Care Quality Commission

Inspectors list criticisms of 'special needs' services

A senior Cumbrian health official says services for children with special educational needs rely too much on staff "going the extra mile".

The comment came after a report criticised the support offered to some of the county's most vulnerable youngsters.

Cumbria House

An inspection of services provided by Cumbria County County (pictured is its Carlisle HQ) alongside other organisations was carried out by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

They found:

  • The impact of reforms across the county has been highly variable
  • Many parents and carers have lost faith and trust, and feel as though they must battle to gain access to the services their children require
  • Some children on the autistic spectrum, or with mental health problems, do not receive the help they need and may fall into crisis.

John McIlwraith, an executive director at Cumbria County Council, says there are a range of underlying problems.

It's in part challenges around recruitment, it's in part national challenges around funding, it's in part the growth in demand from children with complex needs who need support for longer."

John McIlwraith

Peter Rooney, of the North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, says parents and children have talked about receiving great service but he adds "the service in its entirety is too reliant on having exceptional staff".

Hospitals trust slipping back again, inspectors say

Major improvements are again required at the health trust that runs hospitals in South Cumbria, according to inspectors from the Care Quality Commission.

The Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, which came out of special measures in 2015, has been downgraded from "good", to "requires improvement", in a report to be published here later today.

Furness General Hospital

The report is more critical of the higher levels of management than of the way services are provided in the wards and clinics, and hospitals in Barrow and Kendal have retained their individual good rating.

But inspectors warn that overall services aren't safe enough and say they need to be better led, and Lancaster's hospital also requires improvement.

The trust's chief executive, Aaron Cummings, says there are more doctors and nurses working there, and the focus on dealing with recruitment was "relentless".

Nationally we're just not in a position where we are selling the NHS well enough as a great place to work to encourage people to train and develop and want to come into our services, and locally we make a great play of celebrating what Morecambe Bay is like."

Aaron Cummings

Weakness with SEND at Surrey council 'unresolved'

Rebecca Curley

Local Democracy Reporter

School children walking along a street
David Jones / PA

An increasing rate of absence and exclusions of special needs pupils in mainstream schools is still a weakness for Surrey County Council, inspectors have found.

Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) revisited Surrey’s SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) service after a 2016 inspection identified serious weaknesses.

They said “serious issues” affecting the attendance of SEND pupils remained “unresolved”.

The council said it would work more closely with parents, teachers and experts to uncover the causes of absence and to understand the impact on the child and their family.

In its report to the council, inspectors stressed actions taken since the 2016 inspection “have not had enough impact”.

Campaigners welcomed the report, saying the “lack of a coordinated plan to meet the needs of these ‘hidden children’ has been felt keenly” by families.

No more inspection visits will be carried out unless directed by the Secretary of State.