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

Inadequate 012

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).

 

DASS Update: According to Peer Review Progress Not Even So-So” “

It’s now late summer and somewhat like this snifter of Courvoisier I have in my hand  we’re feeling fine and mellow at Leaky Towers and we’ve been musing  on how we’ve got to know each other very well now – so lets dispense with the formalities for the time being.

We may be members of the landed gentry but in the words of those good buddies Cameron and Brooks –“we’re all in this together” right?.  Therefore, you have special permission to henceforth refer to me by my first name Julian and my loyal and trusted Ladyship is quite happy to be called Justine.

 So, in the spirit of such bonhomie we’ve been trying to find out for you what Wirral Council’s Department of Adult Social Services has been up to lately.

As you may know they’ve got a new Director – a certain Mr.Hobgoblinson or some such and they even have a plan –  “The Everything is Going To Be Nice & Lovely Plan” – so many wonderful,clever  ideas with timetables and pie charts and spreadsheets and outcomes and targets and so on and so forth (sorry correction – Justine has just whispered in my ear :” not targets dear ,targets have become very unfashionable ” – and as we know its all about appearances these days and if its one thing darling Justine knows about its  fashion  – there isn’t a day that goes by without her fingering her way through Vogue and its supermodels).

 So there I was thinking so far, so good until dainty Miss Verity just tiptoed in with a note on a silver platter.

 And oh dearie ,dearie me  it would appear that so much for DASS getting its house in order as the unbelievable news reaches us that the so and so’s at DASS are renewing contracts with a “care provider” who were heavily criticised in the notorious AKA report and who has featured prominently in despatches from Leaky Towers and horrifyingly in this particular story “A Grave Injustice.”

 How so? I hear you cry?!  

Well apparently all those associated with Service Provider 10 has been given the all clear because the owner has been very upset about pranging the Bentley (don’t you just hate it when that happens?) and so all is forgiven apparently – and so – its business as usual and  they are now an integral part of The Everything Is Going To Be Nice & Lovely Plan  –   so break out the Bollinger boys and girls!.

 However as dear,darling Verity points out things are not as Oh So Rosy as it would  appears as there a few pesky social workers in DASS who are not very happy about this situation as it means they may be have to get into bed (if you’ll pardon the expression ) with a particular person associated with appalling practices ( I’m assuming that these “practices” which would be classed as criminal if perpetrated against you or I were never investigated properly by DASS/CQC or Police or as Ernest Eldritch, our earthy gardner puts it in his own inimitable style – “Seems they just couldn’t be fucking arsed sir, if you’ll pardon me for saying so m’lud”.

 So I suppose the question that disgruntled social workers should be posing is whether DASS managers or indeed anyone associated with the Council would be happy to have members of their family under the “care” of someone with a “bit of a rep” as once again Eldritch delightfully puts it

 And so – at this juncture I fear that all I can do is sigh deeply,adjust my monocle and commandeer one of Justine’s fashionista phrases and proclaim: ” OH DASS – this is SO VERY YOU“   

   READ MORE AT CBBC , sorry we mean CQC  has ANYTHING changed ?

Wirral and CQC

In 2010 CQC gave a damning appraisal of Wirral Council it stated training, management and knowledge were piss poor and prompted then Council Leader Jeff Green to say  “I am appalled ( he says that a lot)  at the findings of this report and I am deeply disturbed that some of the most vulnerable people in Wirral should find themselves so at risk and exposed.

“Protecting vulnerable people and keeping them safe is one of the most basic functions Wirral residents expect from its Council and whilst this inspection was conducted prior to the current administration being formed and the new Cabinet Member taking up his position; it now falls upon us, as a new administration, to put right what the CQC have exposed as so clearly wrong in the Department of Adult Social Services.

“We will do whatever it takes to make sure the leadership, management and performance of this Department is improved and that a new culture of openness, challenge and tackling of poor performance is put in place. Following very full and frank discussions, I have given the Director of Adult Social Services full Cabinet support, and a timetable, to take whatever action is necessary to turn this unacceptable and woeful performance around.”

So what happened next ……. ?????

Well not much

A former employee tells us all staff were given a Self assessment skills audit . They said “basically it was to say if you felt you had been well trained or not and had skills to do the job, most new staff didn’t  but the self assessment had disciplinary measures built in . Basically if you said you didn’t have the skills they would discuss disciplinary measures and “exit strategy” (euphemism for the sack!) Staff were worried and given this heavy handed approach it would be difficult for many to be honest.  So if you didn’t fill it in you were disciplined if you said the training hadn’t equipped you for the job there was the threat of the sack. But if you are a new member of staff, if you say you ARE adequately trained and able to do the job ( when in reality you weren’t)  and something awful happens to a vulnerable person, you have no defence, because  D.A.S.S. management would say “Not our fault – you signed this to say you could do it, no liability on our part BYE” .  Seemed like you couldn’t win and staff were being threatened for being badly equipped and poorly trained to do a very difficult job”

Wirral Leaks have seen the documents which do indeed have disciplinary measures in built and have a scoring system which in some way appears to replicate the Councils redundancy policy scoring. Highlights include

·         Some staff did not have the required level of knowledge, skills or experience to do their job well.

·         Where capability/performance issues identified agree plan of action, which may include formal capability/disciplinary action.

·         Some staff may wish to discuss with their Manager/Principal Manager and Head of Branch if there is an opportunity to exit the department’s employment in line with council wide agreed procedures

The document has a covering letter From DASS branch manager Rick O’Brein which states

“As you will know following the recent Care Quality Commission Inspection, their report identified a number of issues relating to the workforce with regard to skills and competencies.

 

The Report went on to say that the work of front line staff and managers in fieldwork services needed to improve in standard and quality, to support people with complex needs.  The department needed to secure the effective deployment of expertise across all its frontline teams to raise the quality of safeguarding work and assessment of mental capacity.

 

A process has been devised which I believe will allow us to move to a position to support more fully the staff in those front line teams to be capable, skilled and committed to ensure that the areas identified within the report as well as the delivery of outcomes for people who use services, are improved.

 

This is a three stage process to identify and benchmark where staff currently are, in terms of their capability, knowledge, behaviour and commitment to deliver. The process has three stages.

 

Stage 1 – Self Assessment (to be completed by all staff)

Stage 2 – Management/Leadership Verification

Stage 3 – Improvement/exit strategy

 

One of the outcomes of this process is that any identified gaps will be covered by inclusion in an updated Training Plan for 2011/12.

 

Consultation

The paperwork and process has been shared with the trade unions and UNISON were able to attend one of the four staff focus groups which have taken place to enable people to consider the process and go through the paperwork in detail. A number of suggestions/ alterations were made, many of which have been incorporated into the papers attached

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

 

Have a look for yourself and weep

Staff Self Assesment Skills Audit

Managers Self Assesment Skills Audit