09:15 Wirral Children's Trust Commissioning Strategy
Rose Curtis and Peter Wong presented on the progress of development of a commissioning strategy. Currently Wirral Children’s Trust has a Joint Commissioning Framework although implementation has not been consistent across the partnership. It was suggested that the new governance structures for the Children’s Trust, the upcoming statutory status of the Trust arrangements, and current financial drivers require a step change in the commissioning capacity of the partnership.
Ali Hardman of the Commissioning Support Programme (CSP) has been working with the Children’s Trust Executive to support Wirral arrangements. A workshop was held on Wed 13th January. Stage 1 was a Self Analysis and Planning Exercise (SAPE).
Through self assessment the Children’s Trust was rated against twelve standards in three sections.
Section 1- Governance and Framework
The architecture and some arrangements are in place but these are not a consistent whole. The suggestion is that more focus is required on co-ordination and implementation.
Section 2 – Commissioning Activity
Activity was identified to be patchy although some clear plans are in place in some areas.
Section 3 – Capacity and Competence
There is not a common perspective or practice across partners. There is a lack of capacity, expertise and a dedicated resource.
During the exercises three key areas were identified:
• Children with disabilities/complex needs
• Identifying children at risk of poor outcomes
• Major shift towards early intervention and prevention
The SAPE exercise will be continued with various stakeholder groups. The self assessment exercise is ‘Gate 1’, the exploration part of the process. The next steps are to prepare, deliver and sustain success criteria. The CSP will provide tailored support for one year.
The Board were asked to:
· Note and approve the content of the SAPE.
· Note the key areas for further focus that have been identified as those which will contribute most to a step change.
· Agree that these key areas will be subject to ‘deep dives’ and that detailed findings and recommendations will be considered in due course.
A discussion regarding the presentation was held.
Tina Long suggested that the Board would have to ask searching questions as to how Wirral should progress such as developing an evolutionary approach or to be more radical such as to set up a joint commissioning unit that operates for the Children’s Trust. Tina Long suggests that to deliver effectively a radical approach is required. She suggested that the Children’s Trust should set out what we aspire to and that collectively as a Children’s Trust that debate has not been held.
Richard Longster suggested that it was a very honest appraisal. He asked what could be learned from other Children’s Trusts. Howard Cooper responded that practices have varied from joint units to very little and all points in between. For example Hertfordshire PCT and the Council have merged. Liverpool PCTs and the Council have pooled £450 million. Wigan Children’s Services is in the process of establishing a Joint Children’s Commissioning Unit. Wirral is currently at the lower end of the continuum.
Hazel Thomson suggested more involvement of partners in the process; Peter Wong replied that the starting point was with the Children’s Trust Executive but that this would now be carried out with other groups. Peter Wong and Rose Curtis will discuss this further with Hazel Thompson and Bev Morgan.
Howard Cooper reflected on the national picture and the likelihood of reduced budgets although details of areas for cuts have not yet been determined. It is not known how much, how quickly or in what areas savings must be made. He noted that as people responsible for providing services to children we must look at all options and efficiencies must be found. At the local level we must have clarity on priorities for commissioning and take hard decisions.
Howard Cooper suggested that partner organisations needed to question their appetite to pool sovereignty, it is important to distinguish the impact of this on funding and decision making. This board is the commissioner for children and if that is the case then it should have sovereignty.
Tina Long suggested that the Board should have discussions about what is required to improve outcomes and how this impacts on commissioning and that the Board should influence how sovereignty is defined.
Councillor Davies agreed that a further Board discussion is required but that discussion with parent organisation was also required to define their mandate.
The Board was in agreement that a further report was required, Rose Curtis, Peter Wong and Nancy Clarkson were asked to collate this. Tina Long would facilitate this process. The report would include:
· Discussion of the mandate for organisations including examples, issues and potential impact.
· Options for scope of the commissioning strategy.
· Options for the Wirral commissioning structure.
Councillor Davies thanked the board for a useful discussion.
Resolved - That a further report be presented for the next meeting. That Board members discuss commissioning with their organisations to prepare for the next meeting. That Job Centre Plus to present an overview of their organisation to the Board at a future meeting.