested as per his email below:

 “The latest update on your whistle blowing complaint, following my last e-mail, is that the solicitor has now drawn up a formal Opinion on the legal position on the Council practices you complained of. This Opinion is now being referred to an external lawyer for an independent view on whether it is legally correct; to be absolutely sure we are getting an unbiased view.  When this has been received, you will receive a full response with both Opinions so you can see for yourself what is being said.

If there are any recommendations in either of the Opinions, we will make sure they are followed.  I will personally make sure that my Cabinet member for Adult Social Services gets a copy of the Opinions, reads them carefully, and follows up anything that needs to be done. I realise you have been under considerable stress and I hope the news in this e-mail will start to ease some of that stress.”

Sadly this did not happen and I received a brief letter from Howard Cooper [Interim DASS Director] saying he was fully satisfied that there was no blanket policy of delaying care that requested a waiver,  I however have irrefutable evidence that this policy  did  exist and was  standard practice within DASS- this has been corroborated by a second whistleblower.  I can only assume Mr Foulkes is not being given the whole story by Senior Officers, who it appears are acting in their own self interest.

I also have a problem with Thomas Ryan being the Investigating Officer, as this seems to be a conflict of interest as he was also dealing with my sickness. Indeed the first time he mentioned disciplinary procedures (Serious Absence Capability) was a week after he had contacted me with regard to my whistle blowing. My solicitor informed me that he would certainly link these actions, although I have now signed a compromise agreement to settle any claims relating to Disability Discrimination by Wirral Borough Council.

I have no evidence of any robust enquiry taking place and I would imagine the legal opinion that WBC have sought is based on what they do now, rather than what they did in the past. 

Indeed Community Cares Legal Columnist Ed Mitchell, says  “The courts will afford a council a reasonable period of time to put a care service in place as they recognise that services cannot be conjured up out of thin air.. But a policy of not even beginning the process of securing services until a set period of time has elapsed cannot be considered lawful.”

Ultimately this case is not just about policy and procedure its about a mindset that seems to be endemic in Wirral Council  that thinks such a policy is morally, legally or ethically acceptable. As the Klonowski report mentioned.

Moreover it is staggering that when exposed they appear to be deploying the exact same tactics faced by Martin Morton and which ultimately led to the Independent Review ……..and even in the light of the initial findings of that Review they carry on covering up –  despite irrefutable evidence!.  At a time when the integrity and honesty of Officers is still being called into question surely the absence of any robust and wide ranging investigation  can only bring the Council into even further disrepute.

It’s exactly the same with Special Charging Policy – to implement such a discriminatory policy was bad enough but then Council compounded the original sin by covering it up to the extent they were prepared to bully Mr Morton out of a job. Nothing has changed

It is very hard to reconcile my experience working for DASS with the response I have received from the Interim Director and  I am therefore seeking your assistance in acquiring the legal opinions referenced above and a copy of the investigation report that informed Howard Cooper’s response to my disclosure.

I thank you for your support and assistance.

***********************************

REPLY 2 FROM FRANK

Dear

 

Thanks for copying me what Steve Foulkes had already written to you.  I can’t see how Steve could’ve been more open or helpful to you.  There’s clearly been a problem in the past (which I had exposed by bringing in the serious fraud office) but I do think the council is trying to get its policy on whistle blowing to be one of the best in the country.

 

Best wishes

 

Frank Field

 

Office of The Rt Hon. Frank Field MP
 t: 0207 219 5193 | f: 0207 219 0601|w: www.frankfield.co.uk

Follow Frank’s Blog and Twitter for latest news and comment.

*********************************

WHISTLEBLOWERS RESPONSE 2.

Dear Mr Field

Thank you for your response to my recent email raising concerns over the way Wirral Borough Councils Social Services operates.

If I can make a few points with regard to your reply.

I would like to point out that I have contacted you as a last resort due to Wirral Borough Councils inability to investigate my concerns properly and feel very let down by your response.

With regard to the specifics of your reply, you state Councillor Foulkes couldn’t have been any more open and honest with me . I would disagree, the legal opinion he promised me has never transpired and as mentioned I received a woefully inadequate letter from Howard Cooper which did not demonstrate that any meaningful investigation took place.  For clarity let me suggest how Councillor Foulkes COULD have been more helpful

    ·         The Legal opinions he claims were sought by the Council were, as promised, sent to me.

    ·         Informing me exactly how the investigation was to progress , what where its trems of reference and who would be spoken/interviewed.

    ·         Mr Foulkes  then ensured Senior officers carried out a wide ranging, transparent enquiry into my concerns and that all documentation with regard to their findings was sent to me.

Among the other issues I have touched upon , in particular using  poorly trained unqualified  ASO’s , to replace social workers and the complexity of work they are undertaking,   Iam delighted  to see this has now made national news  as this is an issue of huge concern.

In the past you have intervened, most memorably when you publically called for resignations over the “shameful” management of the town’s schools.”  You also stated “Wirral’s senior officers have abjectly failed to act in the best interests of my young constituents. “   I would submit that Wirral’s senior officers have and continue to act in their own self interest, and are failing your most vulnerable constituents.  Let us not forget  this is  local authority whose Social Services Department is  regularly mentioned as one of the worst in the country and the Klonowski report  merely confirms this view with much of it mirroring my own experience and about the bizarre mindset that is prevalent amongst many senior managers in DASS.

Your assertion that you believe Wirral Council wishes to have the best whistle blowing policy in the country is indeed an admirable ambition, however it is patently obvious from my Whistle blowing experience that nothing has changed in the aftermath of  Martin Morton’s appalling treatment  . Actions speak louder than spin.

However Iam glad that you have contacted the serious fraud squad in this case because I have no doubt that this is a local authority in complete meltdown.  And so I would ask again for your assistance in acquiring the legal opinions referenced above and a copy of the investigation report that informed Howard Cooper’s response to my disclosure.

Yours Sincerely

************************************************

FRANKS REPLY NO.3 

Erm, thus far we are informed it, resembles a chrurch bell clanging faintly in the distance, tumbleweed being tossed by the pararie wind etc etc . You get the picture.

*********************************************


More 

Lessons Learnt ???? Putting The Twit Into Twitter

This is the Council that vowed the ‘Anna Klonowski report’ was a wake up call, was shocking, was a chance for Wirral Council to put things right.. Not according to Cllr Chris Blakeley, (whose party commissioned the £250,000 report) via twitter.

Update :  He’s at it again !

So he thinks Anna Klonowski is “patronising and smug” does he?

because ????…

a) she’s an intelligent and challenging woman??? b) she knows her stuff???
  *Hilariously* he’s spelt her name Klown-owski again. Now if that isn’t patronising and insulting I dont know what is.
And in two tweets he demonstrates he is part of the problem not the solution. He’s not called an elected member for nothing is he?

Only Foulkes And Horses

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, what’s all this then ? Now Wirral Council are being investigated by the Serious Fraud Squad  as yet more whistle-blowers step forward !? Birkenhead MP Frank N Field has stated –

  “The seriousness of their claims was such that I immediately sought a meeting with the most senior officers of the council.

“I spent the whole of an afternoon with them and, following this, I decided to refer the issue to the Serious Fraud Office.”

Council bruiser leader the rubicund faced Steve “Foulksey” Foulkes has already survived a vote of no confidence and adopted a Rupert Murdoch sack cloth and ashes stance of being ‘humbled’  with quite literally no aplomb …. Whatever next ?  Surely not ACCOUNTABILITY ????

No words

Sometimes you are lost for words, but yet again this rancid Local Authorties “mindset” is mentioned – Sickening .

The review found that two Wirral Council social care managers took decisions which “left the children in high-risk situations.”

The report says: “They appeared to adopt a particular mindset about the nature of this case which was either shared by frontline practitioners or not challenged by them.

“This ‘mindset’ lacked a healthy scepticism which one would expect to see in managers supervising frontline practitioners.”

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/9307608.EXCLUSIVE__Top_level_inquiry_attacks_failings_that_allowed_abused_children_to_fall_through_care_safety_net/

Wirral council’s plan for ‘radical change’

So often in the past Wirral Council, despite needing more wake up calls than Rip Van Winkle has had one plan and one plan alone when faced with criticism, be they Social Services safeguarding red flags, damning CQC reports or genuine concerns raised by Whistle-blowers.  

This is the normal default position ……

Will their response to Anna Klonowski’s daming report into their modus operandi be any different ?  Well the local politicians over at “Clown Hall”  are  certainly expelling enough hot air to fuel a fleet of barrage balloons …but empty vessels make the most noise…only time will tell. Tory Leader Jeff Green talks about ‘tackling council chaos’ 

Whilst Labour Leader of the council Steve ‘Foulksey’ Foulkes may have said [mirroring  the incomprehensible verbosity of self styled f**k-wit John ‘Prezza’  Prescott]  “I want to make it clear that one of the things is this, what this council has to learn, in terms of learning and lessons, is when it gets critical reports to go either into denial or say they don’t really mean it. So what I say when I say this is that I mean I have tried to stick exactly to the recommendations that were in Anna Klonowski’s report without really meaning it Which in itself is a learning exercise and a lesson learnt”

The Liberals also said something or other but nobody really noticed…..

Read More http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/10/14/wirral-council-s-plan-for-radical-change-92534-29593133/#ixzz1alktSPvI

How Not To Deal With A Sick Employee Part 1,002- The Wirral Way.

Following on from our disturbing revelations about how Wirral Council’s Social Services Department [in particular]  deals with sick/disabled employees HERE and HERE we have received the following email. 

“Just read the Wirral Leaks.

When I read the bit about the worker who had been denied access to Occy Health I could have sworn they were talking about ME!

I saw OH recently and told him I had asked to be referred to occy health when I came back off sick in Feb 2011. I was promised by my manager that she had made a referral and in subsequent supervisions she promised to ‘follow it up.’  When I finally went off sick again in some months later  I rang Occy Health straight away to chase up the referral that had been made.

Guess what? They had never received one. Occy Health told me to chase it up with Human Resources. They said they’d ‘look into it’.

Guess what again? A referral suddenly materialised and there was some reference to an ‘admin error’ explaining referrals had been lost or misplaced by HR or something.

Given my manager said she was looking to occy health for some guidance re my ‘reasonable adjustments’ [Under DDA/Equalities Act]  and in the meantime I was struggling to cope, and ultimately became ill again and went off sick,  this is total negligence.

Now I am not calling my manager a liar but I have continually asked for copies of referrals that were made with no reply.”

****************************************************

You have to ask the question, if they cannot provide the basics in a duty of care to ill or disabled employees, how can they be trusted to look after our most vulnerable members of society

It seems they have learnt the square root of f*** all  and Senior officers carry on regardless despite being shamed in the past for sending emails over even more shocking matters  such as ….

[Officer C (DASS)] to [Officer D (DASS)]
24 February


Subject: RE: Supported Accommodation – Charging Policy
Once we go for a ‘reimbursement’ the cover’s blown. However we can’t bury our head in the sand for too much longer as the charging review group will start soon (it could be better to leave it to that group to consider?) In the meantime there is ‘unfairness’ in the system hence my advice to X to consider the broader issues in AMT.

As evidenced in the Whistleblowing case involving Martin Morton who highlighted an ‘illegal charging policy‘  – Seems like nowts changed at WBC. 

http://blogs.wirralnews.co.uk/hamiltonsquared/2009/11/-the-final-statement-by.html

Social Work Staff Exploited.

Replacing Social Workers with unqualified “Social Care Burger Flippers” is a theme that’s been mentioned on Wirral Leaks more than once and today’s Daily Mirror article reflects (sic) the views of the ex-WBC employee who recently wrote to his MP Frank Field relating his concerns about Social Care –  HERE. 

When the Unions say there aren’t enough social workers it should be noted that reducing qualified experienced Social Workers and  replacing them with  “Support Officers”  was a deliberate policy and one which the trade unions ( on the Wirral)  seemed more than happy to embrace.  So it’s a little hypocritical to feign surprise at the mess social work departments are now in as they do this article.

“Support staff and assistants are being used as social workers “on the cheap” as local authorities struggle to cope with budget cuts, a union has claimed.

Unison said research among more than 350 staff across the UK showed that the boundaries between the work of professional social workers and support staff were “blurring into non-existence”.

Two thirds of the social work assistants and support staff surveyed said they were regularly given work with vulnerable children and adults they did not feel qualified to carry out.

Many said they worked alone on complex cases, often feeling out of their depth, with more than two out of three dealing with an increasing number of cases.

Three out of four worked extra hours, while two thirds earned less than £21,000. Half of those polled had suffered verbal attacks and one in four had received threats.

Helga Pile, Unison’s national officer for social care, said: “Our survey shows that social work assistants and support workers are seriously struggling to cope with the pressures being piled on them, as demand continues to grow, while resources are drastically cut.

“Staff are very concerned about vulnerable children and adults who rely on the services. There aren’t enough social workers, so they are under growing pressure to step into the breach and carry out work they may be unqualified to do. They end up suffering from excessive bureaucracy, stress and burn-out – just like social workers.

“Support workers and social work assistants have a vital role to play but are often used as cheap labour for social workers. Those who wish to become social workers need continuing support to qualify, yet this cost-effective way of ‘growing your own’ social workers is being cut.

“We need proper safeguards in the system to protect assistants and support workers, social workers – and the people who rely on these vital services.”

One of the staff surveyed said the number of cases she had to deal with in a week had increased from 30 to 54, adding: “We are all leaving because they (managers) totally take advantage.”


Wirral Leaks has been given the document below which would appear to confirm that within Wirral Social Services unqualified Assistant Support Officers present more complex cases (in terms of volume) to panel ( decision making meeting) than Social Workers. Not sure we’d be happy if an unqualified admin clerk was advocating on behalf of our parents as whether they should have high level care package/res care etc.  Call us old fashioned but we’d want somebody who had experience and qualifications.

Read more: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/latest/2011/10/06/union-social-work-staff-exploited-115875-23470366/#ixzz1ZzDJ21V5

How Not To Treat A Sick Employee Part 57 – The Wirral Way.

Nothing too sensational here, just what some could be interpret as a basic failure to provide a duty of care to a disabled employee by Wirral Council. The employee has shown us a large number of emails in which he repeatedly asked for some FOUR months to be referred to Occupational Health. Sadly his managers failed to act upon these requests, maybe because, hey it’s not gonna look good if all your employees are so stressed out that they are virtually BEGGING to be referred to Occupational Health is it ? Not when possibly your telling the Directors just how fabulously well the section is performing and that staff morale is as high as the proverbial elephants eye. 

No, no, no Paul isn’t crying because he’s stressed out due to an impossible work load, heavens no!  They are tears of undiluted joy because he’s hit another Performance Indicator target !  That’s how much this guy LOVES his work – I’m recommending him for a golden cone award

The employee was finally told over 3 months after asking for the referral, in November that the required paperwork had been duly filled in and he had been referred to Occupational Health. And so  he decided to chase up the matter with the OH department ( see email below)

… The ‘can barely be arsed,’ style response is quite staggering given that they are dealing with sick employees, many who could be at their wits end.  OH is ostensibly there for the benefit of employees surely ? With the aim of keeping them supported and in work wherever possible when suffering from ill health ?  I’m pretty sure that’s how the H&SE would view the OH role, one of proactive, supportive intervention.  I mean you wouldn’t use OH as a punitive tool now would you, to threaten staff ?

Said employee went off on-long term sick in the December just before an OH appointment was suddenly and rather miraculously arranged. Stable door anybody ?

NB – News of the Golden Cone Awards is travelling fast – See Here