Edinburgh's health and social care boss quits amid funding crisis

Social care services in the city are reportedly at breaking point.

Edinburgh’s health and social care boss quits amid funding crisis iStock

The boss of health and social care in Edinburgh is to exit her role amid a crisis in funding and delivery of vital services.

Judith Proctor, chief executive of the capital’s health and social care partnership, will step down after five years in the job after reaching an agreement with the council, it was confirmed.

The local authority and NHS Lothian will now work together to find a replacement.

It comes a month after a damning report highlighted failures in the “strategic leadership and management oversight” of the social care system — and ahead of a meeting to discuss plugging a £35m hole in the Partnership’s budget.

In an email sent to councillors and staff on Friday (May 5) Edinburgh City Council CEO Andrew Kerr said: “Leading the Partnership through the unprecedented challenge of the global pandemic and supporting improvement across key areas over the past five years, Judith was an extremely popular and valued member of my Corporate Leadership Team.

“I want to thank Judith for her hard work over the past five years and wish her well with her future career.”

However a council source accused Ms Proctor of “failing in strategic leadership” and said: “I’m surprised it’s taken so long for her to leave and accept the inevitable.”

Social care services are at breaking point in the city with the crisis compounded by strained budgets, staff shortages and “serious concerns” around the continued use of outdated computer systems.

Last month the Care Inspectorate published the findings of an investigation into Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership (EHSCP) ordered by the Scottish Government, revealing “significant weaknesses” in the organisation and oversight of social care, including issues around the assessment of people’s needs and in their case management.

The report said efforts to provide early support to people to prevent conditions worsening were “uncoordinated and inconsistent”

Inspectors concluded that gaps in some services meant many were “not receiving services at the right time or place” and called for major improvements.

Iain Whyte, Conservative group leader on the council, said: “I think regardless of the reasons that Judith has decided to leave, the fact that the system is in crisis means there is an opportunity now to bring in a new pair of eyes and new management to try to resolve things.

“The care inspectorate report said it was lacking in strategic leadership and oversight so there has to be an opportunity here to look at the whole top team and the way it’s working, and if not start again at least revamp the system from the inside.”

The partnership is also facing a £35m financial black hole in its budget for the year ahead; last week the council’s head of finance Hugh Dunn revealed EHSCP was “overspending by £100,000 a day”.

Councillors and NHS staff will meet in June to address the shortfall, with looming budget cuts set to have a detrimental impact on the already strained health and social care services.

Pete Cannell from Another Edinburgh is Possible, a campaign group which has fought against care home closures in Edinburgh, said: “Health and social care in Edinburgh is already in crisis.  Lack of support, or failure to provide timely support has a devastating effect on the lives of those in need and on their families and friends.”

He said the cuts will “make a very bad situation even worse,” adding:  “Campaigners, workers and service users are saying that the resources need to be found immediately to ensure that needs are met.”

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