Coalition cuts blamed for shortage of 20,000 NHS nurses

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/coalitioncuts-blamedfor-shortageof-20000nhs-nurses-8933661.html

FOI requests reveal ‘hidden workforce crisis’ at odds with official statistics

Image reads Accident & Emergency, A & E

Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to dozens of NHS hospitals in England have exposed a “hidden workforce crisis” that has been missed by government statistics.

While official figures say that just 3,859 full-time nurse, midwife and health visitor posts have been lost since the Coalition came to power in May 2010, the RCN said that thousands more nursing vacancies have been created because hospitals have not been replacing staff that have retired or moved on due to reduced budgets.

Staffing shortages have been highlighted in a number of reports into NHS care. Robert Francis drew attention to understaffed wards at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust in his report into one of the worst care scandals in the health service’s history.

Howard Catton, the RCN’s head of policy, said that Government figures had not been “fully reflecting the shortages [that nurses] are experiencing at ward level”.

The report came as Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister is personally overseeing the NHS’s response to what A&E doctors have warned could be “our worst winter yet”. Many trusts missed their A&E targets last winter and there are fears that amid rising demand and reduced resources, the system may struggle to cope with expected spikes in admissions.

Thousands of patients wait 12 hours in A&E

New figures show 12,000 patients were left lying on trolleys for at least 12 hours in emergency departments last year

Around 12,000 patients spent at least 12 hours lying on trolleys after being admitted to A&E last year, according to new figures.

A further 250 people waited for treatment in casualty wards for 24 hours or more, a Freedom of Information request revealed.

One person was left for 71 hours and 34 minutes, nearly three days, at North West London trust, which runs Northwick Park and Central Middlesex A&E departments.

In another shocking case a patient waited 37 hours at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen A&E while a third was left for 33 hours at Ashford and St Peter’s in Chertsey, Surrey.

Health campaigners claimed the figures were more evidence of the growing crisis in hospitals’ emergency wards.

The figures came as the government received a warning that the closure of 50 out of 230 NHS walk-in centres in the last three years was putting extra strain on A&E units.

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
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Continue ReadingCoalition cuts blamed for shortage of 20,000 NHS nurses

Closure of 23% of NHS walk-in centres ‘will put more pressure on A&E’

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/11/nhs-walk-in-centres-quarter-closedNHS regulator

Monitor says closures of 53 popular clinics could leave vulnerable people unable to access GP care

NHS sign

Despite huge popularity, nearly a quarter of NHS walk-in clinics offering seven-day care and evening opening have closed in the past three years, according to research by Monitor, the health service regulator.

It said there was a danger that closures could leave some patients unable to access GP care, particularly those unable to register with a surgery, as well as low-income working families and high-risk socially excluded groups such as homeless people, refugees and drug addicts.

More than 230 centres offering family doctor services were set up in England in the decade to 2010 under a Labour government initiative to improve access to care for patients who found it hard to register with their local GP or were unable to get a speedy appointment at a time that suited them.

Ironically, some of the closures appear to be the result of the centres being too successful. NHS commissioning authorities that have closed walk-in centres told Monitor that the clinics triggered “unwarranted” demand among “worried well” patients for often minor conditions. Some said they had closed centres to make savings as they could “no longer afford the convenience that walk-in centres offer”.

The closures are widely spread around England including in London, Plymouth, Southampton, Bristol, York, Manchester, Blackpool and Colchester. Six so-called “commuter” walk-in centres based at major railway stations in Manchester, London, Leeds and Newcastle, have closed in recent years after for failing to attract enough patients.

Monitor’s research found nearly two-thirds of patients who attended walk-in centres were already registered with a GP. Of these, just over a fifth said they had contacted their GP practice beforehand but were unable to get an appointment. A further 24% said they did not even bother to contact their GP because they anticipated there would be no convenient appointments available.

Continue ReadingClosure of 23% of NHS walk-in centres ‘will put more pressure on A&E’

‘Truly shocking’ that the private-school educated and affluent middle class still run Britain, says Sir John Major

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/10439303/Truly-shocking-that-the-private-school-educated-and-affluent-middle-class-still-run-Britain-says-Sir-John-Major.html

The dominance of a private-school educated elite and well-heeled middle class in the “upper echelons” of public life in Britain is “truly shocking”, Sir John Major has said.

The dominance of a private-school educated elite and well-heeled middle class in the “upper echelons” of public life in Britain is “truly shocking”, Sir John Major has said.

The former Conservative Prime Minister said he was appalled that “every single sphere of British influence” in society is dominated by men and women who went to private school or who are from the “affluent middle class”

More than half of the Cabinet, including David Cameron, the Prime Minister, George Osborne, the Chancellor, and Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, are thought to have gone to private school [Isn’t that a fact? what’s this “though to have”? Isn’t it closer to all than half?] and are independently very wealthy.

In the speech to Tory party grassroots activists on Friday evening, Sir John – who went to a comprehensive in south London and left school with three O-Levels – said: “In every single sphere of British influence, the upper echelons of power in 2013 are held overwhelmingly by the privately educated or the affluent middle class. To me from my background, I find that truly shocking.”

Continue Reading‘Truly shocking’ that the private-school educated and affluent middle class still run Britain, says Sir John Major

Number of NHS ‘super managers’ earning up to £240,000 soars amid pay freeze fear

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/10/nhs-super-managers-428-nurse-pay

Figures undermine David Cameron’s claims that health service bureaucracy is being cut

NHS sign

The number of elite NHS “super-managers” being paid up to £240,000 a year to implement the government’s controversial health service reforms has soared to more than four times the level originally expected by ministers, the Observer can reveal.

The latest official figures – which show a total of 428 “very senior managers” (VSMs) working in the newly constituted NHS bureaucracy – undermine David Cameron’s repeated claims to be slashing management posts and costs at every level in the service.

The figures will also anger more than a million NHS employees at the other end of the pay scale, including nurses and non-medical staff, such as cleaners, who have been warned that their planned 1% increase for 2014 could be cancelled because there is not enough money to fund it.

In 2010, as the coalition embarked on its controversial reforms aimed at opening the service up to more private competition, ministers told the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) that by the time the changes were completed in April this year, there would be fewer than 100 very senior managers working in the top salary bracket of between £70,000 and £240,000 a year. But the Department of Health last night confirmed recent SSRB data which shows the number is now 428, including 211 super-managers at NHS England, the new body which oversees the budget and delivery of day-to-day services. The average pay of these managers is around £123,000 a year.

Pay review body documents also show that in May 2012, at the height of controversy over the changes, pioneered by the former health secretary, Andrew Lansley, there were 770 VSMs in post “during transition from old to new NHS structures”.

The figures do not include the 259 chief executives of NHS trusts whose pay is set by their own organisations’ remuneration committees and in some cases is more than £240,000 a year.

The revelations will pile more pressure on ministers after it emerged that some 2,200 NHS managers have been made redundant with large payoffs, only to be re-employed soon after.

Continue ReadingNumber of NHS ‘super managers’ earning up to £240,000 soars amid pay freeze fear

Lib Dem MPs targeted by campaign group over lobbying bill

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/20/lobbying-bill-liberal-democrats-targeted-campaign-group-38-degrees

Image of a rally against the lobbying bill in London on 8 October.

With the controversial lobbying bill having moved from the Commons to the Lords this month MPs might have hoped they would now be spared the protests of those worried the new law will curb the campaigning ability of charities and voluntary groups.

One organisation has redoubled its efforts, however, organising a rush of public meetings with Liberal Democrat MPs to remind them, it says, that their traditionally grassroots-based party should know better than to back such a measure.

The group, 38 Degrees, has set up 11 public meetings over little more than a week with MPs, 10 of them with Lib Dems and one with the Tory Chloe Smith, to demand continued attention over what is officially called the transparency of lobbying, non-party campaigning and trade union administration bill. Concentrating the MPs’ minds still further is the fact that several of them have distinctly slim majorities, several hovering around 1,000 and in the case of Simon Wright in Norwich South, a mere 310.

All the MPs at some point either supported or abstained on votes for the bill, which seeks to impose financial limits on spending “for election purposes”. A number of charities and campaign groups have warned this could affect even non-party political activities despite a series of amendments, said David Babbs, the executive director of 38 Degrees.

“We want to give the MPs a strong reminder that the lobbying bill threatens very popular institutions like charities and community groups, things that are generally held in much higher regard than they are, and their constituents will take a keen interest in how they voted on this,” he said. “Secondly, we want to remind MPs about what’s good about grassroots community campaigning, which this bill threatens to constrain. Most MPs at some point thought this stuff was important.”

Continue ReadingLib Dem MPs targeted by campaign group over lobbying bill

Grand alliance of unions and lobbyists want Lords to kill Government lobbying bill

Image of dog's breakfast in dog food bowlhttp://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/grand-alliance-of-unions-and-lobbyists-want-lords-to-kill-government-lobbying-bill-8877469.html

A unique alliance of trade unions, professional lobbyists and constitutional reform activists has been formed to pressurise the House of Lords into wrecking the Government’s “flawed” reforms of Britain’s lobbying industry.

The lobbying transparency bill, piloted by Andrew Lansley, was passed by the Commons last week despite almost universal criticism outside Parliament describing it as a “dog’s breakfast”.

However the new alliance, called “1% is not enough”, which will formally launch this week, wants the Lords to recognise the “deep flaws” in the legislation that was supposed to honour David Cameron’s pre-election promise to put an end to lobbying scandals.

<original posting snipped>

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.

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Continue ReadingGrand alliance of unions and lobbyists want Lords to kill Government lobbying bill

Andrew Lansley’s lobbying Bill is still a ‘dog’s breakfast’

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/andrew-lansleys-lobbying-bill-is-still-a-dogs-breakfast-8861358.html

Charities caught up in confusing legislation intended to regulate lobbyists and lobbying

Andrew Lansley’s last-minute efforts to revamp the heavily criticised lobbying Bill has meant the Government has spent the last month in “a headless chicken run” on flawed legislation that will have a “chilling effect” on the efforts of charities and campaigning organisations, according to an electoral lawyer and a rights activist.

Mr Lansley, the controversial former health secretary who is now Leader of the Commons, is again under fire after the Government last week published a series of amendments designed to improve the Bill, described in August by the head of the Commons constitutional reform select committee, Graham Allen, as a “dog’s breakfast”.

The Commons will revisit Mr Lansley’s awkwardly-named “Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill” on Tuesday. However, the claimed “improvements” made after Mr Allen’s committee questioned the House leader last month appear to have made the legislation even worse.

<original content snipped>

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.

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Continue ReadingAndrew Lansley’s lobbying Bill is still a ‘dog’s breakfast’

Government exposed by games over lobbying register

http://spinwatch.org/index.php/issues/lobbying/item/5530-government-exposed-by-games-over-lobbying-register

By Tamasin Cave

The government’s so-called ‘Lobbying Bill’ has provoked a furious response from charities and unions. They are right to be up in arms. The Bill couples a fake lobbying register with a very real assault on democracy in the form of a clampdown on the ability of charities and unions to campaign.

One consequence of this unannounced swipe at charities and unions in the same Bill is that debate over the proposals for a register of lobbyists have been muted. The very real concerns people have about the influence large companies have on our government have been silenced. The fundamental weaknesses of the current proposals for a register of lobbyists have been eclipsed. The attack on charities and unions is a very useful diversion. It is as if the government planned it.

The game-playing was predictable. Despite its firm commitment to shine a light on lobbying, this government has shown no appetite to expose its dealmaking with lobbyists to public scrutiny.

A brief look at the recent history of the lobbying register exposes how little regard they have for transparency and our right to know who is bending their ear.

<snipped>

May 2010

  • The Coalition commits to tackling lobbying through the introduction of a statutory register of lobbyists.
  • More lobbying scandals hit the headlines: Liam Fox resigns over links to lobbyist; agency Bell Pottinger boasts of access to No10; and undue influence of corporations dogs NHS reforms.
  • But no action is taken for nearly two years.

January 2012

  • Senior Conservative Party figures reported as saying that election strategist and lobbyist, Lynton Crosby advised government to drop register of lobbyists from Queen’s Speech.

July 2013

  • Government has had enough and publishes its proposals for a register of lobbyists. They are worse than its previous plans. What they have proposed is a fake register. Government decides to couple this with an attack on charities and unions, which could put them at risk of prosecution and could be in breach of the right to free speech.

If these proposals weren’t so damaging they would be absurd. But what they are is a diversion from the problem sketched out above, which is that commercial lobbying is embedded in our politics.

Ninety per cent of the UK public believe that ‘the country’s government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves‘. Over half of people in the UK think that Parliament is corrupt or extremely corrupt.

The government’s answer to this is to play silly games.

 

 

 

Continue ReadingGovernment exposed by games over lobbying register

Tory marginal MPs facing electoral axe because of NHS crises in their patch

http://www.opendemocracy.net/rachael-maskell/tory-marginal-mps-facing-electoral-axe-because-of-nhs-crises-in-their-patch

by Racheal Maskell

New research from Unite union predicts that the fate of 11 Tory MPs at the 2015 election could be strongly influenced by the rising tide of public concern about the state of the NHS in their areas.

A chill electoral wind is gathering strength. Public anger and revulsion at what the Tories have done to the NHS with their pro-privatisation agenda could end the tenure of David Cameron in Downing Street.

Not one Tory MP voted against the pro-privatisation Health and Social Care Bill. Now, Unite says, the chickens are coming home to roost. Several Tory MPs could lose their marginal seats because of what is happening to the NHS in or near their constituencies.

These include George Eustice, David Cameron’s ex-spin doctor, who has a wafer-thin majority of just 66 in Cambourne and Redruth.

Public health minister Anna Soubry, who was on the committee that scrutinised the bill, is also clinging onto her Nottinghamshire seat of Broxtowe by 389 votes.

New research from Unite union, titled NHS critical in Tory marginals, has highlighted 11 tight marginal seats: Amber Valley, Brighton Kempton, Broxtowe, Cambourne & Redruth, Lancaster & Fleetwood, Lincoln, Morecambe & Lunesdale, North Warwickshire, Sherwood, Thurrock, and Truro & Falmouth.

But don’t just take the word of the country’s largest union.

Tory grandee Lord Ashcroft finances in-depth polling on behalf of the Conservative party.

His latest poll interviewed 12,809 people in the 40 most marginal Tory-held seats between 1 August and 5 September. Interviews were also conducted in seats where Labour and the Liberal Democrats were the runners up in 2010.

The polling revealed that the NHS is the second most important issue for voters after “jobs and the economy.” It’s even more important in the 40 key Tory marginals that Ed Miliband must take back to win a majority.

Labour is ranked twice as likely to improve the NHS as the Tories.

The fact that at least 55,000 people marched through Manchester on the Save our NHS rally at the start of the Conservative party conference on Sunday (29 September) is firm evidence of mounting public concern about the plight of the NHS.

It should not be forgotten that there was no mention of plans for the biggest overhaul of the NHS in the 2010 Tory manifesto. Or that within three months of government the then health secretary, Andrew Lansley, had come up with legislation that is now handing over great swathes of the NHS to the likes of Richard Branson and other private healthcare operators.

The electorate has never wanted to turn over Aneurin Bevan’s 1948 creation – promising universal free healthcare at the point of delivery to all those in need – to the aggressive and predatory instincts of the market.

continues

Continue ReadingTory marginal MPs facing electoral axe because of NHS crises in their patch