Who cares about the poor? Not this government – £10 for nit treatment or eat, that’s the choice for some

” … Little by little services vanish. Prof Azeem Majeed, head of primary care and public health at Imperial College and a Lambeth GP, has just blown the whistle in the British Medical Journal on the latest withdrawal of a service: many clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), including his own, are banning GPs from prescribing anything that can be bought over the counter. Bristol, Lincolnshire, Dudley, Telford and Essex are among many others issuing the same edict.

At first glance it makes sense not to prescribe what most people can get for themselves, until you consider poorer patients who can’t afford the 22 drugs now banned for prescribing. Majeed says “Low-income families often can’t afford ibuprofen, or gluten-free products for coeliac disease sufferers. A single mother on low pay with two children can’t afford the £10 it would cost for nit treatment.”

Pain relief will be denied for those suffering headache, backache, toothache, migraine, fever or those needing antihistamines for hayfever, treatments for thrush or eye infections. With food banks handing out over a million emergency food kits and Unicef reporting that 10% of UK children suffer “severe food insecurity”, basic but essential over-the-counter medicines are beyond the budgets of households who struggle to provide meals. …”


RIP Seaton and Honiton community hospitals – RIP some of their patients too?

by Barbara Worsley, Labour MP.

Most people who were rehabilitated in community hospitals will now be hostage to “care at home” and unable to access any other form of care – even residential and nursing homes.

“Seventy thousand older people with complex needs left to fend for themselves: Tory apathy on social care funding could turn a crisis into a catastrophe.

Despite evidence that life expectancy may be stagnating, the century-long rise should be a cause for celebration. However, for too many people – unsure whether they will be able to afford the care they may need or plan for the future – their later years are proving to be a time of fear and uncertainty.

Now we learn there will be insufficient care home places, even if people could afford them: 71,000 more care home beds will be required within eight years – according to a University of Newcastle study – to meet the demands of an ageing population living longer, with complex care needs. But there is little hope that these places will materialise.

Residential and nursing homes are already under unprecedented pressure. By the end of this financial year, £6.3bn will have been cut from social care budgets since 2010, with local authorities facing a £2.3bn care funding gap by 2020. These severe cuts, along with rising costs and problems of retaining and recruiting staff, mean that one in six care homes is now displaying signs of financial stress, and across England residential homes are closing.

And in the coming months, the signs are that things will get worse. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has reported that councils will have to cut social care budgets by a further £824m this financial year alone – meaning fewer older people getting the help they need with basic tasks such as washing, dressing and eating.

The Conservatives’ policy of cutting funding and leaving people to fend for themselves is simply not working. It has left us with 1.2 million older people living with unmet care needs, one in 10 facing catastrophic costs, and relatives forced to give up work to look after them. It has also left the Tory “dementia tax” alive and well – more than 70% of people in residential care, who face the highest care costs, have dementia.

If this apathy towards finding a solution for the social care crisis continues, there is a risk not only of insufficient care beds, but of serious care failures.

In Labour’s manifesto, we set out comprehensive plans to tackle the short-term funding gap in social care, promising £1bn this year and £8bn over this parliament to stabilise the sector. But we also recognised the need for a long-term funding solution to meet the needs of an ageing population. As Andrew Dilnot made clear, this must include pooling risks – so that no one is left to face catastrophic costs alone – and raising the means-test threshold, so that no one loses everything they own.

Enough is enough. This government has had ample wake-up calls. Now it must give social care the funding it needs and develop a long-term plan to put the sector on a sustainable footing – so that today’s generation of older people and those to come get the care they need and deserve.”

• Barbara Keeley, Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South, is shadow minister for social care and mental health


“Ombudsman criticises city council for inappropriate use of confidentiality notices”

“The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) has criticised City of York Council for excessive secrecy in dealing with complaints.

In his annual performance letter to the council Michael King, the LGO for England, said York had been criticised last year about “inappropriate use of section 32(3) confidentiality notices” and this shortcoming had been repeated.

The notices are used where a council provides information on cases but says this should be confidential to the ombudsman.

“Last year we stressed that serving such notices should only be done exceptionally to avoid giving the appearance of a lack of transparency by the council,” King wrote.

“It is, therefore, very disappointing to see this practice has continued this year. Your council has issued two section 32(3) confidentiality notices that we considered were not appropriate but the council, when asked, did not comment on why they had done so.”

He said York should “address this issue as a matter of urgency as it affects our ability to properly investigate complaints against it.”.

York’s chief executive Mary Weastell said: “We are committed to being an open, honest and transparent council and would never attempt to address complaints in any other way.

“I was very disappointed to receive this letter without any prior contact from the ombudsman or an explanation as to what the complaints related to.
“Despite asking, we still haven’t been given any further information.”
A meeting is due between the council and Mr King.”


Worse than fake news – no news

Midweek Herald website has no information on the imminent, speeded-up of the total closure of Seaton Hospital’s community beds on 21 August 2017 and those in Honiton on 28 August 2017.

Today’s Midweek Herald has one letter bemoaning closure in general – and nothing else.

And nothing on the referral of the conduct of the DCC meeting chaired by Sarah Randall Johnson at which referral to the Secretary of State was squashed by a Tory block vote and refusal to debate any alternative and no mention of a planned fight back by Honiton Hospital patients and supporters. Or of Diviani voting one way at EDDC (against closure) and the opposite way at DCC and admitting that when he voted as the representative of Devon’s district councils, he hadn’t actually consulted any of them.

No news is bad news.

Still, you will be able to see praise for the council-subsidised Thelma Hulbert Gallery, so that’s ok then.

“UK needs 71,000 more care home places in eight years, study predicts”

And no community hospitals for any of them who may get ill enough for hospital care before or after entering these homes (should they ever exist) in the eastern part of East Devon, where Seaton and Honiton hospitals close their community beds by the end of August.

Still, Sidmouth millionaire pensioners will be fine in their luxury “assisted care” home at the Knowle when the council moves to its posh new offices in Honiton.

“An extra 71,000 care home spaces are needed in the next eight years to cope with Britain’s soaring demand as people living longer face more health problems, a study has found.

New research predicts there will be an additional 353,000 older people with complex needs by 2025, requiring tens of thousands more beds.

The findings from a team of academics at Newcastle University, published in the Lancet medical journal, revealed that many people over the age of 65 are now living longer but with substantial care needs.

The number of people needing round-the-clock help to feed and dress themselves is predicted to rise by 163,000. For adults over 65 the number of years spent with substantial care needs has doubled between 1991 and 2011. …”


Plymouth postal votes fiasco – voters considering action

Postal votes, that scourge of Returning Officers – including our own Mark Williams who somehow forgot to get security markings printed on some of them (quite a lot of them) and then had them run off using EDDC’s own copying facilities without the markings. The second time postal votes have had problems here – last time by having the wrong voting instructions on them.

A number of Plymouth voters are considering legal action under the Human Rights Act following ballot box chaos at June’s general election, the BBC has learned.

More than 1,500 postal ballots weren’t sent out, some voters reported being wrongly turned away at polling stations, and thousands of votes were missed out of the result of one constituency.

Labour’s Luke Pollard won Plymouth Sutton and Devonport with 23,808 votes. However, the actual figure including the missed votes cast in his favour was 27,283. He would still have won comfortably over Conservative Oliver Colvile.

The Electoral Commission is already investigating. Plymouth City Council says it will not comment until the result of an independent investigation is published in September.”