Seaton fights for Axe Valley health care

Owl says: good to see the deprived eastern side of East Devon banding together to fight for its (similarly deprived) health services.

Priorities identified for Axe Valley healthcare provision

“A ten point plan to safeguard healthcare provision across the Axe Valley has been drawn up.

The list of priorities has been agreed following a series of meetings between representatives from statutory and voluntary health groups along with local councillors.

Following the workshops, organised by Seaton Area Health Matters group, 10 priorities have emerged:

* To take an area approach for the Axe Valley, not just Seaton.

* Improving communication and co-ordination between voluntary organisations.

* Maintaining and extending NHS services in GP practices and at Seaton Hospital.

* The challenges in older age groups (chronic diseases, loneliness and isolation).

* The challenges in younger age groups (drug and alcohol addiction, housing, poverty).

* Mental health support.

* Transport difficulties to access services.

* Promoting health and wellbeing

* Communication on what is available.

* Co-ordination and ownership to tackle the challenges.

To look at these challenges a steering group has been established under the chairmanship of Seaton town councillor Jack Rowland.

A Terms of Reference was agreed at the last meeting on July 12 and two initial working parties have been established to work on the priorities and report back on progress at the September 6 meeting of the steering group.

A website and Facebook page will also be set up to communicate what is happening and enable people to contribute their views and receive answers, where appropriate.

Explained Cllr Rowland: “The working parties will utilise the experience and knowledge of whoever they need to as part of producing recommendations for approval by the Seaton Area Health Matters Steering Group and then potential approval and support from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Royal Devon and Exeter Trust (RDE).

The next meetings of the Seaton Area Health Matters group are:

Thursday, September 13, at


Thursday, December 13, at 2pm

both at the Marshlands Centre, Harbour Road, Seaton.

Anyone who has an interest in healthcare in the Axe Valley is welcome to attend.

Representatives from groups involved in health, care and wellbeing are actively invited to become members of Seaton Area Health Matters by attending the meetings.

Other members of the steering group are: Cllr Geoff Pook (vice chair), Cllr Marcus Hartnell, Victoria Parry (Healthy eating charity and Clinical Commissioning Group community representative), Cllr Martin Shaw, Roger Trapani (CCG community representative) Tina Trapani (Devon Senior Voice representative), Dr Mark Welland (Seaton GP and chairman of Seaton and District Hospital League of Friends).”

Beware the employer suddenly interested in your “wellbeing”

Comment on Guardian article, pertinent to the current situation of less people doing more work.

“At my last job, there was a sudden uptick in the company’s interest in things like sleeping patterns and mental health. Obviously the more switched-on people reacted with mounting worry (what were they about to do to us?), but it got really sinister when we were introduced to an online system which could help us ‘keep track’ of our fitness and stress management regimes. Not, of course, compulsory (they don’t dare go that far yet) but it was framed as an amazing indication of how much the company cared about us.

I recall asking the person who was taking us through this exactly who was keeping hold of this very intimate personal data, where it went and what was done with it (some of the fine print suggested outsourcing) – they could not give me an answer to that and seemed uncomfortable that it had been asked, which was a dead giveaway. Needless to say, before I left the corporate clouds were gathering – job responsibility creep had started, people were getting looked at askance for not having picked up an email over the weekend, the cottage industry in oversight was the only one expanding…

Never, ever forget that your relationship with your employer is purely transactional. They are renting your time , labour and expertise and you owe them nothing more than what you have mutually contractually agreed to. Don’t let them put themselves in any other relationship to you than that – they are not your friend, they are not your parent and they are certainly not anyone who has any business being interested in your inner life. That’s the way to avoid job stress.”

Claire Wright concerned about unpaid carers – asks for them to contact her

Could you imagine Swire being concerned about this – concerned, not just anodyne words.

“Some of Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee will visit Westbank League of Friends to hear from staff who support unpaid carers, later this month, following my proposal for a spotlight review into how unpaid carers who look after friends and family members are faring.

I have seen a confidential report of a focus group meeting that took place last year, which indicates that the 24 people in Devon who took part, are suffering from a lack of support, a lack of money and a lack of respite care….. many reported that their mental and physical health was suffering as a result.

I asked for the (anonymised) report to be published with the June health scrutiny papers, but this was refused as the focus group report was not ever intended to be made public and consent had not been given. Instead a rather more neutral version of the report was published, but as I told the committee, this did not reflect the original report and I don’t believe people’s voices have been heard.

The media reports today that unpaid carers save the economy a massive £60bn a year – – here’s the BBC story on the subject.

Anecdotally, my conversations with local people 100 per cent support the findings from Devon County Council’s focus group. Many unpaid carers are at their wits end.

I did propose a spotlight review into how unpaid carers are faring but this was not voted on unfortunately. There didn’t seem support from around the room. However, the issue will return to the agenda in September and I will pursue it then.

If you are an unpaid carer and wish to get in touch I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Email me at

NHS bed blocking costs £550 per MINUTE says charity

“Bed blocking because of a lack of social care availability is costing the NHS an “eye-watering” £550 per minute, according to research by a charity released today. This equates to £290m a year, Age UK has estimated.

Analysis by the charity also showed that in just two years, the number of older people in England living with an unmet care need has risen by 19%, which translates to 1.4 million over 65s living with unmet care needs

More than 300,000 need help with three or more essential daily tasks like getting out of bed, going to the toilet or getting dressed, the charity found, and of this 165,000 receive no help whatsoever from paid carers, family members or friends.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said: “The numbers of delayed discharges to a lack of social care are actually going down, but a lack of social care still costs the NHS an eye-watering £500 every minute – not to mention undermining the chances of older people making a full recovery if they are unnecessarily stuck in hospital for weeks or longer.”

Izzi Seccombe, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “People’s unmet care needs will continue to increase and deepen the crisis in adult social care unless the sector receives a long-term funding settlement, like the NHS, and further funding is made available for council’s public health and prevention services.

“To prevent crises in the NHS, government needs to plug the £3.5bn funding gap facing adult social care by 2025 and reverse the £600m in reductions to councils’ public health grants between 2015-16 and 2019-20.”

Age UK noted that between 2009-10 and 2016-17 spending on adult social care in England fell by 8% in real terms. As a result, in the same period, the average spend per adult on social care fell by 13%, from £430 to £379.

Alex Khaldi, head of social care insights at Grant Thornton, said: “Funding is not the only answer, councils need to focus on monitoring the level of unmet need in their areas more effectively. “If we are to exercise place-based leadership in social care, better data insight that allows councils to identify where and why people have fallen between the cracks is urgently needed.”

The LGA has announced that it would be publishing its own adult social care green paper, after Jeremy Hunt announced the government green paper would be delayed until autumn.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We expect the NHS to work closely with local authorities to ensure people are treated in the most suitable setting and when they are discharged from hospital they have a care plan in place.”

“Fears of future strain on NHS as councils slash health programmes”

Hospitals will bear the brunt of “incredibly shortsighted” cuts to public health initiatives that will lead to more people having a heart attack or getting cancer, experts are warning.

New research reveals that, by next year, spending per head in England on programmes to tackle smoking, poor diet and alcohol abuse will have fallen by 23.5% over five years.

Key services, including those to help people quit smoking, manage their sexual health or stay off drugs, are among those being subjected to the deepest cuts, according to analysis by the Health Foundation thinktank.

The public health grant that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) gives to local councils in England, which is not covered by the cash injection, is due to fall from £2.44bn this year to £2.27bn in 2019-20. It will be the fifth year in a row it has been cut since its peak of £2.86bn in 2014-15.

By next year, councils will be spending £95m on smoking and tobacco-control services, 45% less than they were in 2014-15. The next biggest cuts over that period will have occurred in drug and alcohol services for under-18s, down by 41% to £40m, and the equivalent services for adults, which will have fallen by 26% over those five years. Sexual health services will also be getting 25% less.

“There’s a massive gap between the government’s rhetoric on public health and prevention and the reality,” said Tim Elwell-Sutton of the Health Foundation. “NHS England’s Five Year Forward View talked about ‘a radical upgrade in prevention’ while in her recent speech about the NHS the prime minister said ministers would support public health. But we are seeing significant cuts to public health budgets. It is incredibly shortsighted not to invest in keeping people well. We are storing up problems for our health and also for the NHS, which is already under huge pressure. It could become increasingly unsustainable as more and more people with preventable illnesses will need long-term healthcare.

“We’re crazy if we’re not taking seriously the underlying cause of one of the most harmful illnesses – cancer – which is also one of the most expensive to treat,” said Elwell-Sutton. Although smoking rates are falling, the habit leads to almost 500,000 hospitalisations a year and is a major cause of strokes, heart problems and life-threatening respiratory conditions.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, accused ministers of “confused thinking” over health. “These figures demonstrate a frustrating contradiction from the government, whereby welcome extra money is given to the NHS with one hand, while the other generates more strain on NHS services by draining public health and prevention.”

Conservative-controlled Warwickshire county council is the local authority where the public health grant has been cut the most – by 39%, or £40 a head – since 2014-15. Other councils which have seen their budgets shrink by substantial amounts include Knowsley in Merseyside (38%) and Wokingham in Berkshire (38%). Five councils have seen their budget rise, including Shropshire (up 17.4%) and Warrington (up 11%).

Cramer voiced concern that two of the councils which have seen their public health grant cut the most, Knowsley and Tameside in Manchester, are also among the 10 areas with the highest rate of people being admitted to hospital because of poisoning by drugs, and three others are in the top 40.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have a strong track record on public health – smoking levels are at an all-time low, rates of drug misuse are lower than 10 years ago, and drug addiction treatment services remain free for all with minimal waiting times. Local authorities are best placed to make choices for their community, which is why we are investing more than £16bn in local government public health services over the current spending period.””

“Council cuts are putting the vulnerable at risk, Tory peer says”

“LGA chief says austerity could damage local authorities ‘beyond recognition’

Local authorities have reached the point where relentless financial cutbacks are putting the wellbeing of vulnerable adults and children at risk, the Conservative leader of the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

The Tory peer Lord Porter said that after eight years of austerity during which £16bn has been stripped from municipal budgets in England, councils risked being “damaged beyond recognition” and communities depleted of vital services.

An £8bn black hole in council budgets would open up by 2023 unless ministers stepped in to close the gap between spiralling demand for adult and children’s social care services and shrinking town hall incomes, he said.

“We’ve reached a point where councils will no longer be able to support our residents as they expect, including our most vulnerable,” Porter added.

As well as problems coping with demand for services for elderly and disabled adults, the LGA says councils are struggling with an explosion in the number of children in care, and a rising bill for 80,000 homeless families placed in temporary housing.

An LGA briefing on the prospects for local government states: “The failure to properly fund these services puts the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable residents at risk, and this cannot go on.”

Porter’s intervention, ahead of the LGA annual conference, which opens in Birmingham on Tuesday, reflects councils’ increasing concern about the precariousness of local authority finances, and frustration that ministers are ignoring the escalating crisis in social care.

While the NHS last month received a five-year £20bn cash injection, the government’s plans to overhaul the funding of adult social care services, originally due in a green paper before the summer, were delayed until the autumn. Council bosses have warned that in many areas these services are on the verge of collapse.

The fragility of many individual councils’ finances has increased speculation that more local authorities could follow Northamptonshire county council into bankruptcy. In May, Tory-controlled Somerset called for an overhaul of council funding after it was warned by auditors it could go bust.

Council leaders are also worried about the political consequences of having to sacrifice popular local services such as libraries, Sure Start centres, parks and leisure centres to divert funds into core services such as social care.

Bus services in ‘crisis’ as councils cut funding, campaigners warn
Porter said: “Councils now spend less on early intervention, support for the voluntary sector has been reduced, rural bus services have been scaled back, libraries have been closed and other services have also taken a hit. More and more councils are struggling to balance their books and others are considering whether they have the funding to even deliver their statutory requirements.

“If the government allows the funding gap facing councils and local services to reach almost £8bn by the middle of the next decade, then our councils and local services will be damaged beyond recognition.”

The LGA is calling for councils’ funding problems to be addressed through a government spending review expected in spring 2019, which is likely to set out public services funding plans over the four years to 2023.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “We recognise the pressures councils are facing, so we are working with local government to develop a funding system for the future. Over the next two years, we are providing councils with £90.7bn to help them meet the needs of their residents. On top of this, we are giving them the power to retain more of the income they get from business rates so they can use it to drive further growth in their area.”

Labour’s Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities and local government secretary, said: “This new analysis is a damning verdict on eight years of Tory austerity. Our public services are straining at the seams, whilst the government continues to cut funding.”

“NHS chief reveals 18,000 people have been stuck in hospitals for more than three WEEKS because there are no care services in their community”

… “Challenged on whether this meant the Government would separately have to fund social care, Mr Stevens said that was the ‘obvious implication’.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned the NHS package means there is no money left for other priorities. …”