THE timeliness of health checks for vulnerable children cared for by the council plummeted last year, it has been revealed.

One of Cheshire East's key performance indicators for its care of vulnerable children is the proportion of initial health assessment requests made within 20 days for a child when they enter CEC’s care.

A report into the health of Cheshire East’s cared-for children showed that during quarters three and four of 2019/20, only 50 and 37 per cent of the requests were completed within this time frame respectively.

When asked by the council’s corporate parenting committee yesterday (January 19) as to why the figures had fallen, Shận McParland, CEC’s Designated Nurse for Looked After Children, said: “I did explore this myself. I was off sick during that quarter and it was something I then had to investigate when I came back.

“It was around capacity and the clinic availability. It seemed to drop from the end of December and consistently through that quarter. 

“Obviously, Covid wasn’t a thing really until mid-February but we did have a substantial amount of sickness [before Covid].”

In the report outlining the council’s performance, officers write: “There is further work to do to achieve aspirations of ensuring that all children entering care are supported to have their health care needs identified and met in a timely way and this will continue to be a priority during 2020-21.”

It goes on to identify the ‘primary focus’ of the work will include a ‘review of the pathway to escalate late initial health assessment requests’, implement a ‘greater scrutiny of cancelled appointments or those that children are not brought to without explanation’, and exploring ‘new ways to arrange initial health assessments utilising a single point of contact within the Local Authority and the providers’ in order to reduce ‘the number of teams handling and processing data, and the number of steps required to manage the whole process’.