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West Berkshire Council struggles to hit care plan review target

Adults with mental health issues going more than 12 months without reviews, according to council figures

Chris Ord

chris.ord@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886639

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DOZENS of adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues have gone more than a year without having their care plans reviewed by West Berkshire Council, it has been revealed.

Council figures show that 88 adults in the authority’s care who have not received a review within 12 months have learning disabilities or mental health problems.

The news comes as the council looks to improve its performance in reviewing adult social care cases, after failing to hit its target of 75 per cent last year.

Under The Care Act 2014, local authorities are required to undertake annual reviews of adults in receipt of care and support.

However, of the 1,253 adults in care as of April 2017, just 825 (66 per cent) had undergone a 12-month review.

And during the first three months of the 2017/18 financial year, analysis of the remaining overdue cases identified a high proportion (88 people) with a primary support reason of learning disabilities or mental health.

Speaking at a recent West Berkshire Council overview and scrutiny management commission meeting, adult social care officer Ian Dawe told councillors that care reviews for these individuals tended to be more complex and took longer to complete.

Mr Dawe also said staffing issues had contributed to the drop in performance.

However, he said two new staff members had been recruited into the team, while a change in practice, such as conducting some reviews by telephone, had also been brought in.

“We’ve now managed to get up to 73 per cent,” he said.

“Our aim this year will be to end the year at our 75 per cent target.”

During the same meeting, members of the commission heard that the current financial forecast was an overspend of £949,000, against a net revenue budget of £117.4m, which would need be taken out of the council’s reserves at the end of the year, if savings could not be made to offset the sum.

The overspend was largely attributable to spending on adult social care.

In September, the Newbury Weekly News reported that the council’s portfolio holder for adult social care, Rick Jones (Con, Purley-on-Thames), blamed increasingly complex client needs and rising commissioning costs in nursing and residential care for increasing costs.

Despite the forecast, Mr Jones said he was confident the council would be able to bring the overspend down significantly.

“I will anticipate this situation will change,” he said.

“We have got our budgets and delivered our budgets pretty accurately over a number of years.

“We will as an authority be taking remedial action to bring that overall budget within tolerance.”

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