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)

https://www.thecanary.co/discovery/2017/10/16/ex-labour-health-secretary-wants-take-medication-away-patients-save-money/

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!

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. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/17/we-cannot-afford-to-fund-dementia-tax-proposals-councils-warn?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

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.”

http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/services/rural-mp-slams-government-on-broadband

“Now police chief Alison Hernandez faces a no confidence vote from her own former colleagues”

It seems only local Conservative politicians are prepared to keep her – what a surprise! In any other walk of life she would probably now be at the job centre. What a waste of our money.

“Police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez faces another vote of no confidence this week – from her own former council colleagues. Ms Hernandez was a member of Torbay Council before she took on the job as Devon and Cornwall’s police chief.

Now her old council will be the latest to move for a vote of no confidence in her. The Conservative commissioner has already endured votes of no confidence from Plymouth City Council, which she lost, and another by the police scrutiny panel, which she won.

Devon County Council’s cabinet also backed the commissioner last month. Cornish councillors are also expected to have a similar discussion this month.

Now Liberal Democrat councillors in Torbay have her in their sights. They are angry at police cuts as well as Ms Hernandez’ comments on using armed volunteers in response to terrorist incidents and her attempts to appoint a deputy.

They have also not forgiven her for taking a ‘selfie’ with firefighters at the Exeter Royal Clarence Hotel fire.

A motion to the council meeting on Thursday, proposed by Nick Pentney and seconded by Cindy Stocks, is headed ‘Crisis in Frontline Policing in Torbay’ and reads: “Torbay Council is extremely alarmed that under the watch of Alison Hernandez, there has been a drastic reduction in the number of PCSOs, the eyes and ears of the force in Torbay. …”

http://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/now-police-chief-alison-hernandez-632726

Tick-box “consultations”

“Consultations are often a legal requirement for government departments – but this sometimes means they are formulaic and ineffective. In an extract from his report, Creating a democracy for everyone: strategies for increasing listening and engagement by government, Jim Macnamara (University of Technology Sydney/ LSE) looks at some of the failings of government consultation, and the problems with one NHS consultation [NHS Mandate public consultation conducted in October 2015] in particular.”

http://www.democraticaudit.com/2017/10/16/many-government-consultations-are-more-about-meeting-legal-requirements-than-listening/

Is it right for charities to offer services you pay for if the NHS or social care system isn’t picking you up?

Does this let Jeremy Hunt off the hook and allow underfunding to continue? Is it privatisation by stealth or just local people doing good deeds for payment and to be encouraged and applauded?

“Ottery Help Scheme has launched a new chargeable service to offer more support to the community as well secure its future for years to come.

The charity says it is trying to be proactive by running a home services as it currently relies on donations from grants and members of the public. Through home services, user can pay a fee and book a member of the team come out to them. The employed staff will be able to assist with in a range of ways including cleaning, shopping, meal preparation and gardening as well as offering to sit in for carers. This will sit alongside the help scheme’s free or subsidised befriending, memory café and transportation services.

Last year, more than 100 helpers gave up nearly 6,000 hours in the community, with volunteer drivers driving 49,228 miles to take residents to appointments.

Helen Harms, chief officer for the help scheme, said: “The NHS is looking for schemes to help with allowing people to stay in their own home. “We are trying to become self-sufficient, we are trying to provide services which help people stay independent and living in their own homes and provide an income to sustain the help scheme for the future.

“We do really rely on donations and if they one day stopped we would have to fund ourselves. We are being proactive to be self sufficient and not hoping of getting enough donations in, we have been very luck for such a long time and we have been going for 20 years.”

The charity has recently been boosted by the La La Choir, which raised £1,300 at its last concert. It is also being supported by a trio of East Devon law firms throughout October as part of charity will month. Gilbert Stephens, East Devon Law and Christine Ashby, will donate 50 per cent of the service fee to the scheme.

Helen added: “We are so grateful to these local firms for their support over the setting up this scheme to benefit the charity, a 50 per cent donation for their will writing service is a significant contribution.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/ottery-help-scheme-launches-home-services-to-boost-future-1-5233894