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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public



Jeremy Short, on behalf of Sheffield Save our NHS (SSONHS), submitted the questions set out in full below, and gave a brief outline of those questions.




1.       Acute Beds


The report to Scrutiny states that the number of nurses per 10 beds has increased to well above national average but gives no figures for total numbers:




(a)      How many acute beds did the Trust have available in 2016, 2019 and currently?

(b)      How does this compare to the national average and other large cities (e.g. Leeds, Manchester) in terms of numbers of beds per 100,000 population?

(c)      Are there sufficient beds to cope with expected increase in demand as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic?

(d)      Has the closure of dormitories solved the problems of sexual safety?




2.       Community Services


(a)      Given the significant capital programme, are there plans to restore the number of community mental health services/recovery centres from 2 to 4 as there were before the last reorganisation to improve accessibility?

(b)      The report appears to recognise the connection between art and improved mental health, but we understand that art therapy services have been severely curtailed over the last few years. What services does the Trust provide and does it still employ art therapists directly?

(c)      At the Scrutiny Meeting in August 2020, the Trust reported on a new service for those in need of more complex help than that available under IAPT: how successful has this and other services (e.g. CERT) been in preventing patients needing hospitalisation?




3.       Staffing


(a)      The CQC found that staff were generally unaware of the whistle-blowing procedures and the Speak Up Guardian. Has this been rectified?

(b)      We understand that there have been long waiting times to access some services (e.g. clinical psychologists): in addition to nursing recruitment, is the Trust recruiting sufficient professional staff to resolve this?

c)       Does the Trust anticipate that the Government’s suggestion of only a 1% pay increase for NHS workers will cause further problems for morale and staff shortages, with workers leaving the NHS?




4.       Future


(a)      How much additional funding has been secured to cope with the expected increase in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

(b)      In the joint report on the impact of Covid-19, it is stated that ‘A formal review has not begun’ of the shift to digital services. Should this be prioritised due to the struggles many people face with digital services (and that over-use of Zoom etc can create its own health problems)?

(c)      Overall, how will the Trust measure the impact of the Back to Good programme and what improvements will users experience directly (e.g. reduction in waiting times, ease of access to services)?




The Chair, Councillor Cate McDonald, stated that some of the issues raised by Mr. Short could be answered during the meeting and should some of those questions remain unanswered, the Chair would submit them to the Health and Social Care Trust and the answers received would be published on the Council’s website.




Neil Calderwood introduced himself as a Junior Doctor based at the Northern General Hospital and was at the meeting on behalf of the Med at Sheffield Healthcare Workers and was supporting the Campaign for Vaccines for All, to ensure that vaccines were accessible to everyone, with particular regard to people who might not have documentation or have other barriers around data sharing. He asked two questions as follows:-




1.       Would Sheffield City Council be willing to sign up to the Vaccines for All Campaign as other Councils had done e.g. Oxford and Bristol?


2.       The Government had said that the vaccine was available to everyone but there were a number of reasons why some people were hesitant, and that although Sheffield had done great work to address those concerns around health and safety but this was more about practicalities.  How could the City Council assist further in addressing these fears?




Councillor Cate McDonald asked Mr. Calderwood what the campaign wanted to achieve and invited him to address the meeting.




Neil Calderwood stated that the campaign had been organised by several groups, alongside wider access groups.  He said that Government had made promises that the vaccine would be available but there were issues around registration for the vaccine, and although the Government had stated that there was no mandate to say that people should produce ID to have the vaccine, people were afraid that data collected would be shared between the NHS and the Government which could lead to detention or deportation.  He said the issue around data sharing was still unclear and lots of people are working together on this campaign but at local level there was room to protect data sharing. 




The Chair stated that the Committee was proactive in supporting health inequalities, but the vaccination programme was governed by the NHS, not the City Council.  She said that she would raise the question of whether the Council would sign up to the campaign to broaden the approach to ensure everyone was vaccinated.  The implementation fell within the arena of the NHS but she would draw Dr. Calderwood’s questions and comments to the attention of Greg Fell, Director of Public Health for Sheffield, and with his agreement share the questions with the Health Service.  The Chair said that the Policy and Improvement Officer would share the website link to Members and that colleagues in attendance at the meeting from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would also share this information with the Chief Nurse who was the lead for the Vaccination Programme.