Swire sees the light on hospital beds (because it could be a big vote loser?)

Owl is concerned that local MP Hugo Swire is very, very slow in the uptake. After resting on his laurels by seeing community beds in his constituency staying while those in Neil Parish’s patch of EDDC have all gone (except for Tiverton – not part of East Devon which can’t be closed because it is a PFZi hospital), he finally wakes up and realises that it has left a black hole that will stop many people voting for either of them next time! AND result in people switching their votes to Claire Wright (Independent, East Devon) and maybe Caroline Kolek (Labour, Tiverton and Honiton)!

Sir Hugo Swire said the area’s demographics are 20 years ahead of the national average and it was ‘absolutely ridiculous’ the two services should have separate funding.

This comes after Dr Mike Slot raised concerns to Devon’s health watchdog that carers are not available to implement ‘care at home’ – the model the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) moved to after it closed 140 community hospital beds across the county.

Dr Slot said: “The loss of community hospital beds was intended to be offset by increasing the capacity of community care so that patients could be cared for in their own homes.

“This may or may not have been realistic since many of the patients in the hospital system cannot be managed in the community, even with excellent community services.

“However, with or without community hospital beds, it is an excellent idea to expand community services so that all those patients who can be cared for out of hospital can remain at home.

“Unfortunately, there is not sufficient capacity in the home care services to do this job.

“When GPs ring the single point of access number asking for rapid response or night sitting, the carers are not available.”

In a joint statement, the CCG and provider trust the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital acknowledged that recruitment had been ‘challenging’ in a few places, but the bodies were working hard alongside other agencies to address the issues.

A spokeswoman said more than £2.5million had been redirected into growing and strengthening their community teams so more people can be cared for at home.

They added: “A large part of the reinvestment has been to increase the number of nurses, therapists and support workers and in most areas we have successfully recruited the additional staff.”

Social care was brought under the remit of health secretary Jeremy Hunt in the last cabinet reshuffle – a move welcomed by Sir Hugo, who said: “I think in future there will be far greater use of hubs.

“We must look to do the same with social care. It requires brave, strategic thinking. We have to get it right.

“The East Devon demographic is where the country is going to be in 20 years’ time. Sidmouth is even ahead of that. East Devon should be a template – use us as a guinea pig for integration of health and social care.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/concerns-over-recruitment-for-new-care-at-home-model-after-east-devon-hospital-bed-closures-1-5395962

DCC vote more cuts to keep reserves

Claire Wright and other independent councillors tried to persuade DCC to fund services rather than add to reserves – Tories voted to keep reserves.

From Claire Wright’s blig:

“… Over £155m worth of cuts have now been made to Devon County Council by central government, since austerity began in 2010. That’s around 80 per cent of the council’s core funding… gone…. …

It emerged in the past week that an extra £5m will be squirrelled away in Devon’s reserves, in case of financial difficulty.
But vital services are being relentlessly cut – for the EIGHTH year running – council tax is rocketing and the county’s people are suffering.

With council tax rising by 20 per cent in just seven years. That’s £250 for an average band D property, while wages stagnate – Devon’s residents (and people all over the country) are being ripped off by a Conservative government that claims to be a government of low taxation.

– 30 health visitor posts are to be cut which will hit families that most need support, especially those with babies and young children. The Independent Group is proposing that part of the £5m is used to prevent those losses

– Foster carers who look after the most damaged and challenging children could lose around £100 a week to foster carers who look after less damaged less challenging children.

This income cut is in addition to earlier cuts in allowances over recent years. The result of these cuts could see experienced dedicated foster carers struggle to make ends meet and be forced to leave. It is causing much anxiety … and ultimately it will be the children who suffer. The Independent Group is proposing that part of the £5m is used to shore up the income of foster carers

– The schools counselling service is set to be lost at a time when anxiety and depression among young people is soaring and when many are now being forced to PAY for their own counselling sessions. The Independent Group is proposing that part of the £5m is used to ensure this essential service continues

– People in Devon’s towns and villages are falling over dangerous paving stones every day. The Independent Group is proposing that part of the £5m is spent on making far more pavements safer, especially for elderly people who are most likely to hurt themselves and end up in hospital

And what of Devon’s MPs, especially the Conservative MPs, who ALWAYS toe the party line on cuts to our council budgets, despite requests each year from the leader of this council to stand up for the people of Devon?

Well this year, guess what? It’s no different. All Conservative MPs who were present in the chamber last week voted in favour of yet more suffering. …”

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/20m_of_devon_service_cuts_voted_through_as_council_tax_rises_by_around_five

DCC Independents say use reserves for essential services

From Claire Wright’s blog. What sensible Independents we have and 50% of them (Claire Wright and Martin Shaw) are from East Devon!

“The additional £5m that Devon County Council is squirrelling away in reserves this year, should be spent on vital services, say the Independent Group, ahead of Thursday’s budget meeting.

This Thursday (15 February) will see the council set its budget and put back an extra £5m in the Business Rate Risk Management Reserve, in case of unexpected financial difficulty.

Devon’s four-strong Independent group of councillors – Frank Biederman, Claire Wright, Martin Shaw and Jacqi Hodgson (Green Party) are opposing this move and proposing instead that it is spent on funding vital services that are set to be lost.

The group’s proposal is:

– no health visitor posts are cut (30 posts are proposed to be lost)
– no foster carer loses any income (there are proposals to reduce the income to some foster carers)
– there are no cuts to the schools counselling programme (there is no money for this)
– dangerous pavements in the county’s towns and villages are repaired (this is an ongoing problem and people are falling and hurting themselves)

Frank Biederman, Leader of the Independent Group said: “We’re frustrated at further government cuts, which means higher council tax, again, for far fewer services, again.”

Claire Wright, Deputy Leader of the Independent Group, who seconded the motion, added: Devon’s council tax has soared by almost 20 per cent in just seven years. That’s £250 for an average band D property.

“This year it is set to rise by a further almost five per cent. It’s quite wrong and it is adding huge pressures to those people on low incomes.

“I put the blame on the Conservative government and those MPs in Devon who yet again have voted in favour of unacceptable cuts that damage people’s lives.”

“It’s a predictable disgrace. We are asking Devon County Council to write an open letter to all Devon MPs, expressing disappointment to those who let down the people of this county yet again.

“The government finds money to fund the projects it wants to but unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to support the provision of public services.”

Devon County Council’s government grant has been cut by £155m (76 per cent) since austerity began in 2010.

A further £20m is set to be cut from this year’s county council budget.

Jacqi Hodgson said: “We need to encourage people into fostering, at a time when record numbers of children are coming into the service. Not reduce pay. We know the use of private homes is not in the best interests of children and are much more costly.”

She added: “Frontline services cannot be sustained with persistent chipping away at budgets; any available monies should be spent on keeping them viable, not squirrelled away.”

Cllr Martin Shaw said: “Average earnings for a full-time male employee increased by 0 per cent – nothing – in the last year, while inflation is at 3 per cent, i.e. a decline in real income of 3 per cent. That’s the context in which massive council tax rises are being proposed.”

“Ignoring our pavements is not good for local businesses and has a tremendous cost to the person and the public purse when slips, trips and falls happen.”

The full motion is below:

A – That this council does not put a further £5millions into reserves, at the same time as asking hard pressed, low paid Devon residents to pay more council tax for fewer services than ever before.

B – that part of the five millions is used to maintain the level of pay for all Devon’s Foster Parents, so no one sees a drop in their income.

C – That part of the five millions is used to maintain numbers of Health Visitors so that no posts are made redundant.

D – that part of the five millions is used to maintain the schools counselling services, currently likely to be lost via the public health budget

E – that this council writes an open letter to Devon MPs expressing deep disappointment with those who voted in favour of cuts to Devon’s council core funding

F – that any remaining monies as part of the £5millions, is transferred to repairing pavements in our city, town and village centres.

Frank Biederman added: “We hope Councillors from across the chamber support these amendments, we all have to stand together for the people of Devon, it is clear Rural counties like Devon are the poor relation, when it comes to government funding.”

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/extra_5m_earmarked_for_reserves_should_be_spent_on_at_risk_services_say_gro

“Male MPs ‘seat-blocking’ safe constituencies in the Commons, says new report”

East Devon has two safe(ish) seats (though getting less safe by the day)!
Hugo Swire and Neil Parish are male.
Claire Wright is Independent and female.
Just saying …

“Male MPs are effectively “seat-blocking” safe seats in the Commons and holding back gender progress, according to new research that calls for an overhaul in the way politicians are elected to Parliament.

The new study from the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) claims that hundreds of seats have effectively been “reserved” by male politicians – forcing women to contest in marginal constituencies in order to enter public life.

The research, published on Tuesday, shows that of the 212 currently-serving MPs first elected in 2005 or before, just 42 are women. …

Jess Garland, the director of policy and research at the ERS, added that while Britain has experienced progress in gender equality at recent elections, it is being “held back by Westminster’s broken voting system, which effectively ‘reserves’ seats for men”.

She continued: “Over 80 per cent of MPs first elected in 1997 or earlier are men, with the one-MP per seat one-person-takes-all nature of First Past the Post leaving few opportunities for women’s representation once a man has secured selection. Sitting MPs have a huge incumbency advantage, and since open selections are relatively rare, we face a real stumbling block in the path to fair representation. …

Our local health services: our last line of defence

From the Save Our Hospital Services Facebook site:

:… these guys are our last line of defence. They need to work harder at not being manipulated.

Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee, County Hall, 25 January 2018

“I take my Scrutiny duty very seriously,” declared Cllr Brian Greenslade (Barnstaple North) at the Devon County Council Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting at County Hall on 25 January. Save our Hospital Services (SOHS) members from North Devon who attended this and many other such meetings know this to be only too true.

Indeed, were it not for Cllr Greenslade and his meticulous colleague, Cllr Claire Wright (Otter Valley) it is doubtful how much scrutiny by the Scrutiny Committee there would be at all. One thing is certain: given the scale, speed and scope of the changes now being pushed through in health and social care services in Devon, real information, real questions and real answers have never been so vital. It is literally a matter of life and death.

At a previous Scrutiny meeting, the Chair, Cllr Sara Randall Johnson, in clear cahoots with Cllr Rufus Gilbert, manipulated proceedings. The two managed to prevent Cllr Wright putting a motion she had already tabled, thus shutting down a debate that may have saved in-patient services at some community hospitals.

This so outraged some councillors and members of the public that their chorus of complaints and the consequent internal investigation prompted the county’s lawyers to lecture councillors as to their legal obligations to scrutinise. The investigation and warning came too late for the community hospitals, but could better behaviour be expected from now on?

Indeed, it could. But then, on 25 January, the Chair of the Standards Committee was sitting in. This time Cllr Wright was allowed to say quite a lot, pose many more questions, and state much more of the obvious in defence of our health and social care services.

However, far too many of our County Councillors still appear unwilling to spend time and effort educating themselves as to the issues, facts and figures, whilst being only too willing to swallow propaganda and projections put out by overpaid health bosses bent on making severe cuts to our NHS services.

No one, even councillors who have barely raised a whisper in opposition, is in any doubt as to the real motive for all these health service changes: cuts and cutbacks designed to save £557 million over the next five years. The aim is to ration, restrict and remove elements of care and treatment for however many people it takes to save that amount of money. Cost comes first, clinical need a poor second.

Dr Sonja Manton was again allowed to speak at great length. She is NHS Devon’s lead cost-cutter, qualified by means of a doctorate in Systems Dynamics, not qualified in Medicine or any form of clinical care. Which sort of gives the game away –as does her most obvious skill, talking for a very long time without saying anything at all.

When questioned by Councillor Wright, she appeared, as ever, not to have the required data or evidence to hand. Cue the now customary promise to look it up and pass it on. The pattern that follows has been obvious for more than 15 months now. The Scrutiny Committee ends up waiting a long time for what they have asked for – if they get it at all — making real scrutiny in public for the public impossible. The lack of real information, the failure to meet requests, the failure to resolve contradictions in presentations cause real difficulties for our County Councillors meeting after meeting – not least again on 25 January.

It has been reported that Devon’s Clinical Commissioning Groups are bent on steamrollering ‘Accountable Care Organisations’ into position from 1 April. To prove that the joke is on us for what is, after all, April Fool’s Day, they have given the Scrutiny Committee no information about them at all. This is particularly scandalous and frightening. As Brian Greenslade stated: “I want to know where we are…..we need to understand where we’ve got to and what this may mean.”

One faint beacon of light is the announcement, on the same day as the Scrutiny meeting was held, that NHS England will hold 12 week consultations on the implementation of ACOs https://www.england.nhs.uk/…/consultation-aco-contracts/ which puts a very slight delay in place. But the website does not elaborate on how much time after closure of consultation implementation could happen. The Consultation could well be the outcome of an exchange between Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the Health Select Committee, and Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, as well as an attempt to water down the possible impact of a Judicial Review, which is being filed by a group of Health Care professionals, to challenge the government’s attempt to circumvent Parliament and democratic scrutiny and allow ACOs to operate

ACOs are financially constrained, business-based American-style systems of healthcare purchasing and provision, which will pave the way for further privatisation and still more rationing and restriction of provision. Councillor Martin Shaw from Seaton had done a lot of research on ACOs and put his findings online. But, incredibly, he had to force the whole issue onto the Committee’s Agenda just to secure the very limited discussion that took place.

Until this announcement it was the case that ACOs (unless the Judicial Review has effect) were to be imposed without any debate, discussion or statute. So an ACO could be and, in many cases, will be, a private business, primarily accountable to shareholders and managers rather than patients and the public. And even now we don’t know how ‘public’ the consultation will be. As Jan Goffey, Mayor of Okehampton, declared, “Sick people should never be regarded as a profit-making opportunity.”

Eventually even the Chair, Sara Randall Johnson said, “We need more information.” We have heard her, and others, say this before. Is this a way of avoiding doing anything? Or is it something more cynical: a way of helping to destroy our NHS, but giving themselves the excuse that they just did not know?

If so, it will only be because they failed to find out – or scrutinise.”

Claire Wright to Hugo Swire: please vote against more local government cuts tomorrow

From the blog of Claire Wright:

“I have just sent the email below to East Devon’s MP, Hugo Swire….

Dear Hugo

It has just come to my attention that tomorrow the House of Commons will be debating and voting on the settlement handed down by government to councils.

I am writing to you, as I have done every year for many years, to urge you to support your constituents by speaking and voting against the huge cuts that are proposed, in the latest round of austerity measures.

For Devon County Council, your government’s cuts means a cash reduction of around £20m. That’s more than a 76 per cent cumulative loss of income since austerity began in 2010.

Around 3000 staff posts have been made redundant during that time and so many services have gone there are almost too many to mention.

This year, the following is clear:

– 30 health visitor posts are set to be lost

– The council funded schools counselling service is set to be cut

– Devon residents are unhappy with some vital aspects of social care, according to a survey, including no longer feeling safe, see the following:

o How good is the social care related quality of life of service users? (bottom of the SW league table).
• Do service users feel safe? (Third from bottom of the SW league table)
• Do the services that people receive help them to feel safe? (bottom of the SW league table)
• Do carers have as much social contact as they would like? (third from bottom of the SW league table)
• What is the impact on their quality of life of the services that people receive? (bottom of the SW league table)

• Foster carers are set to suffer cuts to their income, at a time when they are desperately needed

• Local schools are being forced to cut teaching posts through not replacing staff, class sizes are growing and subjects are being cut at A-Level

Finally, and importantly, I should also take this opportunity to highlight just how much council tax has rocketed since austerity began and how this (along with other inflationary rises) is causing yet more hardship to many of your constituents.

Devon’s council tax (combined public services, not just DCC) has soared by almost 20 per cent in just seven years. That’s £250, for an average band D property.

So people are being taxed increasingly heavily for far fewer services, which is horribly unfair.

This year Devon County Council’s council tax element alone is set to rise by further 5.99 per cent.

No wonder people are finding it hard to make ends meet.

I urge you, once again, to speak up for the people of East Devon, against the latest set of services that are set to be lost, and support those who are struggling because of these service cuts. Please back the concerns of local people instead of towing your party’s line on the dreadful and miserable austerity that this country is in the grip of.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes
Claire Wright”

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

Our independent councillors: constantly standing up for our local NHS

ITV West Country News, with interviews with:

Claire Wright – DCC Independent Councillor (Ottery St Mary)
Martin Shaw – DCC independent East Devon Alliance Councillor (Seaton and Colyton)
Cathy Gardner – EDDC East Devon Alliance Councillor (Sidmouth)

continually fighting for our local NHS:

Not a single EDDC or East Devon DCC councillor attended the protest, nor did either of our MPs.