Fears over vet­ting for ‘one- stop shop’ chil­dren’s ser­vices

Middleton Guardian - - FRONT PAGE -

CON­CERNS have been raised over how chil­dren’s ser­vices providers are vet­ted be­fore be­ing in­cluded on a sign­post­ing web­site launched by Rochdale Coun­cil and health chiefs.

Our Rochdale was set up by Hey­wood, Mid­dle­ton and Rochdale Care Com­mis­sion­ing Group (CCG) and the coun­cil in March as a way of cre­at­ing a ‘one-stop shop’ for peo­ple to find out about health and so­cial care providers.

It refers res­i­dents to coun­cil ser­vices and the author­ity’s web­site will also di­rect them to Our Rochdale. Providers can up­load their ser­vice de­tails to the di­rec­tory for free, which is then vet­ted be­fore ap­pear­ing on the web­site it­self. There are cur­rently around 1,500 en­tries on the site which re­ceives in the re­gion of 35,000 hits ev­ery month from just un­der 7,000 users.

But coun­cil­lors raised ques­tions over vet­ting and the ‘ro­bust­ness’ of the site upon re­ceiv­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion from Mark Hicks, an IT man­ager at the CCG. Coun­cil­lor Janet Em­s­ley said: “I can un­der­stand how you can say that, for ex­am­ple, an op­ti­cian is qual­i­fied to pro­vide a ser­vice, but how do you know that for some­body who is pro­vid­ing a play cen­tre. Who is ac­cred­it­ing the play cen­tres? I un­der­stand child­min­ders have to be done my cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, and I un­der­stand op­ti­cians and den­tistry, but I don’t un­der­stand how you are qual­ity as­sur­ing these ser­vices.”

Mr Hicks told the meet­ing that chil­dren’s ser­vices were al­ready on the site un­der its pre­vi­ous guise as the Fam­ily Ser­vices di­rec­tory be­fore it was ex­tended to in­clude health and well-be­ing in­for­ma­tion. He said: “The fam­ily ser­vices team are the peo­ple that pro­vide the ad­min­is­tra­tion for the site so, of the con­tent that is on there, the fam­ily ser­vices and chil­dren’s re­lated stuff, is the most ma­ture and strong­est con­tent on the site. Be­cause the own­ers of that ser­vice are also the cus­to­di­ans of the site, they are al­ready aware of the qual­ity of any play scheme sub­mit­ted.”

He added: “I’m not quite sure what process is ap­plied, it might just be based on their lo­cal knowl­edge so they say ‘yes, we know that’s a good lo­cal ser­vice so we’ll in­clude it,or ‘we’ve never heard of this one, let’s do some ex­tra checks’.”

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