The Committee considered a report that referred to a number of Notice of Motions that had previously been submitted to Committee on issues such as drug and alcohol misuse, mental health and suicide and homelessness. The Committee was reminded that a report had been submitted to the People and Committees Committee, at its meeting held on 3rd December 2019, where it had been agreed that officers would engage with the ‘health family,’ the Public Health Authority (PHA), Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT), to establish if a bi-annual written ‘health briefing’ could be submitted to the People and Communities Committee, this would outline the latest statistics in relation to the aforementioned issues and also highlight the work being undertaken to address priorities and emerging needs at a local level.
The Committee was advised that officers had subsequently met with representatives from the PHA, HSCB, BHSCT and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). At this meeting a draft-reporting template had been circulated to aid discussion and the views of representatives had been sought on whether they felt their organisations would be able to provide information/participate in providing health briefings to People and Communities Committee on a bi-annual basis.
The Committee noted that potential information suggested for inclusion within the template had included the following:
· current waiting list timeframes i.e. referral to first appointment for Drug and Alcohol Services (Statutory Community Addiction Team, Substitute Prescribing Team, PHA-funded Adult Step 2 Service, PHA-funded Youth Treatment Service) and Mental Health Services (Community Mental Health Team and average for PHA-funded MH Services);
· numbers of (suspected) drug related deaths in-year to date (inc. geographical breakdown);
· numbers of deaths by suicide in-year [SD1 figures] to date (inc. geographical breakdown);
· notable trends and issues/areas of concern in relation to above;
· prescribing data/NSES data;
· homelessness figures;
· brief update on work of key services directly supporting most vulnerable;
· brief update on work of key partnerships;
· key actions/initiatives planned for next/upcoming 6-month period; and
· key messages/asks for Elected Members – how could they support.
At the meeting, most of the representatives in attendance, had not felt that there would be any benefit in providing regular updates to the Committee and they agreed to discuss this further internally with their own management.
The PHA had subsequently confirmed that ‘neither the HSCB nor the PHA would be in a position to provide written reports on the range of datasets requested.’ Furthermore, the letter had also outlined that Council officers were members of a number of health-focussed partnerships and structures and therefore recommend that ‘Council staff at an appropriate level continue to engage in such discussions and consequently feed back to your Elected Representatives as appropriate through the relevant Council committee structure.’
The Members considered the response and agreed that, in an attempt to avoid duplication of work, the most effective way of progressing the outstanding and ongoing health issues in respect of drug and alcohol misuse, mental health and suicide and homelessness was through the Community Planning Partnership. Officers would be asked to co-ordinate this work and to feed in the previous Motions raised by the Members in an attempt to address priorities and identify emerging needs at a local level.