DCC has no evidence that new way of working – is working!

From the blog of Independent East Devon Alliance county councillor Martin Shaw (Seaton and Colyton) who fought valiantly with Independent DCC councillor Claire Wright to save our community hospital beds, which was defeated by Conservative block voting for the closures.

“There is new evidence that Brexit is adding to the NHS’s chronic staff shortage. Far fewer nurses and doctors from other EU countries are coming for jobs in the UK, while many of those already here are leaving – or plan to leave.

Locally, the RD&E is struggling to recruit care workers for the ‘new model of care’ to replace community beds. Council officers freely admit that Brexit is making Devon’s social care recruitment crisis worse, and at the County Council meeting on 5th October I asked for figures on the number of people from other EU countries in health, social care and education in the county. The answer was that the Council can’t produce them – in a follow-up question I asked the Cabinet to remedy that, and also to reassure EU citizens that they are valued here.

Many people voted for Brexit partly to help the NHS – but are now realising that it is doing the opposite. Of course the Leave campaign said that it wanted to allow professionals like nurses and doctors still to come to Britain – it was more the unskilled workers it wanted to stop (although where that would leave our farming and tourism industries is another problem). What this argument overlooked is that doctors and nurses who move here are not just making a decision about a job – they are looking at whether the country is open and welcoming. The message that Britain didn’t want foreigners went out loud and clear to the people we need to keep our NHS going, as well as everyone else.

Leave voters rightly hoped to see more money go to our underfunded NHS. However it is now universally recognised that the Leave campaign’s idea of saving ‘£350 million a week’ was utterly misleading. Much of the money never goes to the EU (because of the rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher) and most of the rest comes back to support things like agriculture, scientific research and regional development in places like the South West – expenditure that the British government will need to replace. Recently it has become clear that the economy has fallen back since the referendum to the extent that the Government is already losing much more in tax revenues than it will eventually save by leaving the EU. So the NHS has no hope of gaining money from Brexit, and is hit on the staffing side too.”

New evidence that Brexit is harming NHS staffing – but Devon County Council has no figures for the local situation

“Local councils say they are being scapegoated over patients who cannot be sent home” (surprise, surprise)

Of course, in our area, and o its eastern side in particular, the problem of blocked beds is solved – by having no beds to block!

“Elderly patients are caught in a growing row between the NHS and councils over who is to blame for failing to reduce bed-blocking.

Councils have accused ministers of scapegoating after they were threatened with fines if they did not do enough to get patients out of hospital beds.

Hospitals have struggled even during the quieter summer months and warnings of a severe flu outbreak have left NHS leaders anxious about how they will cope this winter.

NHS England has said that unless 2,500 beds were freed by getting elderly patients off wards, there would not be enough staff to go round.

“Hospitals rightly tell us there simply are not ‘surplus’ non-employed nurses available to open yet further hospital beds to compensate for the failure to sort delayed transfers of care,” Pauline Philip, national director for emergency care at NHS England, wrote last week to NHS and council bosses.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, and Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, went further, telling councils: “Improvements are neither consistent nor yet significant and the overall rate of improvement remains a considerable distance from where it needs to be.”

Figures published last week showed an average of 5,809 beds occupied every day in August by a patient who did not need to be there, a fall of only 4 per cent in a year.

Mr Hunt and Mr Javid warned 32 councils not meeting targets to reduce-bed-blocking that they could withhold their share of a £2 billion boost for social care promised in the budget.

“We will be looking for significant performance improvements in the September data,” they said. “We reserve the right to reduce the published allocation for a council should performance continue to fail to improve.” NHS chiefs insist that they are simply reminding local authorities of what they are meant to be doing but councils argue that a focus on spending money on bed-blocking will lead to older people being denied care in their homes.

Lord Porter of Spalding, Conservative chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “These letters are hugely unhelpful at a time when local government and the NHS need to work together to tackle the health and social care crisis . . . We urge the government and the NHS to focus equally on preventing people going to hospital as we are on helping people quickly to get out of hospital.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “While these arguments rage on in the corridors of power you couldn’t blame older people for feeling that their best interests are not always at the forefront of health and care leaders’ minds. Older people badly need these disputes to be resolved.“

Source: Times (pay wall)

A hint as to where Devon’s “health service” could be headed

No more prescriptions, instead:

“We are all used to going to the doctor and have them write a prescription for medicine. But what we are less used to is the idea that the doctor or nurse or social worker might give us a prescription for a walking group, soup and sandwiches in the local village hall, an Age UK befriending service.”

Patricia Hewitt, ex-New Labour Blairite MP, privatisation enthusiast and now chair of the Norfolk & Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP)


Needless to say, the walking classes which would likely be volunteer run for free, soup and sandwiches in the village hall perhaps provided by the food bank and befriending by an already overstretched and underfunded charity – definitely NOT by her STP!

Want to hold our Local Enterprise Partnership to account?

HOTSW LEP (and ex-well-paid ex-South West Regional Development Agency) CEO Chris Garcia and

unidentified? Steve Hindley (HOTSW Chair and Chairman of property developer Midas Group)

“The Heart of the South West LEP is holding its conference and annual general meeting on 10 November in Taunton. The morning session will have updated on the LEP’s achievements and the forthcoming Productivity Plan, with business support taster sessions taking place throughout the afternoon with the HotSW Growth Hub. For more details and to register visit:”


Conservative county councils warn they can’t afford “dementia tax”

“Conservative council leaders have warned that county councils cannot afford to be hit by a £308m rise in care home costs if controversial social care plans dubbed the “dementia tax” go ahead.

Tory-dominated shire councils have warned they cannot afford the extra burden of the manifesto proposal that would offer state support to people with assets of £100,000 or less – a sharp increase on the current £23,250.

The County Councils Network (CCN), which represents the 37 county councils, said new analysis showed raising the threshold would push far more people into state care than local authorities could fund under current budgets. …”


“Gambling machines with £100 stake are only allowed in UK”

It is thought the Chancellor is loath to change odds because the gambling industry contributes large sums to the Exchequer (and, coincidentally, of course, to Tory funds by their directors):


Britain is the only developed country to have high street betting shops that allow people to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds, according to a report.

The government should cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2 because such high stakes destroy jobs, devastate communities and are “highly destructive” to family life, the Conservative think tank Respublica argues.

Phillip Blond, co-author of the report, said: “Conservatives should not support a piece of New Labour legislation that has wrought destruction throughout some of our most disadvantaged communities.”


Rural broadband: a lesson from Canada

“Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has criticised the government for failing rural people on broadband.

Mr Farron, who is the MP for the South Lakes in Cumbria, said the average household speed in the area was just 10.9Mbps, compared to the national average of 17Mbps.

New figures from the consumer rights group Which? reveal that 1 in 4 people in Westmorland and Lonsdale have less than 4.0Mbps broadband connection.
Under the Government’s Universal Service Obligation, 10Mbps is the minimum speed that anyone in the UK would be entitled to request by 2020.

The Cumbrian MP has tabled two parliamentary questions to the government.
The questions seek to establish what progress is being made towards the Universal Service Obligation, and whether BT will face financial penalties if the targets are not met.

Mr Farron said: “The fact that one in four people in the South Lakes have a broadband connection of less than 4Mbps is frankly not good enough.
“Many small businesses in rural areas like ours are finding it impossible to function without adequate broadband. “The government’s Universal Service Obligation target of 10Mbps is nowhere near ambitious enough.”
Canada, which was a much larger and sparsely populated country than the UK, had a target of 50Mbps, said Mr Farron. “The government must put in place measures which penalise BT if they fail to meet the targets.”

A government representative is expected to respond to Mr Farron’s questions over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the National Infrastructure Commission has warned that urgent investment is needed in the UK’s broadband and mobile networks.
Increased broadband speeds could add £17bn to UK output by 2024, according to an NIC report.

The report says the UK’s digital economy is the largest of any G20 nation as a percentage of GDP.

But it warns that almost one in four rural premises lack a decent broadband service.

The UK lags behind other developed countries – such as the USA, Netherlands and Japan – for 4G and broadband speeds, it adds.”