THE Chair of a Council committee claimed they were being “fobbed off” by health services, and that a newly developed “single point of contact” amounted to little more than an email account.

Bradford Council’s Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee heard an update on services for young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) at a meeting on Wednesday evening.

Bradford’s SEND services are likely to be inspected in the coming months, and at recent meetings the Committee has been told there are a number of areas where SEND services are underperforming.

These include high waiting times for Autism Spectrum Disorder services and Child Adolescent Mental Health services. There is also a lengthy waiting list for Speech and Language Therapy services.

And a “single point of contact” for health services had not been established, making it more difficult for people to find the services they needed as soon as possible.

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At Wednesday’s meeting Ruth Hayward, head of commissioning (women and children) at Bradford district and Craven CCGs said: “A new single point of contact will go live on September 16. It is a single administrative point of contact that allows the local authority to send all health advice to a single point.”

However chair Mike Gibbons (Cons, Ilkley) was not particularly impressed with this announcement. The Committee had raised the need for a single point of contact in July. He said: “What other progress has been made other than making a new email account?” He said it was important people had someone they could speak to rather than just send an email to.

Mrs Hayward said they were recruiting for a members of staff for the single point of contact, adding: “The recruitment process is ongoing.”

Cllr Gibbons added: “I think we are being fobbed off here. You could have had this done a day after I asked for it in July. Is it the case that the progress made is that an email account is now available?”

Mrs Hayward pointed out that they had to provide a business case, and go through approval before the post was appointed. She said they hoped to have someone recruited into the new role by October.

Cllr Gibbons added: “I accept that you are just the messenger, but I’m not happy. It needs to go back to senior management that we don’t think this is good enough. We asked for significant action.”

The government is in the process of inspecting every Council in the country’s SEND services, and Bradford Council is expecting an inspection to be “imminent.” The inspection will not just be of Bradford Council, but of the health services that support people with additional needs, including clinical commissioning groups, public health, NHS England for specialist services, early year’s settings, schools and further education providers.

A report to the the committee points out the said: “Reputational and safeguarding risks are high following the inspection.”