Agenda item

Cabinet Member Questions

An opportunity to question the Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Well-being, Cllr Lucia das Neves, on developments within her portfolio.


Cllr das Neves, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Well-being, introduced this item with an update on some key issues:

  • Mental wellbeing had been identified as a priority and some public health funding had recently been secured to support this, as had been discussed earlier in the meeting. World Suicide Prevention Day was taking place that week and partner agencies were hosting an event to promote this. Partnership working was needed so that services look at needs throughout the borough and bring together all the expertise and knowledge together.
  • There had recently been in increase in demand for care services since the pandemic, including an increase in more complex needs and cases involving ‘Long Covid’. The lack of stable funding and a strategic approach from the government was a challenge, particularly because of the need for investment in the workforce. The Council had committed to paying the London Living Wage to care staff and to ensuring that providers were doing the same.
  • Co-production had been an important priority in recent years and a lot had been learned in how to work with service users, people with lived experience and the wider community, to build projects including through the work on Osborne Grove. There was more to do to develop this approach in terms of commissioning, governance and management of services.
  • Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) was an important area and the Council was looking at ways to bring in more funds to resource this area, including through a bid to the Home Office on safety for women at night.
  • Discussions had been taking place recently on food poverty, including support for the Haringey Food Network and other projects in the borough.
  • There had been conversations about collaborative working, for example by coming together with mental health services and criminal justice to address substance misuse.
  • The Council’s ongoing pandemic response remained an important area of work including air quality monitoring for schools to reduce the transmission of Covid and different approaches to make the vaccine available in community settings.


Cllr das Neves and senior officers then responded to questions from the Panel:

  • Cllr Connor explained that the Panel had visited the site of Irish Centre in Tottenham earlier in the week as part of the Panel’s examination of proposals to relocate the Grace Organisation (a provider of day opportunity services) to part of the building. She noted that the building seemed to be in poor condition and asked about the source of the capital funding required for renovation work. Cllr das Neves confirmed that further details could be provided about this in writing. (ACTION) Cllr Peacock said that she had previously been vice-Chair of the Irish Centre and had been shocked to see the poor condition of the building and the wasted food found inside. Charlotte Pomery said that the building was currently a construction site and that investment was currently being made on the enhancement works to the building. The wasted food had been there when the building had been vacated and would be removed as part of the clearance works.
  • Cllr Bull commented that the situation with the Irish Centre site was an example of a Council-owned community building that should have been passed back to the Council’s property team when the community use ended and did not appear to have been looked after properly. Cllr das Neves said that the point had been heard loud and clear and would be fed back to relevant officers. (ACTION)
  • Asked for an update on Osborne Grove, Cllr das Neves said that the design had been impressive and that wider public consultation would be taking place soon.
  • Noting that it was Suicide Prevention Day that week, Cllr Connor asked about the progress of the Haringey suicide prevention group and the actions that the Panel had previous heard about in relation to suicide prevention in the construction industry. Cllr das Neves replied that she had attended a meeting of the suicide prevention group which was very active and brought together a range of public bodies, community groups and others from across the borough. Will Maimaris, Director for Public Health, added that following the Scrutiny Panel meeting about this, he and his team had spoken to representatives of the local construction industry and shared information about suicide prevention and mental health at work resources. Those organisations had a real interest in that and some of them already had well-being at work programmes. The focus had shifted during the emergency response to the pandemic but strong links had been made between the public health team and the local construction industry on things like Covid testing so there could be future opportunities to revisit suicide prevention. (ACTION)
  • Asked by Cllr Demir what discussions she’d had with the CCG about holding private providers such as Centene to account, Cllr das Neves said that there was little satisfaction about how the Centene process had been carried out but it was not something that the Council controls. She added that there were worries about the slow creep of privatisation generally across the NHS as well as the current demands and pressures on the workforce.
  • Cllr Demir asked about the implications of the Government’s recent announcement to raise National Insurance rates on social care funding in Haringey. Cllr das Neves said that, from what had been announced by the Government, she didn’t expect much change in social care before 2025/26 although she felt that real change and reform was needed in social care. Beverley Tarka added that there had not been a lot of clarity so far in the Government’s announcement and that, while the headlines had been about the cost of paying for care and the cap, there was very little remaining for social care reform and bringing parity between social care and the NHS in terms of pay, training and development. The Government had said that a White Paper was expected in the Autumn, but this had been expected for many years. The Spending Review, also in the Autumn, could provide more detail.
  • Cllr Connor asked about a national news story about the deaths of three people with learning disabilities in a private hospital in Norfolk and asked whether any Haringey residents with learning disabilities were placed with private providers. Beverley Tarka said that it was very unfortunate that such failures continued to happen in the health and care system 10 years on from the incidents at Winterbourne View in Gloucestershire. In Haringey, some people with complex needs were placed outside of the borough in specialist provision. Active relationships were created by the Council with the provider to enable quality assurance of the provision. Asked by Cllr Connor whether the service users had all been placed with providers which had Good or Outstanding ratings from the CQC, Beverley Tarka pointed out that that people could be placed when the rating was Good or Outstanding but that rating could change over time. The Council’s approach with a provider whose rating had declined was to support them to improve their performance. There had previously been occasions where the Council had needed to close provision in cases where this had not proved possible. Cllr das Neves and Beverley Tarka said that further information could be provided on the Establishment Concerns Procedure which illustrates the way that the Council works in this area. (ACTION)
  • Asked by Cllr Connor about the immunisation of care staff against Covid-19, Beverley Tarka said that this would be a legal requirement from the Government so the Council had no control over this. By November 11th all care home staff would be required to have been double-jabbed. Coordinated, integrated work, with a risk management approach, was taking place across the NCL area to collect the evidence with daily calls to all of the care homes. In terms of the workforce, care providers were very concerned about the implications of the requirement, combined with the impact of Brexit, and there were concerns that some staff would walk away. Rigorous risk assessments had been carried out regarding other Council staff who needed to access care homes and it was felt that there was a robust risk management plan in place on this. External trade staff going into care homes had also been a consideration. Leaflets had been produced to remind trade staff about the importance of being vaccinated. In addition, letters were being provided to care staff who did decide to leave to make clear that the door was left open for them to return if they wished to do so.