No use “improving” health service if you can’t get your bus to hospital!

“Threat to buses as councils fear £5 billion shortfall
Nearly half of all subsidised bus routes in England are under threat, the LGA has warned. Councils in England face an overall funding gap that is expected to exceed £5 billion by 2020 and are struggling to maintain current subsidies for bus routes across the country, which could leave many people isolated. The concessions come at the cost of other discretionary subsidised bus services – such as free peak travel, community transport services and post-16 school transport – and other services like collecting bins and filling potholes.

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Transport spokesman, said: “It’s nearly impossible for councils to keep subsidising free travel while having to find billions of pounds worth of savings and protect other vital services. The way the concessionary travel scheme is funded by government has not kept up with growing demand and cost. Councils are being forced to subsidise the scheme by at least £200 million a year. By giving councils control over the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, and properly funding national free bus pass schemes, the Government could help us maintain our essential bus services, reduce congestion and protect vital routes.”

LGA Resources Board Vice Chairman Cllr John Fuller discussed the story on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. LGA Vice Chairman Cllr Marianne Overton and Deputy Chairman Cllr Peter Fleming have recorded interviews for BBC local radio and Five News, respectively.

Source: Express p17, Mirror p13

Devon Tory GP MP pours cold water on “extra” NHS funding promise

Owl says: surely “extra” money for the NHS means ALL CCG costings have to be revised? And all the arguments about WHY services have to be cut must be revisited.

“Theresa May has come under fire for promising that a Brexit windfall will provide an extra £400m a week for the NHS. May – who will pledge an extra £20bn in annual real terms from 2023-24 in a major speech – has been ridiculed for linking the money to Brexit savings. “At the moment, as a member of the European Union, every year we spend significant amounts of money on our subscription, if you like, to the EU,” she said on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show. “When we leave we won’t be doing that.”

Two senior Tory MPs, who are also doctors, took aim at May: “The Brexit dividend tosh was expected but treats the public as fools. Sad to see Govt slide to populist arguments rather than evidence on such an important issues,” tweeted Sarah Wallaston, who chairs the Commons health and social care committee. Dr Philip Lee, MP for Bracknell, tweeted: “There is no evidence yet that there will be a ‘Brexit dividend’ – so it’s tax rises, more borrowing or both.”

The PM’s decision to frame extra spending specifically as a benefit of leaving the EU has been widely seen as a sop to hardline Brexiters in her cabinet, echoing Boris Johnson’s suggestion during the EU referendum that Brexit would free up £350m a week extra for the NHS.”

The Tory MP who thinks it’s ok to take pictures of womens’ underwear without their consent – and wants the NHS to start charging

The bill had cross-party support and was expected to pass into law. He appears to have offered no explanation for his action He is the MP for Christchurch in Dorset.

Maybe make sure you wear trousers in Christchurch, ladies!

“Sir Christopher Chope has a reputation for derailing private members’ bills – just as he did on Thursday when he shouted “object!” to one that would have made upskirting a sexual offence.

The Christchurch MP also used the Commons session on Friday to delay another government-backed bill, which would make it an offence to attack police dogs or horses, or prison officer dogs.

In Parliament the rules mean it only requires one MP to shout “object” to block a bill’s progress once time for debate has concluded at 2.30pm on a Friday.

His actions have been widely criticised, with his Conservative colleagues taking to WhatsApp to vent their frustrations with one calling him a “total irrelevance and yesterday’s guy”.

So who is he?

Chope, who was born in Putney, has been an MP for over 25 years. He was educated at the prestigious Marlborough College, before attending Queen’s College at the University of St Andrews. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1972.

Chope, a eurosceptic, has held various positions within the Conservative party. He has been MP for Christchurch since 1997 but prior to that he was the MP for Southampton Itchen between 1983 and 1992 before losing his seat to Labour.

His decision to block the upskirting bill is not the first time he has hit the headlines.

In 2009 the father-of-two was caught up in the expenses scandal when it was revealed that he had claimed £136,992 in parliamentary expenses, including £881 to repair a sofa.

That same year, he called for the minimum wage to be abolished, arguing that it would decrease unemployment.

He came under fire again in 2013 for referring to some of the staff in the House of Commons as “servants”.

Later that year he voted against the legislation for same-sex marriage.

Also that year, he was one of four MPs who camped outside an office in Parliament for four nights in order to highjack an obscure parliamentary procedure to table 42 bills, which formed what they called an “Alternative Queen’s Speech”.

Among the proposals were the reintroduction of the death penalty and conscription, privatising the BBC and banning the burka in public places.

They also wanted to scrap wind farm subsidies, end the ringfence for foreign aid spending and rename the late August Bank Holiday “Margaret Thatcher Day”.

In 2014 Chope along with six other Conservative MPs voted against the Equal Pay (Transparency) Bill.

He is known for blocking and filibustering of bills including raising an eleventh-hour objection to the Hillsborough debate taking place, objecting to the second reading of the Alan Turing Bill to grant him a pardon and repeatedly blocking a bill that would ban the use of wild animals in circus performances.

Chope, a private landlord, filibustered a bill which had cross party support intended to make revenge evictions an offence

In 2015, joined fellow Tory MPs Philip Davies and David Nuttall in extended speeches, known as a filibuster, against a private member’s bill that would have placed restrictions on hospital parking charges for carers, causing the bill to run out of time.”

Ottery Health Matters! Meeting 29 June 2018, afternoon and evening

Ottery St Mary & District Health & Care Forum, in partnership with:
RD&E, Coleridge GP’s, NEWCCG, Devon County Council, East Devon District Council & Ottery St Mary Town Council

Ottery Health Matters!

Health and Wellbeing Community Information Event

Date: Friday 29th June 2018

Time: Two drop-in sessions
2pm – 5pm
6pm – 8pm

Venue: The Institute, Yonder Street, Ottery St Mary, EX11 1HD.

Come along to this informal drop-in event to find out about the care and support available in Ottery and the surrounding areas. It will be a great opportunity to talk to health and care experts plus volunteers about the local services and activities to help people live well.

We need to hear from you about what’s important to you, what you think the challenges and priorities are to improve health and care for people in our community now and in the future.

Refreshments will be provided. Transport to and from may also be available. For any queries or feedback please contact:

Elli Pang via e-mail: or Tel: 01404 812268 or Leigh Edwards via e-mail: or Tel: 01404 814889

Adult social care on its last wobbly, fragile knees

“Social care services for vulnerable adults are on the verge of collapse in some areas of England, despite the provision of extra government funding, senior council officials have warned.

The fragile state of many council social care budgets – coupled with growing demand for services, increasing NHS pressure, and spiralling staff costs – is highlighted in research by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services(Adass).

It says councils “cannot go on” without a sustainable long-term funding strategy to underpin social care and warns that continuing cuts to budgets risk leaving thousands of people who need care being left without services.

“The overall picture is of a sector struggling to meet need and maintain quality in the context of rising costs, increasingly complex care needs, a fragile provider market and pressures from an NHS which itself is in critical need of more funding,” the annual “state of the nation” survey says.

It reveals English councils plan to push through social care cuts of £700m in 2018-19, equivalent to nearly 5% of the total £14.5bn budget. Since 2010, social care spending in England has shrunk by £7bn.

A government green paper on adult social care funding is expected in the next few weeks, and while councils are hopeful this could put budgets on a firmer footing over time, they warn that extra funding is needed to shore up services in the short term.

“Social care is essentially about making sure we not only look after people with profound and increasingly complex needs, but also help many transform their lives. Sadly, however, this budget survey reveals, once again this essential care and support is just not being given the resources it needs,” said the president of Adass, Glen Garrod.

He added: “We cannot go on like this. How we help people live the life they want, how we care and support people in our families and communities, and how we ensure carers get the support they need is at stake – it’s time for us to deliver the secure future that so very many people in need of social care urgently need.”

A government spokesperson said: “We know the social care system is under pressure — that’s why we’ve provided an extra £9.4bn over three years. We will shortly set out our plans to reform the system, which will include the workforce and a sustainable funding model supported by a diverse, vibrant and stable market.”

The Adass survey says the social care market is “increasingly fragile and failing” in some parts of the country, with almost a third of councils reporting that residential and nursing home care providers have closed down or handed back contracts.

Although councils are spending an increasing proportion of their total budget on adult social care – almost 38p in every pound in 2018-19, compared with 34p in 2010 – social care directors admit they will have to continue to reduce the number of people in receipt of care packages.

The survey reveals councils are increasingly reliant on so-called “self help” or “asset-based” approaches to care – in effect using networks of family and neighbourhood groups to provide volunteer support for some social care recipients.

Half of local authorities overspent on adult social care budgets in 2017-18, the survey finds, with half of these drawing on council reserves to meet the overspend.

The National Audit Office has warned that about 10% of councils will exhaust reserves in three years at current rates of deployment, putting them at risk of insolvency.

Ministers acknowledged the financial crisis facing council adult social care services last year, when they provided £2.6 billion, enabling councils to raise extra social care funds locally through a council tax precept.

Adass says this injection of cash helped stave off financial collapse in some council areas. But it warns that the additional funding has “temporarily relieved, rather than resolved” the long-term funding needs of the sector and there is a danger council services could collapse before any new arrangements are in place.

Although councils have a legal duty to ensure there is a functioning care market in their area, nearly four in five say they are concerned that they are unable to guarantee this because of the fragility of many care firm balance sheets and rising care staff wage bills.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, the chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “Councils and providers are doing all they can to help ensure older and disabled people receive high quality care, but unless immediate action is taken to tackle increasingly overstretched council budgets, the adult social care tipping point, which we have long warned about, will be breached and councils risk not being able to fulfil their statutory duty under the Care Act.”

Richard Murray, the director of policy at The King’s Fund, said: “This latest evidence, from every council in England, lays bare once again the need for, as the prime minister put it herself, a proper plan to pay for and provide social care.

“Older and disabled people and their families and carers continue to be let down by a system that is on its knees.”

Devon CCG refuses to reveal crucial figures to independent county councillor

“Beds, beds, beds – Devon’s NHS couldn’t or wouldn’t give me their overall occupancy figure for the recent winter: but they were forced to buy in more capacity and there were ’12-hour trolley breaches’

Devon NHS’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) admitted in a report to Health Scrutiny yesterday that they had been desperately short of beds during the recent winter. They had to buy in extra beds to keep up with more patients staying longer, because of complex conditions. There were ’12-hour trolley breaches’, where patients had to wait more than 12 hours to be seen.

Despite my asking them directly, they did not give a figure for overall occupancy levels, although they did not deny my suggestion that they had been as bad as or worse than the nationally reported level of 95 per cent. (The nationally recommended safe level is 85 per cent.)

Jo Tearle, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the Devon CCGs, rebutted my suggestion that cutting community beds had contributed to this crisis, saying that these were not the kind of beds they had needed, and that there had been capacity in community hospitals most of the time. However this suggests that there was no capacity some of the time. It is difficult not to believe that extra community beds wouldn’t have given them more leeway.

Meanwhile, Kerry Storey of Devon County Council indicated the strains that the ‘new model of care’ at home had been under. She said that maintaining personal care at home during the winter had been ‘a real challenge’, requiring ‘creativity and innovation’ – you don’t need much imagination to see that it will have been a real crisis time with frail people at home in isolated areas, care workers and nurses struggling to get through the snow, and staff themselves suffering higher levels of illness.

I and others predicted that because of the closure of community beds, there would be severe pressure on beds in a bad winter or a flu epidemic (and actually, this was not overall a bad winter and the snow episodes were late and short; despite higher levels of flu, there was no epidemic this winter).”

Beds, beds, beds – Devon’s NHS couldn’t or wouldn’t give me their overall occupancy figure for the recent winter: but they were forced to buy in more capacity and there were ’12-hour trolley breaches’