Scrutiny Working Group Reports:
· Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Commission – Emergency Active Travel Funding
· Health Scrutiny Committee (Sub-Committee of the People Scrutiny Commission) – Access to Planned Health Care within the Context of Covid-19 Response and Recovery Planning
· People Scrutiny Commission – Safeguarding Children and Young People within the Context of Covid-19 Response and Recovery Planning
The People Scrutiny Working Group report will follow; to be published before the 2 November.
The final Working Group reports of the People, Health, and Growth & Regeneration Scrutiny Commissions were presented.
People Scrutiny Commission: Safeguarding Children and Young People
The Chair of the People Scrutiny Commission commented on the report produced by the Working Group:
- The People Scrutiny Commission (PSC) Working Group focused on the effect Covid-19 had on safeguarding children and young people in Bristol, the city-wide response, and what had been learnt. In light of an anticipated second lockdown this report was particularly relevant, and it was hoped the content could inform and assist the Council and its partners.
- Strong contributions were received from local partners, officers, and national experts. It was recognised that Children’s Services staff had worked above and beyond, with examples of excellent practice and partnership working. The PSC Chair extended thanks to all staff and contributors.
- Recommendations in the report highlighted the importance of detached youth workers throughout the City, and how this work could be built on.
- Another important finding was around the need for more child friendly messaging on Covid-19.
- The high level of commitment and hard work shown by the Council’s leadership team and the whole workforce was recognised, and the report recommended the Council should consider ways to offer extra support to ensure wellbeing of staff.
- Commendations on this report were received from outside of the Council, and the PSC Chair recommended that it be shared with partnership boards including the Health and Wellbeing Board, Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership and Learning City Partnership Board.
The Cabinet Member for Women, Families and Homes responded to the key points of the Executive Summary, commenting as follows;
- Scrutiny Members were thanked for their work on their report. The sessions were useful with positive responses from witnesses.
- A concern was raised over the time period that the work was conducted. As sessions took place during summer 2020 at a point where the lockdown was easing, it was not possible at that time to measure the full impact on children and it was expected that the impact would be more fully recognised once children had returned to school or other safe spaces.
- It was suggested that the report lacked context around the short notice given to professionals before lockdown was announced, the impact of a number of years of austerity measures on social care, and the impact of the complications in rolling out the laptop scheme. Digital exclusion was a national issue.
The Cabinet Member for Women, Families and Homes confirmed that the recommendations from the report would be considered.
The Chair of the PSC responded that the terms of reference for the group specified a tight focus to enable learning to be captured quickly. It was recognised in the course of the sessions that the full impact on children and young people would only be known at a later date, but this was balanced against the value of capturing immediate experiences.
Members thanked the Working Group for the report and agreed that it be formally submitted to the Cabinet on 1st December 2020.
OSMB conveyed thanks to Children’s Services.
Health Scrutiny Committee: Impact on access to Planned Healthcare
The Chair of the Health Scrutiny Committee (HSC) commented on the report produced by the Working Group:
- The HSC Working Group examined how Covid-19 had impacted access to planned healthcare in Bristol. This group carried out the Health Scrutiny committee’s statutory function to ensure accountability of, not only Council provision of health services, but also that of the NHS and local health providers.
- The Group’s findings were organised into three key areas:(i) Communication and messaging, (ii) Communities and support, and (iii) Capacity and ways of working.
- The Group found that health providers had clearly worked hard to reassure patients, but a great deal of people stayed away due to concerns, including fear and anxiety of catching Covid-19 in hospital, and had not attended their elective care appointments.
- Communication was also noted as an issue that prevented timely access to health care, and older people in particular struggled with digital engagement.
- Local communities were able to rise to the challenge in a significant way, providing care and support in the community.
- The increased perception of the vital roles of healthcare workers was noted as a benefit.
- With the expected second lockdown over winter it was noted that mental health would likely to be negatively impacted and the report recommended further preparation should be prioritised.
- It was proposed to share this report with regional partners, including Members of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Commission, the Healthier Together Partnership Board and the Clinical Commissioning Group. The report would also be shared with the Health and Wellbeing Board. It was agreed that the learning obtained would be useful beyond Bristol. It was suggested the report should be sent to the Local Government Association.
It was recognised that Health partners across the city had undertaken exceptional work with reduced capacity.
Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Commission: Active Travel Fund
The Chair of the Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Commission commented on the report produced by the Working Group:
- The G&RSC examination of this topic was timely and useful. It focused on both strategy and delivery.
- There had been some expectation of a greater degree of negative feedback on the strategy of both encouraging Active Travel and taking the opportunity to make improvements to air quality, however this did not materialise across Members and stakeholders, and the approach was recognised as a sensible decision. Officers came prepared to meetings having already undertaken a degree of reflection on problem areas (eg. lack of agility and coordination of ownership), which enabled improvements and recommendations to be recognised early on. The hard work of officers was welcomed and allowed changes to be made quickly.
- Some criticisms were made around communications, but it was recognised that as emergency procedures had been introduced there was little time for consultation. There was an expectation that Phase 2 would allow more time for engagement.
- Members queried the longer term plans and impacts on cycle routes and the Healthy Streets project. The G&RSC chair stated that the focus of the group was on phase 1; much of the longer term impact and options was expected to emerge in phase 2 bidding, but agreed these elements could be revisited.
- While the Public Forum statement on the placement of cycle lanes outside the BRI was noted, few objections were identified during the course of the Working Group.
Members raised a concern over the closure of Bristol Bridge, and whether using Covid-19 specific funding was appropriate for this. The Chair of the working group acknowledged this view, but had found few objections and opposition to the approach taken.
Members noted that some views have been expressed in both South and North Bristol that the actions taken only moved the locus of the problem rather than solve it. It was agreed that this was an issue that could be taken forward for further discussion by OSMB and G&RSC.
Members agreed that the findings of the Working Groups were positive examples of effective Scrutiny. The Chairs of the Working Groups were thanked.
It was agreed that all Working Group reports were endorsed by OSMB.
RESOLVED; That the PSC, HSC and G&RSC Working Group reports be submitted to Cabinet for consideration on 1st December, and submitted to additional interested bodies as relevant.