Regulation 18 of the Local Authority Social Services and National Health Complaints Regulations (England) 2009 requires local authorities to produce an annual report specifying the number of complaints received, the number that were well-founded, the number referred to a local commissioner and a summary of the nature of complaints and service improvements arising.
Doreen Thomas, Interim Complaints Manager, summarised the report. She drew attention to the table in paragraph 3.2.1, where 'decrease' should be 'increase'. In April it is proposed to revert to a two-stage complaints system, which is currently one stage. There has been an improvement in response time to complaints and work is being done to get services to work together to respond to complaints better. Planned improvements are ongoing. However, it was noted that 51% of complaints are not upheld on investigation.
Councillor Louisa Woodley noted that part of the increase can be accounted for by one new area not included in previous years.
Councillors Yvette Hopley and Margaret Bird expressed an interest in knowing what the level of expectation is regarding service refusal and failure to deliver a service figures. A breakdown would be very helpful as failure and refusal are very different. If these relate to services not provided by the Council, who does provide them and why do people think it is the Council? As this accounts for a large percentage of the enquiries, it would be useful to know what the demands are and how they are categorised. If the Council does not provide a service that is a different issue from a service which has been removed due to budget cuts. The Interim Complaints Manager agreed to look at the complaints in more detail and get a better picture. It was suggested that it may not always be the failure of the Council to deliver the service, such as where a domiciliary home carer has not turned up.
Councillor Bernadette Khan asked where the eligibility criteria for procuring the service is published. The Interim Head of Transformation explained that it can be accessed in the web pages, where there will be some information about eligibility. However, he conceded that it is not always straightforward to locate, so it will be looked at to make it easier to access. Councillor Louisa Woodley mentioned that a team from Gateway engages with people to accurately assess what their needs are. There are no hard and fast criteria. The Interim Director of Adult Social Care and 0-65, Guy van Dichele stressed that the Disability Care Act says everyone is eligible to information and advice, followed by assessment and then entitlement to services.
The Panel RESOLVED to note the content of the report.