The week between Christmas and New Year is always quiet and I like to work then because the roads are clear and it is easier to get around and visit services. I managed to visit 27 last week, including the 5 services in the Vale of Glamorgan, which I don’t get to see as often as I would like. I was particularly impressed, when I visited our Beddington service on the border of Croydon and Sutton, to see one of the service users being actively encouraged to exercise on the treadmill. A number of our services are purchasing exercise equipment of different sorts, which I think is an excellent way of encouraging healthy lifestyles.
I also attended a safeguarding meeting last week as the Regional Director, who covers that area, was on annual leave. The case related to an anonymous whistle blowing allegation and appears to have been malicious, coming from a disgruntled member of staff. Unfortunately, some people choose to use the whistle blowing process as a way of getting back at their colleagues or manager, which is completely unacceptable. On this occasion, both the local authority and police were very pragmatic and we managed to get the investigation carried out very quickly.
A challenge for CMG and lots of other care providers is that the fact that the police often get involved, even in fairly low level safeguarding allegations and typically take between 6 weeks and 3 months to investigate. Invariably, they decide after that time, not to take any further action and then hand the investigation over to the provider. Apart from the fact that this costs millions of pounds a year in staff suspensions, the impact on individual staff members who are fearing for their job and career, can be enormous. It is not uncommon for a member of staff to go off sick with depression after a significant period of suspension. I have previously tried to tackle this issue with the Police Federation but will see if I can get a coalition together across the sector, as I know this is an issue that concerns my fellow Chief Executives in other organisations.
I would like to wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.