Monday, 25 November 2013

Guest Blog - Open Letter from John Sullivan to Councillor Hugh Rayner

From Mr John J Sullivan
Father of Susan Tracey Sullivan, along with my wife a combined 100 years of 24/7 coal face experience in this field.

Dear Sir,
I have now read the so called review and as expected it is a complete farce , a complete whitewash, a complete cover up. There is absolutely no intention  get to the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the route to the truth is via the parents and family carers of the Your Choice Barnet      ( YCB ) clients, and absolutely no attempt has been made to consult with any of us that have demonstrated concerns from the outset. it is shameful and totally undemocratic, it highlights the justification for people referring to Barnet as a democracy free zone. The constant refusal of the council that you are a prominent member of to engage in open and honest consultation with local residents. It is more representative of a Stalinist Polit  Bureau strategy than that of a supposed democracy. You are all deaf dumb and blind to the concerns fears and opinions of Barnet residents, driven by ideology and dogma, and what you think is best rather than seeking to establish the truth, and what is really best. This so -called task and finish review is an opportunity missed, why are you Tory councillors so afraid to face the truth, to face the opinions of the family carers and parents, people who collectively have hundreds of years of 24/7 experience in this field, far more than any YCB board member or biased councillor. " WHY ".

My Overall comments on this farcical review.
1, The Review is myopic and is a classic example of how Barnet council considers evidence then completely ignores it.
2, The five-part terms of reference were obviously written in a way to ensure the scope of the so-called  "task & finish " review was restricted from the start, these terms of reference allow not for the exposure of the whole truth, but a cover up of the reality, which is sadly the Barnet councils way of doing business, so comes as no surprise.
3, The CADDSS reports prime focus  was on two issues-service user/carer engagement and the YCB financial crisis. the review completely ignored the evidence on user carer engagement and made no recommendations on this important issue. So it is business as usual at YCB.
4, The key finding ( Para 4.1) that the " high quality " is permanent and therefore the only matter of concern  is the long term viability of YCB is financial and will be resolved by cost saving measures and growth. What are these proposed cost savings ?. This is a damning indictment of Elected members and YCB management, it is short sighted and narrow-minded, and  potentially a danger to the long term well being of disabled people in Barnet.
5, The Group indentified " customer engagement " as one of the " challenging areas of performance facing challenges ", and then listed how the Operational  Plan 2013-2014 would address several "challenging areas ". However , the action list completely ignores " customer engagement ". Which is the standard double speak many people including myself have grown to expect from Barnet councillors.

6,The group made absolutely no attempt whatsoever to examine the potential consequences and impact of the changes in staffing levels and skills/experience on the quality of service, that will be further impacted upon with the proposed introduction of the benchmarking decisions due in the near future. The Group accept YCBs policy and do not even raise concerns or questions about the impacts, it is absolutely unbelievable. This area coupled with the long term provision and viability of service provision  for our loved ones is one of the main concerns of parents and carers repeatedly raised by both us and CADDSS, yet this farcical review just took the word of YCB ignored the opinions of family carers and moved on, it beggars belief.
7,The financial analysis of YCB merely identifies the changes in YCBs financial forecast and financial reality once it was operational, but does not identify the lessons learned. UNISONS reports on the business case and LATC business plan spelt out the non- sustainability of the financial forecasts, but these were ignored by Elected members and officers of the Council at the time. Failure to learn lessons through rigorous and honest assessment, "which this so-called review does not even attempt" means the sorry saga will be repeated elsewhere in the council, and at some later date expose this whitewash of a review as an important opportunity missed.
 This review was an opportunity to get to the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, to ensure the long term viability of service provision for all YCB clients, and I firmly believe that truth was ignored. Because it would have established the only serious way forward for secure  long term provision would be to take all YCB  services back in-house, which was the original undertaking in the event of business failure.
Had this review looked into the financial circumstances of YCB in greater depth, I believe it would have been established clearly and without any doubt which is a reality this review was determined to avoid at all costs. The only way forward to ensure the long term viability and provision of "high quality support services " for all YCB clients, is for all YCB services to be brought back in-house The long term future viability of the provisions of "high Quality " support services for YCB clients is highly questionable, and therefore represents a real worry for parents and family carers worried what will happen to their loved ones when they die.This review could have provided us family carers with the peace of mind we crave, but yet again right wing  ideology and dogma has won the day.
8, The financial analysis is , in effect, a standstill analysis that does not consider financial issues beyond the current year. It does not attempt to identify how the £1million loan will be repaid and other forecasts. My concern and that of other parents and areas I repeated is regarding the long term future provision of "high Quality " support services for my daughter that were secure when service were provided in house. The  question is, if the long term future is so sound so secure, why is no reference made to the vital issue of the financial stability of YCB beyond this year.

Councillor Rayner , I am going to ask the Barnet Eye to post this letter as an open letter on the Barnet Eye blog, in order I hope to wake the residents of Barnet up to the fact, that transparency and honesty along with democracy no longer exist in Barnet. Most of all to alert people of the whitewash meeting this Wednesday the 27th November, in the hope they will attend the meeting to defend the disabled folk of Barnet , that this ideological and dogmatic council have no real intention of doing.

Councillor Rayner you chastised me for condemning this review before the report was made public, sadly  my fears have been confirmed, this review was never meant to seek the truth, because the truth is that in-house provision of services for all YCB clients, is the only secure way forward, subjecting these vulnerable folk to the vagaries of the market place on a highly questionable and risky business plan,  is immoral and plain wrong.

I appeal to the people of Barnet to attend the so called Safeguarding Committee meeting at the Town hall this Wednesday 27th ,before we experience our own Winterbourne View in Barnet.

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