A “SPOTLIGHT” review into waiting times for mental health services in St Helens is going to take place this year.

St Helens Council’s scrutiny programme for 2019-20 was approved by the overview and scrutiny commission on Monday, following a public consultation.

A range of issues will be looked into by the various scrutiny panels within the council.

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It has been decided that the health and adult social care scrutiny panel will carry out a spotlight review into waiting times for mental health and service satisfaction rates.

Spotlight reviews are usually used to inform members on certain issues, which then pave the way for wider pieces of work.

James Morley, scrutiny manager, said: “Task and finish generally is more in-depth, more detailed, longer lasting.

“Typically, a task and finish group might last three or four months, up to a dozen meetings perhaps.

“Where a spotlight review would generally be something that might be one or two meetings, something that requires a lot less time and involvement.

“Often, it’s an item that’s just for clarification sometimes.

“A bit more information is necessary to inform the committee about the situation that services finds itself in.”

Labour’s Linda Moloney argued that “one or two meetings” around mental health issues was not enough, saying that a full review should be carried out.

St Helens Star:

Windle Labour councillor Gill Neal

Cllr Gill Neal, chairman of the health and adult social care scrutiny panel, said a full review of mental health would be “absolutely vast”, and would need to be spread over a “couple of years”.

Cllr Neal said: “In the first instance, what we want to do is a spotlight look at, what is the offer for mental health at the moment? How long does it take to be assessed?

“How are people supported? How long is it until they get the support in place? And how often do people present multiple times?

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“We thought we’d look at that in the first instance and that will obviously inform the wider scrutiny work as to where the real issues are.”

Other spotlight and task and finish reviews agreed include GP waiting times, supporting people in their own homes, section 106 agreements, support services for the homeless and the council’s use of plastics and paper.

The scrutiny panels will also receive reports on a range of other issues including the future of the Gamble Building and the Ranger service, and the regeneration of St Helens town centre.