IT'S ENOUGH TO DO YOUR HEAD IN…
Ok. So Salford Council's supported accommodation for people with mental health problems is about to be `re-configured'. What the hell does that mean? Is it good for people with mental health problems in the city? Or is it bad for them? We tried to find out just by looking at Salford City Council's `award winning' website.
Originally we came across an agenda item for Salford Council's Adult Social Care and Health Lead Member Briefing, Monday 8th August 2011 2pm at Crompton House (see here)… It stated that up for discussion was the Review and Reconfiguration of Supported Accommodation (Mental Health) Services in Salford. And that was it.
There were no reports attached, no information, just the title. And that was because the decision was to be made in Part 2 of the meeting which is `Closed to the Public' ie Secret.
No matter. In the interests of democracy and accountability, the official Decision Notice was posted on Salford Council's website (see here) a few days later. And here it is. Drum roll…
I, Councillor Warmisham, Lead Member for Community Services & Health, in exercise of the powers conferred on me by Section 3, paragraph J (a) (vii) of the Council's Scheme of Delegation do hereby approve the re-configuration of the remaining services which had not been re-negotiated at the time of the previous report are now re-configured in a way which will deliver the objectives and benefits of the review and re-configuration project..
Isn't that clear? Tells you everything you need to know doesn't it? No? Well don't worry, everything is revealed in the "attached executive summary" where it gives you all the "background and financial details". Except that there is no "attached executive summary" with all the "background and financial details".
No matter. In the interests of democracy and accountability Salford Council publishes minutes of all its meetings and sure enough, at the next Adult Social Care and Health Lead Member Briefing held on 22nd August (see here) there's an item called Record of the Briefing Held on Monday 8th August – except there's nothing there again. No report. No word of what a `re-configuration of supported accommodation' for people with mental health problems will mean. It's cloaked in a blanket (pun intended) of secrecy.
The only hint of what's going on is to be found in Salford Council's list of `budget savings', well hidden elsewhere on its website. Here the `reconfiguration' has changed to a `Redesign of Mental Health Supported Accommodation provided by GMW' (Greater Manchester West NHS) and lists a cut of £140,000 over the next three years.
So, is the `reconfiguration' of supported accommodation' for people with mental health problems good or bad? With a £140,000 cut let's assume it's bad. Or even scandalous…
* Meanwhile, also on Salford Council's website are the minutes of a meeting in March discussing the future of services for some of Salford's most vulnerable people. Here, they talked about £1.9million worth of cuts to these services this year alone, and how these cuts "were disproportionate in comparison to the overall budget cuts".
One bloke, who announced he was leaving Salford Council, said that the "Commissioning Body [Salford Council or NHS, we assume] have stopped using the phrase 'efficiency savings' and have started referring to the savings as 'managing cuts in services'… They realise that these level of cuts will have an impact on service users".
`Efficiencies'? `Reconfiguration'? `Redesign'? Read, Cuts!