Newcastle earns plaudits

    Newcastle upon Tyne Council’s social services department is
    serving most people well, according to a joint review by the Audit
    Commission and Social Services Inspectorate published this
    week.

    A major reorganisation of social services over the past two
    years meant services were developing at a rapid pace, says the
    report, which highlights some “excellent” community care services
    and positive examples of multi-agency work.

    But despite the improvements, there was need for action in
    specific areas, adds the report. In particular, there are long
    waits for some community care services, including more than 1,000
    people waiting for an occupational therapy assessment.

    Since the council received initial feedback from the inspectors
    last December, the waiting list has been halved, according to a
    Newcastle spokesperson, although the report says the authority
    originally had plans to eliminate the waiting list by March.

    In addition, the report points to delays in hospital discharges
    caused by a lack of funding, inconsistent child protection
    practice, and the need to improve the quality of service provided
    by children’s homes.

    “Newcastle social services have made significant progress in the
    last couple of years, and the commitment of managers and staff, and
    what they have achieved, is impressive,” said Audit Commission and
    SSI director of joint reviews John Bolton.

    “We are delighted that the good work and commitment from staff
    and managers has been recognised,” said Newcastle director of
    social services Tom Dervin.

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