Swindon Borough Council reported to Care Quality Commission by union

By Barrie Hudson - 29 November 2023


The GMB union has accused Swindon Borough Council of failing to properly provide Approved Mental Health Practitioner services.

The union has reported the council to the Care Quality Commission, the regulatory body for the care industry, accusing it of betraying vulnerable people in Swindon at their time of need.

However, the council insists it is doing all it can to recruit Approved Mental Health Practitioners.

The union's complaint centres on the council’s Emergency Duty Service, a team which provides specialist emergency care to vulnerable children and adults through the Approved Mental Health Practitioners (AMHPs).

The union says it has identified occasions when it believes the council were not meeting their obligations under the Mental Health Act 1983 and has written not only to the CQC but Social Work England and other stakeholders in mental health care provision, including the police, and local NHS trusts.

GMB Branch Secretary Andy Newman said: “The law is clear that SBC has a responsibility to provide 24 hour cover with fully-trained mental health professionals – these AMHPs.

“Prior to September 2023, this 24/7 cover was maintained, however, three quarters of the AMHPs have now left and the training budget to bring on new AMHPs for out of hours service has been frozen.

“Since September there have only been two AMHPs in the service - and in December this goes down to one - and GMB knows of incidents where the police or NHS trusts have sought specialist mental health support from SBC at night or at the weekend, and the council has not had a qualified person to respond.

“SBC are locked into a macho culture of refusing to discuss problems and seek solutions with GMB, and promises made to GMB personally by the council leader Jim Robbins have been broken.

“It is time that the council gets off its high horse and starts working with their staff - and not against them - to solve these problems.”

Cllr Emma Bushell, Deputy Leader of Swindon Borough Council and Cabinet Member for Organisational Oversight, said: “Like many councils across the country, we are experiencing challenges recruiting Approved Mental Health Practitioners and this is impacting on our ability to consistently deliver a service.

“We are working with our teams to explore how we can address this issue going forward. Responding to the needs of our residents is a priority and we are committed to seeking a swift solution to our current challenges.”


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