Claim that alternatives found for users of closed Lancashire Wellbeing Service
Users of a now defunct support scheme designed to help Lancashire residents facing low-level health and social care issues have been able to access the services they need elsewhere, a Lancashire County Council cabinet member has said.
Shaun Turner, who is responsible for health and wellbeing at the authority, was responding to a question about what had happened to the annual 11,000 people who accessed the Lancashire Wellbeing Service (LWS), prior to it being axed last December.
The £2m scheme was dropped as part of a raft of reductions in County Hall’s public health budget. It had provided assistance to anybody whose problems risked escalating into a crisis and was delivered by a consortium of three charities, commissioned by the county council.
Labour deputy opposition group leader John Fillis wanted to know where those receiving support from the service had been sent when it shut.
County Cllr Turner said that there were ”no active users” at the point the LWS closed. While he admitted that only those with formal social care needs who had been using the scheme during its final year had been tracked since, he claimed that alternatives were now available for them.
“Mental health was a stand-out area requiring support and social prescribing initiatives [referring people to community groups rather than NHS services] are picking up support in this space,” County Cllr Turner explained.
“People requiring more significant mental health services would be referred to existing mental health services that are still available.
“We’d encourage [mental health] referrals to the social work team when someone is experiencing a crisis.
“Anyone who is in any form of social care crisis can always ring the customer access service out of hours and I can state with great confidence that 11,000 people did not desperately need treatment and support in a social care crisis [at the point the service closed].”
A meeting of the authority’s full council heard that a policy of signposting individuals to services which may be able to help them – and providing general lifestyle advice – was being pursued whenever a person came into contact with a public sector body. Members were also told that a majority of those helped by the LWS had required only between one and three of the eight sessions available to them.
Meanwhile, digital apps which were last year promised to cushion the blow from separate reductions to smoking and obesity services were now up and running, County Cllr Turner said.