Independent EDA Councillor Shaw continues the fight for our local NHS

Thank goodness for (truly) independent councillors!

“PRESS RELEASE

Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee will ask both the NEW Devon and South Devon & Torbay Clinical Commissioning Groups, which commission services in community hospitals, and NHS Property Services, which now owns the hospitals, to its next meeting on 25 January to report on the future of the hospitals now that most of them have lost their in-patient beds.

The Scrutiny Committee decided to request the discussion at its meeting yesterday (21st) after concerns were raised by Cllr Martin Shaw, who represents Seaton and areas close to Honiton, both places where hospital beds closed this summer. Cllr Shaw is pressing for the contributions to community hospitals made by local communities and Leagues of Friends to be taken into account in planning their futures, and had presented a paper on the subject to the Committee’s September meeting.

Cllr Shaw raised particular concerns over the high rents to be charged by NHS Property Services, the fact that the CCG is committed to paying for space only until the end of the current financial year, and that the CCG has specifically said that existing outpatient services are not guaranteed to continue.

‘Many services can be delivered in community hospitals’, Cllr Shaw emphasised after the meeting. “We should be talking about increasing not reducing the provision close to where patients live. If most services are concentrated in the RD&E, patients will continue to face long journeys into Exeter. With deteriorating public transport many will have to drive in and contribute to the city’s ever-growing congestion. We need joined-up planning at Devon and local levels to make the best use of the hospitals, which are community assets whoever is the legal owner.’

The motion to invite the NHS organisations was proposed by Cllr Claire Wright (Independent) and seconded by Cllr Nick Way (Liberal Democrat).

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

DCC, EDDC, Scrutiny, broadband and East Devon Alliance: not a good mix!

The Department for Communities and Local Government Parliamentary Committee asked for evidence on local authority scrutiny.

This interesting evidence was provided by BR4DS – a campaign group which is attempting to ensure that all parts of Devon and Somerset get fast broadband provision:

Written evidence submitted by B4RDS Broadband for Rural Devon and Somerset [OSG 006]

1. Executive summary:

1.1 At the first public meeting of a newly appointed Devon County Council (DCC) Scrutiny Committee in June 2017, the newly appointed Chairman delegated scrutiny of the Connecting Devon & Somerset (CDS) superfast broadband programme to an ongoing/standing task group of four Councillors who take evidence from Council Officers, suppliers and others in private, behind closed doors, with press and public excluded and with no formal minutes taken. This follows two years during which the previous committee required CDS to provide a quarterly written report on progress and answer questions in public, in front of the Committee.

The Terms of Reference for the ongoing/standing Task Group allow for it to continue in operation for seven years and the only information that will be put in the public domain will be reports by the four Councillors on their scrutiny of this subject. This is a major reduction in openness and transparency for the taxpayers of Devon and is contrary to the Council’s own constitution, the Nolan Principles and the expectations of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government as expressed at the 2017 Local Government Association Conference:

“If people are going to trust their elected representatives, they have to see them working in the harsh light of the public eye, not in comforting shadows behind closed doors. Not only must democracy exist; it must be seen to exist. It can’t be about decisions made in private meeting rooms.” – Rt Hon. Sajid Javid MP.”

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/communities-and-local-government-committee/overview-and-scrutiny-in-local-government/written/70794.html

The East Devon Alliance also provided information to this committee which can be found here:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/communities-and-local-government-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/inquiry6/publications/

Its executive summary states:

Written evidence submitted by East Devon Alliance [OSG 040]

Executive Summary

East Devon Alliance understands that encouraging economic development is a crucial task in local government. However, we are concerned that the increasing influence of unaccountable business interests on council decisions damages the health of local democracy, and can threaten the wider interests of local communities. The climate of unhealthy cynicism about politics, and a failure to engage in the democratic process, is reinforced whenever there is an apparent failure of scrutiny to make councils transparent and accountable.

Overview and Scrutiny (O&S) can too easily be rendered ineffectual by a dominant majority party in a cabinet-led-executive.

Government advice that members of a majority party should not chair O&S committees must be made mandatory.

Chief Executives must not be able to have inappropriate influence on O&S committees.

Scrutiny Officers need to be independent of influence and interference from senior officers or members of cabinet.

The scrutiny role needs to be strengthened to be able to call witnesses. It should be a legal requirement for officers and members of Council and associated bodies to cooperate.

With increasing privatisation, commercial confidentiality must not be used to shield public expenditure from scrutiny.

Scrutiny should “reflect the voice and concerns of the public” by giving local people more say in what issues are chosen for scrutiny.

There is no scrutiny mechanism of the new tier of local government created by the unelected and self-selecting Local Enterprise Partnerships who now control over £2 billion a year in England. Proposals made in 2013 by the Centre for Public Scrutiny could form the basis for scrutiny of such devolved bodies.”

Is Swire after Pritti Patel’s job? Or any ministerial post with foreign travel?

Owl realised after reporting about Swire’s stinging criticism of Pritti Patel that it had missed the most blindingly obvious reason for his jibes about her. He desperately wants another crack at the Foreign Office!

Why? Well, here are a few possible reasons:

1. He supports Bojo, thinks they would make a great pair – and he might even think he could do his job if Bojo screws up much more.

2. He’s been terribly unhappy as a lowly constituency MP since he lost his foreign office bagman job and it would give him a terrific boost.

3. Many questions he asks in Parliament are about other countries, fewer about this country, hardly any about East Devon – so he would be in his comfort zone. Plus he could use his old excuse of not being able to speak about East Devon in Parliament because it would conflict with his bigger, better job.

4. He enjoys his £2000 per month job as Chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council – but not half as much as he would enjoy being at the FO.

5. He could visit his constituency even less often, using the excuse of having to jet-set.

6. He could spend more time in London doing things like supporting the Royal Marsden hospital.

7. He wouldn’t have to see or hear so much about Claire Wright.

8. He could keep out of the way of the East Devon Alliance.

9. He could keep out of the way of local protesters about austerity cuts (NHS, education, environment)

10. He would be far too busy to worry about over-development of expensive properties and under-provision of social housing in East Devon – and unable to comment on it anyway – see 3 above.

Is it on the cards? Well, anything is on the cards these days … though May having sacked him, she would likely have to be ousted first.

“Axe Valley health hub plan launched as campaigners fight hospital sell off”

“Campaigners will continue to fight plans to sell off Seaton Hospital and to support plans for a new health hub for the Axe Valley. …

[Independent East Devon Alliance] County councillor Martin Shaw [Seaton and Colyton] said: “Forty campaigners from the Axe Valley area met in Seaton this week to review the state of the campaign for the local hospitals.

“I told the meeting that while the battle to save Seaton’s hospital beds had been lost, it had put Seaton on the map in the forthcoming discussions about health services in the area.”

Mayor of Seaton, Cllr Jack Rowland, said that a meeting to set up a steering committee for an Axe Valley Health Hub would take place shortly.

He was encouraged that the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Trust was putting resources into this and he also pointed out that more than fifty services involving over a hundred staff were still based at the hospital.

Campaigners will continue to fight plans to sell off Seaton Hospital and to support plans for a new health hub for the Axe Valley.

In August, a vigil was held outside Seaton Hospital as the beds inside the hospital were closed, as protesters waved banners, shouted “shame”, and expressed their anger and sadness outside Seaton Hospital as the controversial closures of community hospitals began.

Plans to remove the beds from Exeter, Seaton, Honiton and Okehampton community hospitals have been met with strong opposition since they were confirmed in March.

The North, East and West (NEW) Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said the move will see more people being given care at home and save £2.6million.

Although the battle to save the hospital beds has been lost, a new campaign though has been set up in the Axe Valley area to support the development of a health hub in the region.

County councillor Martin Shaw said: “Forty campaigners from the Axe Valley area met in Seaton this week to review the state of the campaign for the local hospitals.

“I told the meeting that while the battle to save Seaton’s hospital beds had been lost, it had put Seaton on the map in the forthcoming discussions about health services in the area.”

He was encouraged that the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Trust was putting resources into this and he also pointed out that more than fifty services involving over a hundred staff were still based at the hospital. ‘Don’t let anyone say the hospital is closed’, he said.

The meeting, chaired by Paul Arnott of the East Devon Alliance, agreed that it was necessary to establish which health services could most usefully be based in Seaton and Axminster hospitals, and this might involve canvassing the views of local residents and a number of people present offered to help with this.

The meeting decided to set up a new Axe Valley Hospitals Campaign to support the development of a health hub around the two hospitals and to oppose any proposals to sell off hospital sites.”

http://www.devonlive.com/news/health/axe-valley-health-hub-plan-699423

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)

EDA DCC Councillor Martin Shaw asks council to scrutinise ownership and governance of community hospitals

PRESS RELEASE from DCC Councillor Martin Shaw (Seaton and Colyton):

Tomorrow I am asking the committee to consider a proposal on ‘Ownership, Community Stakeholding and the Governance of Community Hospitals’, the briefing note for which is copied below and is self-explanatory:

Ownership, Community Stakeholding and the Governance of Community Hospitals

Community hospitals in Devon have always been built and maintained with a high degree of community involvement and support. In many cases, local communities took the initiative to build the hospitals and raised a substantial part of the original funding, or even the entire funding of additional wings and facilities, as well as contributing to staff and other running costs, the introduction of new specialist services, etc.

Unlike Private Finance Initiatives undertaken in partnership with private companies, these ‘community finance initiatives’ – which sought no profit from their investments other than the improvement of the facilities and services they enabled – appear not to have secured their interests in the hospitals they helped to build. The Leagues of Friends and others who raised funds for hospitals trusted that their investments would continue to be used for the benefit of place-based health services in their local area.

Since the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, however, the organisation of the NHS has changed and the ownership of NHS buildings is in the process of being transferred to a new company, NHS Property Services, wholly owned by the Secretary of State and charged with managing the NHS estate in line with national priorities. NHS Property Services is enabled to sell off parts of the estate and to charge NHS organisations market rents for their use of NHS buildings.

This change creates dilemmas for local communities which have invested in Devon community hospitals. Clearly Leagues of Friends and other local bodies, including town and parish councils as representatives of communities which have raised large amounts of funding, can be considered ‘stakeholders’ in community hospitals. However these community stakeholders appear not to possess formal rights in the ownership and governance of the hospitals.

The proposal is that the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny undertake an investigation into

1. The changing ownership and governance of community hospitals in Devon and its implications.
2. The historic and ongoing contributions of local communities and Leagues of Friends to funding the hospitals.
The purpose of this investigation would be to address the question of
3. How community stakeholders’ interests should be secured in the future governance of community hospitals.

It is envisaged that in the course of this investigation, the Committee would both collect evidence and invite expressions of views from all stakeholders, including both local community organisations and NHS bodies, including NHS Property Services.

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