Thursday, March 31, 2011

Birmingham LINK Goes Into Meltdown


The UK Birmingham Local Involvement Network (LINK) of Health and Social Care monitors appears now to be going into China Syndrome . Its Core Group has partly become unstable perhaps ? Oh yes, its finally been told it is NOT SAFE and it has to be made safe . This email below attributed to Gateway Family Services (The LINk Host) sent on to us is doing the rounds of health activists and Users in Birmingham and further afield. It clearly needs to be seen by all . We understand though the "Action Groups" associated with the Birmingham LINK are still to work .

"Dear [Chairs of Core Group & Finance and Admin] (names redacted)

We are writing to inform you that we have received a high level of complaints within the last month, both from LINk Core Group members, Link members and Councillors which pertain to the lack of a governance framework.

We have highlighted this as a risk to BCC, as we believe it renders the LINk vulnerable in terms of legal, financial and reputational risk – in these terms we regard it as unsafe. I would like to point out that minimum standards of policy, health and safety, safeguarding and equality legislation are being met.

This volume of complaints has allowed us to identify a trend which relates to the decision making and accountability of the Birmingham LINk

The Issues and associated risks

The main areas which represent significant risk are as follows:

Absence of, fit for purpose, governance framework – namely

1. Lack of comprehensive and agreed Standard Operating Procedures

2. Unsuitable and unenforceable complaints process

The risk associated with the above issues are:

1. Decisions being made without sufficient governing documents

2. New and existing members unable to be provided with handbook – as required in the audit – due to insufficient governing documents

3. Members therefore able to make decisions and represent the LINk without clearly defined responsibility, accountability and boundary of role

4. Financial decisions being made without a suitable framework of accountability

5. Codes of conduct, procedures and current protocols are unenforceable due to inadequate complaints

Appropriate Solution

We propose to solve the above issues and associated risk by:

1. Suspending meetings*of the two key decision making groups ie: Core Group and Administration and Finance Group, until such time that agreed Standard Operating Procedures and a robust Complaints Procedure has been approved.

2. To form a sub-group tasked with the actions in point 1.

3. To gain approval of required governance framework through single issue meeting with a quorate membership of the Core Group

*although meetings would be suspended, information would still be disseminated to the relevant group members.

Responsible owners for all remedial actions required

Host organisation

Sub-group facilitated by the Host organisation

LINk Core Group (quorate amount)

Timescales for remedial action

Suspension of meetings of two key decision making groups - with immediate effect

Formation of sub-group - 15th April 2011

Final draft document agreed 13th May 2011

Website consultation period complete 30th June 2011

The remaining elements of the contract, including the Action Groups plans and objectives, together with the main priorities for the LINk will continue to be delivered.

During the period of the suspension of the groups, we advise not holding the Vice-Chair election and halting the co-option process to enable the governance documents to be drafted and approved.

Regards [Host of The Birmingham LINk]

LINk Logo

Birmingham LINk

c/o Gateway Family Services CIC, Radclyffe House, 66-68 Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B16 8PF

Tel: 0800 652 5278, Email:

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