East Devon community bed closures to be speeded up – Seaton to close next week, Honiton the week after

From the blog of Claire Wright – did Diviani and Randall-Johnson know this? Do they care?

“I have seen this SO many times.

A threat to hospital beds. Hospital beds close temporarily due to staffing shortages (because understandably staff leave) and then the permanent closures are brought forward.

What I am not reassured on here is how the loss of the existing beds will morph into the new care at home service and the message on staff redeployment is as vague as ever. Last autumn, I was told by the CCG chair, Tim Burke that around double the number of staff will be appointed… the CCG now talks in terms of ‘redeployment’ and ‘recruitment’ of 50 staff, which is difficult to get to the bottom of, given what we have already been told.

What we also still don’t know (because the CCG won’t tell us) is what happens to those hospitals that lose their beds…

Devon County Council’s health scrutiny committee needs to keep a very close eye indeed, on this issue.

The letter below has been sent to Health Scrutiny committee members:

Your Future Care

I am writing to let you know that we are ready to proceed with the changes to improve care for people across Eastern Devon as part ‘Your Future Care’.

These changes are intended to shift the focus of health and care services to keep more people well and independent at home. Part of this shift will be the redeployment and recruitment of over 50 nursing, therapy and support worker roles to enhance the existing community services in each local area. This will enable the reduction in the number of community inpatient beds across the Eastern locality of Devon.

In order to achieve this safely, we will take a phased approach – working closely with staff and partners – to implement the changes as per the following timetable:

• Seaton Community Hospital week commencing 21 August 2017
• Okehampton Community Hospital week commencing 21 August 2017
• Honiton Community Hospital week commencing 28 August 2017
• Exeter Community Hospital week commencing 4 September 2017 (this is the original closure timetable).

The provision of inpatient services at these locations will cease from these dates. All other services at these hospitals will continue as normal. Patients in these areas in medical need of a community inpatient bed will be accommodated at either Tiverton, Sidmouth or Exmouth hospitals, depending on where they live.

It has become apparent over the last couple of weeks that the schedule for the closure of the in-patient beds at Seaton, Okehampton and Honiton would need to be brought forward by a number of weeks due to the increasing pressures on safely staffing the current configuration of seven community inpatient units.

We have been preparing the comprehensive plans for each area since March 2017 and are confident that moving to the new model swiftly is in the best interests for our patients and our staff. For example, our new Community Connect out-of-hospital service, introduced this Spring, has already led to a reduction in demand for community inpatient beds.

Gateway Assurance Process

As you may be aware, part of the implementation process included a clinical assurance panel reviewing the implementation plans against a series of 30 gateway questions. These were developed to provide assurance of the RD&E’s and the wider system’s readiness to switch to the Your Future Care model.

The Gateway Assurance Panel has given its recommendation to proceed. The workforce HR consultation has been completed and staff have been informed of their new roles and working environments. We have also received the approval of the Equality and Quality Impact Assessments, which took place on the 4th August. We can now commence the redeployment of staff into our enhanced community teams and into the remaining community hospital sites. This change will provide extra capacity and resilience to meet the needs of our local population.

Your Future Care is just the beginning of the work needed to move fully to a model of care which proactively averts health crises and promotes independence and wellbeing for our population.

There is still much more to be done and we at the RD&E look forward to continuing this in partnership with you and our local communities.

Yours sincerely,

Adel Jones
Integration Director”

Is it time for some more rebellious towns?

Colyton proudly announces itself as “the most rebellious town in Devon” for its part in supporting the Duke of Monmouth against James the Second.

Is it now time for another rebellion?

EDDC is the largest District Council in Devon with a population of about 140,000. It is growing rapidly. All this is happening against the backdrop of relocating EDDC’s headquarters and possible mergers amongst councils, in particular the creation of Greater Exeter.

Does everyone in East Devon want to be part of this process of rapid population growth and incorporation into the Exeter conurbation?

Residents of Exmouth, Honiton and Cranbrook may well look towards Exeter and work in the city, but our more rural and coastal communities increasingly see crowded and congested Exeter as something of which they do not wish to be a part. They tend to look towards the slower population growth and protection of the environment that can be found across the border in Dorset.

Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Beer, Colyton and Seaton, and perhaps Ottery, seem to see themselves more as operating in an economy linked primarily to tourism and agriculture. They have no wish or requirement to be absorbed into the Exeter behemoth. Cleaner and greener.

These communities also have little representation in the hierarchy at Knowle, (or even acknowledged by Greater Exeter) where the leadership is dominated by councillors from Exmouth, Honiton and Axminster.

In such circumstances, and with relocation offering a timely opportunity, is it not time to seriously consider splitting the District Council and introducing a healthy dose of localism?

We already see many functions and services involving cross-authority cooperation. Such sharing of services could and should continue were coastal East Devon to secede. But those coastal communities would have far greater control over their own affairs.

Is it time for Eastern East Devon, or perhaps “Jurassic Devon”, to secede from EDDC and withdraw from the Greater Exeter project?

And maybe join with Dorset’s idea of a Jurassic National Park?

All it takes is a few rebellious people to get it started!

Exmouth: water-skiiers or wetlands? Powerboats or peregrine falcons?

“Sailors, kite surfers and other water users on the Exe Estuary want plans for two exclusion zones to protect wildlife scrapped, claiming they would cause conflict among them and could force them out the water.

Pete Hardy, from the Exe Powerboat and Ski Club, described the plans as “very frustrating” and claims water users concerns are not being listened to.

“Powerboating would be affected by the other sports being pushed into our area and it would lead to conflict between powerboaters, kite surfers and paddle boarders,” he said.

But Exe Estuary Management Partnership says in its eight months of consultation it has listened to “hundreds” of views and, as a direct result, has amended some proposals.

It says human activity directly influences the distribution and behaviour of wildlife on the Exe and with more people choosing to live, work and holiday in the area, the number of water users will continue to rise.

Wildlife charities have declined to comment before the consultation period finishes tomorrow.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-40777250

Why “growth” is almost impossible in East Devon

Our Local Enterprise Partnership trumpets “growth, growth, we must have growth to prosper” and EDDC chose the highest growth figures to ensure its Local Plan got LOTS of housing. But they both seem to have forgotten something that their bible, the Daily Telegraph, now points out:

Britain’s productivity crisis risks getting worse because the population is ageing steadily, leaving relatively fewer younger, more dynamic workers who typically innovate more.

Unless drastic action is taken to boost skills and creativity, or to increase the number of young workers, then growth will struggle to pick up, according to new economic research published in the journal of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

“The share of young workers impacts the innovation process positively and, as a result, a change in the demographic profile that skews the distribution of the population to the right [older], leads to a decline in innovation activity,” said the paper, written by Yunus Aksoy, Henrique Basso and Ron Smith. …

To avert a sustained slowdown they recommend that governments should look at ways to make the dwindling proportion of young people more productive.

“Unless there are drastic changes most OECD countries will need to devise new policies to foster medium-run economic growth in an environment with ageing population, perhaps by increasing investment in human capital,” the researchers believe.

Alternative options are also available, but some may be less politically palatable – for instance, encouraging greater flows of migrants of working age into the country.

“Demographics are not destiny and our conclusions assume that there will not be major changes in rates of immigration, labour force participation, fertility or longevity,” the economists said.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/08/07/ageing-population-make-productivity-crisis-worse/

The (ir)responsibility of politicians

This long article is about the crisis in prisons. But the last four paragraphs quoted here could be about anything that is the responsibility of politicians:

“Who allowed this systematic irresponsibility? Civil servants could no doubt have been more robust in their advice. But the truth is that Grayling and Gove [and here add names of other ministers] at least did not broach any challenge. Any senior officials that they felt were obstructing their plans or raising awkward questions were edged out. It’s tough to push back when your job is at stake.

No doubt some governors and prison officers could have done more to raise problems and find solutions – but most of them had crises to manage.

The only conclusion I can really draw is that the blame lies with the politicians. They cut prison budgets without having a good understanding of the likely impact, then carried on cutting long after those consequences were clear. They focused on pet projects rather than getting the basics right.

They were supported in doing so from the very top. Cameron and Osborne [and now May and Hammond] made the call that people didn’t much care about the condition of our prisons [hospitals/schools/environment], and if budgets were to be cut this was a place to cut particularly deeply. They ignored signs that the system was creaking, and forgot that changing your justice secretary [or any minister except Hunt where no-one wanted his job] every 18 months is a sure-fire way to create problems. Most important, they forgot that there is no better symbol that government is out of control than riots [bed shortages/failing schools/concrete jungles] within the facilities they are meant to run.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/02/prisoners-rioting-serial-ministerial-incompetence-justice-chris-grayling-michael-gove

Planning decisions must take air quality into account – so a council falsified the data

NOT the developer, the COUNCIL. Do we need any better evidence that it appears some councils no longer work for us but DO appear to work for (andcan be corrupted by) developers?

Cheshire East is the council that has suspended its CEO, its Financial Officer and Chief Legal Officer for unknown reasons. The CEO formerly worked at Torbay.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-39495102

Though, of course, suspension is a neutral act and doesnot imply guilt.

http://www.knutsfordguardian.co.uk/news/15416114.Second_senior_management_suspension_as_Cheshire_East_Council_investigates_misconduct_allegations/

On that air pollution scandal:

“A local authority has admitted its air pollution data was deliberately manipulated for three years to make it look cleaner.

Cheshire East council apologised after serious errors were made in air quality readings from 2012 to 2014.

It is reviewing planning applications amid fears falsified data may have affected decisions in at least five towns. It said it would reveal the full list of sites affected this week.

When considering planning applications councillors have to look at several factors, including whether a development will introduce new sources of air pollution or release large amounts of dust during construction.

Government’s air quality plan branded inadequate by city leaders
“It is clear that these errors are the result of deliberate and systematic manipulation of data from a number of diffusion tubes,” a statement on the council website said.

Sean Hannaby, the director of planning and sustainable development, said: “On behalf of the council I would like to sincerely apologise in respect of these findings, we would like to assure everyone that we have done everything we can to rectify these failings.”

He added: “There are no immediate health protection measures needed as a result of these errors.”

Cheshire East council, like all other authorities, monitors nitrogen dioxide levels on sites throughout the borough as part of work to improve air quality. The information is then submitted to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Oliver Hayes, a Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said the fact that the data was falsified was outrageous. He said: “Residents will rightly be wondering what this means for their and their families’ health. The council needs to be fully transparent about how far the numbers were manipulated and what impact this has had on the local area.”

He added: “If this is happening in Cheshire East, where else across the country are pollution figures being lied about? … National and local government need to get serious about dealing with this invisible killer, not just cooking the books and hoping the issue will go away.”

An internal review by council auditors last year found the air quality data submitted was different to the original data from the council’s monitoring equipment. It prompted an external investigation, the results of which were released last week.

The falsified data was from testing stations spread over a wide geographical area, according to the report. It noted: “The air quality team have reviewed their internal processes and procedures to ensure that the risk of data adjustment is minimised. There are now a number of quality control measures in place.”

Cheshire police said officers would review the case to establish if any criminal offences occurred.

A Defra spokesperson said: “We are aware of this issue and understand the local authority is now considering its response to the investigation.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/02/cheshire-east-council-admits-falsifying-air-pollution-data

Seaton and Beer risk being cut off from Exeter by proposed bus service reduction

Press release:

“At Devon County Council yesterday, Seaton & Colyton’s Independent East Devon Alliance councillor, Martin Shaw, asked Councillor Roger Croad, Cabinet Member for Transportation, if the Council would support peak services on the X52 bus service from Seaton and Beer to Exeter, which are threatened with closure by First Wessex.

First Wessex proposes to run only two off-peak buses a day in each direction from September. While better than nothing, these are inadequate for people in Seaton and Beer who want to work or study in Exeter or get to appointments at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. Relying just on these services, people would barely be able to spend an hour in Exeter before having to get the bus back.

This is the only service direct from Seaton and Beer to the RD&E and this narrow window will not enable people to get to appointments. Using other services, people in Beer who want to get to the hospital will have to change twice in Seaton and Exeter Bus Station and the journey which currently takes an hour will take more than two hours each way, making it arduous and impractical for many people.

Councillor Croad initially replied to suggest that people could use these alternative routes. In a supplementary question, Councillor Shaw suggested that since hospital services are increasingly being centralised in the RD&E, the withdrawal of direct bus services discriminates against people without cars in communities like Seaton and Beer which are on the periphery of Devon. ‘Seaton is further from the RD&E than any other town in Devon and has the oldest population profile of any town in Devon’, he said. ‘We need direct public transport links to the acute hospital in Exeter.’

Councillor Croad then said that if Councillor Shaw would meet him afterwards, he would discuss the issue. When they talked, Councillor Croad agreed to look further at the question. The supplementary question and the reply can be seen from 1:47:50 to 1:49:15 on https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/283676.”