Derriford Emergency Department ‘not fit for purpose’

Johnny Mercer has vowed to march on campaigning for new state of the art facilities at Derriford Hospital after an official warning was placed over its under strain Emergency Department.

Eve Watson.

The Moor View parliamentarian believes the CQC’s report exposing a number of issues concerning crowding and delays as ‘not helpful’ during the coronavirus pandemic and says he will do all he can to ensure Derriford gets a new Emergency Department by 2024 as well as a brand new hospital in later years.

His comments come as the UK’s health watchdog orders Plymouth University Hospitals NHS Trust to make urgent improvements after an inspection in March.

The former Veterans Minister said: “I’d just like to thank all the staff who’ve done an amazing job during this pandemic.

“I’m not sure why the CQC think a report like this is helpful at this time during a once-in-a-generation pandemic when we all know there are structural challenges at Derriford Hospital and the A&E (Emergency) department so I don’t see why that’s helpful.

“Personally I don’t think it’s helpful, and I’d just like to say a huge thank you to the staff because they’ve been struggling away in a department that’s not fit for purpose in a long time.”

When asked whether the NHS was suffering from lack of investment under the Conservative Government, he responded: “I think if you look at the figures, yes historically as a Conservative Government we haven’t invested enough in our NHS, that’s a fair criticism.

“I don’t think that can be levelled at the current administration, I think that we need to have grown up conversations around how we can sustain a health care system that is free to the point of need for those who need it.

“One of the answers is a big investment in infrastructure which I’ve committed to, Matt Hancock has committed to, the Prime Minister has committed to. I think everybody knows my views of those who don’t deliver their promises in politics.”

Meanwhile, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Labour MP Luke Pollard said some ‘serious problems need to be addressed’.

He said: “I want to thank our NHS staff for working under incredibly tough circumstances throughout the pandemic. The CQC report identifies some problems, but it should also thank staff enough for going the extra mile and working their socks off. I have confidence in the team at Derriford to address the problems that have been identified.

“A decade of underfunding and fragmenting our NHS means there are some serious problems that need to be addressed. One of the most urgent issues is sorting out the crisis in primary care so everyone can see a GP locally. Derriford’s Emergency Department should be for emergencies but sadly too many Plymouth families are having to use it because they can’t access a doctor.

“I want to see NHS staff paid a decent pay rise not given the planned real terms pay cut by Ministers. It also means proper investment in our NHS and that is what I will continue to argue for.”

A report from the CQC, published yesterday, states Plymouth University Hospitals Trust has been informed of two breaches of legal requirements which “must be put right”.

Inspectors received information which led to concerns about “the safety and quality of the service”, and as a result gave the trust “around 30 minutes” notice before an inspection was carried out of the ED and diagnostic imaging services.

The trust said it has provided the CQC with “evidence of the immediate actions” it has already taken to address the concerns raised during the inspection.

It praised staff for their efforts during the global pandemic “to meet the needs of patients attending as emergencies, both with and without Covid-19”.

A Derriford spokesperson said the hospital appreciated the recognition.

The inspection, which focused purely on how safe, responsive and well-led the service was, found that there had been a deterioration in the quality of services being provided, which resulted in some rating changes.

The safety of this service at Derriford Hospital was previously rated as requires improvement, but it is now inadequate; and where the service used to be good for being well-led, it is now rated as requires improvement.

The ‘Responsive’ category was not rated on this occasion so the previous rating of requires improvement remains. The overall rating for the urgent and emergency care service at Derriford Hospital remains as requires improvement.

CQC also looked at the diagnostic and imaging services in response to concerns about the safety and quality of the service, and to check on the progress of improvements made following a previous inspection. During this focused inspection, CQC looked at how safe, effective and well-led the diagnostic imaging service at Derriford Hospital was.

Due to the narrow focus of the inspection, the overall rating for diagnostic imaging did not change and remains requires improvement.

During this part of the inspection, the CQC found staff “identified, responded to and removed or minimised risks to patients” and the service managed patient safety incidents “well”. It also found that staff felt “respected, supported and valued” and were focused on the needs of patients receiving care.

You can read the full report here.

Nature reserve announced for East Devon

A national nature reserve has been announced today (13 May) for the East Devon Pebbled Heaths near Exeter.

Announced by Natural England, the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, stretching between the village of Woodbury towards Budleigh Salterton on the Jurassic Coast, is the latest site in the county to join the UK’s list of nationally and internationally important landscapes. 

Radio Exe News

East Devon Pebblebed Heaths (courtesy: Jake Newman, Rekord Media)

Protects and establishes habitats, species, and geology

The Pebbled Heaths Conservation Trust is managed by the Devon Wildlife Trust and the RSPB – a new board under the chairmanship of Chris Woodruff, the manager of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, will guide and advise the partners in the management of the new NNR.    

Recognition of the 1,160 hectare site as a national nature reserve (NNR) both protects and establishes East Devon Pebblebed Heaths’ important habitats, species, and geology and provides an ‘outdoor laboratory’ for research.

The new NNR will make up a part of the wider Nature Recovery Network to significantly expand and connect wildlife-rich places to benefit people and nature. At the heart of the heaths is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and the site is also a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Special Protection Area (SPA).  

A biodiversity audit in 2016 documented more than 3,000 species across the range of habitats on the heaths – and more than 10% of these have been shown to have high conservation value. Among the key species which benefit from the habitats the heaths provide are Dartford warblers, nightjars, and the southern damselfly. 

Announcing the NNR, Natural England Chair Tony Juniper, said: 

“National Nature Reserves are the very jewels in nature’s crown. In addition to being among our most wonderful natural areas, they are also at the very heart of our ambition to create a Nature Recovery Network, to restore the beauty, diversity, and health of nature across the country. 

“The East Devon Pebblebed Heaths reserve offers wonderful opportunities for people to connect with nature, and to experience some wonderful wildlife, including 70 species of breeding birds and many unusual plants, insects, and reptiles. It is also an important archaeological site, set in a unique and evocative landscape. 

“Natural England is very proud to confirm the designation of East Devon Pebblebed Heaths and hope many more people will enjoy its wonderful natural riches.” 

Dr Sam Bridgewater, Head of Wildlife and Conservation for Clinton Devon Estates, said: 

“The heaths have been loved by generations of people and attract around 400,000 visits a year. As well as providing space for some of our rarest species, they play an important role in supporting mental and physical health and wellbeing, providing contact with nature and a place to exercise, socialise and enjoy.  

“Being granted National Nature Reserve status by Natural England is a recognition of the hard work not just of the staff of the three partner management organisations but the many volunteers who give so much of their time through groups such as the Friends of the Commons, all of which are invaluable.  

“This declaration also helps ensure the future of the heaths and their wildlife because National Nature Reserves benefit from the highest level of conservation protection available under UK legislation.” 

NNRs are designated by Natural England and are acknowledged as rare and precious areas which protect some of our country’s most important places for wildlife and geology.  

There are more than 200 NNRs in England with the first NNRs declared in the 1950s. Today NNRs showcase the best of conservation practice aimed at protecting habitat, wildlife, and geology alongside supporting research, education, and recreation where people can enjoy and engage with our shared heritage. 

Natural England to get 47% funding increase amid ‘green recovery’ plans

Owl will wait and see if it really happens. Can you rebuild lost teams of expertise overnight?

Patrick Barkham 

Natural England, the government’s conservation watchdog, is to receive a 47% increase in government funding this year as its role expands to support a “green recovery” and provide environmental scrutiny of the government’s controversial “Project Speed”.

The dramatic funding increase is a boost for wildlife protection and monitoring after a decade of deep cuts which left the agency at “crisis point” and its chairman, Tony Juniper, admitting that it would struggle to reverse declines in biodiversity.

Natural England monitors and manages some of the country’s most wildlife-rich places, including sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) and many nature reserves, also providing expert advice on the environmental impact of new homes, roads and other developments.

Juniper, the influential former Friends of the Earth campaigner who was appointed chair in 2019, said: “I am delighted to see the government backing nature recovery and giving us more of the tools we need to make a real difference and build back greener from the coronavirus pandemic. Natural England has big ambitions to establish a ‘nature recovery network’ and I believe our renewed focus and remit will help us to achieve this.”

The “nature recovery network,” a vision of landscape-scale restoration that joins up nature-rich places to better enable wild species to move through the countryside, was first mapped out in the government’s 25-year plan for the environment in 2018.

After a modest injection of an extra £15m last year, Natural England’s total budget for 2021-22 will rise to £198m, of which 90% is from Defra, plus £2.5m from other government departments and the remainder from fees, charges and external funding. Although a big increase from a low of £85.6m in 2019-20, its budget is still less than the £265m it received in 2008-09.

In its expanded role, Natural England will be a statutory consultee on the government’s “Project Speed” to accelerate infrastructure projects, an aspiration recently branded “an utter disaster” by conservationists.

Juniper told the Guardian that there was “a lot to do” to “join up the ambition to streamline the development process at the same time as achieving ‘nature recovery’” but that there was not necessarily a contradiction between these aspirations.

The forthcoming environment bill includes the requirement for all developments to provide a “net gain” in biodiversity, which Natural England will assess.

“Housing and infrastructure can be done in ways that are quite damaging [to nature] or in quite a good way. Our task at Natural England is to get these things as complementary as they can be,” he said. “If we can step back and have ecological thinking built into the planning process, that’s going to solve a lot of the problems before they emerge.”

The agency will also administer the new “nature for climate” peatland grant scheme and increase its work with farmers, helping Defra design the new environmental land management scheme (Elms). This post-Brexit support for farmers aims to provide “public money for public goods”, with farmers paid for environmental services such as flood alleviation and carbon sequestration in soils and trees.

Juniper, who has consistently argued for more government resources, said the increase was a “a very welcome outcome for this year” that would “put more capacity into the organisation”.

In 2019, he warned that the “massively depleted” agency could not adequately manage the “jewels in the crown” of English nature. The government missed its 2010 target to restore half of SSSIs to “favourable” condition by 2020, with more than 60% of the nature-rich sites in unfavourable condition, and more than half not monitored in six years or more due to the funding cuts.

Joan Edwards, director of policy and public affairs for the Wildlife Trusts, said: “This is a positive step in the right direction, but Natural England has suffered underfunding for years, which has had a significant effect on the work it needs to do for nature’s recovery.

“We hope that this is the first of a series of increases to Natural England’s budget, we are still one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. In the run-up to Cop26 we must show the world we mean business, tackling the twin nature and climate emergencies, and Natural England has a vital role to play.

“We still need to see significant increases in funding, for example, for work improving natural habitats at sea so that marine wildlife can flourish again, and sea habitats can store carbon once more.”

As the £840/roll wallpaper starts to peel off – Owl reflects on: “a week is a long time in politics”

[All these events have been widely reported]

A week ago Boris Johnson felt sufficiently confident in the success of the Government’ Covid strategy to concede a public inquiry.

The May elections boosted his confidence that he could win a general election in 2023 without having to worry about an inquiry that would not start work before 2022 and would not report until at least 2024.


 “I’m sick of it.” 

 Jenny McGee, St. Thomas’ nurse who treated Boris Johnson, resigned over low pay. 

“We’re not getting the respect and now pay that we deserve.”

“We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday”. Or are we?

Days of mixed messages about travel – Can you/can’t you? Should you/shouldn’t you? Does amber mean stop, go or don’t even think about it?

A couple of days ago:

Dominic Cummings tweeted in combative mood that the key to the pandemic was “fast hard effective action” to lock down. He dismissed any notion of there being a trade-off between lockdown and economic recovery. “This nonsense is STILL influencing policy, eg our joke borders policy.”

 Which naturally leads Owl to note:

The “Indian” variant of Covid-19 is becoming increasingly “significant” and, if it proves to be very much more infectious than the “British” variant, could derail Boris’ June 21 “Freedom Day” plans.

As Cummings says, Johnson has become complacent about the trade-off strategy. 


The government has admitted that failings with the test and trace system led to a delay in hundreds being told they should have isolated after coming into contact with coronavirus,

The glitch meant local councils, including Blackburn with Darwen, were not given the full data on the number of positive tests in their area – which may have led to the current surge in numbers.

On Track and Trace :

Dido Harding’s test and trace system has swallowed up “unimaginable” amounts of taxpayers’ money with no evidence of any measurable difference on the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, a scathing report by a Westminster spending watchdog [the Public Accounts Committee] has found.

The report said NHS test and trace must “wean itself off” its reliance on private-sector consultants, after figures showed it was still employing around 2,500 in early February on an estimated daily rate of £1,100 a head – with the highest-paid individual costing taxpayers £6,624 a day. 

The March budget included an additional £15bn for test and trace, taking the total bill to more than £37bn over two years.

Next week:

Cummings is to give “explosive evidence” to the joint health and science select committee investigation on the handling of the pandemic next Wednesday. (He claims to have a “Smoking Gun”).


To cap it all, the £840/roll “gold” print wall paper is reported to have started to peel off the walls of the Downing Street flat.

The company states on its website that it does not offer refunds and advises customers to inspect deliveries before pasting its heavy-duty products to walls. “No claims for faulty fabrics or wallpapers can be made after the fabrics or wallpapers have been cut or hung,” the firm says. 

 So who foots the bill on this one?