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No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 284 KB

Purpose: To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 12 December 2023.


The Minutes of the previous meeting held on 12 December 2023 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Actions from the previous Minutes pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Purpose: To receive an update on actions following the previous Health Scrutiny Committee.


Members were asked to note the progress made in relation to the actions. The Chairman advised:

For Action 19, the Perinatal Equity Strategy had been received and was shared with Members.

For Action 23, Julie Dandridge from the ICB was present and would give an overview of the flexible commissioning scheme during the BOB ICB (Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board) update.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 304 KB

Purpose: To remind Members of the need to record the existence and nature of any personal, disclosable pecuniary or other registrable interests in items on the agenda, in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct.



There were no declarations of interest received.


Petitions pdf icon PDF 301 KB

Purpose: To consider any petitions requiring an Officer response.


There were no petitions received at the meeting.


Early Years Health Inequalities pdf icon PDF 768 KB

Purpose: To review Early Years Health Inequalities in West Berkshire to gain an understanding of the current picture, gaps in provision and identify opportunities for improvement.

Additional documents:


Gayan Perera (Public Health Intelligence Manager) presented the report on early years and school readiness in West Berkshire.

During the presentation the following points were highlighted:

  • What happened from pre-conception to age five was fundamental for physical and emotional health all the way through to adulthood.
  • National evidence was shared showing how investment in early years intervention saved money in the longer term. The cost vs benefit analysis of different interventions was highlighted. 
  • Data showed that West Berkshire was doing well compared to Southeast England and National scales for low birth rate, smoking at time of delivery and babies first feed of breastmilk.
  • However, it was noted there were hidden communities and inequalities. For example, 2000 children in West Berkshire were identified as children in need by Children’s Services.
  • Some indicators had room for improvement such as the proportion of children receiving a 12-month review by health visiting services. It was noted that this was improving over time. Newborn hearing screening could also be improved. It was essential to focus on children in need or living in the most deprived areas.
  • Immunisation data was shared which advised that rates were good in West Berkshire. However, they were striving for 100% to improve vaccination levels.
  • It was highlighted that there were inequalities in school readiness. For primary school children eligible for free school meals, there was a higher rate with a primary need of emotional, social or mental health than those not eligible.
  • Interventions were therefore essential for a small cohort of children. To address this, it was important to focus on families, children, communities and services. Data was shared with example indicators that could help to measure and identify areas for focus.
  • The five key themes to improve school readiness were good maternal mental health, learning activities, physical activity, parenting support programmes and high-quality early education. Evidence-based interventions were essential.
  • An Early Years Inequalities working group had been set up to look into the school readiness indicator that had been highlighted as a concern. This would bring together different partners to identify the reasons for this and to address it.
  • It was noted that the number of children on free school meals (240) was small and that may contribute to the poor rating. It was also not the best way to identify disadvantaged children as a child could be eligible one year and not the next.


Avril Allenby (Service Manager for Early Years, Vulnerable Learners & Families) noted some of the work happening in West Berkshire and highlighted the following:

  • Family Hubs worked with parents alongside health visiting and maternity services to identify the most disadvantaged children. They selected some groups of parents to work with closely on how to best support their child. There were also some universal offers at Family Hubs around reading and learning together.
  • In West Berkshire there was an 82 – 85% uptake of vulnerable two-year old entitlement. The settings that provided this were worked with closely to ensure they were well equipped to support children  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.


Pharmacy Provision pdf icon PDF 378 KB

Purpose: To present an overview on the pharmaceutical provisions in West Berkshire. Assessment of current provision and opportunities for improvement.


Julie Dandridge (Head of Pharmacy, Optometry and Dentistry, BOB ICB) presented the report on Community Pharmacy Provision across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB).

During the presentation the following points were highlighted:

  • There had been a change in community pharmacy provision recently due to Lloyds no longer operating in supermarkets and so there were new providers on the high street. There were fewer large chains, and more independent providers who were more likely to become part of the community.
  • Previously the core role of pharmacies was to dispense prescriptions, however the services provided were expanding including Pharmacy First. There had been a shift to internet-based pharmacies delivering prescriptions to homes.
  • It was explained that when a pharmacy reported a closure, the ICB worked closely with Community Pharmacy Thames Valley to see whether neighbouring pharmacies had the capacity to pick up the extra demand.
  • During and after Covid there were many unplanned closures of pharmacies. In response to that, new regulations were brought in for pharmacies to have continuity plans and to notify the ICB if there was an unplanned closure. Since then, unplanned closures had reduced and only occurred in exceptional circumstances.
  • There had been a reduction in pharmacy opening hours as the new regulations allowed for this. This benefitted pharmacies as they could be more financially viable.
  • Community pharmacist numbers had been falling due to pharmacists moving to work in Primary Care Networks. Initiatives were being developed to provide incentives for new graduates to go into community pharmacy.
  • The next steps highlighted were the progress of the BOB ICB draft primary care strategy, digital improvements and the use of the NHS App for patients to request repeat prescriptions.

David Dean (Chief Executive Officer, Community Pharmacy Thames Valley) confirmed that they worked closely with the ICB. They were also working more closely with GP practices to enable patients to get healthcare more quickly.

During the Committee’s discussion the following points were raised:

  • It was shared that members of the public were concerned about accessibility to pharmacies and the need for more pharmacy provision. The ICB had received a number of new applications for pharmacies across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West. However, there were clear regulations about what, how and when these applications could be approved. There were appeals processes and timelines to follow. It was a long, complex process and they worked closely with the West Berkshire Health and Wellbeing Board who identified gaps and were a consultee in the process.
  • It was noted that the pharmacy provision in Thatcham had improved, despite reducing from four to two pharmacies recently. There was a better service and shorter waiting times. It was agreed that quality over quantity was important. Those that had left the market were because they were not financially viable and so it was important to protect the existing pharmacies for the future. This could be impeded by opening new pharmacies.
  • It was highlighted that the Health and Wellbeing Board had raised concerns that in some areas of West  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.


Social Care Inquests pdf icon PDF 511 KB

Purpose: To receive the annual report from the Inquest Review Panel.


Jo England (Service Lead – Adult Social Care) presented the Social Care Inquests report. During the presentation the following points were highlighted:

  • This was the first annual report following the initial report shared with the Committee in March 2023. Since that report, there had been a significant reduction in information requests from the Coroner. There had been only two requests in the last year. Neither request had resulted in West Berkshire Council being added as an interested person in the inquest nor needed to attend the inquests.
  • It was not known why there was a sudden increase in requests last year. They would monitor this going forward.

RESOLVED to note the report.



Update from Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board pdf icon PDF 177 KB

Purpose: The Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board (ICB) to provide an update on activities and commissioning plans.



Helen Clark (Deputy Place Director Berkshire West) gave an overview of the report on the activities of the BOB ICB. During the presentation the following points were highlighted:

·       The BOB ICB had produced a draft Primary Care Strategy following the initial phase of the consultation.

·       Resilience to NHS Industrial action and the Covid and flu vaccination programme were key priorities.

·       The was a new BOB ICB stakeholder newsletter which Members could receive.

·       Berkshire West specific updates within the report where shared. These were in relation to the Community Wellness Outreach Service and work to agree the key priorities of the Berkshire West Place.

·       It was confirmed that the BOB ICB carried out surveys about patient satisfaction. There was ongoing patient engagement, focus groups, workshops and collaborations with Healthwatch to ensure the patient view was heard.

RESOLVED to note the report.


Healthwatch Update pdf icon PDF 241 KB

Purpose: Healthwatch West Berkshire to report on views gathered on healthcare services in the district.



RESOLVED to note the report.


Task and Finish Group Updates pdf icon PDF 305 KB

Purpose: To receive updates from the Chairmen of Task and Finish Groups appointed by the Health Scrutiny Committee.


The Chairman provided an update on the Healthcare Provision in New Developments Task and Finish Group.

The Task Group had met for two sessions where they had considered the assessment of health needs in new developments, health in planning policy and planning consultations. There would be one more session to look at funding and delivery of Primary Care and Public Health care services in New Developments. A report would be produced by the task group and presentation at the next Health Scrutiny Committee in June.


Health Scrutiny Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 126 KB

Purpose: To receive new items and agree and prioritise the work programme of the Committee.



RESOLVED to note the work programme.