Issue - meetings

Meeting: 08/12/2021 - Cabinet (Item 88)

88 Future of North Devon Link Service pdf icon PDF 660 KB

Report of the Locality Director (Health and Care) (ACH/21/139) on proposals for the future of North Devon Link Service, attached.


An Impact Assessment is also attached for the consideration of Members at the meeting.

Additional documents:




(a) that three of the four Link Centre buildings (Barnstaple, Bideford and Ilfracombe) re-open as soon as it is deemed safe to do so under Covid-19 guidelines;


(b) that the Holsworthy centre remain closed and the once-weekly morning drop-in session be moved to an alternative venue in the town;


(c) that a local implementation plan and timeframe for redesign of the service to be developed for each centre, including efficiency and management arrangements and Link Centre staff to increasingly focus on outreach support with the mental health social work teams;


(d) that work be undertaken with Link Centre staff, service users, local Councillors and local community and voluntary sector representatives to establish:

(i) the outreach services to be delivered in the wider community to ensure equity of provision across all of North Devon. This may include using other community facilities; and


(ii) which of the existing non-specialist services can be delivered by local community providers, which will need to be cost-effective and within the available budget;


(e) that each local implementation plan assesses the potential for wider community use of the building in partnership with local stakeholders; and


(f) that progress on each of the four local implementation plans be reported to the Heath and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee at its meeting scheduled for 21 March 2023.


(Councillors Biederman, Hannaford and Whitton attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).


The Cabinet considered the Report of the Locality Director (Care and Health) (ACH/21/139) on proposals for the future of the North Devon Link Service, circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.


The Cabinet noted that the recommended future model for the North Devon Link Centre Service (NDLS) was based on findings from a service review (appendix 1), the impact of Covid-19 (appendix 2), and feedback received in the engagement (appendix 3) and consultation process (appendix 4).


The North Devon Link Service was unique to North Devon, established in 1992 as a County Council (DCC) in-house service. It supported people with a wide range of mild mental health needs, was open to all and was free to access.  People using the service might also have autism, a learning disability, be homeless or receiving support for substance misuse.


There were four centres across North Devon (Barnstaple, Bideford, Holsworthy and Ilfracombe) supporting 264 registered service users.  The service provided a traditional drop-in day service together with some outreach and group sessions. Whilst the service was the responsibility of the Council it was managed by Devon Partnership Trust (DPT) under a Section 75 Agreement. The service costed £480k per year to run (mostly staff costs), funded by the Council, which also owned the buildings.


Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the service had moved from face to face to virtual support, mostly by telephone. The 2019 review of the Service found that many of the services offered were not specialist and were also offered by the local community and voluntary sector and a further review was undertaken in May 2021 to understand the impact of Covid-19 on the service.


In line with local guidance and whilst Covid rates remained high in Devon, the buildings remain closed.


In terms of the proposals to redesign the service, there was a national focus on improving and developing community mental health services.


The Report outlined the engagement process with service users, stakeholders and staff between 9 August and 13 September 2021 and following this a revised proposal was developed. A four-week public consultation took place between 23 September and 22 October 2021, alongside a staff consultation supported by Human Resources.


The Cabinet Member also met with local MPs and Local Members representing each of the four towns during the engagement period as well as contact with GP practices and three online public events and three staff consultation events.


The Report outlined the public consultation feedback from the 256 responses received as well as two on-line petitions. A consistent message in the feedback was that any significant change in the services offered would have a detrimental impact on the mental wellbeing of attendees.


The Locality Director’s Report incorporated an Impact Assessment which had been circulated with the agenda for consideration at the meeting. This  ...  view the full minutes text for item 88