Mental health care: shocking system laid bare

Owl says: how much more has been swept under the austerity carpet?

“In the aftermath of the Winterbourne View care home scandal Jeremy Hunt pledged to make improving the care of vulnerable patients a central mission of his time as health secretary.

But despite speeches, policy documents, steering groups and delivery groups two reports next week will lay bare the continued failure of the system to protect those least able to help themselves. One of those reports was commissioned by Mr Hunt’s successor and Tory leadership rival, Matt Hancock. He won’t be thanking him for it.

Part of the problem is political. For example, despite introducing minimum standards for how adults on mental health wards should be treated in 2014, no such standards exist for children. For that, responsibility rests with ministers.

They are also responsible for a system that provides no incentives to minimise the use of expensive in-patient mental health beds. Those beds are paid for by the NHS whereas community care is paid for by stretched local authorities.

The NHS itself should not be absolved of blame. One former Conservative health minister said they had been shocked by just how unresponsive NHS leaders were to reform. It is certainly true that the NHS has jealously guarded its freedom to set spending priorities.

Finally, despite being the authors of one of the reports the Care Quality Commission, which inspects mental health units, bears some responsibility. That it took a minister, under pressure from the media, to uncover the continued failure of these units is shocking.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

“Bus services should be designed for young people, says watchdog”

“Bus tickets need to be cheaper and easier to buy using contactless and smart phones to attract young people, according to the UK transport watchdog.

Despite being the biggest users of buses 16-18 year-olds are also the least satisfied, Transport Focus found.

The watchdog also recommended companies should install wi-fi and USB charging points on board, to encourage younger people to travel on buses.
Bus companies said they were investing in services young people expect.
Graham Vidler, chief executive of CPT UK, the trade association which represents bus and coach operators, said the industry recognised the importance of meeting the expectations of younger travellers. …

… Transport Focus gave the example of a flat fare of £2.20 for unlimited travel in and around Liverpool, which it said had led to a significant rise in the number of under 18-year-olds using buses. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48303401

Small businesses accuse government of failing them

“Theresa May’s Government today stands accused of failing to back small businesses, in a report due to be launched by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

A damning poll reveals three in five people think the Tories are letting down the army of small firms which are vital to the economy and town centres.

The findings come from a YouGov survey of 1,644 adults for the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, which was founded by Margaret Thatcher.

It revealed 60% of people believed the Government “is not on the side of small business”, with just 14% disagreeing. …

This report shows how bureaucracy and paperwork are stifling the growth of our small businesses and offers a series of compelling ideas for how Government can roll back the tide and show that the Conservatives are backing entrepreneurs.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/small-businesses-damning-verdict-nine-16052199

“Typical workers paid less than a decade ago while bankers get huge pay rises”

“The average British worker makes £17 a week less than they did a decade ago, once increases in the cost of living are taken into account.

But salaries for bankers and others in the finance sector are £120 a week higher than in 2009, a new study suggests.

To find the results, the TUC took a look at official earnings figures for different workers now, and compared them to those a decade ago. Then it factored in price rises.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s not right that pay is racing ahead in the City when most working people are still worse off than a decade ago.

“The architects of the financial crisis are earning record amounts while teachers and nurses struggle to get by.”

Nurses and teachers are among workers hardest hit, with those employed in health and social work and education £36 a week worse off than in 2009, said the TUC.

By contrast, average real pay in the financial sector has increased by 9.3% (£119 a week) since 2009 reaching a record average of £1,405. …”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/normal-workers-paid-less-decade-15669618

“4m Britons in poverty despite having jobs”

“… It is the bruising combination of low pay, insecure hours, rising housing costs and cuts to benefits that has driven in-work poverty to its highest point in 20 years.

Innes says: “The labour market is trapping people in poverty, when it should be offering people a route out. It is very demoralising for people who are doing what society expects of them, going out to work to meet the essentials but still unable to do that.”…

http://flip.it/PilE9X

“Almost one in 10 cash machines vanishing from East Devon”

“… Figures show one in ten cash machines – or ATMS – have disappeared from East Devon’s high streets in the last two years, amid warnings the UK’s cash system is ‘falling apart’.

At the end of 2017, there were around 230 ATMs – according to data from the cash machine network Link – this has now fallen to 208, as of February this year.

The number of free-to-use cash points has also gone down from 179 in 2017 to 171 two years later.

An independent review published in March found that around eight million adults – 17 per cent of the population – were still reliant on cash and would struggle to cope in an entirely digital economy.

These included people in rural communities, those on a low income who may struggle to budget without cash, and older people or people with disabilities who rely on cash for their independence.

Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Access to Cash Review, said: “There are worrying signs that our cash system is falling apart.

“ATM and bank branch closures are just the tip of the iceberg – underneath there is a huge infrastructure which is becoming increasingly unviable as cash use declines.

“We need to guarantee people’s right to access cash, and ensure that they can still spend it.”

A recent report by consumer watchdog Which? found almost 1,700 previously-free cash machines had begun charging users between January and March of this year. …”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/east-devon-atms-disappeating-figures-show-1-6047802

“Growing inequality threatens democracy”

Inequalities in pay and opportunities in the UK are becoming so extreme they are threatening democracy, an Institute for Fiscal Studies study has said.

The think tank warns of runaway incomes for high earners but rises in “deaths of despair”, such as from addiction and suicide, among the poorest.
It warns of risks to “centre-ground” politics from stagnating pay and divides in health and education.

The report

https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/13075

says such widening gaps are “making a mockery of democracy”.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), one of the country’s leading research institutes, is launching what it says is the UK’s biggest analysis of inequality.

That will be chaired by Nobel Prize-winning economist Prof Sir Angus Deaton. …

It suggests pay inequality in the UK is high by international standards – with the share of household income going to the richest 1% having tripled in the past three decades.

The middle classes are also under pressure, particularly younger generations, with stagnant pay and unaffordable house prices.
The long-term decline in trade union membership is identified as another factor in wages not increasing. …

Richest increasing their earnings

As well as inequality in income, the think tank highlights divergence in health.

It says there is almost a 10-year gap in male life expectancy between the richest and poorest areas – and the IFS warns of “deaths of despair”, with a rise in early deaths from drug and alcohol abuse and suicide being linked to factors such as poverty, social isolation and mental health problems.
Patterns of relationship are also affected by inequality, the study suggests.

Over recent decades, wealthier people have become more likely to be living in a couple, either married or co-habiting, the IFS says. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-48229037