Swire gets about: questions about Burma and – yes, yet again – the Maldives in Parliament!

He really hasn’t accepted that he doesn’t work at the Foreign Office any more, poor dear, has he!

Bet those people who DO have responsibility for these places now get pretty fed up with his “interest”.

Upcoming Business – Commons: Main Chamber 6 Mar 2018

Political situation in the Maldives – Hugo Swire. Adjournment debate

Recent appearances

International Development Committee: Burma Visas 28 Feb 2018

Having seen what has been going on in Rakhine, albeit a few years ago, I can say it is imperative that we continue to assist the Rohingya people in their hour of need. I urge the Minister formally to summon the Burmese ambassador to the Foreign Office to explain how seriously this House takes the fact that the Committee cannot go there to oversee what is the biggest bilateral aid programme in…”


Government gave special treatment to failing private training provider

“The government gave England’s largest commercial further education provider ‘special treatment’ even though its performance was declining, a group of MPs concluded.

A Public Accounts Committee report out today has criticised the government’s continued commitment to its multi-million pound contract with Learndirect.

The report shows that the Education and Skills Funding Agency and its predecessor the Skills Funding Agency gave Learndirect almost £500m in the academic years from 2013-14 to 2016-17.

However, the PAC also notes that the quality of Learndirect’s apprenticeships have been in steady decline – Ofsted gave it a rating of ‘good’ in March 2013 but downgraded this to the lowest possible rating of ‘inadequate’ in March 2017.

Learndirect instigated a legal challenge challenging the ‘inadequate’ rating, which delayed the publication of Ofsted’s inspection report.

The Department for Education would normally cancel an ‘inadequate’ provider’s contract and withdraw funding immediately, but Learndirect warned that this would impact its 75,000 learners.

The government has since said it is ending Learndirect’s contract to provide apprenticeships and adult education.

Learndirect received £121m from central government in 2016-17 and is expected to get another £105m in the current financial year, the PAC pointed out.

PAC chair Meg Hillier said: “It cannot be right that individual contractors should command such large sums of public money regardless of their performance.

“No commercial provider should be allowed to become so essential to the delivery of services that it cannot be allowed to fail.”

She added: “Government has a duty to manage taxpayers’ exposure to risk diligently and we urge it to act on the recommendations set out in our report. … ”


Tory donor puts screws on tenants in Grenfell-type block

“A company run by a property tycoon who recently made a five figure donation to the Tories is forcing the residents of a block of flats with flammable cladding foot the bill for safety measures.

The latest party funding figures reveal the Tories pocketed £10,000 from Ashcorn Estates Limited, which is owned by James Tuttiett, a multimillionaire who lives in a £1.6 million farm house which has its own vineyard.

Another of his companies, E&J Estates, has been in the news recently.

It owns an apartment block in Salford which was found to have been constructed with a similar type of cladding to the one used on the Grenfell Tower.

The Guardian reported last month that E&J have told residents that they have to pay the £100,000 cost of interim fire wardens needed to make the building safe until the cladding is replaced.

The company even took legal action to enforce the charge, which one resident said would cost him an extra £235-a-month.

Matthew Crisp told the Manchester Evening News:

“I’m worried this now sets a precedent for us to foot the bill for the cladding too, and that’s devastating, as I don’t know if I’ll be able to continue living in my home.”

Crisp’s fears aren’t unfounded.

Scrapbook revealed in January how residents living in a building owned by a separate millionaire Tory donor were forced to pay the £2 million to replace flammable cladding.

The Government say they are clear that “private sector landlords follow the lead of the social sector and not pass on the costs of essential fire safety works.”

So why do the Tories keep taking their money?”


“Public at risk from ‘daily cocktail of pollution’ “

We can all do more – but big institutions can do a lot more. AND our councils can lead … sorry could lead if there was the foresight and will. Has our CCG – always thinking of our health (lol) – considered this? You bet not!

“People are being exposed to a daily cocktail of pollution that may be having a significant impact on their health, England’s chief medical officer says.

Prof Dame Sally Davies said the impact of air, light and noise pollution was well recognised in the environment.
But she said its role in terms of health was yet to be fully understood.

Dame Sally added there was enough evidence to suggest action had to be taken. And, in her annual report, she said the NHS could lead the way in cutting pollution levels. She said one in 20 vehicle journeys was linked to the NHS, either from patients or staff travelling.

Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem
And making sure services were brought out of hospitals and closer to people’s homes could help reduce that burden.
Dame Sally also pointed to the attempts being made to phase out ambulances run on diesel, a key source of nitrogen dioxide, which is linked to respiratory disease.

And she said the NHS could cut its use of disposable plastics, landfill and incineration. …”


“NHS England treats too many patients as an emergency, watchdog warns”

“The ageing population and other unexplained factors mean hospitals are now treating 5.8 million patients as emergency admissions every year, 24% more than a decade ago, the NAO found. Together they cost the health service £13.7bn, almost a 10th of its budget, and account for 33.59m bed days.

Its hard-hitting report, published on Friday, praises NHS England’s handling of the extra numbers but also criticises its failure to put in place enough services outside of hospitals to keep patients healthier.

The watchdog believes this lack of provision underpins its finding that 24% of emergency admissions are avoidable, implying that £3.43bn a year of NHS funds may be being wasted on people who, with better care, would not have ended up falling ill.

GPs offered cash to refer fewer people to hospital
The NAO said: “The impact on hospitals of rising emergency admissions poses a serious challenge to both the service and financial position of the NHS.”

It acknowledged that hospitals have done well to reduce the overall impact of rising emergency admissions in recent years, in particular by reducing patients’ length of stay and treating more patients as day cases.

But it warned: “[The health service] cannot know if its approach is achieving enduring results until it understands whether reported increases in readmissions are a sign that some people admitted as an emergency are being discharged too soon.

“The NHS also still has too many avoidable admissions and too much unexplained variation. A lot of effort is being made and progress can be seen in some areas, but the challenge of managing emergency admissions is far from being under control.”

The NAO cast serious doubt on whether key government-backed NHS initiatives to keep people out of increasingly overloaded hospitals have proved effective. The NHS’s longstanding policy of reducing its supply of beds has made things even more difficult for hospitals trying to deal with rising emergency admissions, the watchdog added.

The latest NHS data published on Thursday on how health services are coping with winter’s intense pressures shows that 95.3% of hospital beds were occupied last week – more than 10% more than the limit considered necessary for patient safety.

The NAO also voiced concern that the number of emergency admissions varies from 73 to 155 per 1,000 overall admissions in different parts of England, suggesting NHS trusts’ admission policies appear to be inconsistent and possibly wasteful.

NHS organisations and health unions endorsed the NAO’s conclusion that health service leaders’ failure to create and deliver more services in and nearer patients’ homes, despite promises to do so, was a key factor behind the upward trend in admissions.

The number of nurses working in NHS community services fell by 15% between 2010 and 2017, the Royal College of Nursing pointed out.

“People, particularly older people, are not getting the support they need in the community, which leads to more emergency admissions and dangerous levels of bed occupancy when demand is high, as we have seen this winter”, said Donna Kinnair, the RCN’s director of nursing, policy and practice.

Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said proper community services were “central to the [NHS’s] ambitions” to transform the way it cares for patients. However, she added, efforts to do so had been hampered by underfunding and such care not being seen as a priority.

Prof Keith Willett, NHS England’s medical director for acute care, said: “As the report states, there are 12% fewer A&E patients being admitted than was predicted at the start of the decade, and hospitals, community trusts and GPs trialling new models of care have meaningfully reduced admissions compared with their peers.

“In addition, growth in the cost of managing emergency admissions has been less than a third of the growth in demand.”