Why are only police and prison officers getting a pay rise?

A Guardian letters correspondent has a theory:

The decision to release the pay cap only for police and prison officers will inevitably attract strong criticism from nurses and others, but it makes sense. Most Tory MPs probably have private healthcare, but they might well need the services of the police to intervene between them and the electorate during the conference season and beyond. Tory peers should also support the decision; Lords Archer, Hanningfield and Taylor of Warwick [Tory peers who have spent time in prison] could tell them how helpful prison officers can be at difficult times.

Geoff Booth

Knebworth, Hertfordshire”

Only 93 NHS beds freed up after bed (un)blocking drive!

“Only 93 beds have been freed by an NHS drive to get elderly patients home quicker, official figures show.

Doctors warned that the health service was not ready for winter after figures showed it ended the summer by missing most of its main targets.

This week Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, said that the health service needed to do more as a severe outbreak of flu in Australia threatened to move north for winter. He has given hospitals until November to free 3,000 beds by sending home patients who do not need to be on wards.

However, at the end of July there were 5,861 beds occupied because no suitable care could be arranged for patients elsewhere, barely down from 5,954 last year. “Progress over the next eight to ten weeks is going to have to accelerate markedly in conjunction with local authorities in order to free up further bed capacity ahead of winter,” a spokesman for NHS England said.

Long waits for routine surgery are also up, with 390,659 patients having waited more than 18 weeks, the highest number since 2008. More than four million people are on a waiting list.

A&E visits were down but only 90.3 per cent of patients were seen within four hours, compared with 91 per cent last summer. The target is 95 per cent.”

Source: Times pay wall

Save Our Hospital Services

Facebook page post:

““Lest we forget”

Over the past few years as a result of piecemeal demolition of our NHS in Devon we have lost ALL the inpatient beds at 20 community hospitals, named below, from across Devon.

Many of these hospitals have been closed down completely and others have been turned into “hubs” providing some limited health services to day patients. [Many of these services are provided by private businesses and have to be paid for]

This means we have lost a staggering 71% of our community beds across Devon, most in the last year.( In North Devon we have only 16 beds remaining at South Molton and these are now under threat).

They now want to make further cuts to our health services and we are told when it comes to cuts to, “think the unthinkable” as they aim to cut £557 million from Devon’s health budget.

If they even think about implementing these cuts, then they should be prepared for the anger that will follow, and they should be prepared to “think the unthinkable” as far as the opposition that they will face.

All beds now closed at these community hospitals:

Bideford Community Hospital
Holsworthy Community Hospital
Tyrrell Hospital, Ilfracombe
Lynton and lynmouth Hospital
Torrington Community Hospital
Ashburton and Buckfastleigh Community Hospital
Bovey Tracey Community Hospital
Brixham Community Hospital
Dartmouth and Kingswear Community Hospital
Paignton Community Hospital
Teignmouth Community Hospital
Axminster Hospital
Budleigh Salterton Hospital
Crediton Hospital
Exeter Community Hospital (Whipton)
Honiton Hospital
Moretonhampstead Community Hospital
Okehampton Community Hospital
Ottery St Mary Hospital
Seaton Community Hospital”

Devon and Somerset devolution deal goes wrong on Day One

The leader of Exeter City Council has complained that he was left out of talks in London to secure devolution for Devon and Somerset.

Devon county council leaders as well as those from Plymouth and Torbay council chiefs were invited to the Westminster meeting this week with Jake Berry, the Minister responsible for devolution and coastal communities.

Following the meeting, it was announced by Devon County Council Tory leader John Hart that an agreement had been reached to devolve powers to an economy estimated to be worth £34 billion, more than Birmingham.

Peter Edwards, leader of the Labour-controlled city council, warned that the deal had no “mandate” from Exeter and revealed he had not been invited nor even told about the planned announcement.

Tory MP Gary Streeter, who organised the meeting and drew up the guest list, said he had never heard of Mr Edwards but offered an assurance that he would be “pleased” with the deal being struck.

Mr Hart emerged from the gathering on Thursday to declare that a plan had been agreed by “the two county councils, the two unitaries, all the district councils, the Local Enterprise Partnership, the two national parks and NHS representatives”.

“We have 17 local authorities working closely together on this plan with our other partners,” he added in a statement.

But hot on the heels on the press release came a strong response from Cllr Edwards.

He said: “Mr Hart went to this meeting without my knowledge. I would be interested in knowing if any other district councils took part or knew about it.

“He met me the day before and didn’t feel the need to mention it, let alone say he intended to indicate we were all signed up. I don’t have that mandate from my council – and he certainly doesn’t.

“We agree there is a need to go to Government and to unlock funding. We have been eager to see this happen and to see what is on offer.

“But we don’t agree that you should be offering up a new combined authority for Devon and Somerset blindly without knowing what any deal is. Councils could be giving up all their powers – without knowing that the prize is.

“Exeter has a strong economic agenda – it would be madness to jeopardise that without knowing what any benefits could be – or even if there are any benefits.

“My council’s position is that we could welcome devolution – but only once you know what any benefits are.”

Mr Streeter, MP for South West Devon, told Devonlive.com that there had been no snub and said “none of the districts” had been invited.

“I invited the county and unitary councils,” he added. “It was just a meeting to find out where we are in the devolution process with ministers, post election, with councils to report back.

“It was a lively successful meeting – the others will find out next week when a full report is made.”

Asked if Cllr Edwards, a longstanding councillor and city leader since 2010, was right to feel aggrieved, Mr Streeter added: “I don’t know him but I am sure he is a wonderful person.

“We don’t have dealings with Exeter or North Devon – it is very parochial. I know know who this gentleman is but once he gets the full story he’s going to be very pleased.” …”


Plymouth postal votes fiasco gets fierce criticism; EDDC’s SECOND postal vote fiasco still awaiting scrutiny

Our fiasco here:

Plymouth fiasco here:

Plymouth City Council has received a report into electoral issues that led to problems at the last general election.

Between 150 and 200 people were unable to vote, and about 2,000 postal ballots were not sent out.

An independent report headed by Dr Dave Smith, the former chief executive of Sunderland City Council, looked into all aspects of the way the election was managed.

He will present it to full council on 25 September.

The council said his recommendations included telling it to:

Act swiftly to permanently recruit enough suitably experienced electoral registration staff to ensure the elections team is up to recommended staffing levels

In the meantime, ensure there are enough interim staff with sufficient operational experience to manage the team, build capacity and ensure focus

Make sure sufficient resources and properly documented systems, procedures and processes are put in place to ensure a successful election canvass and prepare for local elections in 2018 and plan for a future general election

Develop a more detailed communications plan with key stakeholders to ensure effective election communications especially when unusual situations arise

Carry out an independent review in January 2018 to ensure the council is suitably prepared for elections in May 2018″


Finding an NHS GP is going to become as hard as finding an NHS dentist

Owl particularly liked the very last sentence where it showed the local CCG initially got its figures wrong!

“… The seven practices in Folkestone – which cover around 64,000 patients – have applied to NHS South Kent Coast CCG for formal list closure, saying there is a shortage of 16 full-time equivalent GPs.

They took the step of applying for formal list closure after they announced this month that 4,700 patients previously under the Folkestone East Family Practice (FEFP) would be – in the practices’ words – ‘forcibly allocated’ to practices after partners handed back their contract in May.

This is the latest in a growing number of towns that have had to close their lists en masse, including Bridlington in East Riding of Yorkshire and the Three Towns area in Ayrshire, Scotland.

This move also comes after a survey of GP practices by the BMA revealed half of practices were willing to close their lists in response to the pressures facing general practice.

The BMA said that what was happening in Folkestone was indicative of pressures across the country.

A statement issued by the practices in Folkestone said: ‘The following GP surgeries – Central Surgery, Guildhall St Surgery, Hawking & Elham Surgery, Manor Clinic, The New Surgery, Park Farm Surgery, Sandgate Rd Surgery – have taken the unprecedented action of applying to NHS South Kent Coast CCG for formal list closure in order to maintain safe patient care to their current patient population.

‘We all feel that as a consequence of the national GP shortage which has been acutely felt in Folkestone, with a shortage of 16 full time equivalent GPs we have no other option in the interest of patient safety.’

The practices say they have been highlighting the crisis for ‘over a year’ to local authorities, including the CCG, the council, the local foundation trust and the local MP.

The statement added: ‘The crisis became more acute with the handing back of the Folkestone East Family Practice (FEFP) contract which affected 4,700 people in May.

‘The practices have advised the CCG throughout that we are unable to take on more patients safely without long term investment in clinical staff as well as infrastructure to ensure the safe integration of these patients without jeopardising patient care for all residents of Folkestone.’

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, said: ’This crisis in Folkestone highlights why four out of ten GP practices in England told the BMA in a survey only last week that they were considering applying to have their practice lists closed because their services are at breaking point. Many GP services across the country are being put under unsustainable pressure from rising patient demand, falling funding and staff shortages that are stopping them from providing safe, effective care, including enough appointments, to their local communities. The situation for practices is made even worse when one in the local area closes altogether and local health bodies fail to provide sufficient support for those practices remaining.

’It is unacceptable that even one surgery should be being placed in the position of having to close their practice list. We need politicians to realise that general practice needs an urgent, immediate plan to invest more resources into frontline patient services as we cannot allow GP services to slide further into crisis.’

A spokesperson for NHS South East Kent CCG said: ’If a GP practice feels it needs to close its patient list over a significant period, it must apply to us so we can consider the potential impact on patients and neighbouring practices and avoid displacing a problem elsewhere.

’We have received applications from seven practices in Folkestone to close their lists to new patients. These applications will be considered by the CCG and we will reply to the practices within 21 days.’

They added: ’To support practices to take on new patients, the CCG will pay practices an additional £42.68 per patient to support any additional costs for the first year. This compares favourably with other patient distribution investments to recognise the specific issues in Folkestone.’

Please note – this story was updated at 13:15 on 14 September 2017. The CCG originally said it would pay an additional £48 per patient, but it later corrected this to £42.68p.”


Sidmouth Drill Hall ‘propaganda’

Owl says: starting a consultation by illustrating it with a detailed schematic plan of 5 storey buildings is asking for trouble – duh!

If you then go on to construct those 5 storey buildings, it would get very murky indeed!

A campaigner determined to see Sidmouth’s Drill Hall considered as part of any regeneration plans for Port Royal has slammed ‘propaganda’ from project leaders.

Mary Walden-Till’s research into the history of the eastern town has covered much of the same ground as the scoping study commissioned by landowners Sidmouth Town Council (STC) and East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Town clerk Christopher Holland and Councillor Jeff Turner sat down with the Herald in a bid to reassure residents nothing has yet been decided – but Ms Walden-Till took issue with several of the points they raised.

She raised: “I know that both Cllr Turner and Mr Holland are committed to doing what they think is the best for Sidmouth so I was very disappointed to read something in the Herald (‘Port Royal could see massive development – or nothing at all’) which appeared to be propaganda rather than unadorned fact.

“If we want the best outcome for the town, we all need to make sure we are not playing games, even accidentally. If they can’t avoid ‘spin’ then they can’t claim to be open-minded on the issue. It is a matter of fact that both of them are on record as being vehemently opposed to preserving the Drill Hall.

“If the starting point is that the Drill Hall must be demolished, then it has to be accepted that it is unlikely that a developer would be interested in such a small plot, so then the search begin for a way to make it worth a developer’s time.

As a designer, it is important to me to start a project with no preconceptions about what should be removed or retained in order to achieve the desired result.

“The scoping exercise consultants should have started from the same point, and we should be able to see that they had considered a range of ways of increasing what Port Royal can offer to the town.

“This development should be about the town and not about ways of making money for the district as a whole. The district has already benefitted from Sidmouth’s loss in far too many circumstances: for example the loss of Fortfield Hotel to expensive apartments, the Section 106 money from which went to the district not solely to Sidmouth, and the upcoming loss of the council jobs at the Knowle, moving employment from Sidmouth to other areas of the district.

“To suggest that reusing the Drill Hall will of necessity ‘take away from other users’ of Port Royal is clearly ridiculous. How would preserving what is there at the same time reduce what is there?”

In a joint statement, Mr Holland and Cllr Turner said: “STC and EDDC would like to reiterate the aims of the scoping study. It is to research, investigate and report on the opportunities and constraints of improving the whole important Port Royal area.

“The councils have yet to receive the independent consultant’s Scoping Study to even begin discussing issues such as detailed designs, which would come further along in the project.

“The study is the start of a process that would, if supported by the councils, involve a much more detailed visioning for future consideration.

“To champion a single building at this stage which is a small part of a much larger area and be in constant opposition to a simple study which only aims to help inform councillors is not helpful.

“Members of both councils will decide how and if to proceed once the scoping study report is presented to them.”