Leaky Awards 2017 – Quotes of the Year Part Two

Leaky awardsLeaky awardsLeaky awards

Join us for the second part of our journey down the red carpet to hell.

JULY

“Five years ago, we were a local authority in crisis: focused on cuts and on the verge of government intervention. Since then, we’ve been recognised as the Local Government Chronicle’s ‘Most Improved Council’, experiencing the fastest turnaround of any council in the UK. So what’s changed? In a nutshell, we refuse to give up; we never stop moving. Our pragmatic, innovative and bold plan, ‘2020 Vision’ will ensure that we’re getting the basics right; that we’re achieving more; that we’re changing the way we do things. In this role, you’ll take us to the next level and create a legacy for yourself in the process.” – Wirral Council advert to recruit a new Director of Finance will make you laugh , vomit or both.

Full story : A LACK OF DISCRETION

“They don’t seem to realise I’m at the top of the pecking order ” and referring to the investigator : “She doesn’t scare me and a little councillor involved might just shut her up.” – Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) texts used as evidence against her during Standards Panel Code of Conduct investigation. LRJ describing herself as top of the pecking order brings visions of an Animal Farm hen coop in desperate need of a cock. The cock in question being Foghorn Leghorn!

Full story : AN LRJ REACTION

AUGUST

”  ‘Sustainable’ = slashed budgets and services.·   ‘Transformed’ = cut, demoralised and damaged beyond recognition. ‘Partnership’ = developed in secret, operating in secret, condemned by local councils, a total lack of public/patient consultation, and the only happy partners are Richard Branson and a series of US ‘healthcos’. ”  Defend Our NHS provide a definition of STP (Sustainability & Transformation Plans)

Full story : BANK HOLIDAY BULLETIN BOARD

SEPTEMBER

“An economic value below the legal minimum wage……..(would help employers) to take on low-productivity disabled workers.”  – Frank Field ,Birkenhead MP demonstrates his deep understanding of disability and equality rights .

“For anyone in this day and age to hold those views, and especially someone in Frank Field’s position, is abominable. It is exactly the same sort of thinking as the Nazi ‘useless eaters’ rhetoric.” Linda Burnip from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) responds to Field’s comments

“The right to equal treatment and equality are human rights. Human rights are not privileges. That’s why they are called rights. I suggest Mr Field goes back to the drawing board. His comments are a disgrace and he should now apologise. Furthermore, if the Labour Party wishes to prove that it has truly changed its tune, it will need to demonstrate that the New Labour old guard are no longer calling the shots and put the voices of disabled people first.The last time we looked, Mr Field was not a spokesperson for disabled people.” John McArdle from campaign group Black Triangle also responds to Field’s comments. By the way people from Birkenhead , just a reminder, you are allowed to disagree with your MP.

Full story : THE SKWARKING CANARY COMES HOME TO ROOST

“It had adversely affected the staff morale and the reputation of the authority and rebuilding trust and transparency is still ongoing”   –  Simon Cuerden – Corporate Business Support Manager, Wirral Council comments on the conviction of Wallasey Town Hall petty cash thief  who would have evaded justice if an attempted cover up by officials hadn’t been uncovered by Wirral Leaks

Full story : EXCLUSIVE : THICK AS THIEVES UPDATE

OCTOBER

” Wirral is officially the happiest place to live in the North West” Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies , ‘Leader’ of Wirral Council in peak Pollyanna mode latches onto a bogus Rightmove survey as if it somehow negates an Ofsted report deeming Children’s Services ‘inadequate’ and a Care Quality Commission assessment that over half of care homes on Wirral are inadequate or require improvement. Yeah, Pip, whatevs.

Full story : HAPPY TALK

No laughing matter

Hotel Prestige ,Sorrento try to apologise to holidaymakers for alleged conduct unbecoming a former Wirral Council Mayor and his consort. 

Full story : SORRENTO SHAME 2 : NO LAUGHING MATTER

Comrades, “Now is the time” to stop acting like a “Party within a party” – and even like a “Momentum within Momentum”.

It is time to grasp that the mainstream (often called the “Left”) has won back the heart and soul of the Labour Party.  I do not know of a single member of the Seacombe Branch who has not fully supported my own declarations for Corbyn on the two websites or who does not support him now.  So why introduce friction where there need be none? Let’s try now to be a single Labour Party in Seacombe Ward.

Some comrades will remember that we also, for a while, held “Songs of the Labour Movement” musical evenings in the Park View Social Club – an opportunity for comrades to perform – or just listen and rub shoulders informally.  But, since then, we have had the difficulty of the Party being suspended so long that many of us don’t even know each other. – Cllr Adrian Jones keeps the red flag flying and addresses Wallasey CLP members seemingly in denial about the circumstances that led to the local branch being suspended by the Labour Party. 

Full story : SONGS OF THE LABOUR MOVEMENT – TWO TRIBES

NOVEMBER

“To ensure the promotion of “professional curiosity” when vulnerable children seek advice” – The final recommendation made following the (unpublished) Serious Care Review report following the Rajenthiram Brothers Child Sexual Exploitation case. It comes to something when you have to ask those who get paid to protect vulnerable children to actually try and do their jobs properly!

Full story :  A REPULSIVE EXCLUSIVE 

“Wirral Council has to ensure every pound spent is wisely invested and we get the best value for our residents.This decision is the right decision at the right moment – the contract with BAM Nuttall was coming to an end and we believe we can deliver this service more effectively by taking direct control.” – Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies announces the surprise return of highways services to council control which is in the opposite direction of all other council services. There are suggestions this decision was influenced not by best value but by personal and political interests.

Full story : WHAM! BAM! THANK YOU SCAM

” Just goes to show what’s going on out there . We live in a sheltered world . We’re all too good for our own  good  Cllr Ron Abbey comments on the conduct of councillors in other councils clearly demonstrating he’s in denial and utterly deluded.

Full story : APOLOGIES AND APOLOGISTS

” I’ve always bought my houses, I’ve never inherited them……”   Frank Field , MP bitch slaps fellow Labour MP Hilary Benn and manages to unite all members of the House of Commons in condemnation of his comment.   

Full story : BIRKENHEAD MP’S BREXIT BITCHFEST BACKFIRES

“The darkness around us is very deep” – Cllr Tony ‘Tight-fit’ Norbury reads a poem urging elected members to ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ whilst every single Wirral councillor appears to be oblivious to the darkness around them.

Red Card 009

Full story : SHOW INAPPROPRIATE COMMENTS THE RED CARD

“Basically, it is the same thing over and over and over: incompetence, very poor communication (with me, but also with other agencies and between themselves), rudeness, poor or non-existent note-taking, people leaving at short notice and with no proper explanation, etc etc. It just goes on and on.

When the Klonowski enquiry produced its damning report, I briefly hoped that the people found to be grossly incompetent (and, in some cases, corrupt) would be removed. Disheartening, to say the least, to see people like Steve Foulkes still in place. Where is the accountability? There simply is none.

It beggars belief that Wirral Council has not been placed in special measures. I daresay the reasons behind that are political. The Tories asking for it are being hypocritical because part of the problem is chronic underfunding from central govt but I do think that being placed in special measures would be the best thing. The only thing, actually, that would give people like me and my son the chance at least of a semi-decent service. I know special measures are not a panacea but they would be our best chance.” – A Carer contacts us to describe her experience of trying to get a much needed service for her disabled son.

Full story : THE NEVER-ENDING STORY

Private Eye Nov 2017 014

Private Eye report of Wirral Leaks exclusive featuring some choice quotes.

Full story : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

“As the Labour  member on the (Standards) Panel it was very difficult for me  to hear that a Labour councillor had used her position as a councillor to damage the reputation and the livelihoods of other people. It goes without saying that people who come into this council were elected to serve the residents of the borough and not to use our position to do damage to them………” Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin proves to be another councillor in denial and conveniently forgets her role and that of other Labour councillors in damaging reputations and livelihoods of various former council officers who dared challenge them.

Full story : IT HAS TO STOP

DECEMBER

“Phil’s Folly “Cllr Gerry Ellis proving there’s life in the old dog yet at a standing room only public meeting where he described  Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil Davies and his plans for development of the Hoylake Golf Resort.

Full story : ADVENT FAREWELL 10 – QUESTION EVERYTHING

“LABOUR COUNCIL LISTEN TO THE PUBLIC!” – Wirral Needs campaigners repeated chant in the public gallery during last full Council meeting of 2017.

Full story : ADVENT FAREWELL 14 – WHY WIRRAL LEAKS SPEAKS IN PARABLES

A New Year Message

keep-calm-and-don-t-be-vulnerable

Whilst we collate the votes for the Leaky Awards 2017 we are honoured to publish this ‘New Year Message’ courtesy of long time Wirral Leaks supporter and contributor Dr Robert Smith.

Whilst it is understandable that we are encouraged to accentuate the positive at this time of year with an optimistic cry of ‘New Year, New Me!’ and plans for a gym membership , a new diet , a dry January and a flick through a travel brochure. However we feel it is our role at Leaky Towers to provide a hard dose of reality in advance of the fading of New Year’s resolutions come February.

Dr Smith’s ‘New Year Message’ is a timely reminder that now is not the time to be vulnerable on Wirral. Of course you won’t be reading in the local press that Wirral features in yet another list of shame.  New figures provided by the Care Quality Commission to MP Barbara Keeley, Labour’s social care spokesperson, indicate that Wirral is one of the places named in the country where over half of nursing homes are rated as ‘requiring improvement or inadequate’. For full story read here  (although we advise you won’t find the information in the ‘ Sidebar of Shame’ !)

Perhaps Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin,Chair of the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee , will finally make the connection between poor quality care and allegations of abuse against vulnerable people or as we’ve reported previously it’ll be the usual case of Carry On Matron .

And so from ‘the Matron’ to ‘the Doctor’ :

Happy New Year to all at Wirral Leaks with my best wishes for the future!

Happy New Year also, to all the Wirral Leaks posse, and best wishes to you all.

If you trawl through the extensive catalogue of failings of, and failures in, Wirral Council it is not surprising that little, if anything has changed for the better.

Wirral Council is so deeply trapped by its own stinking morass of corporate incompetence and ineptitude, it should really have been ‘put down’ long ago, not to save the organisation suffering, but to ease the suffering of those it is supposed to serve.

Party politics and organisational survival is all that matters and pervades the ‘Wirral and Merseyside Partnerships’ having created the http://www.lookingafterourselves.con (the Wirral-Wide Web) and its regional counterpart mww.lookingafterourmates.con (the Mersey-Wide Web).

If ‘vulnerable people’ is the Number 1 priority for Wirral Council, then WBC must be one of the greatest local government success stories of recent years, and a result which really eclipses the Local Government Comical Award ‘Most Improved Council in Great Britain – 2015’.

Trawling through the failings of Wirral Council it is impossible to ignore the fact that the Council has been demonstrated to have failed most sectors of Wirral society to a staggering level. With the help of some local MPs, have triumphantly made things a whole lot worse in care services, young people’s services, child-safeguarding, the elderly, employment prospects, innovation, deprivation, life expectancy, access to public buildings and resources, building on green belt, active degeneration previously known as regeneration, child-poverty, need for foodbanks, conduct in public office, public service integrity, leadership, public interest, the list is virtually endless…

Wirral Council now creates groups of vulnerable people, or enlarges those that already exist.

The point ultimately is that Wirral Council has 100% of the Wirral population that can be considered vulnerable, the most recent being Wirral Council Tax payers who, as a group, are vulnerable to continued financial exploitation through significant future Council Tax increases to finance a diminishing range of virtually unrecognisable ‘public services’ whilst funding obscene senior manager salaries and the expenses of  http://www.lookingafterourselves.con members.

It is convenient politically to say that it is ‘all a result of austerity’ and ‘Tory government cuts’. This is only partly true. Wirral Council’s finances have been in freefall since the 1990’s and successive administrations have built up problems for the future…what happened to the over £500,000,000 invested in Birkenhead between 1991 and 2002?

In addition to much other borrowing, why is Wirral Council spending over £8m per annum in interest payment to foreign banks after borrowing £137m before 2008? As a result of this borrowing WBC is in debt to those banks for in excess of £500,000,000 finally repayable by 2075? Mortgaging the kid’s and the kid’s kids futures, meanwhile lending millions of WBC cash to other councils at ‘mate’s rates’ as well as holding large reserves.

Wirral Leaks has made a difference, for the better, for the people of Wirral…

…that can in no way be said of Wirral Council.

 Happy New Year to all.

Advent Farewell 22 : WUTH – less this Christmas

There’s been a strangely muted response in the local press to the ‘stepping down’  of Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation (WUTH) Foundation Trust CEO David Allison . Allison doesn’t even get a namecheck in the Wirral Globe headline about his sudden departure. The story is somehow spun that it’s ‘All About Frank’ and the Birkenhead MP’s support for the Globe’s petition to get the current car parking charges for nurses changed – which is much like his ‘starving mites’ schtick. No right thinking person thinks nurses should be paying such high car parking charges just as they wouldn’t want children to go hungry. Here’s the Globe’s take : Tank Top Frank

We were given the heads up that Allison was heading for the exit with indecent haste by the following message :

David Allison – taken the money now running

Along with his useless Director of Workforce (replaced the useless Sue Green – yes – married to the useless David Green) James Mawrey – same job just a different title so her role could be made redundant and she could a massive pay-off…..

I dread to think what incompetent fiickwitts will follow in their steads

BTW – don’t give up – please!

However for us to get a fuller picture of what’s been going on we had to go to campaigning journalist Shaun Lintern who writes in the Health Service Journal :

WUTH

The concerns recorded in the document include:

  • NHSI was told the board “was not functioning as a unitary board . Pre-meets are carefully managed and concerns suppressed . It is felt that the CEO has a lack of grip on the issues facing the organisation and was not paying attention to quality indicators . The CEO responds to quality concerns with dismay and aggression. There is a concern that some key data and supportive narrative may be being carefully managed
  • NHSI was told executives have been instructed not to involve non-executive directors in any initiatives or issues in their portfolios without going through the chair
  • The executives ” felt the organisation had a culture that prohibits raising concerns as there was a lack of transparency and honesty when difficult issues were raised. this translated into a lack of visibility of quality and safety and reluctance to escalate concerns”
  • NHSI was told ” senior colleagues were moved out of the organisation very quickly with no obvious explanation .. They felt that this was related to a reluctance to escalate concerns and inability to accept appropriate challenge”
  • Consultants at the trust were said to be ” reluctant to take on senior leadership roles as history showed that they may (be) subject to investigations (and/or) intimidation if things did not work out”

Well fancy that! Were WUTH and Wirral Council separated at birth?

None of these allegations come as a surprise to us as we’ve long received similar allegations (see below), often sadly from whistleblowers who were subject to a culture of fear even more virulent than Wirral Council and therefore less willing to go public. We think it is significant that it was senior managers who blew the whistle because we’d like to suggest that there are WUTH staff further down the pecking order (and with considerably less influence and power) who have tales to tell about the trust’s toxic culture.

Indeed here we have some scary stats courtesy of NHS whistleblower and campaigner Minh Alexander which details whistleblowing contacts 2015-17 with useless health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) 

MINH whistleblowing

Home

Talking of useless regulators who are seemingly unwilling to accept that there was an increasingly worrying governance and culture problem brewing at WUTH we are also aware that Monitor were involved in a complaint about the highly questionable removal of a WUTH Governor in 2014 which had the hallmarks of a ‘kangaroo court’. They lamely concluded “…….we expect the Trust to explain departure from the Code of Governance in its annual report. However in the absence of further or new information , we will not be taking any further action over the above matters”  

The history of this case is worthy of a post of its own but might we suggest it would be more instructive for this particular former Governor to contact NHS Improvement to tell them of their experience.

We’ve trawled our other leaks to discover similar allegations to those mentioned above about WUTH . The first of which we publish in the interest of balance to the comment made above :

For the record, Sue Green, HR Director, left the Trust a few months after my removal. Wirralleaks reported on the circumstances of her leaving at the time. She had been suspended for disciplinary reasons but later cleared. During her suspension, the post of HR Director was dispensed with and she was made redundant. My experience of her was that she was an honest, conscientious and efficient professional who got on well with those she had contact with and was a loss to the Trust. Apparently, she did not fit in with the new culture of the Trust since the recent appointment of the new CEO, David Allison. 

And here’s another:

Michael Carr is the CEO’s puppet and has been given two extensions to his contract by governors for exceptional reasons (don’t know what reasons are but they will have been invented by Allison) after he had completed two periods of three years, which is the norm for an NHS FT Chairman. Allison wants him in post because he does not cause any problems for him. He is very compliant!

Suddenly doesn’t the chaos , disarray, low morale and lack of beds that we frequently hear about Arrowe Park Hospital make tragic sense when we get a peak at what goes on behind the scenes and how the place is seemingly (mis)managed?

However just to finish on a lighter , reassuring note like they do on News at Ten isn’t Orlando Agrippa simply the best name ever ?!

The Inadequates

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So it would appear like many before her  , Wirral Council has driven top notch Children’s Services troubleshooter Eleanor Brazil , nuts .

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15319099.Now_top_Government_troubleshooter_quits_Wirral_child_safeguarding_board/

As we know Ms Brazil was brought in to share her considerable expertise in an attempt to turn round the deeply troubled council department.  We understand that Ms Brazil was fully prepared to challenge the powers that be.  As we know the powers that be don’t like that. They much prefer to be in denial. We can remember Michael Frater, the last straight talking troubleshooter Wirral Council had to call in when their Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) had brought them in into disrepute through a multitude of failings . He didn’t last long either.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/more-allegations-from-the-boiled-frog-council/

It’s such a great shame government commissioners weren’t called in then, but as we know, Frank Field did his string pulling thing to spare the blushes of bent,incompetent councillors and the rest is history. And of course, as we all know, if people don’t learn from history – they are bound to repeat it. And so here we are again – not only in Childrens Services, but also it would appear in DASS.

We’ve previously chronicled  that the parlous state of safeguarding of the vulnerable is not confined to children:

Carry On Matron

Indeed it is astonishing to think that whilst Children’s Services is subject to inspection of their safeguarding arrangements by Ofsted there is no equivalent for DASS.  The Care Quality Commission (CQC)  are now just responsible for inspecting individual services. Of course the last time CQC did check on Wirral Council’s safeguarding arrangements for adults – they were found to be ,yes you guessed it, inadequate!

Following an inspection by CQC the latest addition to the long list of inadequates goes to Acrefield House,  a care home for people with learning disabilities run by Mental Health Care (MHC) Ltd.

After reading CQC Inspection report which records that :

“There were repeated and targeted physical altercations between people living at the home. Many of these had been documented and there was a clear and recognised pattern that had not been investigated, or resulted in any safeguarding referrals being made. This meant that people were not safe living at the home.”

http://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/new_reports/INS2-3237079974.pdf

Reference is also made to staff inappropriately restraining residents and that there was in -fighting between the staff team. Overall the report is a horrorshow and once again we have to ask whether DASS actually monitor the services we pay for and why does it take a CQC inspection to discover that vulnerable people are not safe?

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/constant-fights-unsafe-uncaring-ineffective-13113852

Could it be because they’ve previously ignored concerns  raised about Acrefield House. We’ve been informed that a member of the public did just that and nothing was done about their safeguarding concerns. And please,please ,please don’t tell us it’s about ‘cuts’ . Time to wake up to the fact that the calibre of people who are supposed to safeguarding the vulnerable either directly or indirectly on Wirral  – is INADEQUATE. We’re convinced that Eleanor Brazil recognised this. Therefore we’d invite her to comment on why she has quit and whether she endorses our view that Wirral is ‘ No Country For Old Men/Women/ Children & the Vulnerable. ‘   

Inadequate 010

Acrefield House : No -one knows what goes

Carry On Matron

Simon says : ‘Carry on Matron’  (clip courtesy John Brace)

Now we admit to being late to the party on this one but one of our keen followers brought to our attention an ‘epic fail’ by one of Wirral Leaks regulars Cllr Moira McLaughlin (aka ‘Matron’) at last week’s ‘People Overview and Scrutiny Committee’.

Whilst the supine members of this particular Committee were quite happy to sit back and accept that Matron knows what she’s actually talking about , we’ve scrutinised the John Brace video we were guided to – and blimey! – our source was right about our Cab Queen councillor – and it seems she’s still taking us all for a ride!

Carry On Cabby

This time it concerns what may seem to be a throwaway comment made at last week’s Committee meeting. Watch with incredulity as after a dreary presentation from Wirral Council’s Safeguarding Lead Simon Garner – God help us one and all – Matron McLaughlin chips in just after 26:00 and comments that after reading the latest Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board (SAPB)  ‘annual report’  –  well when they say ‘annual’ – there have been 2 ( count’em) since 2012 .

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50039668/SAPB%20Annual%20Report%202015%20-2016%20final%20version%20PS.pdf

Matron tells us that prior to reading the latest magnum opus she thought that the highest number of allegations about abuse would implicate family members and that the alleged abuse took place in the vulnerable person’s own home. She pitifully asks whether it’s “a shift , a change in information being gathered”

Well if you’ve been in a coma, maybe ! Really Matron ? you actually said that OUT LOUD and IN PUBLIC and none of the Committee members saw fit to challenge you and say ” WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? But then why have scrutiny when you can resort to that old standby – denial ! In fact we remember last time round the reason given for the rise in referrals about alleged abuse in care homes by care workers was because the SAPB were doing such a good job raising awareness about abuse!

Take a look at this graph from the ONLY previous Safeguarding Adult Partnership Board (SAPB) report (June 2014) :

SAPB 013

We’ll just leave it there for the Committee to have a look at . An expression using the words ‘elephant’ and ‘room’ springs to mind. However Director of Adult Social Services Graham Hodkinson chips in at 28.00 to tell us not to worry it’s all in the hands of his QA ( Quality Assurance?) Team – which based on their past history doesn’t exactly reassure us –  and asks the pertinent yet evasive question:

” What does that say about care home quality”

What the information tells us is that care services on Wirral are more than a bit of a worry. Whilst that shouldn’t come as a surprise to Wirral Leaks followers perhaps it will to sleepwalking members of the ‘People’ committee.We’ll spell it out for you Graham the quality of too many care homes on Wirral is S-H-I-T …..shit,crap,turdacious or whatever Care Quality Commission (CQC)  excrement scale you care to choose! Too ‘disasteful’ for you Mr Hobgoblinson?, try living in one of the care homes you’ve got a contract with at discounted rates even though there known ‘quality’ concerns and get back to us! Just sayin’ !

How prescient of us to write in anticipation of the latest SAPB report in February 2016 (!) :

Meanwhile we anticipate that in it’s long – awaited and much delayed report Wirral Council’s self – congratulatory Safeguarding Board will kiss its own arse and claims it is doing a good job protecting vulnerable people.

Retirement Home

As you can see from the above post the quality of Wirral’s ‘care’ providers is something we’ve been banging on about for years . Indeed from when the CQC told Wirral Council way back in 2010 they couldn’t safeguard a dead hamster to the calamitous Independent Review in 2012 that didn’t only tell the council they were safeguarding failures that they themselves were actually perpetrators of abuse!

This small detail was of course omitted from the only previous SAPB report

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/sites/default/files/all/Health%20and%20social%20care/adult%20social%20care/safeguarding%20adults/SAPB%20Annual%20Report%202012-14%20FINAL.pdf

Indeed we’re appalled to discover that they’ve resumed business with a particular organisation who were redacted out of the Independent Review – whilst some other So & So’s it was a case of carry on regardless  –  and yet we’re supposed to be as surprised as the Matron that vulnerable people are potentially at more at risk of being abused in care homes and the greatest number of allegations is against their ‘carers’!

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/shamed-carer-who-stole-4k-12153256

It might also explain why the Director of Services of this organisation has stopped contacting us to tell us how appalling Wirral Council are . Might also explain his reluctance to expose historical financial abuse of vulnerable people in his ‘care’ when he knows there are lucrative Wirral Council care contracts to be had if he keeps schtum about their mutual dirty little secret ( which we promise to get round to one day).

 

Court of Public Opinion

You be the judge

We’ve not really covered Wirral Council’s proposed closure of Girtrell Court because no one had really sought to bring it our attention.

But my- oh -my has has that situation changed with the impending decision to close the respite centre for disabled adults going to Wirral Council Cabinet on Monday (22 February).

Suddenly the heat is on and we’ve been contacted by not only those directly affected by the closure but by some social care insiders with some particularly trenchant views !.

The Leaky Towers viewpoint is that we think the cause is lost.It’s a done deal no matter how many impassioned pleas carers might make. It’s over. The last in-house adult social care service will be  gone forever and it will be a dark day for Wirral Council…..unless of course they perform a spectacular volte-face!.

However the clues have always been there – hidden in plain sight.

Listen to the Director of Adult Social Services Graham Hodkinson at last week’s West Wirral Constituency Committee explain that the closure of Girtrell Court would be a “natural progression” and that the care of vulnerable people is about the  “market”.

Might we suggest that there is nothing “natural” about making vulnerability and disability subject to market forces but then when you’re on a six figure salary the social care market economy clearly works for some people !.

It also strikes us at Leaky Towers that whilst we agree that the NHS is a wonderful thing there has been many a time we’ve sighed as self-righteous politicians of all persuasions brandish their “We Love the NHS” credentials, complain about creeping privatisation and yet think it’s not only OK but desirable to subject our most vulnerable to the mercies of the market. And as we’ve reported previously we’re reliably informed that the social care marketplace on Wirral is dire.

Carers and parents of those who benefit from respite services have been given reassurances that if (or rather when) Girtrell Court closes alternative services will  be an improvement. It’s all about “choice” –  rather like the choice  about having  a personal budget whether you want one or not !. Might we suggest that those reassurances should be considered in the context of Meadowcroft – the last in-house respite service for the elderly which was outsourced to Age Concern.

We think it is particularly significant that only this very week a Care Quality Commission inspection rated the service at Meadowcroft to be INADEQUATE

http://www.cqc.org.uk/directory/1-669976514 <http://www.cqc.org.uk/directory/1-669976514>

Furthermore and just so we don’t get accused of Labour-bashing the fact that not one but two local union reps ( take a bow Paddy Cleary and Dave Jones) have publicly opposed the closure of Girtrell Court  and have expressed incredulity that a Labour controlled Council would contemplate such a measure points to a wider political debate that needs to be had about what exactly should be the priorities of  the Council.

Now is the time to have a long hard look at the reality behind the rhetoric . A prime example is contained within the flagship Wirral Plan and specifically the pledge about  “…..Ensuring the most vulnerable among us are safe, and feel safe, is perhaps our most important responsibility. We will work across Council and agency boundaries to promptly identify and tackle problems before they develop ” .

How does Wirral Council reconcile “our most important responsibility”  with the closure of Girtrell Court and the courting of celebrity golfers, the feteing of of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce , the wooing of Wirral Waters investors ???.

The proposed closure of Girtrell Court is an ideological decision it is not an economic necessity. An  alleged  annual saving  of £155,000 –  a figure which appears to have been plucked out of thin air as no cost benefit analysis work was undertaken – is nothing in the scheme of things when it comes to council expenditure. This proposal is just the latest instalment by Wirral Council of a relentless campaign to privatise public services.

Forget the 20 pledges in the Wirral Plan. In the court of public opinion there seems to be but one choice for the people of Wirral to make about what should be the Council’s priority – protecting public services or pandering to the private sector. You be the judge as to whether you think they’ve got the balance right.