Merton Council

Home Home Merton Adult Education Home Home Jobs in children's social care Home Merton Means Business Home Wandle Valley Low Carbon Zone Home Safeguarding Children Board
How do I contact my councillor?

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee rooms C, D & E - Merton Civic Centre, London Road, Morden SM4 5DX

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Councillor Abdul Latif  gave apologies and Councillor Stephen Crowe attended on his behalf.


Councillor Brian Lewis Lavender gave apologies and Councillor Najeeb Latif attended on his behalf.


Councillor Brenda Fraser  gave apologies and Councillor Joan Henry attended on her behalf.




Declarations of pecuniary interest


There were no declarations of pecuniary interests


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 43 KB


Mr Saleem Sheikh Co-opted member highlighted  that he attended the last meeting of the Panel but this was not recorded in the minutes.




That the minute is amended to show Mr Sheikh as present

That the minute is agreed as a true and accurate record of the meeting



Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust: 2020-2030 Vision pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Additional documents:


The Trust showed a video info graphic about the current challenges facing Epsom and St Helier hospitals. The Chief Executive reported that in the last year there were 900,000 patient contacts which is the highest number to date. Also, it was the only Trust in South East England to deliver the Accident and Emergency standard. The Panel congratulated the Trust on their  achievements.



The Chief Executive reported that this  engagement process is to consider the next steps after 2020. The current challenges are caused by the following issues:


·         The current buildings are not designed for 21st healthcare


·         Clinical staff currently work between Epsom and St Helier sites. This is not sustainable as there are not enough staff to provide high quality healthcare on both sites.


·         The Trust needs to be financially sustainable.


A panel member said the consultation has been on-going  since 2002 at an approximate cost of £40 million.  Concern was expressed  that this is yet another process and a decision should be made. St Helier was put forward as  the most appropriate site given the high levels of deprivation in the surrounding area. 


The Chief Executive said it is a concern that a decision has not been reached about this for the last 20 years. The good performance at the Trust is a good platform to highlight that the current situation is unsustainable and this issue needs to be resolved.  It is a long process and there will not be a new hospital until at least 2024.


The Medical Director added that they need suitable buildings and sustainable levels of staffing to provide world class services. Staff need to be on a single site to provide this level of care. If the acute trust operated one site, there would be no need for agency staff. 


A panel member asked what consultation response rate would be deemed as successful or in favour of one option. The Chief Executive reported that a consultation will take place when the NHS has made a decision on big service change, and we are nowhere near that stage yet.  The Trust are being open and transparent from the beginning, outlining the problem, and potential solutions and want to engage. This will mean the consultation would have tackled the issues that are currently being raised. The Chief Executive reassured the Panel that all the options are deliverable.


Panel members were informed that this engagement process should lead to a  consultation if there is enough support for the investment. A strategic outline case will be published in November and feed into the refresh of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan for Merton.  The NHS need to agree a business case which will take six months.  The options, a public consultation and a full decision could be reached  by 2019.


A panel member asked which of the three sites is best served by transport links. The Chief Executive said transport is poor when travelling  between two sites. Ten percent of capital is for infrastructure which can address  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Personal Independent Payment Assessment Process pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Additional documents:


The Chief Executive of Merton Centre for Independent Living (Merton CIL)  reported that there had been a number of re-occurring issues when  supporting people through the Personal Independent Payments (PIP)  process;

·         Many assessment centres are inaccessible to wheelchair users and there no centres located within the borough. 

·         One of the assessment centre sites requires a journey of three changes on public transport.

·         People are receiving appointment cancellations on route or experience long waits at the assessment centre.

·         Assessments are inaccurate.

·         The appeal process is lengthy and time consuming and the impact of losing benefit is wide-ranging; including housing re-possession. As a result they  can only help a few people because they are so time consuming.



A local resident who had requested to speak about their experiences with this process  addressed the Panel;


He has lived in Merton since 1968, and experienced a serious injury at work and a further injury when hit by a car some years later. As a result he has multiple health issues.  Merton CIL helped him to fill in the forms for PIP. His appointment was cancelled without notice and he was not informed about the rescheduled date. A home appointment took place and he was refused increased rate of mobility because the assessor decided he could walk fifty metres although this was contradicted by the claimant and doctors. It took nine months to complete the appeal which was very stressful.  Full benefits were eventually reinstated but this process needs to be improved.


The Chief Executive of Merton Centre for Independent Living reported the reality is different  from the DWP report which seems to outline  best practice but  this does not reflect what is happening on the ground.


The Service Manager at Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth reported that claimants had often expressed concern about the  examining medical practitioners process; assumptions are often made about level of  mobility.  This makes it difficult  for DWP to make an accurate assessment. This is reflected in the tribunal figures. Overall DWP needs to apply more scrutiny to their contracts.


The Panel expressed concern that the Department for Work and Pensions did not attend the meeting.  It was agreed that the Chair would  write a letter to the DWP asking them to attend a meeting and ask both local MP’s would be asked  for their support.





Merton Centre for Independent Living and Citizen’s Advice Merton and Lambeth were thanked for attending the meeting and for their work in the local community.


Political groups will be asked to write to Stephen Hammond MP and Siobhain McDonagh MP to urge DWP to attend the Panel and answer questions.


Councillor Peter McCabe to write to a senior representative at DWP  inviting them to attend a future meeting of the Panel to discuss the PIP process.



Preventing Loneliness in Merton - Draft task group report pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Additional documents:


Councillor Sally Kenny thanked the scrutiny officer and task group members for their work.


The chair thanked the task group for their work.


The Panel raised a number of issues including:


The importance of working with faith groups


The challenges in tackling loneliness given the reduction of funding in the

voluntary and community sector


The importance of working with a wide range of partners including supermarkets.




The task group findings were welcomed by the Panel and it was agreed to send the report to Cabinet for approval.




Work Programme 2017-18 pdf icon PDF 78 KB


Noted by the Panel.