New report points to 'strong leadership' by North Yorkshire County Council during pandemic

A new report says North Yorkshire County Council has 'transformed the way it works' to carry on delivering strong services across all areas with 'strong leadership' during one of the most challenging period in its history.

Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 1:17 pm
Community support refugee volunteers in Northallerton and resident Les Kelly and manager Sharon Moss undertake testing at Benkhill Lodge care home in Bedale.

The latest quarterly monitoring report will go before the county council’s executive next week, alongside North Yorkshire’s support for and asks around a Government devolution deal.

The report shows robust evidence of progress, even during the Covid-19 pandemic, towards delivering on the county council’s ambitions to be pioneering in the provision of high performance, high value services.

North Yorkshire’s flexible and agile approach to services has enabled communities to support each other during this unprecedented period.

This approach enabled the council to work at speed and harness the networks of 23 community support organisations across the county to help the shielded and vulnerable.

This approach also enabled the council to reconfigure its adult services to meet the Covid challenge, moving to a 24/7 operating model – transformation on this scale would normally take six months but was achieved in three weeks at the peak of the pandemic.

Strong leadership has also enabled the county to lead on and lobby Government on issues important to the people of North Yorkshire such as the need for urgent and additional funding to meet the Covid challenge and more testing sites.

The county council’s leader, Coun Carl Les, said: “We are living through extraordinary times and throughout this period we have been at the forefront of leading the response across our multi-agency partners and community support organisations, adapting our services to continue to support people right across our county.

“Responding to new Government guidance during the pandemic quickly and effectively has been central to our endeavours and the positivity and willingness of our staff to be flexible as required has been the biggest contributing factor to the outcomes we have delivered over recent months. The resilience staff members have shown has been amazing with outstanding work being undertaken. North Yorkshire residents have also worked effectively with the Council to comply with social distancing and health guidelines to limit the impact of Covid in the county.

As the lead organisation for Public Health in North Yorkshire the council has had a crucial role in delivering the multiagency Covid-19 response.

Using local knowledge and experience it has worked in partnership with the NHS, Public Health England, communities, the voluntary sector and other local government colleagues to support individuals, businesses, education and care homes settings. The task in hand remains to prevent, manage and eliminate the virus over time.

During this time services such as Highways and Transportation have continued “business as usual” with staff keen to deliver as close to the normal service as is possible within the restrictions imposed.

This includes investing over £10m in surface dressing for roads and a further £3m of Council reserves for highway maintenance in order to help address winter damage, matched by a further £3.3m from National Pothole Action Fund.

The council has also continued with extending mobile and digital infrastructure as well as supporting local businesses that have played such a big part in helping communities through Covid with the setting up of a Buy Local website.

More than 700 businesses have subscribed so far. It has also worked with the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership to secure millions in Government funding to aid recovery into a greener, fairer stronger economy, rejuvenating public spaces and town centres, enabling active travel and upgrading roads.

The Stronger Communities team has worked closely with Community Support Organisations since the start of lock down to deliver support across the county.

The team has:

Deployed on average 1,400 volunteers per week delivering 50,000 volunteer hours;

Supported 2,800 people per week;

Delivered 625 prescriptions per week;

Delivered 820 food shops per week;

Processed 703 Covid-19 grants for food or energy worth £66,675;

Responded to 38,200 contacts from the public;

Welcomed 2,000 new library members;

Coun Les added: “Our thanks go out to each and every one of the volunteers who have worked tirelessly over recent months to support those living in their communities who needed extra support during this time. Their contribution has been exceptional and has enabled a huge amount of support to be delivered when people were unable to rely on their usual networks of support.”

Health and Adult Services has formed new delivery models to:

Carry out daily support calls to 235 care homes;

Ensure adequate levels of personal protective equipment is available;

Ensure 86% (2,253) of Covid-19 related assessments are completed in 7 days;

Deliver support 7 days a week across 5 acute hospital trust areas to facilitate rapid and appropriate discharge of patients;

Establish the capacity to distribute up to 800 Covid-19 swab tests per day through 2 satellite testing sites in Scarborough and Harrogate and 2 mobile testing sites.

The council’s Children and Families Service transformed its delivery models to provide a successful emergency service:

A school offer extended to 7 days a week for vulnerable and key worker children through 16 hubs;

Attendance plans and risk assessments carried out for vulnerable children

Personal protective equipment was made available to all relevant staff

Face to face visits (socially distanced) were carried out where needed

Virtual visits were carried out where appropriate to children and families

442 more families have been assessed and awarded free school meals (when compared to the same period 2019/20)

New Education Health and Care Plan assessments for children with SEND have continued and increased to 3,153 at the end of last year, a 12% increase on the same point last year.

Since the introduction of the new SEND code of practice in 2014, there has been a 68% increase in EHC plans issued by North Yorkshire, compared to 58% regionally and 49% nationally from January of 2015 to January 2019. The number of plans further increased to 3,246 in the first quarter of 2020.

Coun Les said: “Across our Children and Families and our Inclusion services, new service delivery practices have been introduced to make sure families are supported and vulnerable children safeguarded. We have received positive feedback from children, young people and their families as a result.

“Our performance report shows clearly that we know our people and we know our places and that even in the most challenging of circumstances we can deliver effective services across all our localities.”

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