DCC Tories torpedo Devon NHS

“PRESS RELEASE
Yesterday the Conservative Party machine defeated my final attempt to get Devon County Council to take action over the closure of community hospitals beds. My motion, seconded by Claire Wright, asked the Health Scrutiny Committee to look again at the issues it failed to scrutinise properly in July, and asked the Council to write to the Secretary of State for Health to alert him to our concern about hospital beds. I highlighted widespread NHS concern that there will be too few beds if there is a flu epidemic this winter. My speech is available here and you can watch it and the debate in the webcast (beginning at 2.18).

The Tory response was an amendment, moved by the leader, John Hart, which took the guts out of the motion. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, it said that Health Scrutiny had ‘extensively considered the issues and concerns from members of the public, elected members and others, including medical professionals, all matters relating to the closure of some community hospital beds in Honiton, Okehampton, Seaton and Whipton.’

Instead of my proposal to write to the Secretary about the beds closures, the amendment proposed to write ‘seeking reassurance that appropriate funding is provided by government to deliver the necessary health and social care services in Devon’. Not a dicky bird to the minister about community hospital beds, the whole point of the debate.

In reply I told the Council (at 3.10) that if they passed this amendment, they would be ignoring East Devon opinion just like Kensington & Chelsea Council ignored the residents of Grenfell Tower; and the Conservative Group as a whole would have made itself responsible for the failure to properly scrutinise the hospital bed closures.

The result

Although they were not formally whipped, 40 Tories fell dutifully in line to support the amendment. There were 16 votes against (these were Liberal Democrat, Labour, Independent and Green members, together with only one Conservative, Ian Hall of Axminster).

Claire made a valiant attempt to put some guts back into the motion, with another amendment – but the Tory machine squashed that too.

Martin Shaw
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton

DCC Tories fail, yet again, to do the right thing on our NHS

“Martin Shaw and Claire Wright were voted down… [at today’s health scrutiny committee, see below] shame on Devon County Council! Every single Tory Councillor with the exception of one voted against Martin’s motion – they put party politics above their communities interests once again.
People need to know what they did.”

Do not shut hospital beds – closures not evidence-based says influential King’s Fund – too late for East Devon

Independent DCC Councillor Claire Wright – RIGHT
Independent DCC East Devon Alliance Councillor Martin Shaw – RIGHT
All Independent Councillors at EDDC – RIGHT
All Tories at DCC – Wrong
All those Tories (DCC and EDDC) who voted to support Diviani and Randall-Johnson in closing community hospital beds – WRONG

ALL the time the Independents have called for REAL evidence about bed closures.
ALL the time DCC Tories have acceptec waffle and jargon and “death by Powerpoint” instead of REAL evidence
EDDC Tories sort-of got it right and then allowed their Leader to vote WRONG so they still got it WRONG!

Why on earth are people still voting for these useless excuses for Tory representative councillors!

Kill beds, no community alternative = kills US!

“NHS bosses have been urged to halt plans for more ward closures as experts warn that hospitals do not have enough beds to accommodate patients.

Britain has fewer hospital beds per person than almost any other rich country and numbers in the NHS have fallen to 142,000 from the 299,999 that were available 30 years ago, according to an analysis by the King’s Fund health think tank.

Thousands of further cuts are being planned as part of a strategy by Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, to improve out-of-hospital care and make £22 billion in efficiency savings.

The King’s Fund said that this plan was unrealistic at a time when wards are more than 95 per cent full, well above the 85 per cent level generally thought to be safe. Hospital bosses in London are hoping to cut hundreds of beds, but the King’s Fund estimates that the city will need 1,600 more by 2021 to keep up with population growth.

Helen McKenna, a senior policy adviser at the think tank, said: “There are opportunities to make better use of existing beds and initiatives to capitalise on these should continue, but with many hospitals already stretched to breaking point, reductions on the scale proposed in some areas are neither desirable not achievable.”

Chaand Nagpaul, head of the British Medical Association, said: “Serious questions need to be asked about whether these plans are realistic and evidence-based given it defies logic to cut bed numbers when we already don’t have enough.”

Mr Stevens said that he would only allow bed closures where NHS bosses could demonstrate local alternative treatments were being put in place first or where hospitals were remedying inefficiencies. The King’s Fund said that these tests lacked any real detail.

Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, said: “One of the key lessons from last winter was the importance of avoiding unsafe levels of bed occupancy.”

Mr Stevens agreed that hospitals would need to free more beds during the winter, promising an extra 3,700 would be opened for the busiest time of year as hospitals were told to prevent “bed-blocking” by elderly patients.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

DCC EDA Independent Councillor joins DCC independent Councillor Claire Wright as one of the few NHS champions at DCC

“After the failed Health Scrutiny Committee meeting in July – which has led to repercussions in the County’s Standards and Procedures Committees as well as at EDDC – the full Devon County Council will be asked to look again at the issues on Thursday 5th October. I have proposed the following motion, which Claire Wright will second:

The County Council regrets the failure of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee on 25 July 2017 to be seen to scrutinise the decision of NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to close community hospital beds in Honiton, Okehampton, Seaton and Whipton, especially in the light of the subsequent urgent recommendation by the head of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens, which is supported by evidence from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the King’s Fund, that more beds need be made available for the coming winter.

Noting also the Standards Committee’s conclusion that events at the Scrutiny Committee meeting ‘may not reflect well on individual members of the Council or upon the Council as a whole’, its recommendations for the Committee’s Chair and its general recommendations to both members and chairs of Scrutiny Committees, the County Council therefore

requests the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to scrutinise those issues identified by the County Solicitor in her paper for 25 July which were not directly and fully addressed at the Scrutiny Committee in that meeting;
consistent with the Council’s ‘community champion’ role, alerts the Secretary of State to the strength of feeling in the locality at the overall STP process throughout the County and the significant numbers of objections made by the public to the CCG’sproposals and that in the interests of democracy and democratic accountability he might wish to satisfy himself that all relevant process were properly undertaken and assessed and that the CCGs subsequent decisions are supported by the evidence; and
welcomes the agreement of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to examine, subject to the advice of the County Solicitor, means of safeguarding community hospital buildings throughout Devon as facilities for the provision of place-based health services.

Seaton and Axminster – combined health hub?

As I have reported before, Seaton Town Council, the League of Friends and I have been discussing the future of Seaton Hospital in the light of the removal of the beds. Full details of the proposals have not been finalised, so I can only quote the report of Councillor Jack Rowland, Mayor of Seaton, to next Monday’s Town Council:

‘The next campaign is to ensure that the site is retained with a compelling case for retaining the existing services and extending these. To this end I attended a meeting on 6 September to discuss the next steps. I cannot give fuller details at this stage, but broadly the idea is to set up a Steering Committee for an Axe Valley Health Hub and to work in conjunction with Axminster to build a case for retaining both sites with complementary services.’ “

After the failure of the July Scrutiny meeting, I am asking Devon County Council to look again at hospital bed closures on 5th October

“Tories block recording concerns over biggest ever planned health service cuts in Devon”

Oh, how different it will be if (when) Tories lose control of DCC. We will then hear Twiss and his party colleagues saying EXACTLY what Claire Wright is saying!

Party politics sucks. More Independents needed – urgently.

From the blog of Claire Wright:

“.. And the County Solicitor will be called to address the committee to remind it of its responsibilities.

Devon County Council conservatives blocked my proposal yesterday to record significant concerns over the biggest cuts facing Devon’s health service in living memory.

Sonja Manton from NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group gave an update on the plans to slash around £500m by 2020, as part of Devon’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

The county’s STP is one of 44 across the country and is the government’s main programme of major cost cutting and centralisation in the NHS, to stem a £30bn shortfall by 2020.

I asked a number of questions mainly on staffing, budgets and buildings, along the following lines:

What are the vacancies and how do you plan to fill them and when do you plan to make redundancies (which has been previously hinted at)?

The answer was woolly (and no amount of pushing would encourage Dr Manton to reveal more). It contained no information on numbers, but she did mention that there is a 30 per cent turnover rate across Devon, in home care staff and that 75 per cent of the NHS budget is spent on staffing.

Next I asked whether pregnant women would still have a genuine choice where to give birth, as three community maternity units at Okehampton, Tiverton and Honiton were set to close (two have already closed temporarily due to staffing issues).

The answer was that the new service would meet national guidelines, so I pushed and asked whether pregnant women would be able to have a choice of a midwife led unit and how far they would have to travel. The answer was that there will be a new midwife led unit at the RD&E, adjacent to the consultant led unit.

So essentially women from all over Devon will soon have to either have a home birth, or travel to Exeter to give birth, whether that’s at a midwife led unit or a consultant led unit. There was a bit of a disagreement about me saying the current midwife led units were closed, despite the announcement having already been announced that this was the intention and two being temporarily closed due to staffing pressures.

Next I asked how many more beds were planned to be cut.

More prevarication.

I pushed. Was the figure of 600 bed cuts recognised, which was the broad figure in the first draft of the STP?

Yes this figure was recognised but it depended on a raft of issues.

Finally, I asked about the selling off of redundant estate. How many, where and when? Another non answer ensued. It was the next piece of work.

Entirely frustrated at the refusal to answer questions, not because I believe, the answers are not known but because there is a total refusal to get into any detail whatsoever, I expressed my complete frustration and disappointment at the answers. It made no difference.

Other councillors asked other questions.

At the end of the debate I proposed a resolution that the committee express significant concerns over the STP, its potential effect on patient care and the lack of transparency so far.

I called for urgent information on staffing, beds, buildings and budgets, in particular.

The proposal was seconded by Chair, Sara Randall Johnson, who added that a piece of work would be done on this.

Unfortunately, my wording appeared to upset the conservative group. Cllr Philip Sanders said he didn’t like that I had said the process appeared not to be transparent and wanted this word deleted. I replied that that it was entirely justified and refused to amend my proposal.

But fellow Conservative, Phil Twiss, wanted ANY mention of concerns deleted.

He said: “We don’t need the emotional language.”

Three years ago, Cllr Twiss reported me and this blog to the police cyber crime unit. You can read about it here, if you like – http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_tory_whip_reports_me_to_the_police_for_a_comment_on_this_blog

Cllr Twiss then proposed that ALL my words were deleted, simply retaining the section that relating to a task group being set up.

This was voted through by the vast majority of the Conservative group.

Letting down every single resident in Devon who relies on the NHS.

Yes, I think that’s everyone.

Ambulance Trust response targets are failing and RD&E unable to discharge its patients in good time

Later in the meeting we were examining the performance review.

The South West Ambulance Trust which used to meet the national target of eight minutes largely without a difficulty, are now significantly under target. Only 59 per cent of calls were answered within eight minutes, across Northern, Eastern and Western Devon, in July of this year. The target is 75 per cent.

Lives are surely being put at risk. Certainly news of the failures are hitting the local media.

The narrative attached to the graph claimed that the reason was the rural nature of the South West. Yet the South West has been rural for years and this wasn’t a problem previously. Of course there have been cuts to budgets, and reductions in the number of ambulances so that is more likely to be the cause of the failure.

Problem with delayed discharges at the RD&E

Similarly, the RD&E was shown to have a significant problem with delayed discharges.

In June this year a daily average of 66 beds were occupied by patients who were well enough to go home.

It was obvious from the graph that the problem was clearly way out of kilter with other local NHS trusts.

This was largely to do with major staffing problems in the care sector, an officer confirmed.

of course it is these staff among others that we will rely on, to look after people in their own homes following community hospital bed cuts.

I proposed a resolution that the committee record its concerns at the ambulance response rates and the high level of delayed discharges at the RD&E and invite both trusts to the next committee meeting.

I had to argue with the chair that the proposal should retain the bit about recording concerns, before it was seconded by Cllr Brian Greenslade.

One of the Labour councillors was unhappy with me mentioning the RD&E at all in my resolution because she was chairing a piece of work looking at delayed discharges. I tried to point out that the resolution supported her work but she was adamant …

Then Cllr Twiss started up again. He said he didn’t like my wording and that I was simply making a statement that “looks good in the press.”

I reminded Cllr Twiss that the committee is legally constituted to scrutinise health services on behalf of the people and our job is to hold the health service to account. In fact such words had been used recently in a standards committee hearing minutes.

Anyone who is familiar with the basic requirements of an audit trail will recognise the importance of the committee recording concerns about service failures in this way.

I told Cllr Twiss that I intended to ask in the work programme agenda item, that the county solicitor attends the next committee meeting and outlines our responsibilities.

The final amendment removed my words about concerns about the RD&E’s delayed discharges but retained the words about the ambulance trust target failure.

So Ambulance Trust representatives will be invited to the next meeting.

I have certainly heard anecdotally that things are very challenging indeed within the Trust, with too few ambulances and low staff morale.

I duly asked in the final agenda item for the County Solicitor to attend the next meeting to remind the committee of its remit.

Some councillors appear to be in sore need of training.

Playing political games with health scrutiny resolutions is a dirty and unacceptable game.

NHS Property Services and buildings

Cllr Martin Shaw spoke to a report he submitted to the committee on this. The upshot will be that a sub group will examine the future of community hospital buildings.

The speaker itemised webcast can be viewed here – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/301904”

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/tories_block_recording_concerns_over_biggest_ever_planned_health_service_cu

“Do we need political parties?”

A view from a German writer:

“In many Western countries, party structures are dissolving. Traditional political organisations are disintegrating, being swept away by new movements, or infiltrated by fresh members. There is not much left of the once-defining role of classical parties. And the examples are abundant.

In France, the traditional party system has decayed. The Socialists, after being the governing party in Paris until spring, have practically ceased to exist. Other traditional parties have also been hit hard, replaced by movements such as Emmanuel Macron’s “En Marche!” and Jean-Luc Melenchon’s “La France insoumise”.

The US’ once-lofty Republicans – the self-proclaimed “Grand Old Party” – have now disintegrated into separate wings, whose positions differ to the extent that a common programme is hardly recognisable. And the party organisation is so weak that it could be captured by a non-politician like Donald Trump.

Until recently in the UK, the Labour Party, which had been positioned in the pragmatic centre, has moved vehemently to the left. It was infiltrated by an influx of often young new members, who celebrate the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn – formerly a marginal figure in the political life of the island – as a pop star.

In Italy, the populist Five Star Movement of former comedian Beppe Grillo has been unsettling the political system for some years. On the right, the former regional party “Lega Nord” is expanding with new national-populist content.

There’s an evolving pattern. Traditional political structures are breaking up, liquefying political systems. People are becoming more important than parties, and posing seems more relevant than policies.

Politicians who have served their time and worked their way up through party ranks are ousted by outside figures with star attributes – cheered along by citizens, who suddenly behave like fans. [Watch out Hugo!]

Still, there’s a prominent exception: Germany.

Or so it would seem. Large parties and their established top figures still dominate the political scene. At the top are well-tempered characters like Angela Merkel, the chancellor, and Martin Schulz, the Social Democratic contender. And, above all, both of them promise that as little as possible is going change.

But this is just the visible surface. In Germany, like elsewhere in Europe, the political system is being transformed. Anger and frustration are on the rise – sentiments which parties like the far-right AfD are only able capture to a small extent.

The next federal government will likely be formed by a coalition that promises stability on the verge of boredom. However, this does not preclude the possibility of unexpected turns in regard to specific topics.”

https://euobserver.com/opinion/138989

“Devon County Council health scrutiny committee district representative [Diviani] must consult before voting”

From the blog of Claire Wright.

If you wish to show your disapproval of the man and his conduct (see below), turn up at EDDC HQ, Knowle, Sidmouth tomorrow evening from 5.30 pm onwards for the vote of “no confidence” in him – brought by Independent members of EDDC.

Watch and note which Tory councillors cave in and continue to back the man who neither represents us nor cares about us.

“The district council member of Devon County Council’s health and adult care scrutiny committee will need to consult before speaking and voting, it has been recommended today.

The Procedures Committee (which I am a member of) met this afternoon and debated the fallout of the controversial July health scrutiny meeting where the chair ended up as the subject of a Standards Committee hearing, following a vote against a referral to the Secretary of State over the loss of 72 community hospital beds.

Paul Diviani, leader of EDDC, also voted against a referral to the Secretary of State, despite his own council robustly opposing the bed cuts.

His actions have been much criticised by local people, who quite reasonably, believe that Cllr Diviani did not carry out his responsibility fully.

If he had voted in line with the views of his own council a referral on the closure of 72 hospital beds, would now be winging its way to the Secretary of State for Health, as the vote was so close – 7/6.

Later, Cllr Diviani (who is now facing a vote of no confidence at a specially convened meeting tomorrow evening) admitted that he had not asked any district council for its position on hospital bed closures.

At this afternoon’s Procedures Committee, it was proposed, seconded by me, that the district council member of the health scrutiny committee, should be required to “collate” the views of local councils before speaking and voting on health scrutiny agenda items.

It’s a nonsense that an appointed representative should not actually need to represent the views of local councils so this move should mean that in future, the representative will fully and fairly discharge his duty.

The recommendation will go before full council next month.”

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/devon_county_council_health_scrutiny_committee_district_representative_must