Q: who does Diviani represent on the NHS? A: Jeremy Hunt

How does Owl know?

Well, he DOESN’T represent East Devon District Council – they told him to vote to keep local community hospital beds and maternity services open. He went to a DCC scrutiny meeting and voted to close them.

He DOESN’T represent the eight district councils he is supposed to represent at DCC [as a co-optee NOT a full member of the committee – and he was only allowed to vote because the badly-worded DCC constitution does not make the voting power of a co-optee clear] because he admitted in public that he did not consult any of the other councils before voting.

He DOESN’T represent DCC because he has not stood for election to that council and been successful.

WHAT was his reason/excuse/pathetic flim flam for his vote then?

That other attempts to refer the closure to the Secretary of State had failed, so this one would also fail.

How did he know that? Does he have a direct line to Hunt’s office or what passes for Hunt’s brain? He must have one or the other because he KNEW in advance what would happen and chose to vote on what he says he KNEW.

But if he KNEW what would happen (and he says he did) then why not vote as EDDC told him to do? The letter would have failed and he could still say he had voted as instructed at EDDC (though not as other councils wanted as he had no idea about that.

BUT – as he again admitted – it would have slowed down the closure. It would have given councils, the staff and supporters of the hospitals, the patients and their carers, more time to put alternative plans into action. More home care staff, more suitable plans for hospital buildings, better care for patients at home.

He did none of these things. He and Sarah Randall-Johnson consigned community hospitals to the rubbish heap.

And all because, he says, he knew what Jeremy Hunt would do.

So, now we know, he has a direct line to Jeremy Hunt and does what Jeremy Hunt wants him to do.

But why? Owl can only guess that he wants a gong from this despicable government to add to his only other qualification – an innkeepers certificate.

And the only way to do that is do the bidding of those who hand them out.

And if that isn”t his rationale, Owl would welcome a comment from him which would be published on the blog in full.

And what of his “representation” of the other councils? Who voted for him to be their representative? Was there a vote at all?

Or conversations in dark corners of County Hall?

“Tories block recording concerns over biggest ever planned health service cuts in Devon”

Oh, how different it will be if (when) Tories lose control of DCC. We will then hear Twiss and his party colleagues saying EXACTLY what Claire Wright is saying!

Party politics sucks. More Independents needed – urgently.

From the blog of Claire Wright:

“.. And the County Solicitor will be called to address the committee to remind it of its responsibilities.

Devon County Council conservatives blocked my proposal yesterday to record significant concerns over the biggest cuts facing Devon’s health service in living memory.

Sonja Manton from NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group gave an update on the plans to slash around £500m by 2020, as part of Devon’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

The county’s STP is one of 44 across the country and is the government’s main programme of major cost cutting and centralisation in the NHS, to stem a £30bn shortfall by 2020.

I asked a number of questions mainly on staffing, budgets and buildings, along the following lines:

What are the vacancies and how do you plan to fill them and when do you plan to make redundancies (which has been previously hinted at)?

The answer was woolly (and no amount of pushing would encourage Dr Manton to reveal more). It contained no information on numbers, but she did mention that there is a 30 per cent turnover rate across Devon, in home care staff and that 75 per cent of the NHS budget is spent on staffing.

Next I asked whether pregnant women would still have a genuine choice where to give birth, as three community maternity units at Okehampton, Tiverton and Honiton were set to close (two have already closed temporarily due to staffing issues).

The answer was that the new service would meet national guidelines, so I pushed and asked whether pregnant women would be able to have a choice of a midwife led unit and how far they would have to travel. The answer was that there will be a new midwife led unit at the RD&E, adjacent to the consultant led unit.

So essentially women from all over Devon will soon have to either have a home birth, or travel to Exeter to give birth, whether that’s at a midwife led unit or a consultant led unit. There was a bit of a disagreement about me saying the current midwife led units were closed, despite the announcement having already been announced that this was the intention and two being temporarily closed due to staffing pressures.

Next I asked how many more beds were planned to be cut.

More prevarication.

I pushed. Was the figure of 600 bed cuts recognised, which was the broad figure in the first draft of the STP?

Yes this figure was recognised but it depended on a raft of issues.

Finally, I asked about the selling off of redundant estate. How many, where and when? Another non answer ensued. It was the next piece of work.

Entirely frustrated at the refusal to answer questions, not because I believe, the answers are not known but because there is a total refusal to get into any detail whatsoever, I expressed my complete frustration and disappointment at the answers. It made no difference.

Other councillors asked other questions.

At the end of the debate I proposed a resolution that the committee express significant concerns over the STP, its potential effect on patient care and the lack of transparency so far.

I called for urgent information on staffing, beds, buildings and budgets, in particular.

The proposal was seconded by Chair, Sara Randall Johnson, who added that a piece of work would be done on this.

Unfortunately, my wording appeared to upset the conservative group. Cllr Philip Sanders said he didn’t like that I had said the process appeared not to be transparent and wanted this word deleted. I replied that that it was entirely justified and refused to amend my proposal.

But fellow Conservative, Phil Twiss, wanted ANY mention of concerns deleted.

He said: “We don’t need the emotional language.”

Three years ago, Cllr Twiss reported me and this blog to the police cyber crime unit. You can read about it here, if you like – http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_tory_whip_reports_me_to_the_police_for_a_comment_on_this_blog

Cllr Twiss then proposed that ALL my words were deleted, simply retaining the section that relating to a task group being set up.

This was voted through by the vast majority of the Conservative group.

Letting down every single resident in Devon who relies on the NHS.

Yes, I think that’s everyone.

Ambulance Trust response targets are failing and RD&E unable to discharge its patients in good time

Later in the meeting we were examining the performance review.

The South West Ambulance Trust which used to meet the national target of eight minutes largely without a difficulty, are now significantly under target. Only 59 per cent of calls were answered within eight minutes, across Northern, Eastern and Western Devon, in July of this year. The target is 75 per cent.

Lives are surely being put at risk. Certainly news of the failures are hitting the local media.

The narrative attached to the graph claimed that the reason was the rural nature of the South West. Yet the South West has been rural for years and this wasn’t a problem previously. Of course there have been cuts to budgets, and reductions in the number of ambulances so that is more likely to be the cause of the failure.

Problem with delayed discharges at the RD&E

Similarly, the RD&E was shown to have a significant problem with delayed discharges.

In June this year a daily average of 66 beds were occupied by patients who were well enough to go home.

It was obvious from the graph that the problem was clearly way out of kilter with other local NHS trusts.

This was largely to do with major staffing problems in the care sector, an officer confirmed.

of course it is these staff among others that we will rely on, to look after people in their own homes following community hospital bed cuts.

I proposed a resolution that the committee record its concerns at the ambulance response rates and the high level of delayed discharges at the RD&E and invite both trusts to the next committee meeting.

I had to argue with the chair that the proposal should retain the bit about recording concerns, before it was seconded by Cllr Brian Greenslade.

One of the Labour councillors was unhappy with me mentioning the RD&E at all in my resolution because she was chairing a piece of work looking at delayed discharges. I tried to point out that the resolution supported her work but she was adamant …

Then Cllr Twiss started up again. He said he didn’t like my wording and that I was simply making a statement that “looks good in the press.”

I reminded Cllr Twiss that the committee is legally constituted to scrutinise health services on behalf of the people and our job is to hold the health service to account. In fact such words had been used recently in a standards committee hearing minutes.

Anyone who is familiar with the basic requirements of an audit trail will recognise the importance of the committee recording concerns about service failures in this way.

I told Cllr Twiss that I intended to ask in the work programme agenda item, that the county solicitor attends the next committee meeting and outlines our responsibilities.

The final amendment removed my words about concerns about the RD&E’s delayed discharges but retained the words about the ambulance trust target failure.

So Ambulance Trust representatives will be invited to the next meeting.

I have certainly heard anecdotally that things are very challenging indeed within the Trust, with too few ambulances and low staff morale.

I duly asked in the final agenda item for the County Solicitor to attend the next meeting to remind the committee of its remit.

Some councillors appear to be in sore need of training.

Playing political games with health scrutiny resolutions is a dirty and unacceptable game.

NHS Property Services and buildings

Cllr Martin Shaw spoke to a report he submitted to the committee on this. The upshot will be that a sub group will examine the future of community hospital buildings.

The speaker itemised webcast can be viewed here – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/301904”


NHS given 6 weeks to EMPTY beds – not CLOSE them. If we don’t have enough beds, blame Diviani

Diviani’s excuse for not (at least) buying time for our closed community hospitals was that 14 such pleas had been refused so ours was unlikely to succeed. Not CERTAIN to succeed – unlikely. BUT the referral would have

(a) bought us time and ensured our beds stayed open over winter, and
(b) forced the CCG to give us MUCH more information about their numbers.

IF/WHEN we run out of winter beds the BLAME will lie fairly and squarely on Diviani, Randall-Johnson and all those Tories who voted for bed cuts at DCC – PLUS Twiss – who although he voted for referral at DCC, according to news reports, supported his Leader at EDDC last night.

“Hospitals and GP surgeries will struggle to cope this winter as a severe flu outbreak heads towards Britain, the head of the NHS has warned.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has given the health service six weeks to empty beds in order to avoid chaos in A&E as more elderly people than usual get sick.

He also told NHS leaders that he would have a “hard look” at why life expectancy growth is slowing, after The Times revealed this week that progress in Britain has stalled while people in other countries live ever longer.

Theresa May has been briefed about health chiefs’ fears of a winter crisis after hospital wards ended the quieter summer months already dangerously full. Now Mr Stevens has warned that after Australia experienced its worst flu season for many years during the southern hemisphere winter, the virus is likely to strike Britain hard.

NHS flu vaccination will shortly get under way and while it will include the H3 strain dominant in Australia, health chiefs never know in advance how well the jab will protect patients. Last year the vaccine did not work in the elderly but protected children.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

Independent councillor challenges Councillor Mike Allen’s letter on Tories and NHS

Independent East Devon Alliance councillor Martin Shaw (Seaton and Colyton) makes this observation on EDDC Tory councillor Mike Allen’s attempt to distance other EDDC and DCC councillors from Leader Diviani’s actions which led to the vote of no confidence meeting at EDDC tonight.

(Assemble Knowle 5.30 pm if you wish to make your presence felt for this meeting)

“It is not credible to say that Diviani acted alone – he may not have consulted other district councils, but remember that three of the East Devon Tories on Health Scrutiny (Randall Johnson and Richard Scott as well as Diviani) voted for ditching the hospital beds, with only Twiss against and Jeff Trail absent. Even at the time of the County Council elections in May, E Devon Conservatives advocated ‘bedless hospitals’, so Mike Allen’s story doesn’t add up. If they back Diviani tonight they will be consistent with their party’s betrayal of Honiton and Seaton.”

Letter referred to in post below and above:

Tory councillor puts many Tory cats in front of a single Tory Diviani pidgeon!

Tonight sees the vote of no confidence in EDDC Leader Paul Diviani, who, with his former EDDC pal and DCC Councillor Sarah Randall-Johnson, sabotaged a last-ditch attempt to keep beds at Honiton and Seaton hospitals open.

Now EDDC Tory Councillor Mike Allen has written an extraordinary letter in today’s Midweek Herald claiming Diviani acted alone at DCC and, in fact, all other Tory councillors at EDDC backed the action to try to keep the beds open.

We know Diviani acted alone when he voted at DCC, as he was supposed to consult all the other councils in this part of Devon (8 councils in all) about his vote, which he admitted he did not do (see post yesterday on his censure for this).

So, tonight he faces a vote of “no confidence”.

What will Tory councillors do?

Diviani allegedly refused to follow their unanimous instruction about how to vote at DCC. Which councillors will vote to keep him in his job and why?

Could it be like the national Tory situation – where Mrs May stays in power only because her party has no-one better to offer so her bodge-jobbing is the best bodge-jobbing they can muster?

Or will we someone emerge from the shadows to oust the Leader – and, if so, will it be an improvement?

We note that Councillor Twiss voted against the motion that Diviani voted for at DCC (though maybe because he valued his Honiton DCC seat more than the community beds). Is he waiting in the wings?

Tonight will tell.

“Devon County Council health scrutiny committee district representative [Diviani] must consult before voting”

From the blog of Claire Wright.

If you wish to show your disapproval of the man and his conduct (see below), turn up at EDDC HQ, Knowle, Sidmouth tomorrow evening from 5.30 pm onwards for the vote of “no confidence” in him – brought by Independent members of EDDC.

Watch and note which Tory councillors cave in and continue to back the man who neither represents us nor cares about us.

“The district council member of Devon County Council’s health and adult care scrutiny committee will need to consult before speaking and voting, it has been recommended today.

The Procedures Committee (which I am a member of) met this afternoon and debated the fallout of the controversial July health scrutiny meeting where the chair ended up as the subject of a Standards Committee hearing, following a vote against a referral to the Secretary of State over the loss of 72 community hospital beds.

Paul Diviani, leader of EDDC, also voted against a referral to the Secretary of State, despite his own council robustly opposing the bed cuts.

His actions have been much criticised by local people, who quite reasonably, believe that Cllr Diviani did not carry out his responsibility fully.

If he had voted in line with the views of his own council a referral on the closure of 72 hospital beds, would now be winging its way to the Secretary of State for Health, as the vote was so close – 7/6.

Later, Cllr Diviani (who is now facing a vote of no confidence at a specially convened meeting tomorrow evening) admitted that he had not asked any district council for its position on hospital bed closures.

At this afternoon’s Procedures Committee, it was proposed, seconded by me, that the district council member of the health scrutiny committee, should be required to “collate” the views of local councils before speaking and voting on health scrutiny agenda items.

It’s a nonsense that an appointed representative should not actually need to represent the views of local councils so this move should mean that in future, the representative will fully and fairly discharge his duty.

The recommendation will go before full council next month.”


Oxfordshire unites to fight for its community beds services – unlike Diviani and Randall-Johnson in Devon

Owl says: alas it doesn’t matter one jot what our district, town or parish councils think about the removal of community hospitals in general and removal of Honiton’s maternity services specifically, since the majority party cannot even trust their own Leader of our district council – Paul Diviani – to represent them.

(One more reason to turn up at Knowle on 13 September 2017 and watch those cowardly Tory councillors rally round him and turn out in numbers to overturn a vote of no confidence in him – even though it was THEIR confidence that he sabotaged at DCC when he voted against their instructions to refer bed closures to the Secretary of State- at the notorious scrutiny meeting where Sarah Randall-Johnson ensured that no contrary voices would be heard – only those echoing their Tory masters. Diviani being one of those enthusiastic voices.

“Campaigners backed by four councils have won the first round of their legal action over a claim that a consultation over changes at Horton General Hospital was flawed.

They want to prevent plans by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to downgrade maternity and critical care services at the hospital in Banbury.

Their campaign has been supported by nearby councils: Cherwell District Council, South Northamptonshire Council, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Banbury Town Council.

A statement from barristers at Landmark Chambers said: “Campaign group Keep the Horton General has won an important first step in the battle against the downgrading of Horton Hospital.

“Fraser J today granted permission to apply for judicial review of the consultation process.”

The Administrative Court in July refused on the papers permission for a full hearing, but Cherwell successfully challenged that decision this week.
Oxfordshire CCG said last month that its proposed changes would “ensure safety, quality and better outcomes for patients”.

It said the critical care unit at Horton would be downgraded to cater only for less seriously ill patients and it would also lose some beds.

A single specialist obstetric unit would be created at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital and only a midwife service would remain at Horton, though it would gain an improved diagnostic and outpatient service.

A CCG spokesperson said: “We are fully aware of the outcome of today’s oral hearing seeking permission for a judicial review and will co-operate with the process as appropriate.”