Thoughts on a depressing General Election

It had become apparent to those of us involved in politics that what came to pass was coming so in many ways the result was no surprise.

Contributory factors?

Corbyn – Yes I know and understand that his devotees couldn’t and still can’t see any faults in him but those outside of that bubble always could. The 2017 GE should have been a wake up call as a credible opposition would have won that election. But the cracks were papered over on the back of Labour winning some seats back from the Tories when that was in fact an indication of failure not success. The following two years only emphasised to the electorate that he was not a good political leader so when the electorate delivered Labour’s worst GE result in generations it was really no surprise.

Swinson – Too keen to focus on Brexit rather than wider political issues, too inexperienced as a political leader, not able to engage with ordinary voters who stopped listening to her.

Johnson – Reasonably well managed by a ruthless Tory high command who kept him almost on their message most of the time. And where they felt he would perform badly they kept him securely locked away, such as at the Ch4 climate change debate. Untrustworthy, someone who follows the political wind, terrible when questioned under pressure and a significant tendency to say things not borne out by the facts. At face value not a political leader whom the electorate would normally get behind, but they did. Why? Because the other options were worse in their eyes.

Brexit – Of course it has poisoned our political debate with all the lies, misrepresentations and bizarre made up stories. However, it has been brewing for at least 2 generations via quite ridiculous press stories which senior politicians have not had the courage to address. They knew the stories were lies and at best misrepresentations but it was always handy for the EU to get the blame for the UK’s political and financial ills. What they allowed to fester came to bite us all hard on the backside.

Apart from a very few I suspect that the vast majority of voters:-

* voted the way they always have but with little if any enthusiasm
* voted for their least worst option
* did not vote tactically because it’s an alien concept in our first past the post electoral system

Where did it all start to go wrong? I guess we can all point to significant political events but for me it started when Labour elected the wrong Miliband as their leader, as they became step by step more unelectable.

Where are we going? Very difficult to say. Fundamentally it probably depends how much power the Tory ERG has within their new Parliamentary Party. The more power they have the bigger the risks to the UK. Johnson will hate being unpopular and he will want to stay as PM as long as he can, remember from his perspective it is all about him. Will he address the desperate situation of our NHS and our connected social care system or will he let them continue to decline so his ERG-types can have the US style health system which only works for the wealthy? The answer to this question will probably define his premiership.

Has Johnson got Brexit done? No of course not, only a fool would think that. It will be 10 to 15 or even more years before Brexit is actually done or that we realise that we have all been done.

Lydiate (and Maghull) – Primary NHS services – This one keeps doing the rounds with sadly little if any progress

The last Lydiate Parish Council meeting was attended by the Director of Place – North Southport & Formby Clinical Commissioning Group South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group and if that title has not made you turn away from this posting already (have you ever seen a job title so long?) then please read on.

As a bit of context the Director told us there were 30 GP practices in South Sefton and she was keen to promote the new 7-Day Access Service. I’ve provided a link to that service below:-

mysefton.co.uk/2018/10/04/people-in-sefton-now-have-access-to-primary-care-services-7-days-a-week/

This service may be an important break-through as the reason we Lydiate Parish Councillors had asked to see a representative of the local NHS was due to us being aware of the difficulty many locals have booking GP appointments. Have a read of the link above as it may well be of assistance.

We made various points to the Director such as:-

* There are no GP facilities in Lydiate at all – everyone has to travel to a GP practice in Maghull.
* The NHS Drop-In facility at Litherland Town Hall is inaccessible to Lydiate folk who do not have access to a car.
* There are some local concerns about the long waiting times for blood tests at Maghull Health Center.
* The need for Maghull Health Center to be enlarged/rebuilt to offer a greater range of NHS services.

Our points were noted and there was a promise to raise them within the appropriate NHS circles and to be honest I found the Director both approachable and interested in our concerns. We will see what flows from us raising them.

But of course I had to raise with the Director that many of the concerns we were flagging up now have years of history attached to them and after the meeting I went back to look at my previous postings about NHS facilities (or the lack of them) locally.

Going back to the days of the former South Sefton Primary Care Trust (abolished some years ago in another of the NHS reorganisations so loved by politicians in Westminster) there has been a consistent message that the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough is not well served in terms of access to primary NHS facilities. And two local projects illustrate how hopes have been raised only to be dashed due to NHS pull-outs. Firstly, there’s Meadows Leisure Center, which was originally planned to have NHS facilities within it. Indeed, the idea was to be able to have GP’s working in the building who could refer patients directly to facilities within the same building where exercise was the prescription. The innovative plan fell when the NHS pulled out and the space it was to occupy was then taken up by Maghull Library moving into it. Then there was Lydiate Village Centre where the plan was to have some NHS facilities delivered from it but, yes you’ve guessed the NHS pulled out so the new community building went ahead without them.

Both the projects above were being planned and indeed built some 10 or more years ago and still there’s been no progress and it’s nearly 2020! But if ever there was a project involving the NHS which failed to deliver it was and presently still is the lack of movement to rebuild Maghull Health Center.

I recall like it was only yesterday (it was also about 10 years ago) when I was a Sefton Borough Councillor and had been chasing the the Primary Care Trust for longer than I wish to recall to get the Health Center rebuilt and for it to have an NHS Walk-In facility too. And then one day I got a message from a senior Sefton Council officer who had been helping me lead the campaign and I was told that the NHS had allocated the money and we had a green light. Well, jubilation initially (I saw plans to remodel the site), but as soon as I made this information public the NHS ran for hills, denied everything and blamed me for raising expectations! Never have I felt so let down and some 10 years on we still have not moved an inch. Call me an old cynic but you’ll understand if I have a hugely sceptical eye for NHS facility planners who have to date let Maghull and Lydiate down badly.

However, I remain optimistic despite the bruising I’ve had from the NHS locally because we all know that Maghull Health Centre is beyond capacity, that it fails to deliver all that we and indeed the NHS desires and only a new building can hope to rectify this situation. And did I detect a note of optimism from the Director of Place on this front? I hope I did……

Care costs – Postcode lottery shames officials trying to block state funding

The Daily Telegraph has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/02/27/vulnerable-pensioners-dementia-facing-crippling-care-bills-following/

Extract from the article – ‘Vulnerable pensioners with dementia and Parkinson’s are facing crippling care bills following attempts by health officials to restrict the numbers receiving NHS funding.

Under national rules, any patient with a significant health problem should have their care and nursing fees paid in full – if the condition is deemed to be the main reason they need such help.

But an investigation by The Telegraph reveals that authorities are increasingly refusing to fund care, claiming that devastating diseases are not severe, or not the primary reason help is needed – leaving families facing bills of up to £100,000 a year.’

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this most worrying of health/NHS postcode lotteries.

Troubled Southport & Ormskirk Hospitals NHS Trust – More staffing difficulties

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/we-feel-silenced-fear-losing-15431217

My recollection is that this NHS Trust has gone through testing times in the recent past and issues such as these bullying allegations can’t be anything but more bad news.

An organisation like the NHS needs to have exemplary industrial relations so why do we keep hearing of staff working for it being unhappy with and having a lack of confidence in NHS whistleblowing processes?

Sefton Council – Its Social Care budgetary crisis (as with every other council delivering social care responsibilities)

Sefton Council Logo

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/social-care-in-crisis-sefton-15213903

I like Margaret Carney, she became Chief Executive during my time as Leader of Sefton Council. She is a calm and clear thinking council officer in my view so if she says there’s a crisis then you can take it that there is. Of course she is also saying what many other Chief Executives of Councils are saying across the Country and there’s much evidence to back up their concerns.

But as I’ve said before (in previous blog postings on this subject) the crisis in social care has been building for many a year. It would be a mistake to think it’s just another victim of austerity. Yes austerity has made things worse but well before the financial crash social care was hoovering up huge amounts of Sefton Council’s revenue budget often at the expense of other council services. Every yearly budget setting round there would be a need to put greater and greater sums into elderly and children’s social care to keep them afloat – rising demands and every spiraling costs. But as I say Sefton Borough is far from being unique in having to deal with this.

This is a crisis that needed to be faced up to by politicians in government 20 or more years ago, the fact that it still has not been is testament to our broken political system which only thinks very short term indeed.

Whilst we spend Billions of Pounds trying to exit the EU there are real life problems like this that keep getting swept under so many politicians carpets. Our priorities as a Country are utterly bizarre. The poor the sick and vulnerable are paying for the stupidity of our leaders with underfunded social care amongst other vital services, such as the NHS, from which we are diverting funds to fight fantasy projects like Brexit.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

NHS funding and Brexit crisis deepens – What would Beveridge say?

www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44665560

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44672873

The BBC has two articles on its web site – see links above

www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/beveridge_william.shtml

And above is a link to a BBC page all about William Beveridge the Liberal MP who wrote the report which the 1945 incoming Labour Government implemented.

Apart from a few nutters on the fringes of British politics (although I’m beginning to wonder if political nutters are now becoming mainstream!) we are all supporters of the NHS. But what on earth would William Beveridge make of the mess that our present-day politicians are making of it via under-funding and putting it at huge risk via Brexit. That the leader of the Labour Party is a part of that huge risk because of his support for Brexit would surely make that reforming Labour Government of 1945 turn in its collective grave!

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting