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Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 23:58 GMT 00:58 UK
Social services tables reveal failings
Victoria Climbie
Haringey, which cared for Victoria Climbie, is failing
The council which cared for Victoria Climbie while she was abused is named as one of the country's worst performing social services departments in government league tables.

Haringey, in north London, is one of 10 authorities given the lowest score in the tables - zero stars.

Publishing the tables, the Department of Health announced trouble-shooters would be sent into some of the worst departments to improve them.

Click here for the full ratings

The inspector of social services said common failings included "poor systems" to match up children with social workers and a failure to cope with the elderly leaving hospital.

Eight-year-old Victoria was on Haringey's books when she died after months of abuse by her great aunt Marie Therese Kouao and boyfriend Carl Manning.

Both are serving life for murder.

Haringey Council acknowledged that the star ratings showed "weaknesses that still exist in some of our services".

Takki Sulaiman, the executive member for social services, said: "The rating system does not reflect the many improvements we have made over the past two years."

He said the stars system meant that as children's services were in special measures the whole social services department was given a zero rating.

Social service given zero stars
Birmingham
Bromley
Coventry
East Sussex
Haringey
Merton
North East Lincolnshire
Swindon
Wakefield
Walsall
The tables, published on Thursday, are the first using star ratings with the eight best performing authorities getting a three stars score.

Bed blocking crisis

The Chief Inspector of Social Services Denise Platt said in the report that Haringey was "still a poor service for children."

It is serving some adults well but its future performance was uncertain and its children's services were rated as not serving people well, the tables said.

The zero score for Birmingham comes after a bed blocking crisis in the city last summer.

More than 300 hospital beds were taken up by elderly patients who could not be discharged because social services could not provide care for them.

Patient being cared for at home
Care for the elderly was a common failure
Health minister Jacqui Smith said: "We have already met with council leaders to discuss their plans for improvement.

"Birmingham now has the chance to show that it is able to provide the quality of social services that the people living in Birmingham are entitled to.

"They must take this opportunity."

In Walsall, West Midlands, both adult and children's services are failing to serve people well and both have poor prospects, according to the tables.

In four of the zero-rated councils - North East Lincolnshire, Birmingham, Coventry and Walsall - teams of social services consultants are being sent in improve performance.

Common standard

The consultants are all from the private sector but Ms Smith denied it was a private sector takeover of social services.

The Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) will hold meetings with the other six zero-rated councils and if external support is needed, teams will be brought in.

All 10 zero-rated councils must show considerable improvements by November or the government may bring in external teams to work in the departments.

The minister said the eight authorities given three stars would have greater freedom to manage their operation.

"The star ratings demonstrate that there is clearly excellence in our social services but it is currently only available to some," she said.

"Our goal is to make it available to all."

Authorities which achieved the maximum three-star rating are: Bexley; Cornwall; Kensington and Chelsea; Leicestershire; Newcastle-upon-Tyne; Sunderland; Wandsworth and Westminster.


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See also:

30 May 02 | England
17 Apr 02 | Health
04 Jan 02 | England
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