Lack of GP access drives patients to A&E

An analysis of NHS research has found that almost 1m patients a year are seeking care at an A&E unit because they are unable to get a GP appointment. The findings were released as a report showed that the proportion of total NHS spending committed to GPs, walk-in centres, optometrists and dentists fell from 29% to 23% between 2003-4 and 2012-13. Margaret Hodge, chair of the Commons public accounts committee, which compiled the report, said the figures raise many questions over decisions made in Whitehall and their impact on the NHS.

Yes this story, that many national newspapers have carried recently, seems to hit the nail firmly on the head in my view. GP facilities need to be available 7 days per week; people can be ill at any time. Every community of size should also have a walk-in type NHS facility, such as the one at the old Litherland Town Hall. I recall the promises to provide one in Maghull donkey’s years ago and all the back-tracking there has been since then to weasel out of such a provision. And that the back-tracking started well before the economic collapse for the record!.

Maghull – Morrisons/Health Centre/Old Library/Former Youth Centre – What’s going on?

Ever since Morrisons took over their Maghull store from the former Somerfield there has been talk of the store needing to be enlarged. It is clearly far too small.

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At one point a complicated but positive plan was put together involving the NHS who own the adjoining Health Centre, London and Cambridge Properties who own the land on which Morrisons sits (together with the other shops on the southern side of Westway) and the associated car park. The plan also included land that Sefton Council owned and in fact still owns. The land in question being that of the former Maghull Library (which moved to Meadows Leisure Centre in 2010) and that of the former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre.

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The plan was to redevelop the Health Centre which the NHS had authorised at a high level I was told by senior NHS and Sefton Council officers. Sadly, the NHS then backed out, why has never really been explained and Maghull residents with longish memories will recall us Lib Dems pressing at every turn for the new Health Centre to have an NHS Walk-In facility within it. Our contention is that Sefton Primary Care Trust (now abolished under NHS reorganisation) had undertaken to do all it could to provide an NHS Walk-In facility in Maghull after the one at Litherland Town Hall had opened. Of course it has never happened but then again the building it was supposed to be in was never rebuilt. Maghull and district residents have every right to feel aggrieved about this as Litherland Town Hall NHS Walk-In Centre is simply not accessible from the East Parishes part of Sefton Borough by public transport.

The closed Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and the old Maghull Library

The closed Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and the old Maghull Library

So the NHS element of the plan went west so to speak, but what of the rest of it. Surely Morrisions still needed a bigger Maghull store? Surely cash-strapped Sefton still wanted to dispose of the land it owned to bring some money in? Well you would have thought so in both cases but nothing has happened and all this has been going on for years and years. Indeed, it costs Sefton Council money each year to keep its two old buildings secure and safe.

Does it all come down to London and Cambridge Properties and Morrisons? What is the problem? Maghull & District needs a better range of food retailers. Just think about it in terms of the major UK food retailers (I appreciate that there are a number of excellent local convenience stores) this is all that there are in the East Parishes:-

Lydiate – None at all!
Maghull – A small Morrisons, Lidl, Iceland, a small Co-op
Aintree Village – A Tesco Metro, an M&S Food and a huge ASDA
Melling – None at all!

I was told quite some time ago that Aldi were actively looking for a site in Maghull and my strong suspicion was that they were looking at the old library/youth club site, but so far that has seemingly come to nothing.

What strikes me is that if Morrisons does not make a decisive move and sort out their long-term future in Maghull they are likely to end up with a competitor right on their doorstep as surely Sefton Council will not sit on its land for ever.

By the way I have written to Morrison twice asking them where their planning is up to but answers comes there none so far.

But could there be an other option on the table – one that has been the subject of considerable rumour in recent times? Read my posting next Wednesday involving the ‘The Old Bill’.

NHS will become 7 day a week service – can’t come soon enough

NHS will be seven-day service by 2017

Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, has pledged that by March 2017 patients will get the same level of treatment at weekends as they receive during the week. In an interview with the Times, Sir Bruce said: “The acid test for people working in the health service is to … ask themselves if they genuinely think the service at the weekend is as good as they would like for a member of their own family. Most people tell me that they don’t think that it is and that is why they are keen to help improve it. That is why this is an unstoppable movement.” NHS figures have shown that patients can be up to 16% more likely to die if admitted to hospital at the weekend.

Today in The Sunday Times, Page: 15

This is one of those ‘no brainers’ to me. Of course the NHS should operate in the same way every day of the week; people get ill at weekends too!

Firemen can help keep elderly safe

Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, has suggested that firemen should be sent to make pensioners’ homes safe to ease an increase in elderly people being admitted to hospital for falls. Speaking at the LGA conference, he said that the fire service offered a “fantastic opportunity” to assess old people’s homes for possible dangers at the same time as its staff carried out their more traditional roles such as checking smoke alarms.

From The Daily Telegraph

I like this, it seems so common sense you wonder why it has not been happening for generations. Having said that I bet that many firemen and firewomen will be trying to assist in this way as they go about their day to day work.

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.

Public debt rising by £4,000 a second

Campaigners claim that public debt is rising by almost £4,000 a second, while £120bn of taxpayers’ money is being wasted every year. Launching its War on Waste roadshow, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) said “every tick of the clock” was equivalent to putting £3,965 on the nation’s credit card. From tomorrow until Sunday, July 13, the TPA’s staff will join local activists to call on public sector officials to strip out waste from pay, pensions and inefficient spending as they tour across England and Wales. The TPA will claim that local authorities have wasted money by imposing high council tax and diverting resources away from frontline services through pet projects. Among the stops on the roadshow will be the constituency offices of leaders of the three main parties, and the Grey’s Monument in Newcastle, Exchange Square in Manchester and Birmingham Town Hall. During the tour the campaigners will highlight examples of waste, such as the £4,450 spent by Nottingham City Council on an office Christmas tree, or an art gallery in West Bromwich that cost £72m but had to be closed because of a lack of visitors.

The Times yesterday, Page: 23

I have picked up on this not necessarily for the detail of the Times article but because of the headline. I am one of those politicians who is convinced that if public spending is not brought under tighter control it will be the ruin of the lot of us. Whilst at face value there is now a broad consensus to restrain what Government and other public bodies spend, as we get nearer to the General election I am sure the political parties will start to trumpet areas where they want to spend more in an attempt to garner votes. This could be the start of the road to ruin (again) except of course if it is more money for the likes of the NHS and social care which I think we all want to see.

Elections can be dangerous for the economy because of politicians trying to outbid each other. Even the Scottish Independence vote later this year is ramping up spending pledges from the SNP in particular but with others tagging along too. Of course, some parties make spending pledges and then decide having made them they can’t afford to be implemented. The economy may well then be saved from further spending but the pledge that folks voted on is seen to have been misleading. Tuition fees comes to mind as probably the the most obvious one of recent times and it hangs around poor old Nick Clegg’s neck like a millstone.

In my book if you make a pledge you carry it out. Yes, other things may have to go as a consequence but a pledge is a pledge. I do hope the political classes have learned from this as there will be other examples.

But the bottom line (an apt phrase in this context) is the issue here. Economies have to balance their books; we can’t go back to the New Labour days of spending money like water whilst not raising enough in taxes to balance those books. It did ruin us and it will ruin us again if we don’t wake up and smell the coffee. In politics lessons are often not always learned and mistakes often repeat themselves!

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.

Labour is in favour of what!

I was stopped yesterday my a resident who showed me a Molyneux Ward (Aintree Village, Melling and South Maghull) Labour Party election leaflet and who asked me to read a particular part of it and tell them what I thought it said.

An odd request in some ways but have a look yourself. The convoluted English does not help but the message folks are in danger of picking up is that Labour is in favour of this list of things! And yes, I did the same double take as the resident who had stopped me had done because I also thought it was confession time for Labour!

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What the eye actually picks up is:-

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And then when you think about it

* Tuition fees were Labour’s idea
* Labour Councils have been closing Children’s Centres
* Privatisation of some NHS services was very much a Labour policy when in Government.

I could go on but you get my drift. But watch how you word political leaflets is the important message here!