“‘Support staff plugging nurse-shortage gaps’ “

“Failure to recruit enough nurses has left the NHS dependent on less-skilled support staff to plug workforce gaps, analysis by a charity has found.

The Health Foundation claimed there has been a “hollowing out” of the NHS workforce and said the country needs to recruit at least 5,000 international nurses a year until 2023-24 to prevent shortages impacting on patient care.

Although there was the biggest annual increase in overall workforce for a decade between March 2018 and March 2019, this “masks an ongoing shift” in the mix of clinical staff employed by the NHS, the charity said.

While there was 4,500 more nurses recruited in the year – an increase of 1.5% – there was a 2.6% increase in support staff doctors, nurses and midwives (6,500 more), according to the analysis.

Nursing vacancies also reached record levels at 44,000 in the first quarter of 2019 while NHS output – including the number of operations, consultations and diagnostic procedures – grew by 23% between 2010-11 and 2016-17.

“The figures suggest that in some cases, clinical support staff are effectively filling in the gaps left by the widespread shortages of nurses, raising questions of quality and safety,” the report added.

The Health Foundation also said figures show that in response to a “severe drop off” in the supply of EU nurses since 2016, the UK has ramped up its recruitment of nurses from non-EU countries over the last year.

Since the Brexit referendum nurses recruited from EU countries has fallen by 85% – from 6,382 in 2016-17 to 968 in 2018-19.

The charity noted there had still been recruitment from outside the EU in 2018-19 – including 1,791 nurses from India and 3,118 from the Philippines.

A similar trend occurred with doctor recruitment, where there was a fall of 1.6% between March 2018 and March 2019 of permanently employed GPs. The Health Foundation added: “It now appears impossible that the government’s original target of recruiting 5,000 additional GPs by 2020 will be met”.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: “Nursing shortages continue to deepen and are inevitably impacting on the front line.

“Services are being forced to make do with shortfalls of increasingly pressurised nurses and rely on less-skilled support staff to pick up the slack.

She added: “Two obvious solutions to the nurse staffing crisis would be to train more nurses in this country and retain more existing staff. But the UK is struggling to grow the numbers starting nursing degrees, and while there must also be action to address this – for example, by giving nurse students the cost-of-living support they need – it will take time to have a significant impact on the numbers of nurses.”

Charlesworth noted that clinical support staff played an important role but added there appeared to be an unplanned increased recruitment of such staff to fill nursing staff shortages.

The Conservatives have promised 50,000 more nurses if they win the election next month, although 19,000 of those will be retained rather than newly recruited.”

(pay wall)

“New Statesman” profiles Claire Wright as real threat to Tories

Rural revolt: The independent rebellion threatening Tory Devon.

A local campaigner called Claire Wright is fighting to end Tory rule in East Devon after 150 years, having turned the safe seat marginal over the last two elections.

For over 150 years, the coastal towns and rural villages of East Devon have been Conservative. Although the area has changed over the years to inherit some fragments of the Labour city of Exeter – a red droplet in the county’s sea of blue – it has never seen political upset.

Until today.

What was once a safe seat has been turning quietly marginal.

A local campaigner called Claire Wright, who’s never been a member of a political party, has been chipping away at the Tory majority for years.

The independent candidate first stood for parliament in 2015, when she came second place – a spot usually reserved for the Liberal Democrats. In 2017, her vote share increased by more than 11 percentage points. She racked up 21,270 votes to the incumbent Tory’s 29,306.

She’s not alone. In May’s local elections this year, independents took control of East Devon District Council from the Tories.

“It’s a sea-change,” she says. “Support for independents is mushrooming here.”

Having represented the seat for eight years, the Tory MP and former foreign minister Hugo Swire stunned Devon’s political scene in September by announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Fighting her third general election here, Wright thinks she’ll win it this time.

“I want to win now more than I’ve ever wanted to win – probably because it’s more likely now that I can. I could never quite see myself winning but this time I sort of can’t see myself not winning. All I can see is me giving a victory speech, but we’ll have to wait and see,” she grins, while out doorknocking around the picturesque coastal town of Sidmouth. When she visits London, she feels a “frisson” if she walks past the Houses of Parliament.

A lurch to the Wright

Historically a fishing village, Sidmouth is a place of comfortable retirement, muddy wellies drying in sloping driveways, seagulls perching on gateposts. On average, the East Devon constituency is affluent and has a significantly older population, with 28 per cent of its residents aged 65 and above compared to 18 per cent across the UK.

Wright, 44, feels like a fresh face around these parts, particularly when compared to her erstwhile rival Swire (Eton, Sandhurst, multi-billion pound family business, a “Sir”). But she’s developed a profile and name recognition during a decade in local government.

Voters know her from, say, her campaign to protect overnight stays at the maternity unit in the local Honiton hospital, or bringing the first play park to the village of West Hill near Ottery where she’s lived for 13 years, having lived in Devon all her life.

A natural campaigner (“I even used to write letters as a ten-year-old!”), Wright was elected to Ottery Town Council in 2009, East Devon District Council in 2011 when she made headlines ousting its long-standing Tory leader, and Devon County Council in 2013.

Unlike your usual independent candidates, she is neither a single-issue drumbeater nor a naïve no-hoper. She has a comprehensive policy offer, building her manifesto partly from a local survey she ran in January in anticipation of a general election. It’s an anti-austerity, environmental pitch that focuses on restoring local services; rural England has been hit hard by cuts.

Wright’s main policy interests are the NHS, where she worked in media relations for ten years, and protecting the natural world (her love of wildlife started early, when she played outdoors as a child). She once campaigned so furiously to protect some oak trees from a construction project that the wife of one of the developers came around to her house to shout at her.

Tory blues

On the district council, as the youngest member surrounded by an overwhelming majority of Tories, Wright would endure desk-thumping, shouting and “patronising” sexist behaviour – but “most of it bounced off me because I had so much support” from the public who would come to watch. She wrote revealing blogs after council meetings, and circulated them to the local press, garnering attention and angering her opponents.

“People who have lived here for a long time remember all that stuff,” she says.

Indeed, almost everyone whose door she knocks recognises her during a full day of canvassing (“ah, you’re Claire Wright!” is a common response).

Not everyone has decided on their vote, however, though disillusionment with all parties is a common theme.

“This is the first time as a voter I feel embarrassed by Parliament, it’s a shambles – if they were in jobs they’d have been sacked ages ago, it’s a mess,” says a middle-aged school governor and business owner at one house.

“I want something to change. Labour and the Conservatives are lost. It’s so political – it’s not about doing a job, running the country and looking after people. They should’ve been sacked, they’ve got away with murder.”

Although he likes the idea of an outsider, he’s unsure how one would change much as an independent MP. Wright mentions the influence of the only Green MP Caroline Lucas, and her own experience working cross-party on councils.

Unlike the main parties, Wright doesn’t have to spend most of her stump speech defending an unpopular leader, or being pilloried for the behaviour of MPs in Parliament. She gets straight to her point: that she’s the “only option who can win against the Conservatives” – and, every candidate’s dream, a policy discussion.

On Brexit, she wants a confirmatory vote on Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement, and would campaign to Remain.

Although East Devon as a region voted Leave in the EU referendum, there are plenty of Remain voters in the constituency looking for an outlet. It’s the only place so far on the campaign trail where I hear residents express a positive opinion about the Lib Dems’ policy to revoke Article 50.

The angry school governor voted Leave but “I look back now and think it’s a disgrace that the country was asked to vote on that. I thought I was well-informed – I wasn’t. The public was ill-informed. It’s bollocks.”

Despite the area’s reputation as a conservative retirement resort, older residents respond positively to Wright and express disappointment in the Tories.

“We won’t be voting Conservative!” say an elderly couple who walk past Wright’s car that is crammed with campaign materials.

“How can you trust a person like Boris? He says the first thought that comes into his head,” says the husband, whose wife adds, “he wants to be a buffoon but he’s really a bully boy”.

Not long after, a white van sails past with a driver who honks his horn and pumps a fist out of the window in support. “I promise we didn’t set this up,” a member of Wright’s campaign team smiles.

Another older woman, whose driveway winds up to a spectacular veranda view of the green hills surrounding Sidmouth, is a disillusioned Tory voter who backed Remain.

“I always vote Conservative, I’m sick to death of it all. I’ve lost faith in them,” she says. “Sidmouth is deteriorating, everything is scruffy, it’s depressing.”

Because the council is so absent on her road, she sometimes sweeps it herself. “There are too many cutbacks on everything.”

This part of the country may have a well-to-do reputation, but a quarter of Devon’s children live in poverty and the county council faces a budget black hole of £32m for 2019/20 – stretching services including social care, mental health provision, special educational needs funding, road maintenance and street lighting. Fear for Devon’s community hospitals threatened with closure is prevalent here.

Not independent’s day yet?

In Exmouth, the largest town in East Devon, the Tory candidate Simon Jupp has a very different interpretation of this election.

Born in Plymouth, the local journalist-turned-special adviser to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says, “people are generally telling me, whether they voted Leave or Remain, they want to get Brexit done – I know that’s the soundbite that you expect from a Conservative Party candidate.”

Local issues also come up, he adds, mentioning community hospitals and opposition to parking charges. His own father’s life was saved in a community hospital two years ago.

Jupp’s longer-term aim is to boost East Devon’s tourism, walking me along an impossibly windy seafront to show me where a hotel, watersports centre, leisure complex and two-storey restaurant are planned. The existing windswept bowling green and retro amusement arcade with its modest crazy golf course could look very much like a carpark come the new developments.

“We’ve seen some of our traditional industries like tourism struggle. I want to see that reinvigorated, serving a new market,” Jupp says, pointing out the vegan cakes on sale in the café we settle in.

“New people can come here and it’s not just about being a bucket and spade area… not just the delicious cream teas we all know and love, but also vegan cakes, decent coffee, so it appeals to everyone.”

Jupp accepts there’s competition – but talks up the other candidates. “I think it’ll be a fair fight, but I don’t think people need to necessarily focus entirely on the independent candidate,” he says. “Also look at the resurgence of the Liberal Democrats in the southwest, and the Labour party as well. It’s not a two-horse race in my view. No seat is safe.”

Rural revolt

“There’s a lack of young people here, it’s a retirement town,” says resident Gillian Hancock, 59, who is walking her dog and used to work at the Royal College of Nursing in Exeter. “I can’t see it changing from Conservative, it’s an affluent area, really.”

Brexit is not a priority for her, and she is undecided – choosing between the Green party and Lib Dems. “They all promise so much but don’t always deliver,” she says, noting the “many empty shops” in the town.

Jade Howarth, 35, a ward sister at Exeter hospital, is on a walk with her three-year-old son who is enthusiastically towing a plastic cart along the pavement. She likes the idea of modernising the town as, “it would be a nice thing for the little ones”.

She is also undecided, calling the election “difficult and confusing”, saying she’s “switched off” from it. Having voted Leave, she “felt guilty because I hadn’t really thought about it”, she says. “Now I know the details I think we should have stayed in, I’ve changed my mind. We have to stand up for ourselves but I feel bad – I do think it needs to be changed.”

Outgoing MP Hugo Swire insists the Tories will win over half the vote in East Devon. But softer Tory voters in search of change make its future far from certain. Polling day could yet turn out to be a kind of independence day.”


New hotel allowed on A3052 – convenient for Westpoint, Crealy and Greendale

Interesting that EDDC would have refused it but delayed too long so the decision was taken away from them.

“A new 130-bedroom hotel will be built on the site of a caravan and camping park just outside Exeter.

Hill Pond Caravan and Camping Park successfully appealed against the non-determination by East Devon District Council over their plans to build a new L-shaped hotel on the site of the existing park just off the A3052.

The site is adjacent to the Hill Barton Business Park, and is across the A3052 from Exeter City’s training ground and Crealy Adventure Park, and near to Westpoint.

Planning inspector Andrew Spencer-Peet in his report said that the economic benefits of the new hotel were evident, it would address the acknowledged current shortfall of holiday accommodation in the area, and the benefits of the proposal carry sufficient weight to justify allowing the appeal scheme. …” …

East Devon District Council had issued a report that said they would have resolved to refuse planning permission, had the decision not be taken away from them by the appeal against non-determination.

Issuing their ‘would have’ refused notice, council planners said there was an absence of robust evidence of need and demand for a hotel in the location and it hadn’t been demonstrated that there was such an un-met need for the hotel, there could be a departure from the local plan.

But Mr Spencer-Peet, announcing his decision last week, allowed the appeal, subject to 15 conditions being met.


British capitalism “too extreme” and doesn’t work

“The UK has one of the most extreme forms of capitalism in the world and we urgently need to rethink the role of business in society. That’s according to Prof Colin Mayer, author of a new report on the future of the corporation for the British Academy.

Prof Mayer says that global crises such as the environment and growing inequality are forcing a reassessment of what business is for.

“The corporation has failed to deliver benefit beyond shareholders, to its stakeholders and its wider community,” he said.

“At the moment, how we conceptualise business is, it’s there to make money. But instead, we should think about it as an incredibly powerful tool for solving our problems in the world.”

He said the ownership structure of companies had made the UK one of the worst examples of responsible capitalism.

“The UK has a particularly extreme form of capitalism and ownership,” he said.

“Most ownership in the UK is in the hands of a large number of institutional investors, none of which have a significant controlling shareholding in our largest companies. That is quite unlike virtually any other country in the world, including the United States.”

This heavily dispersed form of ownership means none of the owners is providing a genuinely long-term perspective on how to achieve goals while also making money.”


Owl is SO tired of “binary politics”!

No need to read newspapers or watch TV – one knows exactly what they will say about whom and about what. Each side says the other is 100% wrong and stupid and their side is 100% right and clever.

We HAVE to do things differently – we have to start electing people such as Claire Wright – local people who thoroughly understand local issues and are not subject to party whipping.

Proportional representation too! First-past-the-post usually means that someone with less than 50% of the votes ends up representing 100% of the people.

Parachute Tory candidate Jupp …

“Mr Jupp himself moved to Exmouth at the beginning of November from his flat in Wimbledon, which he still owns from his time working in Westminster.” …


A vote for anyone other than Claire Wright is a vote for the parachute Tory.

Now Lib Dems publish “fake” newspaper

A vote for anyone other than Claire Wright (Independent) is a vote for Tories.

Hot on the heels of East Devon Tories:

National Lib Dems try same (dirty) trick


Jew Miriam Margolys sticks up for Corbyn – explains difference between anti-semitism and anti-Zionism

Anti-semitism is hating Jews.
Anti-Zionism is being against the State of Israel.
Miriam Margolys is a Jew who is an anti-Zionist.
The Chief Rabbi has said that anyone who is pro-Palestine is an anti-semite.
However, many, many Jewish people recognise the right for Palestine to exist.
Anyone (Jewish or not) who is pro-Palestine is not an anti-Semite and may or may not be anti-Zionist (for or against a state of Israel).
How Owl wishes people could understand the difference – including the Chief Rabbi!

A quarter of Devon’s children live in poverty says Devon County Council

It’s what people voted for when they voted Conservative for continued austerity.

“A quarter of Devon’s children are living in poverty once housing costs taken into account.

More than 35,000 children in Devon are living in poverty once housing costs are taken into account, councillors have heard.

A Children’s Services Self-Assessment went before Devon County Council’s Children’s Scrutiny Committee last Monday which provided an up-to-date evaluation of the needs of children and families in Devon.

The report outlined how 14 per cent of the local authority’s children are living in poverty (before housing costs), but that rises to 25 per cent (after housing costs) are taking into account.

More than 10 per cent of children are entitled to free school meals, the report added, and also says that 41,000 households in the county are affected by fuel poverty.

Cllr Rob Hannaford, chairman of the Children’s Scrutiny Committee, said that the figures were shocking and in many areas, including Devon, growing up in poverty is not the exception but the rule.

Commenting on the report after the meeting, he said: “These local figures for child poverty in Devon are truly shocking, and it’s completely unacceptable and wrong in 2019, in one of the richest countries in the world, that we are still dealing with this most basic of issues affecting so many children.

“Large numbers of people seem to just wrongly assume that because we live a beautiful part of the country, that we don’t experience the same serious social problems that other areas do. These new figures again show in stark reality that this is just not the case, and much of our poverty and hardship is hidden by the affluence that some others have.”

Cllr Hannaford added: “Thousands more families across Devon, are living on the cusp of the poverty line. One unexpected setback – like redundancy or illness – could push them into the poverty trap.

“Overall there are more than four million children in the UK growing up in poverty. The situation is getting worse, with the number set to rise to five million by 2020. And those poverty rates have risen for every type of working family – lone-parent or couple families, families with full and part-time employment and families with different numbers of adults in work. This is the first time in two decades this has happened, and incredibly it is happening at a time of rising employment, and these figures in Devon are in line with these trends.

“But the evidence is clear – poverty can make existing vulnerabilities worse. Growing up in poverty puts at risk the building blocks of a good childhood – secure relationships, a decent home, having friends and fun, and an inspiring education.

“A child is said to be living in poverty when they are living in a family with an income below 60 per cent of the UK’s average after adjusting for family size. So it’s just not acceptable that some people still seem to trot out the same old tired response that no one is really in poverty these days, and it’s like Victorian times or the 1930s, such as when children didn’t have shoes on their feet.

“My grandparents were brought up in near slum conditions, and at times they also did not have proper shoes, and went hungry, are we really seriously saying that we want to inflict all this misery and hardship on children today?”

He continued: “Clearly the biggest driver for children’s poverty nationally and locally is the profound lack of social, affordable, decent housing. The figures are stark. 120,000 children in England are living in temporary accommodation. There are also 90,000 children living in families who are ‘sofa-surfing’. And of course this accommodation is usually terrible.

What is poverty in the UK?

“B&Bs where sometimes the bathroom is shared and there is nowhere to cook. Places where vulnerable adults can be living on the same corridor. Office block conversions – individual flats the size of a parking space, where families live and sleep in the same single room. And even converted shipping containers – cramped and airless – hot in the summer, freezing in the winter. This is a reality that shames the whole nation.

“Rising living costs, low wages and cuts to benefits are creating a perfect storm in which more children are falling into the poverty trap. Shockingly, two thirds of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work. Many families are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living. The prices of essentials like food and fuel are going up and this hits Britain’s poorest families hardest. We know that parents are skipping meals so they can afford to feed their children, and in winter many families are forced to make the impossible choice of feeding their children or heating their homes.

“So we know what actually causes child poverty and we know how to end it. We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs. And we know that work does not always guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.

“Yet in many areas, including Devon, growing up in poverty is not the exception, it’s the rule, with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances. Policy makers can no longer deny the depth and breadth of the problem, and the Government must respond with a credible long term child poverty reduction strategy.”

The report revealed that in primary schools, 10.9 per cent of pupils are entitled to free schools meals, and 10 per cent in secondary schools, but Cllr Hannaford feared that the numbers were in reality much higher.

He added: “The percentage is shocking, but there is a feeling in rural areas that it may be more as there is a stigma about people and they don’t claim it so they don’t have the finger pointed at in the local community.”

Cllr Margaret Squires, who represents the Creedy, Taw & Mid Exe ward, added her concerns to those of Cllr Hannaford.

She said: “A headteacher who had moved down here from London said to me the deprivation they see is different. Down here, people don’t want others to know they have free school meals, so they are working every hour they can. But it means that the children are missing out as the parents are so tired, they haven’t got the time to sit and listen to them read.

“I my area, we are virtually fully employed, but some of them work two jobs so they can live in the area, and to survive, they are working all these hours, but it not recorded as deprivation as they don’t have time to sit and read with their children.”

The figures in the report showed at as of September 1, 2019, 771 children were being looked after by the council – a rate of 54.8 per 10,000 children – an increase from 750 – 52.2 per 10,000 children – at March 31.

At September 1, 2019, 3,219 children had been identified through assessment as being formally in need of a specialist children’s service, an increase from 3,318 in March 2019, but the number of children subject of a child protection plan had decreased from 518 to 505 between March and September.

The report also said that there were 25 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the area, and that eight children and young people who turned 18 years old and who were in the care of the local authority were living in unsuitable accommodation during 2018-19.

Cllr Linda Hellyer questioned what the council was doing about it, why they were unsuitable, and what have we done to get them somewhere better.

In response, Darryl Freeman, Head of Children’s Social Care, explained that the definition of unsuitable included prison, where two of the eight were in custody. He added that the council will continue to work with them, assuming they allow them to remain in touch, and to ensure that they have choices once they leave custody.

The report also added that the top three risks for the future were increase in demand, across all services, recruitment and retention, particularly of experienced social workers, and sufficiency of provision for special needs children and placements for Children in Care.

The council also earlier this year adopted a new Children and Young People’s Plan, which is the single plan to co-ordinate developments for the next three years

Each priority in the plan has a detailed strategy/ action plan below it with a multi-agency group led by a senior manager from the partnership.

The self-assessment report was noted by the committee.


Johnson has hissy fit – refuses to debate climate change because one participant is a Leader, not an candidate

Johnson has previously refused to appear with Sturgeon – he really IS afraid of her! Sturgeon, although not a candidate IS the person who takes the big decisions in Scotland.

“Boris Johnson is refusing to take part in the first ever election leader’s debate focusing on the climate crisis, with Channel 4 threatening to leave an empty chair if the prime minister does not attend.

The broadcaster said Mr Johnson had yet to respond to a request to attend the hour-long Emergency On Planet Earth debate on Thursday.

It came hours after the UN published a report warning that countries would need to increase their carbon-cutting efforts five fold to avoid climate chaos.

Channel 4 has invited six party leaders to its climate debate, but so far only the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Scottish First Minister National party leader Nicola Sturgeon, the Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson, and the co-leader of the Green party Sian Berry, have agreed to take part.

It is understood that the prime minister is not willing to debate with Ms Sturgeon because she is not a candidate at the election, and it is not clear if a replacement will be sent.”


“Boris Johnson’s pledge to recruit 50,000 new nurses is based on lies and is an insult to the NHS”

“Boris Johnson has promised an extra 50,000 NHS nurses by 2025. Part of the package is a return to providing bursaries for nursing students, to support them while they gain vital professional qualifications. This might seem like a welcome proposal, until you realise the entire policy is built on sand, propped up with deception and lies, and amounts to an insult to the brilliant and hardworking staff of the NHS.

Bursaries were axed at the insistence of the Tories in 2016, despite clear warnings from health unions, professional associations, and nurses themselves that this would be detrimental to the recruitment and retention of nurses.

Figures released by UCAS show that the number of people applying to study nursing in England has fallen by more than 13,000 since the bursary was scrapped. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) points out that the numbers of mature students applying has also fallen by 41%. They say there are about 40,000 nursing vacancies in England. The prime minister’s pledge to reinstate the bursary is welcome, but merely rights a wrong, and does nothing to plug a three-year gap in recruitment.

Then there is the prime minister’s flagship Brexit plan. The uncertainty and threat of economic chaos has already meant the NHS has lost 5,000 nurses from other EU nations. There has been a huge fall in the numbers of nurses from other EU countries coming to the UK to work for the NHS. This is hardly a surprise given the toxic political culture and sense that they are unwelcome.”


East Devon’s parachuted Tory candidate …

… seems to be rushing around the constituency trying to get as many photos as possible taken of himself by road signs.

Has anyone actually had a meaningful conversation with him (ie a question honestly answered?). Just so you recognise him, he may or may not have a beard and may or not call himself Simon Jupp!

On his Simon Jupp for East Devon Facebook page he looks like this:

on a Facebook page oddly called only “Simon James” (no mention of Jupp) he looked like this until recently:

EDDC had record income from parking at time Leader wanted to increase charges

Motorists all over East Devon are paying for refuse collection, council tax payers throughout East Devon will pay extra if there is no hotel in Exmouth … where will it end?

“The 2018/19 figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show a record return for the council since comparable records began in 2008/9.

A consultation has been carried out, by the council, on plans to raise hourly parking charges from £1 to £1.20. The leader of the council, Ben Ingham, has said any increases will not come into force until 2021.

A spokesman for East Devon District Council said: “East Devon District Council owns 57 car parks that currently contribute around £2.4million which is used to provide a range of essential council services including, for example, our recycling and refuse collection contract. …”