I am writing to you as significant decisions were made at our Covid-19 Programme Board on 29 October. As you know the current Prioritisation Protocol makes a commitment that we will communicate with you when and if our internal assessments of pressure in regions result in Covid-19 Programme Board taking the decision to authorise an internal challenge meeting and furthermore commence activation of the Protocol.
At Friday’s Board meeting an assessment of the service area South Yorkshire and Humberside (A4) was presented by the National Director. It was agreed by the Covid-19 Programme Board that given the long-standing and increasing demand pressures in this area and the challenges in maintaining staffing capacity, that the Prioritisation Protocol should now be activated. It is the view of the Board, that the use of an Allocation Hub will reduce the pressures on service managers, enabling them to maintain rigorous management oversight of the quality of practice and to support family court advisers. It will also give managers more time to work collaboratively with local partners to reduce the demand pressures.
The pressures in this area are such that the Board decided to shorten the timescale for opening an Allocation Hub, which means it will start taking work from 8 November. This service area was subject to the Prioritisation Protocol in November 2020 due to difficulties in allocating public law cases. Opening the Allocation Hub will help to prevent this. Local partners including the senior judiciary have been consulted already and will be further briefed this week to explain prioritisation and agree a local operating model.
We continue to monitor the pressure across all service areas and will keep you up to date on any further changes, with the National Director holding a checkpoint challenge meeting and reporting back to the Covid Board in the normal way.