Claire Wright on local NHS

Claire Wright has been battling to save our local NHS for YEARS while our two local MPs only noticed the problem a few weeks ago. The voice of common sense:

Consultation: gypsy and traveller policy

Consultation ends 15 November 2016 – apart from 30 pitches in Cranbrook, it appears that other sites will be shoe-horned into planning applications where EDDC can see the possibility of suitable sites.

So that could be anywhere else in the district – some plan!

Government savings of £90 million cost £94 million to make!

“Ongoing failures of leadership and governance must be urgently addressed if shared service centres are to deliver expected savings, the Public Accounts Committee said today.

The PAC assessed the progress of a government scheme to cut costs through sharing departmental back office functions that has been running for four years, publishing its findings in a report out today.

It found the two schemes evaluated have delivered savings of £90m but at cost of £94m, incurring a net cost to the taxpayer of £4m.

Moreover, the committee concluded that government was “failing for much the same reasons” as identified by a 2012 PAC probe, principally weak governance and leadership, and poor departmental collaboration.

Today’s report found that, at the outset, the Cabinet Office did not have leaders in place with appropriate shared services experience. Also, while the Cabinet Office managed the framework agreements between government and suppliers, departments had individual contracts with suppliers. Consequently, when problems arose the Cabinet Office did not always have a clear mandate to intervene. This exacerbated the issue of departments acting independently rather than collaboratively.

Critically, the committee found there was no overall business case for the two shared service centres. While business cases were prepared, these were found to be partial, incomplete and out of date.

It was also too easy for departments to pull out of the programme, which some have done to “protect their own interests.” …”

EDDC Standards Committee very happy with itself and has (so far) no Forward Plan


Happy with the code of conduct – tick
Happy with keeping complaints anonymous unless officially taken forward – tick

One more agenda item: Forward Plan. And the Forward Plan is?

Committee members to advise of any items for the Forward Plan.”

Click to access 271016standardscttecombinedagenda.pdf

The vast majority of complaints never make it past the Monitoring Officer to them.

What a happy committee!

Barratt Homes London boss arrested

“The London boss of housebuilding giant Barratt Developments has been arrested after an investigation into alleged misconduct in the process for awarding contracts.

Alastair Baird, regional managing director for the London region, and one other former Barratt London employee were arrested this morning, the firm said.

It has suspended Mr Baird following the arrest.

Mr Baird joined Barratt as a site manager in 1987 and was promoted to London managing director in 2011 – a division employing more than 650 staff.

He is given a glowing review on the company’s website which praises him for being a ‘dynamic leader with an enviable reputation’ and ‘superb relationships with key public and private sector stakeholders’.

Swire’s question in Parliament today – not about NHS or East Devon

Swire’s priority:

Sir Hugo Swire, a Conservative, asks if May will back the first ever meeting of Commonwealth trade ministers.

May says the government applauds this and is looking for trade deals with the Commonwealth. It wants to make a success of Brexit.”

And what a WASTE of a question! Was May REALLY likely to say: “The government thinks this is really daft and it wants to sabotage Brexit”?

No, it was one of those brown-nose, planted questions to make the government look good.

“Jeremy Hunt tells NHS bosses who are rationing care not to make ‘easy’ choices”

Jeremy Hunt has accused local health chiefs who are rationing treatments after running out of money of making “easy” choices.

The Health Secretary dismissed recent controversies – involving hip and knee replacements, eye surgery and fertility treatment – insisting it was perfectly possible to both “improve care and make efficiencies”.

The comment came as Mr Hunt came close to admitting that Theresa May had told him the NHS will receive no extra money in this Parliament.

The NHS had been given all the money it asked for – admitting it was only enough to “get going” on a restructuring plan.

Meanwhile, the Commons Health Select Committee was also told that funding-per-head in England will actually be cut in 2018-19.

The committee heard evidence from both Mr Hunt and Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, amid growing concern about a gathering storm in the health service.

The National Audit Office has warned that, without proper funding and tough efficiencies, “the result will be some combination of worse services, fewer staff, deficits, and restrictions on new treatments”

In recent months, there have been protests that patients are waiting up to 15 months for cataract surgery, that IVF treatment is being axed in many areas, and similar controversies about orthopaedic care.

Sarah Wollaston, the committee’s Conservative chairman, pointed out to Mr Hunt that there were “numerous examples of rationing”, adding: “This is happening on a widespread scale.”

But the Health Secretary said: “I don’t accept that, in order to make those efficiency savings, you have to make changes that will have an impact negatively on patient care

“There is of course an easy way to make savings – which is to reduce the availability of care for patients

“But there is a harder way, but the right way, which is to find ways that improve care and improve efficiency at the same time.”

Mr Hunt insisted the Department of Health did not allow rationing that made care worse for patients, telling the committee: “We step in.”

Last month, Mr Stevens warned that much of a promised extra £10 billion each year for the NHS has been “back-ended to 2020”, which made tough choices inevitable in the intervening years.

It was only in 2016-17 that the NHS was getting “broadly what we asked for” – which meant that, between 2017 and 2020, the Government was providing less cash than requested.

Yet ministers had repeatedly dismissed warnings of a crisis on the basis that the NHS had been “given the money it asked for” – and that the cash injection was “frontloaded”.

Today, Mr Hunt changed tack, acknowledging the NHS had only been given the cash “they said they needed to get going” – to “kick-start” the five-year transformation plan.

Emphasising the hard years ahead, Mr Stevens said there would be “negative per person funding” – a per capita cut – in the financial year 2018-19.

At the weekend, it was reported that Theresa May insisted there would be no extra cash for the NHS in next month’s Autumn Statement.

Asked if that was correct, Mr Hunt replied: “It was a private meeting.”

Community Voice on Planning Conference report

“Community Voice on Planning (CoVoP) held its first conference in Leeds on Saturday 15th October – with the conference title being “NIMBY – reality or slur”. I attended – not to find out if I am one, but to explore the background as to why e.g. media, so immediately, and regularly, calls on those concerned with current planning matters to defend themselves against being NIMBYs.

The conference had a diverse content, which explored fully the mess that is the current planning system, and the very poor outcomes generated by planning law that is simply not fit for purpose.

An opening letter was read from Clive Betts MP, chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee. This committee has nothing to do with government, but acts as scrutineer of the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) re policies, administration and spending. One of their recent calls has been for Gavin Barwell MP (new Housing and Planning Minister) to respond the the DCLG-commissioned Local Planning Expert Group’s recommendations on planning. This includes a statement that Leeds’ and Bradford’s Core Strategy housing targets are more than 500 houses per year over-provisioned.

Andrew Wood from CPRE presented some complex ideas about greenbelt use for housing and seemed to be suggesting a deal-based planning arrangement where housing needs were met by very selective use of greenbelt sites where fully assessed and sustainable use and requirement had been carried out. He developed the idea that greenbelt is one of the last planning policy tools that local authorities have to control patterns of development, but stated the obvious threats to existing greenbelt boundaries.

Jenny Unsworth from Congleton asked the question “Does the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 (NPPF) work?” Through a well presented summary of planning milestones, leading towards the position in her own area, Jenny demonstrated that planning reality in Congleton is the same in Leeds and Bradford – and very much anywhere else in England. Her key point was that the workings of the NPPF and Localism were at opposite ends of the planning spectrum. She also reminded us that excessive and undelivered housing numbers were resulting in 5-year land supply failure, leading to local authority plans being automatically out of date. It therefore followed that planning had become an ad hoc system defined by appeals, rather than a plan-led one, as sought by the NPPF. No surprises to find her answer to the question to be “No”.

Julie Mabberly, Chair of CoVoP, and planning activist in Oxforshire, ridiculed the extraordinary basis for setting housing numbers that is the Objectively Assessed Housing Needs system. She described the system as from the pages of “Alice in Wonderland” and demonstrated through various slides that a finger-in-the-air figure for housing need became inflated (and totally un-achievable) through a series of speculative additions to housing need, that also included double-counting. Her summary was that OBJECTIVE housing needs assessment was anything but that.

Dr Quentin Bradley, from Leeds Beckett University set out the controlling influence of developers, and in particular the significance of land price and hoarding of land, in respect of affordable housing provision. Dr Bradley suggested that the current structure of both the land and housing markets contribute to a shortage of housing being built, and the affordable housing build ratio that comes out of that. He argued that with the present structure in place, building more homes alone will not solve the crisis.

Dr Hugh Ellis from the Town and Country Planning Association set out the significant role planning has played in the formation of the nation’s built housing since the Association’s formation some 120 years ago. In particular Dr Ellis considered the outcomes of the planning of garden cities in comparison to the broken system that is currently in place.

A pleniary session concluded the conference, introduced by WARD chair, Dr. David Ingham. He referred to the stimulation given to the WARD group in respect of the old order, from DCLG, based on the adoption by Bradford of its flawed Core Strategy, some of the policies of which have been written by the very Inspector who declared it sound. Dr Ingham also called for more MP input at Westminster to change planning law, and thanked in particular, Greg Mulholland MP, for his long support to WARD over the last 7 years of campaigning and for his work in Parliament to change planning law.

The panel of 3 MPs, which also included Paul Sherriff MP and Jason McCartney MP, showed their understanding of a broken planning system and their attendance at this conference, with Greg Mulholland, is proof of that.

My view from this remains unchanged, and that is before I went into the conference I was sure the current planning system is not fit for purpose. I came out with more evidence that that is exactly the case. With an appeal-led planning system for the largest housing sites now in place, the NPPF has totally failed to deliver the housing that is needed, or of the right type and in the right places. The result of this is the great threat to the precious greenbelt. If protecting that makes me a NIMBY then I am proud to stand up and be labelled as that.

Martin Hughes, Treasurer of WARD, Chair of Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance”

Too ill for care at home? Not ill enough for hospital? Tough

“The cost of a room in a care home, presently about £750 a week, will be £1,000 a week by 2020, experts warn.
However, with Britain facing a nationwide care funding crisis, even that figure could soar.

“A report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last week found services for the elderly were nearing breaking point.
The care watchdog warned of a wave of home closures if staff and funding gaps are not filled, adding that in the past six years 1,500 homes had closed.

The firms running care homes will try to plug the gap by raising fees, experts say. Valuing Care, a respected care fees analyst, predicts they will rise 8 per cent a year ‘for the next decade’.

That would mean the average fee reaching £1,020 a week by 2020, or £53,040 a year and that accounts only for a place in a residential care home. Fees for elderly people needing specialist medical care may be even higher than that.
Most people will have to pay this themselves as local authorities currently cover your care bills only if you have less than £23,250 in savings, investments, properties and other assets (£26,250 in Scotland and £24,000 in Wales).

… Most people think a care home stay will be relatively short but the typical stay is eight years.”

“South West Growth Summit”

This Friday … Exeter University … usual suspects … best place to do business … opportunities … vision … spin … more spin … puff … more puff … and:

After the summit, the aim is to develop a South West Growth Charter, backing Local Enterprise Partnerships with a strong business voice to complement the work being done by local government leaders. This will be presented to government ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement next month, where he will set out the government’s economic plans.”

Ah, yes … now Owl gets the idea! A re-brand for our LEP to make it look more democratic … good luck with that one.