Three councils taken off special measures

Barking and Dagenham, Barnsley and Hillingdon councils have all
been taken off department of health special measures.

Barking and Dagenham was placed on special measures in 1997
after a poor joint review. The appointment of a new chief executive
led to tangible improvements such as clear priorities for services
delivery, positive inspections of children’s and mental
health services and a culture shift in the authority’s
perceptions of service users and the community.

“I am extremely pleased about the announcement. It’s meant
very hard work from everyone,” said Julia Ross, Barking’s
director of social services, who was also appointed chief executive
of the local primary care trust last month, as part of a move
towards the greater integration of health and social care.

Barnsley was placed on special measures in 1998 after an SSI
inspection identified serious failures in mental health services.
The council has since established an integrated multi-disciplinary
mental health service managed by the NHS trust, leading to
considerable improvements and good quality services.

Hillingdon was also placed on special measures in 1998 after an
inspection revealed failings in the children and families division.
A follow-up SSI inspection published this week found “considerable

Most of the 10 recommendations from a previous follow-up
inspection in 1999 had been met, but two remained outstanding, said
the report. Although a placements strategy had not been developed,
a Best Value review of children’s placements had been
undertaken. Secondly, staff training on assessments was in place,
but a general training strategy needed further development.

The report found “a very clear focus on improving operational
standards” and a “performance culture” was evident at all levels of
the organisation.

“Through the hard work of staff over the last two years there is
now a strong focus on safeguarding children and improving outcomes
for both children and their families,” said Graeme Betts,
Hillingdon’s social services director.




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