Meetings to update on plans for developing hospital sites

Note from the local NHS bodies

A series of meetings are taking place during October and November to provide an update on plans for developing hospital sites in west Hertfordshire.

The meetings, led by West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, are taking place in each locality. The details of the meetings are below:

St Albans & Harpenden


Wednesday, 24 October

Trinity Church Hall,  1 Beaconsfield Road, St Albans AL1 3RD

The meetings will highlight work that is taking place to progress our plans following meetings with national regulators, NHS England and NHS Improvement. There will be information on how we might organise future services, how we will involve local people and others in refreshing our plans and as well as an update on timescales.

There will also be an opportunity to put questions to executive officers and health professionals from the Trust and the CCG.

To help us cater for everyone who wants to attend, please email to book onto this event.  Please state when booking if you have any particular accessibility needs.

Heartless Herts Valleys CCG pulls the plug on Nascot Lawn

Yesterday the Herts Valleys CCG made the appalling announcement that they had confirmed their previous decision to withdraw their £600,000 annual support for Nascot Lawn children’s respite care home.

Cynically they claim their decision was taken because the County Council had failed to engage with them in looking for a workable way forward when it has been their failure to engage from the outset that has caused this dreadful situation to occur. What have they been doing for the last six weeks during the engagement process? The one glimmer of hope is that their funding has to continue for a further six months, which provides a desperately short period of opportunity for a viable respite service to be formed. In the meantime, the families face a bleak future with no idea how they and their vulnerable children will receive respite care.

Liberal Democrat County Councillor Mark Watkin, Opposition Spokesperson for Children’s Services, and in whose Division Nascot Lawn is located, commented: “I am so saddened and angry by the failure of the CCG to look for a viable way forward. We know that they are facing a massive financial challenge, but simply pulling the financial plug and hoping that others will provide the solution is disgraceful. The county council must now sit down with the CCG and the families with one aim only – to find a solution that will deliver the respite care that these families need and deserve.”

Councillor Peter Taylor, Deputy Mayor of Watford, commented: “I am so upset for the families who will be affected by this decision. They have fought an amazing campaign to save this much-loved centre and remained incredibly positive throughout. It is now vital that all sides work together to support the children and families who currently use Nascot Lawn.”

Cable: 10,000 EU nationals have quit NHS since Brexit vote

Vince Cable has called on Theresa May to use her speech in Florence tomorrow to make a bold offer on EU nationals’ rights, as new figures reveal that almost 10,000 EU workers quit the NHS in the year after the Brexit vote.

9,832 EU nationals left the NHS between 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2017, figures published by NHS Digital today have revealed. This is an increase of 22% on the previous year, and up 42% on two years earlier.

In total 3,885 nurses, 1,794 doctors and 1,518 support staff from the EU left the NHS between June 2016 and June 2017.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for negotiations on the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British citizens living in Europe to be ring-fenced so that neither are used as bargaining chips in the broader Brexit negotiations.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

We are losing thousands of high-quality nurses and doctors from the NHS, driven partly by this government’s heartless approach to the Brexit talks.

Using EU nationals as bargaining chips is not only morally wrong, it is utterly counter-productive and damaging to our NHS.

It’s time for the government to take the issue of EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in Europe out of these negotiations.

Theresa May must make a bold offer to the EU to ring-fence negotiations on citizens’ rights and come to a rapid agreement.

Lib Dems table motion on Nascot Lawn closure

Mark Watkin as opposition spokesperson for Children’s Services has tabled the following motion about the proposed closure of Nascot Lawn Childrens Respite and Care Centre.

It will be debated at the next meeting of the County Council in support of the petition which will be presented by parents and families who are dependant on the services provided by Nascot Lawn which is now due to shut down at the end of October.

Mark comments “The Government is talking about easing austerity. This cannot happen soon enough. The closure of Nascot Lawn is entirely due to the Government’s insistence that the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group reduce their expenditure by £45m p.a. In these circumstances it always seem to be the most vulnerable that suffer first and worst. While we wait for the Government to change its tune, the County Council MUST dip into its £3m underspend from last year to keep Nascot Lawn going until it has had sufficient time to assess how best to serve the needs of this group.”

Council notes:

That on Friday 16th June, Herts Valleys CCG informed families across Hertfordshire that they would no longer be funding its contribution of £600k towards Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust run Nascot Lawn Children’s Respite Service.  Consequently Nascot Lawn will be forced to close on 31st October 2017. (more…)

Turning up the heat on pharmacy cuts

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.

He continued:

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.

Amended motion

“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:

  1. 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.
  2. notes the representations already made by the Chairman of the Public Health Localism and Libraries Cabinet Panel
  3. 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.”


Lib Dems ask for explanation for ‘staggering’ ambulance waiting times

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

Herts Valleys CCG slammed for £8.5 million cut in anti bed-blocking monies

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.’

Public meeting on future of local hospitals

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 key issue for district council

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…)