Edinburgh health bosses criticised by inspectors over consultation on care home closure plans

Edinburgh health bosses have been told by inspectors they need to improve consultation over the future of social care in the Capital.
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A new report by the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland into services for older people in the city says there has been good progress on a whole series of recommendations made after a damning report in 2017 and a follow-up a year later which found not much had changed.

But the latest inspection identified several areas where more work and resources are required.

Fords Road care home is one of those proposed for closure   Photograph: Ian GeorgesonFords Road care home is one of those proposed for closure   Photograph: Ian Georgeson
Fords Road care home is one of those proposed for closure Photograph: Ian Georgeson
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And the report highlights the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership’s engagement and consultation over phase one of its bed-based strategy, which involved proposals to close five city care homes.

There were complaints when the plans were announced in June this year that it was a fait accompli with no prior consultation with staff or unions and residents and their families informed by letters sent out that day. The Edinburgh Integration Joint Board, which oversees the EHSCP, later agreed there should be a public consultation but that has yet to take place.

The inspectors’ report says: “The citizens of Edinburgh should be able to have trust and confidence that their views will be sought, heard, and considered.

“The partnership’s commitment to engagement and consultation with all stakeholders should be carried out in a manner that embeds trust and confidence in its actions and approach to decision making about changes to service delivery.”

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The report also criticises EHSCP for not yet having developed a “market facilitation” strategy to give it a robust understanding of the whole care sector in the city.

“Not having an agreed strategy could result in over or under provision in some service areas. This could create unnecessary risk for the partnership around capacity and choice, particularly since the majority of Edinburgh’s social care provision is purchased from the independent and third sectors.”

The 2017 inspection – which resulted in one of the “worst reports” ever issued – found some elderly people forced to wait for 100 days without any support and many older people and carers unable to get any help unless their needs were critical.

The new report says EHSCP has “demonstrated good progress against most of the recommendations for improvement”.

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But it says: “There needs to be a continued focus on sustained improvement in overall operational performance.

"Waiting lists for reviews need to be more effectively managed and progress made towards an increase in the number of people self-directing their care and support.”

And it says in the interests of transparency the partnership should publish on its website reports submitted to committees giving data on waiting lists and waiting times for assessment and services.

EIJB chair Ricky Henderson said: “The report in 2017 was a difficult read for all who were working in the partnership at the time but the strategic vision, practices, and structures that have since been developed and implemented, are the backbone to the significant and good progress being made.

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“Whilst there remain challenges – particularly with the current system pressures faced – the strengthened relationships built, strategic aims, and the cohesive approach to the work of the partnership, deserve this positive recognition.

"These are significant strengths for how the partnership will continue to push forward over the challenging winter period and beyond.”

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