Monday, July 28, 2014

Who Cares? – When Care is Cut

Statement by the Wanstead and Snaresbrook Residents' Alliance [WASRA] about Redbridge CCG’s plans to axe most intermediate care [rehabilitation] beds, which has been slipped out under the radar.

In brief, the situation is:

On 9 July the Clinical Commissioning Groups [CCGs] announced a plan to reorganise intermediate care services [formerly known as rehabiltation services] in the three boroughs of Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham and Havering. Originally the public consultation was to close at 5:00 pm on 1 October but we pointed out the lack of information being distributed and the holiday period so it was agreed at last Thursday's Health Scrutiny Committee that the deadline be 31 October - I am awaiting written confirmation of this from Redbridge CCG.

Currently there are 104 intermediate care beds provided - 48 in Wanstead Hospital, 30 in Foxglove Ward at King George Hospital [KGH] and 26 at Gray's Court Dagenham. The plan is to provide 40 beds at KGH, which could be increased to 61 if necessary. In spite of the mild winter just gone, 75 beds were used: we are concerned about what would happen if we have a 'bad' winter?

Our local NHS perpetuates the myth that we are over provided for in interim care. The three boroughs have a total population in excess of 700,000. The 2013 National Audit of Interim Care Report, which takes community based teams into account, states that the mean number of beds used by 74 commissioning groups was 26.3 per 100,000. By this, we ought to have 184 beds.

We do not want the abysmal performance of BHRUT since their 2010 re-organisation when the warnings over under provision were ignored, to be repeated here.

The reason given for the reduction is the reported success of the two new community based intermediate care teams - the Community Treatment Team and the Intensive Rehabilitiation Service which were set up in Redbridge in November 2013. We maintain that it is not a matter of either or, but both hospital and community based services.

The NHS proposal can be found on . BEWARE the document is highly biased for example:

The consultation claims that this plan is not about saving money: "Isn't this just all about saving money? No. The reason we want to make changes is because we think we can make things better for patients." Later on the same document states: "We do not have enough money to spend on everything that everyone wants and if we spend more on one service then we have less to spend on another."

Also the questionnaire which is attached is extremely biased, in that it gives 5 options for people to choose from - all of them cuts. There is no option provided to keep the present service as it is.

If people want to respond, then it is better to email them on or write to FREEPOST 1 Y 426, Ilford, IG1 2BR.

The campaign

Having just learned of all this, we attended the Redbridge Health Scrutiny Committee last Thursday (24th September), opposing the plan and complained about the lack of information given to the public and the timing - just before the holiday period started. Dr Mathuhukia, the Redbridge CCG member who is leading the campaign agreed to have more information distributed and an extension to 31 October - we have requested written confirmation of this.

1. THIS THURSDAY 31 JULY DR MATHUHUKIA AND COLLEAGUES WILL BE AT REDBRIDGE CENTRAL LIBRARY TO TALK TO PEOPLE ABOUT THE CONSULTATION, BETWEEN 4:00 PM AND 7:00 PM. We suggest that people turn up and complain about the lack of information and the timing and ask for a further library session be held in early September.

2. We have contacted our local councillors - who were unaware of this NHS plan and have contacted John Cryer, our MP who is adamantly opposed to it. We are about to send information to Lee Scott, Mike Gapes and Iain Duncan Smith.

3. In Wanstead, Greg Eglin has started a petition against the plan. If we gain 1,500 signatures we can secure a debate at the next Council meeting in September.

4. Redbridge CCG has offered to send someone to talk to local community groups by emailing or ringing 020 3688 1089. We plan to hold a meeting in Wanstead with our local councillors and MP in early September.

Helen Zammett

Friday, July 25, 2014

Redbridge Parks Police
– The Contingency Plan

Many regular and long term readers of this site may recall the lengthy debate we had three years ago in the run-up to Redbridge Council’s decision to dispense with its own (highly respected and much loved by residents) Parks Police in favour of a three year, two-for-one BOGOF (buy one [police officer] get one [police officer] free) offer from the London Mayor which became the Redbridge Community Police Team.

Many of us at the time were looking beyond the then imminent London Mayor election in 2012 and the local council elections in 2014 and wondering what will happen when this time limited deal expires. And now the chickens are coming home to roost.

The deal expires this coming October so I put my name down to speak at Cabinet last Tuesday and ask what the arrangements will be beyond October. After all, any sensible person dispensing with a permanent arrangement in favour of a temporary arrangement will have thought about the long term and will have a contingency plan to cover it, wouldn’t they?

In the event, the Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, Cllr Ross Hatfull, emailed me before the meeting with a statement:
"The contract for the Community Police Team is due to expire in October.

There is a clause in the contract where for a £16k one off additional payment it can be extended for 6 months on the same terms. I have asked the Council officers to take this extension which will run up to April next year.

In April we can no longer extend the contract and have to draw up a brand new contract with the Police. Other boroughs that have already done this process have been offered significantly worse terms by the Police such as the removal of the additional Police Sgt which we currently get for free.

I will be asking officers to draw up a full report as to the options after April and the report will go to Advisory Committee prior to April. I really appreciate the value of the Police team, but would want to make sure any future contract reflects the team delivering on the boroughs priorities, and does not involve us shoring up vacancies in the local police. But at the moment I can not make any guarantees after April, until we know the terms that are on offer from the Police".
Armed with this my question at Cabinet was: “Should the negotiations with the Police to continue this arrangement beyond next April prove to be unsuccessful, what is the contingency plan to continue to protect our parks and open spaces”.

In short, there isn’t one, and the option to revert to the previous arrangement whereby the Council directly employ their own Parks Police doesn’t seem a goer either as who would apply for the job given the way the previous lot were treated. We await the report from officers with interest.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

And now for something completely different – Area Forums

In the wake of the abolition of Area Committees here in sunny Redbridge the MP for Ilford North, Lee Scott (pictured right), has decided not to wait for the new Redbridge council administration to put their “Local Forums” in place and has published his plans to hold his own “Area Forums” for the Ilford North Parliamentary constituency.

There will be two “Areas” based on the old Area 3 & 4 Committees with the wards to the west tagged on. So we have Bridge, Fairlop, Fullwell and Hainault wards in one Area and Aldborough, Barkingside, Clayhall and Roding in the other Area.

Lee said:
“In the initial period, running to the end of this council year, the aim is to hold two meetings for each of the forums. Two local venues at each geographic end of the constituency would be selected.

These new Forums are a replacement for the abandoned Area Committees. We must do all that we can to encourage wide spread local involvement. Community groups, as well as individuals, would be able to make formal representations, give suggestions or ask questions. Each Forum would also be open to the local press.

The plan would be that each of the forums will be sponsored and have their own (modest) budgets that they could use to provide some support to local events and to cover any running costs”.
So we, at least in Ilford North, appear to be getting two lots of Forums. These above will be less than once a month; discounting August there are 8 months left of the municipal year and we can expect 4 meetings, so one every two months on average. And because these forums are confined to Ilford North the locations of the meetings are much more likely to be reasonably accessible to most of the residents. However, like the council proposals there are some vital logistics still to sort out, not least dates, times and venues for those of us who lead busy lives and like to plan our calendar some way ahead.

Then there is the format of the meetings, who attends and who gets to be Chair. There will be no formal requirement for any elected Redbridge Councillor to attend, although one could reasonably expect a 3-line whip on those who happen to be Conservatives. What the Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors make of this remains to be seen – may we live in interesting times.

Here’s Nat King Cole, "There may be trouble ahead ....."