Charities call for city council and health bosses to include them in talks about improving elderly care

Bosses of 19 charities say they are ready to help, after a watchdog criticised the provision of care for elderly people in Stoke-on-Trent.

A review by the Care Quality Commission of health and social care services said a lack joined-up working between organisations had lead to the city council and NHS bodies failing older people.

Their report stated that voluntary sector providers had not been given the opportunity to be involved in commissioning arrangements such as winter planning, despite their ability to support people with initiatives aimed at maintaining their independence and wellbeing.

It described 'missed opportunities' by commissioners to engage with charity groups that could support increased capacity.

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Now, the leaders of 19 of Stoke-on-Trent’s voluntary sector organisations have written an open letter, saying that while the conclusions of the report give them 'grave concerns', they are not shocked by its findings.

They acknowledge that the failings come 'within a national context of massive austerity cuts in public spending', but say those in the voluntary sector feel that engagement, consultation and strategic commissioning is 'very poor'.

In the letter, endorsed by people including the CEO of Age UK North Staffs Peter Bullock, and Karen Wilson, CEO of North Staffordshire Mind, voluntary sector leaders say they are 'still ready to play their part in supporting our colleagues in the NHS and adult social care'.

RELATED ARTICLE: Health and council bosses pledge to work together to address CQC concerns about elderly care >>

The chair of the North Staffs Voluntary Sector Chief Officers’ Group (VSCOG), Lloyd Cooke, who is also CEO of Saltbox, says they have already spoken with local health organisations about future collaboration, but it is very early days.

The letter asks that charities are included in planning and future decisions, as they have the ability to 'add value and stretch resources'.

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