Monday, 11 June 2018

Government and NHS must improve communication of health and care reforms

The Health and Social Care Committee say the Government and the NHS must improve how they communicate NHS reforms to the public in their report on Integrated care.
(Report published today, 11th June 2018 - links at end of this report)
NHS and social care services are looking after a population which is living longer and with increasingly complex health and care needs, including multiple long-term conditions.

Services need to change 

Services need to change to reflect that and to be better organised around patients. Rising demand and costs for health and care are taking place alongside an unprecedented and prolonged squeeze on resources.

Integrated care 

There are many examples of NHS and care services coming together to deliver better care and this kind of integration has been happening at local level for some time. However, further integration of services, and the organisations planning and delivering them, is too often hampered by current legislation.

Government and national bodies have yet to explain the case for change

  • The Government and national bodies have yet to explain the case for change clearly and persuasively. 
  • There has also been a failure to consistently engage with local leaders in the design of service changes. 
  • Overuse of jargon and poor communication confuses both health professionals and the public alike. 
  • Changing acronyms, titles and terminology have allowed misunderstanding to fester and suspicion of the underlying purpose of reform.

Debate on NHS reform is often polarising. This has been true in the case of sustainability and transformation partnerships, STPs, and, more recently, accountable care organisations, ACOs, – forms of healthcare services that share their name with but are essentially different to models from the US.
Rather than threatening the integrity of the NHS, reforms to better join-up the organisation of services, including health and social care, present an opportunity to row back the NHS-internal market. 
However, the litmus test must be whether these changes (ACOs, STPs and integrated care systems) improve the care, outcomes, and experience of patients. 

Potential benefits of further integration

The Committee recognises the potential benefits of further integration and calls on the Government to bring forward legislation to remove legal barriers imposed by the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Many of the necessary changes require primary legislation. To rebuild the trust that previous and repeated top-down reorganisations have eroded, the Committee recommends representatives from the health and care community – the NHS, local government, professional bodies, patient groups and the voluntary sector – lead on the development of new legislative proposals for the Government to lay before the House in draft and present to the Health and Social Care Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny. 
 
If a decision is taken, following a careful evaluation of pilots, to extend the use of ACOs in the English NHS then the Committee recommends that these should be introduced in primary legislation as NHS bodies. The Committee does not believe that the introduction of ACOs in England threatens the founding principles of the NHS or that they are likely in practice to be private sector led, but recommend establishing these as public bodies would reassure on that point.
The Government’s announcement of a long-term funding settlement is welcome. This will be essential not only to alleviate immediate pressures on health and social care services, but to facilitate the transition to more integrated care. In particular, the Government must recognise the importance of adequate transformation and capital funding to effective service change.

Chair's comment 

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, said: 
"It is the triumph of our age that more people are living longer, but as MPs we too often see our constituents, their families and their carers grapple with local services that may be poorly organised around their needs and struggling to cope with the rising demand for care. 
As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday national leaders, and politicians from across the political spectrum at national and local level, must help to make the case for change to the public. Any effort to transform care will flounder and lose support unless it can demonstrate that patients and their families will benefit."

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Redlands Public Surgery - Saturday 9 June

Cllrs David Absolom, Jan Gavin and Tony Jones will be holding their regular Labour Councillors' Ward Public Surgery for residents at Hexham Road Community Centre, Bamburgh Close, RG2 7UD, between 10.30am and noon today.

No appointment is necessary and discussions are strictly confidential.

Ward surgeries are held on the second Saturday of each month, alternating between St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road (RG1 5LR) and the Hexham Road Community Centre (RG2 7UD).


David, Jan and Tony also undertake "street surgeries" on other Saturdays and weekdays - so watch out for the window poster coming through your letter-box!

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Whiteknights Studio Trail - 9 & 10 June

Take 36 individual artists, a Fine Art degree show and 22 venues shake them up and what do you get? A cocktail of some of the best art in Britain right on our doorstep in Redlands! 
Yes, its the annual Whiteknights Studio Trail. Now in its 18 year this is where to see some wonderful glass, hand-made furniture, jewellery, photography, ceramics, printing, painting and drawing and so much more.
All venues will be open between 11am and 6pm on two consecutive days, Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June. Our friends at the University of Reading will exhibit their Fine Art Degree final show and The Museum of English Rural Life has again invited us to exhibit, so this is a wonderful chance to not only see outstanding world class art but also some very interesting venues and interiors in this fabulous Whiteknights area of Reading.
But the Studio Trail isn't limited to just the University - venues also include Redlands School, St Luke's Hall and private homes in Denmark Road, Elmhurst Road, New Road and at The Mount.
Find a map and a full programme of all the artist exhibitors here.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Labour Shuffles The Pack At Reading Council

Changes At Reading Council Leadership Team
The Labour Party administration at Reading Borough Council will confirm a reshuffle of lead member positions and revised portfolios at the Annual General Meeting of the council tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd May).

The revised line-up will be as follows:

Leader - Councillor Jo Lovelock
Deputy Leader - Cllr Tony Page

Lead Member Portfolios

  • Adult Social Care - Cllr Tony Jones (replaces Cllr Rachel Eden)
  • Children's Services - Cllr Liz Terry (replaces Cllr Jan Gavin)
  • Corporate & Consumer Services - Cllr Jason Brock (new position)
  • Culture, Heritage & Recreation - Cllr Sarah Hacker (revised portfolio)
  • Education - Cllr Ashley Pearce (replaces Cllr Tony Jones)
  • Health, Wellbeing & Sport - Cllr Graham Hoskin (revised portfolio)
  • Housing - Cllr John Ennis
  • Neighbourhoods & Communities - Cllr Sophia James (revised portfolio, replaces Cllr Liz Terry)
  • Strategic Environment, Planning & Transport - Cllr Tony Page

Committee Chairs

  • Adult Social Care, Children's Services & Education - Cllr David Absolom
  • Housing, Neighbourhoods & Lesiure - Cllr Richard Davies
  • Licensing Committee - Cllr Paul Woodward
  • Planning Committee - Cllr Chris Maskell
  • Strategic Environment, Planning & Transport - Cllr Debs Absolom
  • Transport Management Sub Committee - Cllr Mohammed Ayub

The following other nominations will be made:


  • Mayor - Cllr Deborah Edwards
  • Deputy Mayor - Cllr Paul Woodward

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Cintra Park Upgrade

Work started this week on a £70,000 upgrade in Cintra Park.

The multi-use games area at Cintra Park which opened in July 2006 has now reached the end of its life and is to be refurbished. As well as a new surface, new perimeter fencing will also be installed and the floodlighting will be inspected.

The work  will be carried out the work during May and June, thus avoiding the football season and the school summer holidays. Regular hirers should not be affected by the five week closure as alternative pitches will be offered. It is anticipated that the courts will be open to coincide with the start of Wimbledon.

In addition, the bark chippings in the play area will be replaced by a wetpour/rubber surface. This will reduce maintenance costs as there will no longer be an annual top up required. In addition a new large basket style swing to replace the rotating unit.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Redlands Public Surgery Today

Councilllors David Absolom, Jan Gavin and Tony Jones hold public surgeries for residents in Redlands all the year round.


"Just Walk In" surgeries are held on the second Saturday of every month, alternately at St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road and at the Hexham Road Community Centre. 

Surgery hours are 10.30am until noon.

No appointment is necessary, and all discussions are confidential.

Today's surgery is at St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road.

We also undertake regular "street surgeries" on most other Saturdays in the year. This is where we deliver notices to you a day or two beforehand, then on the following Saturday morning, if you want to see us you all  you have to do is put up the "Please Call In" notice in your window.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Reading Education Leader To Stand Down

Councillor Tony Jones has overseen big improvements
Reading's lead member for Education, Councillor Tony Jones, has announced that he is to stand down from the role at the annual meeting of the council later this month.

Reflecting on his time at the helm of school education across the town Councillor Jones commented:

"When I took this role on in 2015 I said that I would only do it for three years and that time is now up. I made improving standards in schools my priority and I'm pleased to say that progress has been made, though faster and further in some areas than others. 

Reading was judged to be 149th out of 152 councils when I started, now we are a top 50 education authority. But we can never be complacent and there is still a lot more to do, so it is now time for someone else to take up the challenge and move things on to another level. 

I am immensely grateful for all the support I have received from council staff and, in particular, I would like to thank the many school heads, teachers and governors, who face the on-going daily challenges of school under-funding while trying to recruit and hang-on to good classroom staff in an area of high housing costs, yet are crucial to bringing good education to the town's children. They have my sincere admiration."








Saturday, 5 May 2018

University of Reading - Street Support Team



STREET SUPPORT TEAM

A pilot community support scheme


The University of Reading has recently launched a new Street Support Team. The trial scheme is part of the University’s plans to promote positive community relationships between students and non-student neighbours.

The Street Support Team will provide advice to students socialising late at night, encouraging them to be responsible, respectful and safe when travelling through residential areas. The team will also help students feel safe and supported late at night and clean up any bottles/glass left on the streets, as they go.

The highly trained and highly visible team will be working in residential streets around the campus between 10pm and 4am several nights a week. They’ll primarily be based between:

·        Redlands Road and London Road, including St George’s Hall.
·        Whiteknights Road and Wokingham Road, including Bridges/Wessex Halls and the number 17 bus stop.
·        Northcourt Avenue and Christchurch Green, including St Patrick’s/Sherfield Halls and the number 21/21a bus stop.

"The University has created this trial based on views from local residents, neighbourhood police teams, Reading Borough Council and other community partners in the town. We are grateful for all the input and support.

The scheme will run as a trial over the summer and autumn terms. We’ll be reviewing the scheme regularly and we’d be very grateful for feedback so we can make sure the team are working in the best way possible. We will also use the feedback to consider long-term delivery."

Please send any questions or feedback to Sarah Gardner, Community Relations Manager at community@reading.ac.uk

Friday, 4 May 2018

Council Election: Labour Holds Redlands

LABOUR once again proved victorious in yesterday's council elections in Redlands.

The full result was:

David Absolom, Labour, 968 votes
Greens, 630 votes
Conservatives, 350 votes
LibDems, 211 votes

Thank you to everyone who voted for Redlands Labour - we never take your votes for granted. 

Well done David Absolom, a hard working councillor.


Photo: @chronicleadams / full coverage in the Reading Chronicle

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Redlands Ward Public Surgery - Saturday 14 April

Cllrs David Absolom, Jan Gavin and Tony Jones will be holding their regular Labour Councillors' Ward Public Surgery for residents at Hexham Road Community Centre, Bamburgh Close, RG2 7UD, between 10.30am and noon today.

No appointment is necessary and discussions are strictly confidential.

Ward surgeries are held on the second Saturday of each month, alternating between St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road (RG1 5LR) and the Hexham Road Community Centre (RG2 7UD).


David, Jan and Tony also undertake "street surgeries" on other Saturdays and weekdays - so watch out for the window poster coming through your letter-box!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Secondary School Places In Reading - Tonight's Meeting At Micklands


Thanks to everyone who attended tonight’s meeting at Micklands Primary School to discuss the allocation of secondary schools places in Reading.

Here are some notes of the question and answer session:

Will there be any chance that our local schools could increase their intake for this year Sept 2018?
For secondary school admissions, the DFE will only recognise Reading as one place planning area, rather than recognising sub groups within the borough. Therefore the local authority does not have the ability to increase school planned admission limits where there is sufficient capacity within the system, which currently, there is.    
It is not unusual for students in a borough of this size to travel across the area to schools of their choice, for example for independent or selective schools which will draw from a wide area.

How has this happened knowing 2007 was a bulk year. Primary schools in the area increased as well as expanded to take on the demand, so why didn’t secondary schools follow and plans made for an extra secondary school to be built as Reading Borough council only have one secondary school north side of reading?
A full place sufficiency analysis was undertaken by the Head of Education and School Services Manager last summer and, from this, there was not deemed to be additional secondary places needed for this year and indeed not for two years yet. It is acknowledged that we will need to extend secondary places from 2020, and indeed are looking at increasing availability of secondary places from that time with both additional capacity at Chiltern Edge, and a new secondary school, location to be decided. No decision has been made on the siting of the new secondary school which will be operated by an academy trust. However, several sites are currently being investigated;
As there are sufficient places in the borough, this has been accounted for in planning projections.
Chiltern Edge has reduced its PAN but the school was undersubscribed, perhaps due to the uncertainty. However, its future is now secure and it is being academised by Maiden Erlegh Trust.

 How will this be prevented for bulk years in the future?
We are working on looking at sub regions within the borough for planning purposes for secondary school admissions in the future. However, this change in the way we plan secondary school sufficiency has to be approved by the DFE. At the moment, they have not given approval for Reading borough to consider secondary school provision other than as one borough and not as sub regions within the borough. Therefore we must currently consider sufficiency in the borough as a whole.  RBC were instrumental in keeping Chiltern Edge open, which is also a designated area school for RG4 residents.

7yrs ago, at the time of the bulge year creation, there was a Labour Councillor (Cllr Ennis) lead for Education at RBC and a Conservative MP. Other parts of Reading have expanded their Secondary provision e.g. Wren. Why did you not plan for our children?
RBC were instrumental in keeping Chiltern Edge open, which is also a designated area school for RG4 residents. There was a strong push from Reading borough to stop the closure of Chiltern Edge and our efforts were instrumental in securing the school for the future.

Highdown offered in May 2017 to create extra places for 2018/19 entry in response to pupil number increase. Why was this agreed at the School Forum but overruled by the LA ?
Schools Forum does not make decisions on school places and school place planning. School Admissions Forum only makes decisions on policy and not on practical issues of this nature. 

Why has part of the £1m school growth fund for 2018/19 not been allocated to an extra Highdown class this year? It includes the expansion of one Secondary School. Why is it not Highdown?
We have sufficient places in the authority this year and the growth fund is there to support the need for additional places overall. As we have sufficient places this year in the authority there is no need to build in additional school places right now. The major growth in secondary school places comes in the next 5 years and the growth fund will when be used we require the additional places in the authority.

If, as the Reading Chronicle suggests, there are plans for more places for 2019/20, how is this fair on our children and how are you going to help?
There are sufficient places for children for the 2018 school year but projections suggest not for 2019/20. This is not a question of fairness, but of the statutory duty on the local authority to provide a school place for all children in the borough.

In the RBC Meeting 24/5/2017, Section 2.9 part I, said that a Schools Admission Forum would be set up for the Municipal Year 2017/18.  Was it set up and what did they decide regarding the 2018/19 North Reading over subscription problem. What were their recommendations?
Reading Borough Council were instrumental in keeping Chiltern Edge open, which has alleviated the pressures which could have occurred, should it have closed. Overall place planning has considered longer term requirement coming into place in 2019 onwards.

What effect do you think isolation from his Caversham friends and the other pupils in Prospect will have on my Son?
This is a point for an appeal panel. This information can be sent to Highdown as medical/social but it isn’t for the admissions team to decide.

How many Thameside, St.Annes and Micklands yr6 children have been allocated a school south of the river that is not their first or second choice?
We do not have this data. It can be provided as part of an FOI but it is not relevant to the Highdown issue. Not all parents in Caversham have listed Highdown, or could have listed other schools. The number diverted has been provided. School attended is not indicative of a child’s address.

How were places allocated this year as certain schools intake was lower than previous years. And the distance of the last place offered decreased by a lot for Highdown compared to previous years?
Places were allocated in the same way. The last distance offered this year was 1.017, in 2017 this was 1.545 from the school, in 2016 it was 1.364 but the PAN was 30 lass at 229.

What are my options now as I rejected her allocated place and knowing all local schools waiting list are extremely high and I'm unwilling to allow my daughter to travel to the other side of town?
We will not remove the allocated space, even if it is rejected unless you have a confirmed place elsewhere because the LA has a duty to offer a school place. You are free to submit a late application and list for any additional schools for which you would like to be considered.

How will the waiting list work?
Places will be allocated from the waiting list from 15th March. They will be allocated in accordance with the schools oversubscription criteria, not related to whether they have been diverted. This is in line with the school admissions code 2014.

Did all 250 students that got into Highdown put Highdown as their first choice or were any of the students randomly given a place there like we were randomly given a place at schools the other side of Reading that weren't any of our choices?
All students who were allocated a place listed it as a preference. It is not relevant where this was listed as some may have been hoping for Grammar schools or other schools. Applications are considered on an equal preference basis.

More will be published in the days ahead, after 15th March and an offer to meet parents again in April was made at tonight's meeting.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Rachel Eden - the next MP for Reading West

Alok Sharma should make the most of the time he has left as the MP for Reading West. This is what the future looks like ...

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Redlands Public Surgery Today

Councilllors David Absolom, Jan Gavin and Tony Jones hold public surgeries for residents in Redlands all the year round.


"Just Walk In" surgeries are held on the second Saturday of every month, alternately at St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road and at the Hexham Road Community Centre. 

Surgery hours are 10.30am until noon.

No appointment is necessary, and all discussions are confidential.

Today's surgery is at St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road.

We also undertake regular "street surgeries" on most other Saturdays in the year. This is where we deliver notices to you a day or two beforehand, then on the following Saturday morning, if you want to see us you all  you have to do is put up the "Please Call In" notice in your window.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Urgently Needed: A New Secondary School In Reading

Reproduced below is a post from this blog on Monday, 4 September 2017.

However since then there has been a suggestion that Reading will in fact need two more secondary schools in the foreseeable future.

Cllr Tony Jones: Top priority is to find site for new school


While that assertion will need further scrutiny, what is clear is that Reading urgently needs to identify at least one site and a development partner for a new secondary school with six classes a year entry level as early as possible this year. This calculation is based on all places in existing secondary schools in Reading and immediately outside the town's borders being full.

Lead member for Education councillor Tony Jones said "Reading is a growing town with a strong economy and excellent transport links. However growth brings pressure on the town's infrastructure, roads, health services and schools. 

My top priority this year is to start the process of finding the site and development partner for at least one new secondary school and scope out any future needs. 

I know there will be those with strong views and loud voices telling us where we should not build a new school, but I would welcome any constructive dialogue and suggestions." 


Original post - 4 September 2017

A New Secondary School In Central Reading

Find A Site For A New Secondary School In Reading
In recent years Reading Borough Council has invested heavily in meeting the demand for extra places in the town's primary schools. 

However, by 2019/20 that expanded school population, together with a general growth in population, will be needing places to move on to secondary schools, with a large proportion based around central Reading.

The problem for Reading and the government's Education Skills and Funding Agency, is where can we find an appropriate site?

Redlands Public Surgery Today

Councilllors David Absolom, Jan Gavin and Tony Jones hold public surgeries for residents in Redlands all the year round.


"Just Walk In" surgeries are held on the second Saturday of every month, alternately at St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road and at the Hexham Road Community Centre. 

Surgery hours are 10.30am until noon.

No appointment is necessary, and all discussions are confidential.

Today's surgery is at St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road.

We also undertake regular "street surgeries" on most other Saturdays in the year. This is where we deliver notices to you a day or two beforehand, then on the following Saturday morning, if you want to see us you all  you have to do is put up the "Please Call In" notice in your window

Monday, 1 January 2018

Challenges for 2018

2018 will be a year of great challenge.


THE COUNCIL'S BUDGET

The year on year cuts to central government support for Reading Borough Council means that all services continue to be under the combined pressures of often increased demand and reduced resources. 

There will be calls from many saying "We do appreciate that the council has to make some tough decisions, but please protect (... fill in personal cause, project or service...)".

The Labour Group of councillors will, as required by law, set a balanced budget - though do expect the usual mixture of posturing (Green Party), trivia (Lib Dems) and vacuous talk (Conservatives) from the other parties. 

It will all be available for the record on the council's webcasting site.

PARLIAMENTARY SELECTION


On a more exciting front, the process to select the next Labour parliamentary candidate for the Reading West seat will shortly get underway.

As a resident of Reading East I have no say in these matters, so I simply offer the following observations:

The successful candidate will be an existing Reading Labour councillor - and frankly it is hard to see past either Rachel Eden or Sarah Hacker, both of whom offer very strong local credentials.

And with an expanded and rejuvenated party membership under Jeremy Corbyn's national leadership, each can be confident of unseating the current Tory MP in Reading West whenever May dares call the next general election.

RESIDENTS PARKING

The council is in the middle of consulting on the extension or introduction of resident parking zones across the borough. But more news of that in the next few days ...