Agenda and minutes

Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 13th July, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtually

Contact: Madeleine Shopland  Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist


No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence


An apology for absence was submitted from Councillor Ken Miall.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 219 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 20 January 2020 and the Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting held on 16 June 2020.


Additional documents:


The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 20 January 2020 were confirmed as a correct record and would be signed by the Chairman at a future date.


Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest


Councillor Bishop-Firth declared a Personal Interest in Item 10 Council’s Response to the Covid 19 pandemic – Care Homes, on the ground that her father in law was in a care home within the Borough.



Public Question Time

To answer any public questions


A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.


The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of this committee.


Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting.  For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to


In accordance with the agreed procedure, the Chairman invited members of the public to submit questions to the appropriate Members.


Tony Lloyd asked the Chairman of the Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee the following question which was answered by the Director Adult Services:




What do Councillors feel has been the impact of the ban on visiting care homes on the residents, staff and relatives and have there been examples of exemplary practice that should be encouraged in the future?



This has been a really difficult time not being able to visit in care homes for friends, relatives and staff, and it has been really tough.  What we have learnt through this period is that restriction of movement in and out of care homes has been a really important factor in terms of controlling the spread of the virus.  Although that has been a really difficult sacrifice for people to make, it has been a really important measure as part of infection control.  But there have been some examples of good practice, especially now as things are beginning to open up a bit more.  The use of technology; care homes have worked really hard to use technology, to have video calls and the like with residents; window visits, I think people have seen a lot of that in the media; special rooms; entrances through different entrances; garden visits, all of those things.  There have been really good levels of innovation in our care homes.  They have worked really hard to not keep the isolation going as long as possible.  One of the things we are doing at the moment is working really hard with our Task Force and our care homes to gather up those safe visiting and different ways of visiting and getting in contact methods.  We are putting them currently into a guidance, which I have seen a draft of this morning, which is actually hopefully going to go out a bit later to care homes, to give them some more advice.  One of the things we do not have is any government guidance on safe visiting, which we are still waiting for.  We know it is an important issue to address.  I can give you a full written answer, and we will get that to you afterwards but hopefully, verbally, that answers your question and reassures you to where the position is currently.


Supplementary Question:

I wondered whether Councillors would consider some sort of recognition of the heroism of some of the staff and GP’s in the early stages of this outbreak?


Supplementary Answer which was provided by Councillor Margetts:

Yes, I absolutely agree with you.  Basically there are people, staff, who are working in the care homes, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and have been put in a really, really difficult position, so that is something that we are actively discussing at the moment, as to what is the best way to actually recognise that.  I fully agree.



Member Question Time

To answer any member questions


There were no Member questions.


Covid 19 Pandemic - Council's response - Care Homes pdf icon PDF 283 KB

To receive a presentation on the Covid 19 Pandemic – the Council’s response – Care Homes.

Additional documents:


The Committee received a presentation on the Council’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic with regards to care homes.


During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:


·         Councillor Loyes reminded the Committee that the scrutiny of the Council’s response to the pandemic with regards to care homes, had been delegated by the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.  He highlighted possible key lines of enquiry.

·         Graham Ebers, Deputy Chief Executive, emphasised that it was an ever changing and highly intense period.  He expressed sympathy for those who had sadly died and their families.  He indicated that he appreciated the huge amount of work that care homes had undertaken and were still undertaking.  They had worked well with the Council and Adult Social Care.  Graham Ebers went on to state that there had been an early recognition of the need for support to care homes.  Officers had been phoning providers on Good Friday, asking what support they needed.

·         Graham Ebers informed Members that 100 staff across the Council had been redeployed to Adult Social Care to assist in the Council’s response.  The Council had responded as well as it could at the time.

·         The whole system was complex.  The Council did not have direct control over the majority of the care homes and could only offer mutual aid and support. 

·         Supporting the Borough’s care providers were one of the Gold Team’s main goals.

·         Graham Ebers suggested that scrutiny focus more on areas that the Council had greater influence over.

·         Matt Pope, Director Adult Services, provided an overview of the Council’s response thus far regarding care homes.

·         He explained the different type of care homes.  The Borough had 52 care homes.  95% of care homes in the Borough inspected by the Care Quality Commission had been rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding.’  23 of the care homes were Older Peoples Care Home and 28 were smaller care homes for residents with a Learning Disability. 

·         There were 1,352 Care Home Beds in Wokingham.  Approximately 25% of residents were funded by the Council and approximately 75% were self-funded.

·         Members were informed that the majority of care homes in the Borough were run by private or voluntary sector service providers.  Optalis operated one care home, Suffolk Lodge.  There were complexities around the nature of the privatised care home market and how that affected all the various interfaces.  Care Homes were autonomous with their own policies, governance and staff, and varied in size, quality and associated cost.

·         The type and layout of a care home could have an impact on the home’s ability to manage an outbreak and for infection control purposes.

·         Matt Pope took the Committee through a high-level timeline of the Council’s approach.

·         On 19 March, Central Government had issued guidance that hospital discharge be expedited.  At the time, there had been a fear that hospitals would be overwhelmed.  Testing had been an issue.  Routine testing out of the Royal Berkshire Hospital had not begun until 17 April.

·         Members were informed that the Council’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Healthwatch Wokingham Annual Report 2019-2020 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider the Healthwatch Wokingham Annual Report 2019-2020.


The Committee considered the Healthwatch Wokingham Annual Report 2019-20.


During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:


·         Jim Stockley indicated that Healthwatch would be producing a report on perinatal health.

·         Councillor Jones questioned whether Healthwatch had sufficient budget to undertake all of its work in 2020/21 and what more it could have done had it not had an 11% budget cut.  Jim Stockley commented that it was difficult to say what more Healthwatch would have done, as it had not had the opportunity to do it.  If it had had more full time staff, it could have done more.  He went on to praise the Healthwatch lead and Healthwatch officer. 

·         Healthwatch had maintained an online and phone presence during the pandemic.  Nick Durman indicated that one of the statutory duties of Healthwatch was to undertake enter and views.  However, this had been difficult due to the restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

·         Councillor Jones questioned whether Healthwatch would be asking for residents’ views on accessing different health services during the pandemic.  Nick Durman referred to the survey that Healthwatch were undertaking on residents’ experiences of NHS services.  It was due to run until the end of the week and 180 responses had been received so far.  A report would be produced. 

·         Nick Durman went on to summarise some of the responses received so far.  There had been a lot of praise for GP surgeries.  Equally, many people had felt that their issue could wait and had therefore not used the health services.  A number of people who had responded had found it difficult to find information on changes to dental services during the pandemic.  Nick also referred to the difficulty that some people had had in finding information that was accessible for those with learning difficulties.

·         Nick Durman commented that following the pandemic there was likely to be an increasing mental health problem.  He suggested that the Committee might wish to speak to Prospect Park at a future committee meeting.

·         Members were informed that Morrison’s pharmacy had cancelled the nomad packs for all customers.  Healthwatch had sought clarification as to the reason for this but had not yet received a response.

·         Councillor Frewin asked when the mental health report would be ready and if the Committee could receive a copy.  Jim Stockley indicated that it would be available to Members within 3 to 4 weeks.

·         Councillor Frewin went on to ask how the Committee could support Healthwatch in its work.  Jim Stockley stated that Healthwatch valued information from the Members.

·         Nick Durman informed Members that Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust would be modernising its estate.  Healthwatch would be attending an engagement event with the company leading the project. 

·         Councillor Mather questioned whether Healthwatch surveyed residents about volunteer transport and parking and collection arrangements at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.  Councillor Loyes agreed that parking at the hospital remained an issue and asked that Healthwatch look into this matter.  Nick Durman commented that there was no specific data but that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Forward programme 2020-2021 pdf icon PDF 212 KB

To consider the forward programme for the remainder of the municipal year.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the forward programme for the remainder of the municipal year.


During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:


·         Councillor Mather asked that the company involved in the redesign of the Royal Berkshire Hospital estate be invited to speak to the Committee.

·         The Committee agreed that they wished to look at access to dental services and pharmacy services during the pandemic and that this should form part of the review of the Council’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic.


RESOLVED:  That the forward programme be noted.