At the Adult Care and Health Cabinet Panel on 3rd February, following debate on the Liberal Democrat Motion referred from the Council Meeting of 15th November 2016, an amended motion was agreed by the Cabinet Panel.
Councillor Ron Tindall (Liberal Democrat Opposition Spokesperson) said:
At a time when we are asking Pharmacists to do more to take pressure off GPs and A&E departments, the government has introduced cuts to pharmacy funding that fly in the face of economic reality [see financial detail below], and which could lead to local community closures.
Community pharmacists play a far bigger role that many people realise ands we need to stop the closure of local pharmacists at the heart of the community. Government funding policies are resulting in a breakdown and fragmentation of our NHS and Social Care Services.
“Hertfordshire County Council believes that the local pharmacies have an important role in supporting the health and wellbeing of the population and that they are being underused as part of the response to the health and social needs of local communities.
The Adult Care and Health Cabinet Panel:
- asks the Chairman to write through the Health and Wellbeing Board to NHS England commissioners to highlight the importance of access to pharmacies and pharmacy services throughout the County, especially in rural areas and the vital role local pharmacies have in supporting vulnerable people, and to urge the discontinuation of any reductions.
- notes the representations already made by the Chairman of the Public Health Localism and Libraries Cabinet Panel
- asks the Director of Public Health during the commissioning and production of the next pharmaceutical needs assessment to consider the impact of these changes if the regulations on the National Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee allow this.”
Liberal Democrats have asked for an urgent explanation for the staggeringly high ambulance waiting times at Watford General – which are, by a long way, the worst across six counties.
Liberal Democrat county Health spokesperson Chris White said: ‘Figures show that more than 1000 working hours were lost while ambulances queued at this hospital – in contrast to just 200 at Luton and Dunstable, itself bad enough.
‘Watford General was the worst in the entire region (which includes the six counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk). In total around one eighth of the delays were at Watford.
‘The 1000 hours mean patients waiting in ambulances and not getting treatment. The situation is clearly critical and we need to hear from both the hospital and the ambulance trust why this is happening and what they are doing about it.’
Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate campaigning to become the next MP for St Albans, added:
‘St Albans district patients need urgent answers from Watford General’s hospital management as to whether staff shortages, additional patient pressures, or Conservative cuts – such as the recently scrapped £8.5 million grant for home care – or something else are to blame for these staggeringly high ambulance waiting times.
‘Front-line NHS staff do an amazing job under difficult circumstances but and may need additional support to help bring these waiting times down. We need to know that there is a plan.’
Ambulance waiting time table here: hhhl-december-2016
Liberal Democrats at County Hall have slammed the Herts Valley CCG for its sudden announcement that it is terminating its support for anti-bed blocking measures in the west of the County.
Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Chris White (St Albans Central) said: ‘This is a shocking decision. No warning was given of what amounts to a reversal of Government policy to integrate health and social care.
‘It seems that NHS England has decided to punish the CCG for non-delivery of their NHS efficiency savings and because of additional demand at Watford General Hospital. The CCG has been told that it is in official “financial turnaround” and it has accordingly decided to cease providing £8.5 million of “protection of adult social care” monies to Hertfordshire County Council.
‘These monies are used to provide home care and intermediate beds, as well as preventative measures.
‘It is legally questionable whether the entire amount can be terminated and we understand Herts CC will be considering a legal challenge. This we fully support.’
Chris added: ‘No-one in Hertfordshire will benefit. If beds are blocked, procedures will be delayed and patients will be made to wait longer for hospital admission because people are being kept in hospital unnecessarily. The personal and financial costs of being in a hospital are huge – especially when the alternative is being cared for at home after release from hospital.
‘It is just financially wasteful to keep someone in hospital longer than needed – as well as a poor way of ensuring appropriate recovery and recuperation.’
A public meeting is to be held to discuss major proposals for improving hospitals covering the St Albans district.
Local NHS organisations are reviewing health services in order to meet the rise in demand from a growing and ageing population.
They have completed the first phase which involved looking at options for enhancing emergency and acute care.
Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is leading the review with West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT). They will present their plans to the meeting on Wednesday 30 November.
Members of the public are invited to attend the event, hosted by the St Albans and Harpenden Patients Group (SPAG), and ask questions.
It will be held in Committee Room One at the Civic Centre, St Peter’s Street, St Albans, from 7pm.
The CCG and WHHT favour extensive redevelopment of both Watford General Hospital and St Albans City Hospital. They say it stands the best chance of success. (more…)
Mental health has been highlighted as a key issue for all of St Albans City and District Council’s services especially those working in housing and community safety.
A motion setting out the Council’s commitment won unanimous approval from all parties at a meeting of the full Council on Wednesday 24 February.
It was proposed by Liberal Democrat Councillor Anthony Rowlands who was appointed the District’s Mental Health Champion last year.
Councillors Julian Daly, Leader of the Conservative Group, Roma Mills, Leader of the Labour Group and Simon Grover, Green and Independent Group Leader, supported the proposals.
The Council has invested £110,000 over the past four years in 24 mental health projects including telephone helplines, workshops and counselling sessions. (more…)
Note from WHHT
We have resumed treating adults with minor ailments at Watford Hospital but the adults’ Accident & Emergency department remains extremely busy.
Children’s and maternity services remain unaffected.
We encourage all adult patients whose conditions are not likely to be life-threatening to consider visiting our Urgent Care Centre at Hemel Hempstead Hospital (open 24/7) or the Minor Injuries Unit at St Albans Hospital (open 9am to 8pm). Patients from the Pinner and Northwood area can visit the Minor Injuries Unit at Mount Vernon Hospital (open 9am to 8pm).
We also encourage local people to consider consulting their local pharmacy, GP or ringing NHS 111 for advice.
We will of course continue to monitor things, in line with our agreed escalation policy, to ensure the safety of our patients.
Local Liberal Democrats have condemned Anne Main’s explanation of why she voted with the Government against an opposition motion to seek to scrap VAT on women’s sanitary products.
Chris White, Liberal Democrat leader on St Albans District Council, said: ‘Right-thinking people all know that it is wrong to tax these items as if they were luxuries.
‘But to claim that you voted against something which you really agree with because you were given assurances by a minister in this government is either naive or cynical.
‘And Anne Main is not naive. Her explanation is just weasel words.’
Chris added: ‘The role of an MP is to represent her constituents. She has failed yet again to do so. The other day it was tax credits. Yesterday it was tampons. Tomorrow no doubt she will administer yet another kicking to the less well off in St Albans.’
The county council has established an experimental one way system in Vicarage Road, which is massively increasing journey times (adding anything up to three quarters of an hour at certain times).
Watford councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst is on the case and trying to get Herts CC to see sense.
You may want to review journey times and anyway avoid the area unless absolutely necessary.
Chris White, Liberal Democrat county group spokesperson on Health, said in reaction to today’s Care Quality Commission inspection report into the West Herts Hospitals Trust (dealing with the Watford, St Albans and Hemel hospitals): ‘We had suspected for a while that the report would be bad but this is even worse than was feared – one of the worst ever issued.
‘It is important to put into action a plan for improving the services at the three hospitals and for the public to gain reassurance that the services are on an upwards and not a downwards trajectory. CQC insisting, however, that notices are put up on all sites saying the hospital is in special measures is hardly likely to help public confidence.
Chris continued: ‘The county council has the role of scrutinising the NHS in Hertfordshire and we will be having a meeting with the inspectors next week where we hope to hear more about how quickly the many failings can be addressed.’
He added: ‘There has been a long history of management instability at the trust. The most recent full-time chief executive, for instance, stayed only a short while before – believe it or not – being promoted to a different role elsewhere in the NHS. It is time the government made sure that all senior managers were of the best quality and were encouraged to stay and sort out the problem rather than leave and find jobs to do elsewhere.’
At yesterday’s Annual General Meeting of the Hertfordshire Valleys CCG (the body covering primary care and commissioning in the west of the county) Lib Dem county health spokesperson Chris White raised concerns about the fact that the external auditors had qualified the CCG’s multi-million accounts.
Chris said: ‘This is not just disappointing. It is serious. The auditors are saying that there has been a significant shortfall in savings plans and this means that the CCG has had to dip into one-off reserves to keep the show on the road.’
He added: ‘I am told that the position has improved and that there is an action plan in place to address this rather serious issue. I remain concerned, however, that there could be complacency about how effectively taxpayers’ money is being used.’
Extract from audit report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers
Basis for qualified conclusion
In considering the CCG’s arrangements, we identified that due to
a significant shortfall in the delivery of savings plans for 2014/15, the CCG has supported it financial performance through the use of non-recurrent funding, which had been set aside for spending on transforming the local health economy.
In addition, NHS England has raised concerns in their ‘assurance framework’ assessment of the CCG for quarter three of 2014/15 in relation to the planning and delivery of savings plans as well as financial sustainability in 2015/16.
On the basis of our work, having regard to the guidance issued by the Audit Commission on 13 October 2014, we have identified instances where Herts Valleys CCG has not put in place proper arrangements to secure financial resilience or for challenging how it secures economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources for the year ending 31 March 2015.