Councillors have branded external auditors “incompetent” in the wake of a report into how elderly people are looked after in Angus.
A joint inspection by the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland found elderly care was affected by rates of delayed discharge and a council management restructure while inspectors looked at the service. Troubleshooters published an 85-page document that said two-thirds of its benchmark indicators were only “adequate”.
Councillors have expressed frustration over what they felt was an “unfair” exercise.
Members of the social work and health committee said the report has been published at a “very late stage” of integration between Angus Council and NHS Tayside in the future strategy for providing older people’s services.
Councillors suggested progress in the wake of the inspection visit “invalidated” the report’s findings.
Councillor Rob Murray said timescales and procedures in its preparations were “not up to scratch”.
He said: “It actually devalues the comments which might have been helpful to us because the view is then taken that if they can’t get the job done in a year, then why should we put any weight on the comments they are making about our services?”
“We’ve moved on apace throughout that year, making their report that much less valuable to anybody, whatsoever.
“I would hope we can feed back that there is a great degree of incompetence on the part of the audit or the auditors and they need to seriously look at their procedures if they want to have any sort of integrity in this field.”
Committee convener Glennis Middleton said inspectors had come in “at a very late stage” of a shake-up and there were “great similarities” between their findings and those of the council’s own self-evaluation.
“The inspection started two weeks after integration took place,” she said.
“It took place a year ago and things have moved on apace before we even had sight of the report.”
The inspection took place between April and June last year and involved interviews with 180 council staff as well as 70 service users and their carers across the district.
Across Angus, social work services and most community health services are delivered by Angus Council and NHS Tayside and the purpose of the joint inspection was to examine how well that partnership delivered good personal outcomes for old people and their carers.
Inspectors said the partnership now needed to address the balance of care to increase the number of people supported at home rather than in a care home through reducing the time that some service users spent in hospital when they were ready to go home. They should also increase access to home care so that people can manage on their own, they said.
Across the nine quality indicators, three were found to be good, five were adequate where strengths just outweigh weaknesses and one, policy development and plans to support improvement in service, was graded weak.
The inspection report was published last week after a three-month scrutiny of local services last year and highlighted home care capacity as an issue.
It said there were signs of progress, however, after changes brought in as part of a major council management restructure.
Local authority and health partners involved in Angus service delivery said steps had already been taken to address the issue of delayed discharge, often referred to as “bed blocking” and other recommendations from an inspection which took place in the early stages of a major transition period for the delivery of services.
Councillor David May said he was “quite astonished” by the report.
“I’m very much criticising the way this report has been produced,” he said.
“It is a fair comment that in nine quality indicators only three were good and I’m sure officers will be disappointed in that but what I find a little bit reassuring is the self-evaluation of officers generally reflected this themselves.
“They knew very well of the areas they needed to work on.”
Councillor David Fairweather branded the report “unfair” as the council was being judged on guidelines that were not in place during the inspection, but were introduced on a month-by-month basis by the Scottish Government.
Strategic director for people Margo Williamson commented that older people are “very well looked after” in Angus.
“Now a year later, we’re in a far better position,” she added.