Health and Partnerships Scrutiny Committee

By working effectively with Cabinet Members, Chief Officers and our local partner organisations, the Health and Partnerships Scrutiny Committee aims to identify and encourage the development and implementation of policies and practices which improve health services and reduce health inequalities for the people of Darlington.

Terms of reference

The Health and Partnerships Scrutiny Committee oversees and scrutinises services and activities in relation to public health, integrated health commissioning, NHS, GPs, LSP and Theme Groups and the Voluntary Sector in Darlington.

The Health and Partnership Scrutiny Committee consists of 11 Members of the Council and is politically balanced to include seven Labour and four Conservative Members.

Meetings of the Health and Partnerships Scrutiny Committee

Ordinary meetings of the Scrutiny Committee take place every two months and are generally open to all members of the public, except where an item to be considered is of a confidential nature.

Committee meeting dates

22 June 2016 9:30am Committee Room 1, Town Hall View agenda and papers for this meeting

7 September 2016

9:30am Committee Room 2, Town Hall

View agenda and papers for this meeting

2 November 2016 9:30am Committee Room 2, Town Hall View agenda and papers for this meeting
11 January 2017 9:30am Committee Room 2, Town Hall View agenda and papers for this meeting 
1 March 2017 9:30am Committee Room 2, Town Hall View agenda and papers for this meeting (22/02/17)
19 April 2017 9:30am Committee Room 2, Town Hall View agenda and papers for this meeting (10/04/17)

Special Meetings



Agendas for previous years can be found in Meeting Agendas, Minutes & Reports

Health Scrutiny

The introduction of new health scrutiny powers for local authorities with social services responsibilities came into force on 1 January, 2003, following the introduction and combination of the following pieces of legislation:

This legislation gives Darlington Borough Council the power to scrutinise the health services provided by the local National Health Service (NHS) Trusts and this is commonly referred to as 'Health Scrutiny'.

In building on local authorities' responsibilities to promote the well being of their communities, health scrutiny is wide ranging.  As well as scrutinising the roles and activities of NHS bodies in planning, commissioning and providing health services, health scrutiny can also focus on local health inequalities and services that impact upon health.

As part of these new powers, the Committee has the right to be consulted on any proposed substantial variation to a local health service and may call NHS managers to give information to the Committee about the decisions they make.

In developing links with health partners the Committee meets with representative from NHS Trusts, which provide health services to Darlington, on an annual basis to discuss areas of planning and development.

The local Trusts for Darlington include:

Tees Valley Health Scrutiny Joint Committee

The role of the Tees Valley Health Scrutiny Joint Committee is to undertake jointly with the other Tees Valley authorities, scrutiny of any issue or topic in relation to regional and specialist health services under power contained in the Health and Social Care Act 2001, in accordance with agreed protocols.

The Tees Valley Local Authorities on the Tees Valley Health Scrutiny Joint Committee are: Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton on Tees.

Darlington Borough Council has three places on the Joint Committee, and three Members of the Health and Partnerships Scrutiny Committee were nominated by full Council and appointed to serve until 2014.

The Darlington Councillors are: Councillor Wendy Newall, Councillor Jan Taylor and Councillor Heather Scott

Protocol for the Tees Valley Health Scrutiny Joint Committee [pdf document]

Review groups

As part of the Committee's ongoing work and as a result its Reviews and recommendations to Cabinet, there have been a number of positive outcomes and improvements made to both service delivery and the facilities available to the people of Darlington.

  • Domestic Violence - This Review looked at the Council's approach to the aims and objectives of the Darlington Domestic Violence Forum and investigated the introduction of a Council-wide strategy to address Domestic Violence. Following the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee, the development of a Domestic Violence Policy was commissioned and a Council policy adopted by Cabinet on 12 November, 2002. Council's Domestic Violence Policy [pdf document]
  • Play Area for Disabled Children - Established to look at areas of best practice and the options available to the Council in developing an inclusive play facility for Darlington, this Review was influential in the development of a brand new inclusive play area, which was opened in North Lodge Park in August 2004.
  • Community Equipment Services - In looking at the development of the Council's provision of Community Equipment, the Review Group undertook a number of site visits to identify areas of best practice and following the suggestion of a number of areas for improvement, we continue to monitor the implementation of our recommendations. Final report of the Community Equipment Services Review Group [pdf document]
  • Oral Healthcare of Children in Darlington - Following the publication of a survey on the dental health of five-year old children living in County Durham and Darlington for 1999/2000 a Review Group was established to investigate the disturbing levels of dental disease which was found in some of Darlington's schools. This review looked at the awareness of parents and children on issues of dental health, local initiatives for improving children's dental health and the possibility of a milk fluoridation programme for schools in Darlington. Final report of the Oral Healthcare of Children in Darlington Review Group [pdf document]
  • Facilities for Nursing Mothers and Darlington: A breastfeeding friendly town - Further to a project commissioned by the Department of Health to explore the needs of women in Sure Start areas in relation to breastfeeding, it was found that breastfeeding rates in Darlington were well below Government targets and that the factors affecting the amount of women who chose to breastfeed included the availability of accessible and comfortable facilities for breastfeeding. As a result of this a small Review Group was established to look at the Council's own facilities for nursing mothers around the town and the policies in place for nursing employees of the Council to return to work. This Review led to a bid to the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) to undertake a more detailed action learning project entitled Darlington: A Breastfeeding Friendly Town. 
  • Delayed Transfers of Care - The Community Care - Delayed Discharges Act 2003 came into force on 5 January 2004 and placed a new duty on Councils to reimburse the NHS for any patient occupying an acute bed who qualifies for community care services under the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 at a rate of £100 per patient per day. As a result of this, a Review Group was established to look specifically at the Council's Delayed Transfer of Care performance indicator and the financial implications of the new charging arrangements to the Council. Final report of the Delayed Discharge Task and Finish Review Group [pdf document]
  • Obesity in Children - Established as a joint review with the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee this Group investigated the problem of obesity in children in the Borough and sought to determine the extent of the problem in Darlington and considered the work of Sure Start in promoting healthy diets for children and the number of schools participating in the 'free fruit' scheme. It was concluded that both locally and nationally there were many ongoing initiatives to address this problem. Suggestions were however made on potential areas for further investigation. Final report of the Obesity in Children Task and Finish Review Group [pdf document] 
  • Employment Opportunities for People with a Learning Disability - As part of the Valuing People agenda, this Group looked to identify ways of maximising employment opportunities for people with a learning disability using existing partnerships with the Morrison's Enterprise Trust and the Council's Economic Regeneration Department. It concluded that awareness raising and ongoing publicity was key to finding further placements and that the Scrutiny Committee could assist in raising the profile of the issue. Final Report of the Employment Opportunities for People with a Learning Disability Task and Finish Review Group [pdf document]
  • Tenancy Succession Arrangements - A small Group of Members investigated the statutory background and local factors that had led to the review of Council policy in relation to housing succession and were happy with its operation. Tenancy Succession Arrangements Task and Finish Review Group [pdf document]
  • CRB Checks in the NHS - Highlighted as a concern during the Committee's consideration of local Trusts' Annual Health Check interim declaration, a Group was established to investigate the guidance given to NHS Trusts in respect of CRB Disclosure and determine the levels and costs of Disclosure undertaken by each Trust. Although the findings highlight some variations in practice, the Committee is happy that all Trusts comply with the existing guidance but have made some best practice recommendations for each Trust to consider. CRB Checks in the NHS Task and Finish Review Group [pdf document]
  • Smoking in Warden Controlled Premises - Following concerns raised by wardens to the Community Services Department and a recommendation from the Tenant's Board, the issue of smoking was referred to the Committee. As such a Task and Finish Review Group was established to look at the issue in more detail, in light of recent changes to legislation regulating smoking in public places. Smoking in Warden Controlled Premises Task and Finish Review Group [pdf document]
  • Stroke Symptoms - Two Members of the Health and Well Being Scrutiny Committee undertook a piece of work to raise awareness of Stroke Symptoms in Darlington. 
  • Older People's Strategy - Members of the Health and Well Being Scrutiny Committee have been involved in drafting the Older People's Strategy: All Our Futures - A Strategy for Later Life in Darlington 2008 - 2021 [pdf document]. The Committee has been charged with scrutinising and monitoring the Action Plan. As part of their role Members were recently consulted upon the priorities outlined in the Strategy. Members asked the general public to rank the priorities in order of the personal preference and the results will influence the Committee's work for the new municipal year.
    Members of the Scrutiny Committee have undertaken a Review of the Older People's Strategy Action Plan.
  • Hyper Acute Strokes Services - NHS County Durham and Darlington launched on 20 June 2011, a consultation 'Improving stroke care for the people of County Durham and Darlington: A public consultation on proposed changes to hyper acute stroke services'. The Health and Well Being Scrutiny Committee established a Review Group to formally respond to the consultation. NHS County Durham and Darlington consulted on a preferred option to consolidate hyperacute stroke services at the University Hospital of North Durham. This was based on faster access to specialist services and clinicians and greater existing capacity for diagnostic services for the majority of our stroke patients. Members collated the information and formulated a report which was presented to the Director of People at a Special meeting of the Committee. The Director incorporated the Committee's evidence to inform the Council's response to the consultation. Final Report of the Hyper Acute Stroke Services Review Group [pdf document]
  • Darlington Health Profiles Task and Finish Review Group - As part of this work in relation to smoking, pupils from Mount Pleasant Primary School and Darlington School of Mathematics and Science have produced a DVD highlighting the dangers of second hand smoking. Full report of the Darlington Health Profiles Task and Finish Review Group [pdf document]
  • North East Scrutiny Review of the Health Needs of the Ex-Service Community - The Chair of this Committee represents Darlington on the North East Joint Health Scrutiny Committee and all 12 North East Councils are represented. The Committee has concluded an innovative investigation into the health needs of the ex-service community. The final report of the review contains 47 recommendations. These are based on the outcomes of the work of three workstreams set up to consider the following issues: physical health needs, mental health needs, and socio-economic needs.