Privatised good, nationalised bad? Think again

The NHS has about 1,700,000 UK workers:

“In December 2016, NHS Improvement forecast that NHS trusts would end 2016/17 with a potential deficit of £750–£850 million.”


Carrillion has about 48,500 UK workers:

Shares in the beleaguered Carillion construction group, which is working on the HS2 London to Birmingham rail line and the vast Battersea Power Station project, plunged by 20% on Friday after the company issued its second profit warning in two months.

Carillion reported a first-half loss of £1.15bn and said its full-year performance would be worse than previously expected. It described the loss as “disappointing”. The shares, which were changing hands at 190p little more than three months ago, closed at 51p.

The company is struggling with a large debt pile and badly-performing contracts. It said it would write down £200m on 23 support services contracts, and was taking a £134m charge relating to its UK and Canadian construction businesses. …”

CCG agrees deal with North Norfolk Council to save facility

“The North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group have voted in favour of the Norfolk County Council’s £2 million offer to turn the Cromer unit into a re-ablement centre.

This should give patients greater access to short-term care, meaning they can leave hospital earlier but still receive further support before returning home.

The vote also means that the CCG’s original proposal to remove two of the beds at Benjamin Court will not come to light. The proposal saw 16 beds at the Cromer unit being used for palliative care, IV, and Discharge to Assess beds.

Dr Anoop Dhesi, Chair of NHS North Norfolk CCG, said: “Our public consultation allowed us to listen to the thoughts and views of the public and we are very grateful to all those who responded and gave us such valuable insights.

“We are very pleased that a further idea was proposed by our colleagues at Norfolk County Council. Using the beds for re-ablement will still help reduce pressure on hospitals and dovetail with our Supported Care service.”

Bill Borrett, chairman of the Adult Social Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “We care about people who have had a stay in hospital and we understand that most of them want to be able to return home and live independently for as long as possible. Our re-ablement services allow that to happen by helping those who need some extra support for a short period of time.

“Re-ablement services can mean shorter stays in hospital and less reliance on long-term care as people return home. We are looking to develop more of these services across the county and think that leasing Benjamin Court will improve our ability to support people in Norfolk.”

However due to the County Council taking over the building with their own staff, some redundancies may be made when the takeover takes place.

Lorrayne Barrett, Director of Integrated Care for Norfolk Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), said; “While NCH&C are confident that this decision is the best way forward for the local community, reducing pressure on hospital beds, we are aware that this will have implications for our staff.

“This is a highly experienced, skilled and committed staff group and we are continuing to support and consult with them to provide clarity during this prolonged period of uncertainty, and we will work hard in partnership with them to retain them in the local health and social care services.”

“Free market” facts

“… May’s “greatest agent” – free-market economics – has established a system where:

eight people own as much wealth as half the planet

Such grotesque levels of inequality run through the UK, where

50% of the country owns just 8.7% of the wealth

While living standards continue to fall for most,

Britain’s richest 1,000 families are well on their way to tripling their wealth since the financial crisis. Since 2009, these families have increased their fortune by over 155%

Retaining 100% business rates will make make many count councils worse off

“County councils face unique challenges and retaining 100% of business rates could widen their funding gap, the County Councils Network has warned.

Analysis from the cross-party group, released yesterday, showed under full business rate retention the funding gap for county authorities could increase by £700m by 2029.

This was because business rate growth would fail to keep pace with acute demographic and service pressures for county councils, the analysis – done by local government consultancy firm Pixel Financial Management – concluded.

In contrast areas, such as London boroughs and district councils, are likely to disproportionately benefit from this policy, the CCN found.

The research comes as the Department for Communities and Local Government is encouraging bids for the second pilot scheme.

Council leaders at the CCN are calling on the government to provide more options in the pilot schemes to encourage more county authorities to participate, which would enable the risks to be fully trialled before the policy was rolled out across the country.

Pilots for 100% business rate retention have already been launched in Liverpool, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, West of England, Cornwall and Greater London in April, which will also continue into next year.

The West Midlands combined authority was part of the first pilots for the scheme, which began this April, ahead of plans to roll out the policy nationwide by 2020.

CCN finance spokesman and leader of Leicestershire County Council, Nick Rushton, said the research did not aim to dissuade countries from taking part in the pilots but to raise awareness of the issues facing the sector.

Rushton said: “The modelling we have released shows the unique challenges facing county authorities in implementing 100% business rates retention.

“CCN is supportive of moves towards greater local retention, alongside wider fiscal devolution, but we must ensure the system provides sustainable long-term funding and a platform to truly incentivise growth and self-sufficiency.”

He concluded that more options should be on the table, such as a ‘no detriment’ clause which is missing from next year’s pilots.

The CCN warn that by not providing this clause it may mean only ‘high growth’ counties coming forward to pilot, meaning that risk is not properly trialled.

Rushton added: “These findings clearly demonstrate the need for a fairer funding formula as part of wider reforms to local government finance.

“These reforms must stay on track and government should not shy away from adopting a new approach to measuring relative need; one based on real cost-drivers, not past spend.”

Do not shut hospital beds – closures not evidence-based says influential King’s Fund – too late for East Devon

Independent DCC Councillor Claire Wright – RIGHT
Independent DCC East Devon Alliance Councillor Martin Shaw – RIGHT
All Independent Councillors at EDDC – RIGHT
All Tories at DCC – Wrong
All those Tories (DCC and EDDC) who voted to support Diviani and Randall-Johnson in closing community hospital beds – WRONG

ALL the time the Independents have called for REAL evidence about bed closures.
ALL the time DCC Tories have acceptec waffle and jargon and “death by Powerpoint” instead of REAL evidence
EDDC Tories sort-of got it right and then allowed their Leader to vote WRONG so they still got it WRONG!

Why on earth are people still voting for these useless excuses for Tory representative councillors!

Kill beds, no community alternative = kills US!

“NHS bosses have been urged to halt plans for more ward closures as experts warn that hospitals do not have enough beds to accommodate patients.

Britain has fewer hospital beds per person than almost any other rich country and numbers in the NHS have fallen to 142,000 from the 299,999 that were available 30 years ago, according to an analysis by the King’s Fund health think tank.

Thousands of further cuts are being planned as part of a strategy by Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, to improve out-of-hospital care and make £22 billion in efficiency savings.

The King’s Fund said that this plan was unrealistic at a time when wards are more than 95 per cent full, well above the 85 per cent level generally thought to be safe. Hospital bosses in London are hoping to cut hundreds of beds, but the King’s Fund estimates that the city will need 1,600 more by 2021 to keep up with population growth.

Helen McKenna, a senior policy adviser at the think tank, said: “There are opportunities to make better use of existing beds and initiatives to capitalise on these should continue, but with many hospitals already stretched to breaking point, reductions on the scale proposed in some areas are neither desirable not achievable.”

Chaand Nagpaul, head of the British Medical Association, said: “Serious questions need to be asked about whether these plans are realistic and evidence-based given it defies logic to cut bed numbers when we already don’t have enough.”

Mr Stevens said that he would only allow bed closures where NHS bosses could demonstrate local alternative treatments were being put in place first or where hospitals were remedying inefficiencies. The King’s Fund said that these tests lacked any real detail.

Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, said: “One of the key lessons from last winter was the importance of avoiding unsafe levels of bed occupancy.”

Mr Stevens agreed that hospitals would need to free more beds during the winter, promising an extra 3,700 would be opened for the busiest time of year as hospitals were told to prevent “bed-blocking” by elderly patients.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

“Great South West” LEP for LEPs! The South-West Regional Development Agency rising from its ashes?

We’ve had the Heart of the South West LEP!
We’ve had the “Golden Triangle” LEP (Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay)
We”ve even had the “Golden Quadrangle” LEP (Owl’s suggestion for adding in Cornwall or Dorset)

NOW we have the “Golden Pentangle” (adding in Cornwall AND Dorset)
yet ANOTHER unelected, unaccountable and non-transparent quango:


first reported by Owl in August 2016 here:

An update …

It seems plans are well-advanced for the “super” Local Enterprise Partnership of Local Enterprise Partnerships! They now even have a (very poor) website!

Those who remember life BEFORE our own LEP will recall that it was preceded by the much-derided South-West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) – so despised by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition that one of its first actions was to dispose of it and replace it with business-led, business-dominated, business-driven LEPs.

In our case it didn’t exactly work that way as OUR LEP (Heart of the South West – ie Devon and Somerset) decided to employ at a vast salary ex-SWRDA senior manager Chris Garcia – who is so beloved of our LEP that they raised his salary 26% last year!

However, he will perhaps be miffed that the job of CEO of the CEOs of all these LEPs has not gone to him but to Rozz Algar, a former Human Resources Manager:

Want to know what this “super” LEP is planning for us? Go to their NEW (riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes – OWL has spotted SIX spelling mistakes on its home page alone!) website at:

And hear LEP-speak like you’ve never heard it before! Including that old chestnut about how many hospitals it COULD (but won’t) build!

[Yes there really IS a question mark at the end of that heading!!!]

The South West of England is a great place. It is poised for a step change in prospertiy and productivity. When the productivity in the South West of England matches that currently in the South East we will add over £18bn a year to the UK’s economy. That’s enough to build a new NHS hospital every week.

Our economy is already bigger than that of Manchester and more than two and a half times that of Birmingham – with the single largest infrastructure project in Europe already underway (generating billions of pounds of business opportunities) and the best natural capital in the country (attracting more visitors than anywhere else outside London).
[Just in case you don’t realise it, they are talking about Hinkley C nuclear power plant – that great white elephant in North Somerset]

The pubication of the SW Growth Charter in 2016 started our journey to promote our great region and we welcome the continuing support of stakeholders across the region to hlep in shaping our opportunities and building the momentum.

Our strategy for greater prosperity is to collaborate to promote

a self-sustaining and resillient South West ….
with innovation, enterprise and infrastructure ….
with productive people and rewarding careers …
utilising our natural and entreprenurial capital …
and sharing the benefits for all

We are focused towards having a clear and consistent strategy in time for the Autumn Statement.


Great South West looks to build on existing good practice and collaborative working such as the science and innovation audit

By working together as a region will ensure that the South West has a strong voice to highlight investment opportunities to national and international private and public investors; as well as projecting a positive and progressive image for all

It will help to support the economic growth and prosperity of the whole region by linking up programmes and ensuring that the asks and priorities are consistent and reflect the strengths of the region

The Great Southwest does not intend to impede individuals or groups from their own initiatives or joining with others. We will not be a bureaucracy; but look to support and add value where it can.

It aims to support a flourishing private sector and a highly skilled population able to make the most of the great opportunities that the South West has to offer

Note: The name Great South West is a working title at present and may alter as the intiative gains momentum in order to be appropriate and resonate with all parties. This is not a brand used by the West of England LEP for their local authority areas.”

Yep, all on the back of Brexit!

“Pensioners are STILL being failed by 15-minute care visits as they go without showers and proper meals”

“Vulnerable pensioners are going without showers and proper meals because ministers have failed to stamp out 15-minute care visits.

Three quarters of home helps say they are simply too rushed to do their jobs properly, according to the survey by public sector union Unison.

Almost two thirds of case workers said they have just 15 minutes to help people eat, drink, get washed and go to the toilet – despite government pledges to end the scandal.

And nine out of 10 of those questioned said they did not have time to chat, even though the person they looked after may not see anyone else that day.

The union’s survey of 1,000 workers found that three quarters feared they were compromising the dignity of those in their care because they were pressured to fit in too many visits.

The care workers help pensioners suffering from dementia, strokes, Parkinson’s, or with learning disabilities.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘Care workers and those they look after are suffering because standards are routinely being breached.
‘Care staff try to do their best within a system that increasingly prioritises quotas over compassion. Elderly and disabled people are ending up lonely, without dignity and with their care needs unmet.

Care workers and the vulnerable people they look after will continue to be failed by a flawed system unless the government acts.’

Unison’s report, Making Visits Matter, highlights the ongoing crisis in England’ s broken care system.

Earlier this month the Mail revealed that regulators are called in to deal with four complaints about care firms every day.

The Care Quality Commission launched 1,512 enforcement actions against care homes and companies which provide home helps in 2016/17 – 68 per cent up on the previous 12 months.

The watchdog dealt with complaints about unsafe care, residents not being treated with dignity and poor staffing levels. Other issues included lack of food or water and ‘abuse and improper treatment’.

Campaigners are demanding extra cash to prop up England’s care system. Last year ministers took urgent action to allow town halls to raise council tax to avert a meltdown.

Anyone with savings must meet the full cost of the care they receive – no matter how substandard.

The Tories have failed to honour a 2015 manifesto promise to cap the maximum bill at £75,000 and during the last election campaign Theresa May indicated the pledge could be scrapped.

Unison’s survey found that just over half of the care workers it questioned were on zero-hours contracts and almost two in three said they were not paid for the time they spent travelling between visits.

Some 63 per cent of respondents said they got just 15 minutes to help with personal tasks such as eating and drinking, or taking a shower.
The majority (89 per cent) of home care workers do not have time for a short chat even though the person they look after may not see anyone else that day, according to the survey.

Earlier this month a separate survey revealed that one in four care workers believe the service they provide for the most vulnerable in society is no longer ‘fair or safe’.

And many town halls are effectively breaking the law by slashing home helps and other services, according to a damning survey by the Care and Support Alliance and Community Care magazine.”