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News Report Page 8 of 12
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Unprecedented investment in children's social care in Liverpool

AN additional 160 staff are to be recruited by Liverpool City Council to cut the caseload of children's social workers by up to ½. An extra ₤7.7 million is to be invested as part of a wide ranging restructure designed to improve support and enable staff to spend more time with young people and families, enabling them to develop meaningful relationships.

A report to the Council's Cabinet, on Friday, 25 January 2019, is recommending a restructure which will see an increase in the number of full time posts from 313 to 473.  They will include:- 115 social workers, 18 senior social workers and 22 deputy team managers; who will provide increased oversight and management of cases, for the City's 1,250 looked after children. It follows an Ofsted inspection of Liverpool's Children's Services, in 2018, which found that although the Council has made improvements in supporting vulnerable young people, caseloads are too high.  The changes will reduce the number of children each social worker is responsible for and allow them more time to work with children, young people and families.

Cabinet member for children's services, Cllr Barry Kushner, said:- "This is an unprecedented investment by this Council in children's services. No other Council in the country is doing this, outside of a poor Ofsted inspection, and this shows our commitment to children and families in our City. This is despite being hit by a double whammy of austerity cuts imposed by Central Government and a significant rise in the number of children coming in to care. Our staff have been really stretched as the number of children they are responsible for has risen significantly, and we have been unable to match it with increased resources. We know that if we are to continue to improve services for our most vulnerable young people, we simply must increase the amount of support we provide to staff and their families. This investment is crucial to delivering the quality of help and intensive support that our most vulnerable young people need, as well as retaining and recruiting the next generation of social work staff. Social work is a highly pressured job which can sometimes involve life changing decisions for families, so we must give them the space and time to be able to do it to the best of their ability."

Other changes will see new staff recruited for the Family Support Service, the introduction of a career structure for social workers, allowing experienced staff that do not wish to take up managerial posts to remain in front line practice and mentoring other team members to improve social work practice.

The changes will be implemented over 2 years on an 'invest to save' basis, with the aim of reducing the number of children taken into care by providing better support, and helping those already in care on in to permanent homes or a return to their families.

What do readers think about this? Are you affected by this? Please email us your opinions to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com and let us know.

Has the NHS long term plan missed out the less survivable cancers such a pancreatic cancer?

THE NHS long term plan was announced last week, which explains how the healthcare service will develop over the next 10 years. Cancer is mentioned as 1 of the focus areas of the long term plan. However, there is a lack of focus on cancers like pancreatic cancer which currently cannot be screened for and are less survivable.

The prime minister has set a target for early diagnosis of cancer to raise stage 1 and 2 diagnosis from 50% to 75%. However, the majority of pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage and therefore this is a target that is not very achievable for pancreatic cancer.

The plan has mentioned some points that could improve the survival rates of pancreatic cancer. For example:-

Lowering the threshold for GP's to refer those suspected of cancer to a specialist, meaning there could be more testing and diagnosis of many cancers at an earlier stage.

Rapid diagnostic centres will be created to allow faster diagnosis of cancers such as pancreatic cancer, with vague or nonspecific symptoms which will allow blood tests, CT scans and results on the same day.

Personalised care is to increase, therefore people with a family history of pancreatic cancer may be tested and monitored to manage their personal risk and, genomic testing will help personalise treatment plans in the future.

Follow up pathways will be available for cancer survivors, including rapid access to support if someone is worried their cancer has returned.

Increased access to technology for patients so that they can see their records and have greater control over their care.

Pancreatic Cancer Action believe that these actions are promising, but alongside increased diagnostic capacity and rapid diagnostic centres, we need to improve GP referrals and ensure that NICE referral Guidelines are utilised. Improvement also needs to be made so that there is greater training and awareness of symptoms for diagnosing clinicians.

The lack of detail in this plan for pancreatic cancer is a concern. The disease has the lowest survival rate of 18 common cancers and has become the fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK (set to become the 4th). Survival rates have not improved much in decades and we would like to see more of a focus on early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer so that more patients survive for longer.

Giving GPs greater access to diagnostic tools such as CT scans should also be a priority as the effectiveness of rapid diagnostic centres has been questioned and there will be challenges in creating these changes.

Rebecca Rice, Health Information's Officer at Pancreatic Cancer Action says:- "Overall, the long term plan offers some interesting developments in the early diagnosis and treatment of cancers. However, over the past 20 years there have been at least 26 of these plans with no marked change in the outcomes for pancreatic cancer. The outlook for pancreatic cancer under this plan is uncertain."

Pancreatic Cancer Action is committed to working towards earlier diagnosis of the disease so that surgery, currently the only cure, is made available to the sufferer. The charity fund research into early diagnosis, provide medical education programmes, and launch awareness campaigns.

The key focus of Pancreatic Cancer Action's work in the healthcare sector is on improving early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer with initiatives such as e-learning for GPs and pharmacists, GP symptom aware campaigns and award winning public symptoms campaigns. For more information please go to:- Panact.Org.

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