Thursday 1 July 2021

Official Barnet Council report shows outsourcing failure puts children at critical risk

 Once more, a critical failure in Barnets outsourcing policy has lead to a crisis in childrens care. Don't believe me? Well read the reports for a meeting of the Barnet Council "Urgency Committee" (please click the link and read the papers). The urgency committee only sits when there is a crisis. The committee is meeting this time because of a crisis in "Procurement of Children’s Integrated Therapies".

The papers state 

The existing provider has indicated their intention to step out of the North Central London sub-region and has served notice to terminate this contract. Utilising the contract extension is not an option and it is now critical that we procure another provider which the CCG will lead through a negotiated procedure

In short, they have outsourced a critical service and the private company that does the work has walked away, presmably because they can't make enough money. 

If you dounbt that this is a serious problem, this is what the report states:

Due to the extreme urgency brought about by the above situation which was previously unforeseeable, as per Regulation 32(2)(c) of the Public Contract Regulations (PCR) 2015, the NCL CCG will be undertaking a Negotiated Procedure without prior publication of a Contract Notice (advert) to award an interim contract for an initial 1 year period starting from 1st September 2021 with the option to extend for a further year from 1st September 2022 until 31st August 2023. At the end of this process we will seek to undertake a fully competitive process to award the longer term contract. 

Section 1.4 states

The Local Authority is at risk of not meeting its statutory requirements, set out in the Children and Families Act 2014, in relation to assessments; the provision of therapies set out in Education and Healthcare Plans; and quality of provision: 

The report exposes that there is a critical shortage of childrens therapists

Short to medium term performance improvement measures have been put in place and the local authority, BELS, the CCG and NELFT have been working very closely to prioritise and increase the therapy support available to children and families, and schools. They are working with individual private therapists and other private providers to secure more therapists, who will work alongside NELFT in undertaking assessments and delivering therapies to children with therapy provision in their EHC Plan.

This is needed as the report states that the council cannot meet its statuatory duties to children unless something is done

Section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 imposes the duty to secure special educational provision and health care provision in accordance with the child’s EHC Plan

It is impossible to be 100% sure what has been going on, as Barnet Council has kept most of the details secret and the meeting next week will be held in secret. The meeting is being held next Thursday at 12 noon.

I have asked a public question. 

"This crisis has been brought about by the failure of a contractor provide a service that Barnet Council is legally required to provide. This has put vulnerable children at risk. Why do Barnet Council not have an in house service to provide a critical service. This would ensure that there is no prospect of contractors failing to provide a service and put children at risk?"

It seems to me to be a complete no brainer that the Council should have an in house capability to prevent vulnerable children being put at risk by the failure of a contractor. Once again, the council's insane obsession with outsourcing has put local children at risk. The Barnet Tories want to keep this quiet. It is an appalling failure of their One Barnet policy and it is time they were held to account.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It could well be the pure lack of Occupational Therapists. There is and has been over the past couple of years a shortage of OTs covering SEN schools as OTs are paid considerably better if they work privately. The local authority (and government) have not addressed this for quite some time and it is a statutory requirement in the EHCP for children with additional needs. It is quite worrying that this is now urgent and I am curious as to why these meetings are so secret?