Saturday, 31 May 2014

NHS Patients Treated Like Commodities

I read with interest in our local press the recent comments by the respective heads of the two clinical commissioning groups covering Reading that their shared views were that the new arrangements had led to improvements in patient care. In particular the comment that "GPs are closer to patients so they hear patients' views and see patient experience" stood out.

Now, apart from the question why Reading should have two CCGs, when many large cities and even counties seem to manage well with a single more transparent body - a question to which as of yet there is no satisfactory answer - we should also remember that GP practices are essentially small businesses in their own right.

In the NHS in England £65 billion of the overall budget in 2013/14 of £95 billion was allocated to CCGs - in other words, two thirds of NHS spending now in the hands of the GPs.

So why is it that in this "closer to the patient" world should a resident in Redlands who lives within five minutes walk of the Royal Berks Hospital ask me, as their local councillor, to explain why their GP had arranged an appointment for them to have an examination in a GP medical centre in Aylesbury rather than the RBH?

This may have suited the GP, but not the patient - who, in the end, was able to insist on being seen at RBH where they received perfectly good clinical treatment.

We trust our GPs - in fact, we must be able to trust our GPs - but are patients now becoming more like commodities being parcelled around an internal market where GPs both commission services and are also the providers?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Labour Confirms Council Leadership Team

Labour Leader Jo Lovelock
Following last week’s local elections Reading Labour Party has confirmed its leadership line-up on the council for the year ahead.

Current leadership duo Jo Lovelock and Tony Page received unanimous backing from Labour party members and councillors to carry on in their roles as Labour Group Leader and Deputy respectively.  

Labour's majority on the Council increased at last week's local elections, which means Cllrs Lovelock and Page will be reappointed as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council at the Annual General Meeting on June 11th. 

The party and councillors also agreed that there will be no changes this year in the lead member roles.

However, a number of changes have been agreed amongst the committee chairs, with Paul Woodward being proposed to fill the vacancy left in Licensing by the now retired councillor Peter Jones; Chris Maskell to take over as chair of the Planning Committee in place of Pete Ruhemann, who has decided to step down, and Bet Tickner filling Cllr Maskell’s role as chair of the SEPT committee; Deborah Edwards moving up to chair the ACE Committee as Tony Jones is set to become mayor.

The Labour Group will also be proposing Battle ward’s Sarah Hacker as the new Deputy Mayor.

Jo Lovelock said “I am delighted that our team of experienced lead councillors will be continuing. Our new councillors are also very keen to be involved in the important decisions we will need to make this year.

“Last week’s local elections, which saw us pick up another five seats from all around the town, shows that Reading residents know we are doing the best we can to deliver valued services against ever greater cuts to our budgets by central government.”

“There is no doubt that with less than a year to the general election the council will face further challenges – we believe we have the best team in place to meet whatever this discredited coalition throws at us.”

List of councillor leadership roles on Reading Borough Council 2014/15

·       Leader – Jo Lovelock
·       Deputy Leader & Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning & Transport – Tony Page

Leader member portfolios
·       Adult Care Services –  Rachel Eden
 ·       Education – John Ennis
·       Children’s Services –  Jan Gavin
 ·       Culture, Sport & Consumer Services – Paul Gittings
·       Health – Graeme Hoskin
·       Housing – Richard Davies
·       Neighbourhoods – Liz Terry

Committee Chairs
·       Licensing – Paul Woodward (replaces Peter Jones – retired councillor)
·       Planning – Chris Maskell (replaces Pete Ruhemann – stepping down)
·       Adult Care Services, Children’s Service & Education (ACE) – Deborah Edwards (replaces Tony Jones, Mayor designate)
·       Housing, Neighbourhoods & Leisure (HNL) – Sarah Hacker
·       Strategic Environment, Planning & Transport (SEPT) – Bet Ticker (replaces Chris Maskell who has gone to Planning)

Mayoralty – Labour Group nominations
·       Mayor – Tony Jones (currently Deputy Mayor)
·       Deputy Mayor – Sarah Hacker


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Reading Council - Balance Of Power

The make-up of the new council is:

Labour - 31 councillors
Conservatives - 10
Greens - 3
Lib Dems - 2

From 2010 the Conservatives have had a net loss of seats at every election, which suggests that the fight for the 2 seats at next year's general election will be closer than they like to think.

The dramatic decline of the Lib Dems was only held back this year by UKIP splitting the Tory vote in Tilehurst, but they have been effectively wiped out as a political force in the town.

The Greens have consolidated their grip on Park Ward but made little progress elsewhere.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Thank You For Electing David Absolom

Redlands - David Absolom reclaims third seat for Labour in remarkable turn-around!
StatisticsTurnout: 31%Spoiled Votes: 12Status: Final Result
ABSOLOM David LawrenceThe Labour Party1,047             
ALLAN Robert DerekUK Independence Party (UKIP)173
BAYES Kirsten RuthLiberal Democrats341
HOPPER Helen ElizabethThe Conservative Party430
MURTAGH KizziGreen Party337

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Vote Labour, Vote Absolom

Tony Jones & David Absolom: Working Hard For Redlands
Tomorrow is Election Day.

Polling stations open from 7.00am to 10.00pm at:

  • Hexham Road Community Centre
  • Redlands Primary School
  • St Lukes Parish Hall and 
  • the Museum of English Rural Life

Please vote for David Absolom.
He has already proven to be a fine advocate for residents in Redlands ward.

Please vote Labour on the long voting paper for the European Parliament.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

New RBH Boss Announced

The new Chief Executive of the Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will be Jean O'Callaghan. 

Jean has 12 years’ experience as a CEO in both commissioning and provider services, was CEO of the Canterbury District Health Board in New Zealand before joining Bedford Hospital NHS Trust in 2005 and then Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in 2010. 

Jean is a nurse by background with extensive experience in managing change and turnaround. 

She is said to be a strong advocate for open communication and is committed to quality patient care.

(picture: Bridport News)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Reading Labour: Council Election Manifesto


Labour’s manifesto for the Reading Borough Council elections on 22 May includes promises to keep Reading clean, promote sustainable transport, pursue all ways to provide more housing, invest in more primary and secondary schools, extend 20mph zones, build extra care housing and nursing projects.
Leader of the ruling Labour group on the council Councillor Jo Lovelock said: “Labour’s ambition is for Reading to be a town where everyone has the chance to succeed, to get on with their neighbours and to grow old securely.
“Labour is committed to well-run public services. We’ve done our best to protect the services that Reading people expect while we also have to deal with growing demand. People are living longer, needing more care and the rise in the birth rate means we need more school places.
“The council faces all these challenges with less and less money from central government and fewer staff. 
“Labour councillors in Reading are used to change and challenge, but never before have we faced such massive cuts like those from this Conservative-led government, propped up by the Liberal Democrats.
Click here to be taken to a copy of the Reading Banner

The manifesto includes pledges to:
·         keep Reading clean – with continuing deep cleans across the town and regular street sweeping.
·         promote sustainable transport – with more investment in our award winning bus service and measures to make cycling easier
·         pursue all ways to provide more housing – new council housing and work with the private rented sector
·         invest in more primary and secondary schools – in all areas of Reading, including Caversham and east Reading.
·         extend 20mph zones – extending areas in consultation with local residents
·         build extra care housing and nursing projects – offering more options for older people
·         continue to regenerate central Reading, including pressing for an early start on Station Hill and redevelop the old Civic Offices site
·         seek ways to improve local shopping centres
·         press for  action on the much-needed third Thames Bridge
·         continue to support and work in partnership with Reading’s much-valued voluntary sector
It also includes commitments to work with schools, colleges and businesses to ensure that young people acquire the skills and qualifications they need and to lead the partnership to tackle poverty across the town and provide advice and support to help escape the poverty trap. Lobbying will also continue for Lottery and other funding to develop the historic Abbey Ruins and Gateway site, including the newly vacated Reading Prison.
The manifesto details the sixteen Labour candidates across Reading, who include five sitting councillors seeking re-election including Mayor Marian Livingston and Lead Members John Ennis and Rachel Eden, a former Reading councillor and Mayor Richard Stainthorp seeking a return, two black candidates and two Asian candidates, nine women and another husband and wife duo in Debs Absolom standing in Norcot and husband David in Redlands.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Clegg: The Confession

On the eve of the 2010 General Election Clegg made a few promises of his own - all since broken (and he hopes forgotten!). Since then he has spent the last four years propping up an utterly self-interested Conservative government.

Meanwhile in Redlands, the Lid Dems have all but disappeared.

The local council election on 22 May will signal their formal, final exit.