“Unlawful decision by town council to open café led to £234k debt: watchdog”

A warning here for all councils.

“A town council did not give due consideration as to what powers it had to open a café, the decision was based on a poorly prepared business plan and, as a result, the decision to open the establishment was unlawful, the Auditor General for Wales has found.

Since opening the café in 2011, Connah’s Quay Town Council went on to incur a cumulative deficit of more than £234,000.

Finding failures in its decision making, the Auditor General’s report made three clear recommendations for the council to:

undertake a full option appraisal for the operation of Quay Café, incorporating a full financial appraisal of each option;

ensure appropriate advice is received prior to making decisions on the provision of new or novel services;

review the services it provides and ensure that it understands the statutory basis on which it provides those services.

The town council now has one month to consider the issues raised within the report and to make a decision on whether to accept these recommendations.

The Auditor General’s report is issued alongside public interest reports for Glynneath Town Council, Maenclochog Community Council and Cynwyd Community Council.

These reports set out significant failures in governance arrangements and inadequacies in financial management and internal control at all four councils.

The Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton, said: “Given the scale of the deficit incurred at Connah’s Quay Town Council, I believe it is important that the public has a full and proper awareness of the events concerning the council. When it opened the café, the council did not have the statutory authority to do so and its decision was not supported by a clear and coherent business plan. As a result the decision was, in my view, unlawful.

“There are lessons to be learnt not just by this council, but by all town and community councils in Wales. The public interest reports issued today serve to highlight the shortcomings at four different town and community councils. Councils need to be innovative in dealing with community issues, but they must at all times display appropriate risk management and operate within their legal framework.”

Crompton added: “All four councils now have an opportunity to demonstrate that the risk of such governance failures recurring is reduced to a minimum. The public need to be assured that town and community councils have proper governance arrangements in place to manage the activities of the council both financially and administratively.”

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/governance/396-governance-news/40854-unlawful-decision-by-town-council-to-open-cafe-led-to-234k-debt-watchdog

“Research highlights worrying need for hospital emergency beds”

Owl says: you could not make this up.

“Hospitals in England are relying on backup beds to carry out routine care, research has found.

Hospitals in England are relying on backup beds to carry out routine care, research has found.

Reliance on emergency beds suggests NHS trusts are at a “critical stage” and struggling to cope with demand, the British Medical Association has said.

The BMA submitted two waves of Freedom of Information requests to all 134 acute trusts in England in March and May 2019, which revealed the extent to which ‘escalation beds’ were being used routinely.

The first round of data received responses from 105 trusts showing that there were 3,428 escalation beds in operation.

In May, according to responses from 54 trusts, there were 1,637 instances of the these beds being used, though the BMA noted that due to a lower response rate, the real figure is likely to be higher.

The beds are only supposed to be used in emergencies and when there is a spike in demand.

Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair, said: “The use of escalation beds is a sign that trusts are at a critical stage and are unable to cope with demand with their current bed stock.

“Some hospitals are forced to designate their theatre recovery beds as ‘escalation’, resulting in elective surgical operation being cancelled as there is no space for those patients who need immediate care after their surgery.”

Harwood noted that the pressure on capacity can see patients placed on beds in corridors and overcrowding treatment areas.

The BMA said that while escalation beds were traditionally used mainly in the winter, this was no longer the case as the number used in the first week of April was comparable to those in early January. There was an average of 20 escalation beds used per trust in early April and the start of January.

A total of 3,000 extra beds are needed to stop routine use of escalation beds outside of winter, while up to 10,000 are needed to bring occupancy to safe levels, the BMA estimated.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow Health Secretary, said: “The use of escalation beds is yet another sign that hospitals are struggling to cope under continued pressure. We know this is compromising patient care.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/06/research-highlights-worrying-need-hospital-emergency-beds