Nurse shortage now a serious Health and Safety issue for patients and nurses

“The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has published a report today, called ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, outlining the serious staffing crisis and its potential causes.

The report warns of the need for legal responsibilities regarding the supply and planning of the health and care workforce. It says they need ‘Investment, long-term solutions and legislation to futureproof the workforce’.

This comes after current NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing positions in the NHS in England alone, with 12% of posts are now without a full time Registered Nurse (RN).

RCN have stated in the report that there must be clearer roles, responsibility and accountability with workforce planning and supply, clearly defined in law.

Since 2017, the number of nurses in England joining the professional register for the first time has consistently been lower than the number of people leaving the register,
Recent polling for the RCN pointed out that 80% of the public agrees that the Government should have a legal responsibility for ensuring there are enough nursing staff.

This issue is having a knock-on effect on patient care, with new analysis showing that wards working with less than 50% of the expected registered nurses were twice as likely to admit they had to compromise on care.

This is why RCN have said, it is no longer the time to be discussing whether we need law, but rather how we secure these vital changes in legislation.

Despite the fact that The Health and Social Care Act (2012) devolved many of the roles and responsibilities on this issue, the RCN report shows that the subsequent poor clarity across all parts of the health system has left parts of it in ‘limbo’ and limited any potential progress on the staffing the crisis.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said:

“Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in. We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

“Without these bold changes, the public and staff within health and care services cannot be confident that safe and effective care can be delivered, risking the health of patients now and in the future.”

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.

The alarming new report indicates clearly why action is needed to tackle the current workforce crisis but also to ensure there is a sustained investment in the future workforce, at least £1bn per year, according to the RCN.”

http://www.nationalhealthexecutive.com/Health-Service-Focus/nursing-workforce-have-shrunk-at-an-alarming-rate-says-rcn-as-nursing-vacancies-rise-to-record-highs

“EDF feels heat from nuclear weld problems”

Hinkley C nuclear plant is where the vast majority og our regional funds have been placed by our Local Enterprise Partnership – many of whose board members have a direct or indirect financial interest in the project.

“The French state electricity group building Britain’s new nuclear plant suffered another setback yesterday when it admitted to possible faults with components used in reactors in France.

The disclosure alarmed investors, raised a new question mark over the French nuclear industry and will fuel speculation that slipshod practices have gained hold in a sector that supplies about three quarters of the country’s electricity.

EDF said that a factory that made steam generators used in nuclear reactors had failed to follow standard procedures. The problem was with the welds on the generators, it said.

The factory is in Saint-Marcel, central France, and is owned by Framatome, a French nuclear group in which EDF has a majority stake. The plant supplies heavy equipment for the French nuclear industry and has provided components for 106 reactors worldwide.

EDF said that Framatome had informed it of “a deviation from technical standards governing the manufacture of nuclear reactor components”. It said that the problem concerned components already installed in reactors, as well as those being prepared for future use. A spokesman for the French Nuclear Safety Authority said that about 20 functioning reactors built after 2008 were believed to be affected.

“EDF, along with Framatome, has been conducting in-depth investigations to identify all affected components and reactors, as well as to ascertain their fitness for service,” EDF said.

The setback comes after a factory in nearby Le Creusot, which belonged to Areva and is now part of Framatome, admitted to having failed to follow safety test procedures during the manufacture of nuclear components. The Nuclear Safety Authority said that test results appeared to have been falsified and added that it had alerted prosecutors to possible fraud.

The latest scandal could hardly have come at a worse time for EDF, which said this summer that the launch of its new-generation nuclear reactor had suffered a further delay. The reactor in Flamanville, Normandy, will now come on stream in 2022, a decade after it was meant to be operating.

EDF is leading the project to build two similar reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset at a cost of £19.6 billion. They are due to come on stream in 2025.

With difficulties mounting for EDF, its share price fell sharply on the Paris stock market, and closed down 74 cents, or 6.8 per cent, at €10.12.”

Source: Times (paywall)

3 mile walk on unlit tracks and through farmyard safe for East Devon kids says DCC

“Parents in East Devon say they fear for the safety of their children after being told they have to walk nearly three miles to school on an unlit country track going through farm yards.

They say the route is dangerous and transport should be provided for the journey from Black Horse to Clyst Vale Community College near Exeter.

Devon County Council maintains the route is safe.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-49494877

Breathtaking hypocrisy of DCC Tories on Adult Health Scrutiny Committee

Below is a story about Sara Randall, Chair of the Adult Health Scrutiny Committee and a County Councillor for Broadclyst, Richard Scott, a committee member and Exmouth County Councillor and Phil Twiss, a committee member and Honiton County Councillor meeting with carers. Sue Younger-Ross and a DCC Officer Timothy Ridgeway were also attendance.

These are Tory councillors who have continuously and viciously thwarted the Herculean efforts of Independent Councillor Claire Wright to get a fair deal for carers, to investigate the county’s provision for health and social care and refused to discuss any aspect of Devon’s Clinical Commissioning Group’s massive funding cuts. A group which also refused to fight the closure of community hospitals in Axminster, Honiton, Seaton and Ottery St Mary, (though Twiss did make a very mild stand, knowing full well he would be outvoted by his pals).

It is a sure sign there is an election brewing and a breathtaking exercise in hypocrisy.

The article is here:

https://honiton.nub.news/n/honiton-carers-meet-the-county-councils-scrutiny-committee

“Health and safety at risk as watchdog budgets halve”

“Rules to protect air quality, food safety, the workplace and animal welfare are at risk because watchdog budgets have halved over the past decade, whistleblowers have warned.

Since 2009-10 the number of air pollution inspections by councils fell by 37 per cent, there were 32 per cent fewer meat inspections by the Food Standards Agency, the number of prosecutions of fly-tippers by local authorities dropped by 36 per cent and inspections by the Gangmaster and the Labour Abuse Authority fell by 43 per cent.

Prosecutions for wildlife crime were down by 57 per cent and almost half of sites of special scientific interest have not been checked by Natural England in the past six years. …”

Source Times (pay wall)

Appalling rates of child poverty in Devon

“One in eight children live in poverty in Devon – and one in three in parts of Barnstaple.

The startling figures are revealed as part of a new Devon County Council strategy to create “Healthy and Happy Communities” in the county.

The strategy aims to address health and wellbeing challenges that the county faces and to address the considerable inequalities in health and poverty.

It states that there have been recent increases in child poverty and more people are accessing emergency food supplies, and that one in eight children (12.5%) are in poverty.

However in the Forches area of Barnstaple, one in three children are in poverty, compared to just 1.1% of children in the Teignmouth Road area of Dawlish.

Fuel poverty rates also fluctuate dramatically, with 27.9% of people living in Mount Pleasant in Exeter facing it, compared to just 3.6% in Douglas Avenue in Exmouth.

Life expectancy in Ilfracombe Central is just 75 years, compared to 90 in Liverton. While in Sidwell Street in Exeter, 8.2 per cent of 16-64 year-olds have a long term health issue, compared to just 0.8 per cent in Widecombe-in-the-Moor.

About 800,000 people live in Devon.

A consultation on the draft Devon Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for 2020 to 2025, runs until 5 September.

The final version of the strategy is due to go to the Health and Wellbeing Board in October for approval.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-49297960

“Amazon CONFIRMS it is moving Exeter operations to 100,000 sqft facility close to Cranbrook”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/cranbrook-move-for-online-retailer-amazon-1-6181313

but not all good news:
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/may/31/amazon-accused-of-treating-uk-warehouse-staff-like-robots?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Area around Science Park and western Cranbrook has high radon levels

“Radiation: You would imagine it’s more of a concern for those living near the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disaster exclusion zones.

But in truth Devon is notably radioactive and one of the worst affected parts of the UK as our soil and rock constantly seeps decaying uranium gas: Radon.

Above average levels of radon in Devon and Cornwall remains a silent killer in the rural parts of the county – and some residents are sat in homes that pose a greater risk of radiation absorption than working in a nuclear plant.

A map by Public Health England shows starkly how bad it is in comparison to other places. Even in the same county. For example, Exmouth shows little sign of radiation whereas Cranbrook has high than average levels.

Sobering facts also reveal thousands of deaths in the UK are linked to radon induced lung cancer, as the government works to help those impacted by it by ‘making safe’ their homes and workplaces. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/devon-surprisingly-radioactive-parts-worst-3111033

EDDC Tory DMC Chairman uses his casting vote in controversial planning application

“Plans for 10 new homes in Axminster have been approved, despite fears children could be flattened by lorry drivers who wouldn’t notice them until ‘they heard the screams’.

East Devon District Council’s development management committee via the chairman’s casting vote gave the go-ahead last week for outline plans for 10 homes to be built on land adjacent to the co-op supermarket in Axminster.

Serious concerns about highways safety had been raised by councillors as the front doors of the houses would open almost onto the road delivery drivers heading to the Co-op use.

But the committee heard that Devon County Council’s highways department had no concerns over the plans and hadn’t objected, and committee chairman Cllr Mike Howe used his casting vote to approve the application, saying: “I have to vote in favour as I cannot see a reason for refusal that would stand up and would not cost this council money at an appeal.”

Cllr Paul Hayward had said that he was very concerned about the safety aspects of the plan. He said: “This is building family houses next to a car park and the front doors will open directly onto the path of a reversing HGV from the Co-op. The lorry driver would only be focused on reversing into his spot and he wouldn’t even notice if a child run out of the doors after a ball or a dog or if they saw a friend across the road.

“A child wouldn’t even be on the radar until he heard the screams. Safety is paramount and I cannot conceive a worse place to build family houses.”

Cllr Sarah Jackson added: “The development is situated opposite a car park and alongside the car park access road. Family properties are likely to be occupied by young children who lack road sense and can easily run out unexpectedly, particularly as they may not perceive this as a road in the traditional sense.

“Equally, articulated lorries have incredibly limited visibility and when turning may not see a child in time. The nearest playing field/recreation areas are at Foxhill and Jubilee field. Both would require children to cross several roads.

“It’s worth noting that the play park at Jubilee Field is currently out of action due to a legal dispute and it is unknown as to when this will be returned to proper use, so it is therefore likely that children will end up playing in the car park.

“I just question the logic of putting family homes right next to somewhere where lorries will be reversing in and out to make their deliveries.”

Cllr Tom Wright added his concerns about kids running out and being run over, and added: “I also have environmental concerns. Encouraging people to live in an area which is being heavily polluted and there will be lorries running with their diesel engines is unbelievable and an absolute nonsense.”

And Cllr Paul Arnott said the development was the kind of thing you may see in inner-city London, but that ‘even there it would be turned down on environmental grounds.”

Planning officers though had recommended that the scheme, which would consist of three blocks, be approved.

Six homes would be on a terrace row which fronts on to the car park, with two semi-detached properties situated adjacent to the supermarket building and two further properties fronting onto the proposed car park for the new three bedroom homes.

Development manager Chris Rose said: “The application seeks to address the two reasons for refusal on a previous application which related to the unsuitable access and conflict with the loading area to Co-op and the lack of affordable housing contribution.

“The development can be accommodated without harm in terms of amenity, highway safety, visual impact or loss of character. Although these types of development would usually result in an offsite contributions toward affordable housing, in this instance viability information has been submitted which has demonstrated that such a contribution would render the development unviable.

“The proposal adequately addresses the two previous reasons for refusal on the previous application and as such is considered to meet the social, economic and environmental and thus achieves sustainable development.

Cllr Helen Parr proposed that the application be approved in line with the recommendation, saying: “It is going to be difficult to refuse this on highways safety grounds as Devon County Council’s highways team are satisfied that there is appropriate separation. I don’t see how we can object on highways grounds if they won’t support us. The other reason why development was refused was on affordable housing but there is now evidence that it would be unviable.”

Cllr Eileen Wragg seconded the proposal to approve the plans, saying: “If we don’t, I think that this is one that we would fail to defend on appeal.”

The vote to approve the application saw seven councillors vote in favour and seven against, before Cllr Howe broke the deadlock with his casting vote in favour of approval.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/homes-approved-despite-fears-reversing-3111980

Environment Agency severely criticises water companies about pollution risks

Water companies – you know, those privatised companies (with monopolies in their areas) that hand massive bonuses and dividends to their (often foreign) owners and shareholders.

From the report:

“… “This report shows that:

• with one exception, none of the companies are performing at the level the environment needs

• rather than improving, the performance of most companies has deteriorated, reversing the trend of gradual improvement since we introduced the EPA in 2011

• serious pollution incidents which damage the local environment, threaten wildlife and in the worst cases put the public at risk, have increased

This report is about 2018, but I am sad to say we are not seeing dramatic improvements in 2019. As a result we will toughen our regulatory approach!”

Click to access Water_company_performance_report_2018.pdf