• CQC criticises poor joint working between CCG and council in Stoke-on-Trent
  • Regulator is carrying out 20 reviews of health and care systems
  • Inspectors found no evidence of a shared vision or whole system planning

The health and wellbeing of older people in Stoke-on-Trent is being put at “significant risk” by poor joint working between the council and clinical commissioning group, the Care Quality Commission has found.

In a highly critical review of the city’s health and social care system, published on Friday, the regulator said better collaboration was urgently required to improve services and prevent people from requiring unnecessary acute hospital care.

CQC inspectors visited the city as part of a programme of 20 reviews of health and care systems order by Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid earlier this year.

The inspectors were unable to find a shared vision for services or evidence of whole system’ strategic planning and commissioning. These problems meant many older people had to stay excessively long in hospital before they could be moved into care, the report said.

Inspectors also found there was “very ‘siloed’ working across the system coupled with cross-organisational tensions… particularly evident in relation to the local authority and the CCG”.

The report said these poor relationships were exemplified by poor winter planning and a failure to sign off better care fund arrangements by the deadline.

“System leaders were not transparent with regard to financial arrangements and this led to a breakdown in joint working. This posed a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of older people living in Stoke-on-Trent,” the report said.

The council’s city director and the CCG’s accountable officer were “now personally committed to working collaboratively”, the report said. However, numerous changes in leadership across the commissioning and secondary care system in recent years meant the area had lacked a “period of stability… to enable relationships to embed”.

Professor Steve Field, chief inspector of primary care and integrated care, said: “It is quite clear some older people in Stoke-on-Trent have suffered a poor experience of care – because the local health and social care services have not been working together effectively.

Professor Field said there was enthusiasm to change but those concerned “did not have clarity about how to achieve this”.

The report also criticised the community services provider for closing community beds without consulting social care leaders about the impact and reported concerns that a health provider’s decision to commission its own domiciliary care had destabilised the market. In response, the council increased its in-house provision but it was recognised this was not sustainable in the long term, the report said.