Clinical Commissioning Groups- who guards the guardians?

I have been following the decisions made by the recently formed local Clinical Commissioning Groups with some interest. They seem to have something of the iconoclast about them. Firstly, the change a long established arrangement with the local drug and alcohol treatment provider ADSIS that has existed for many years for a Birmingham based service.

Shortly afterwards I read that the GP out of hours service in Basford is under review. The service which has been run as a not for profit organisation by local GPs fear that a large private health organisation will take over the contract and that a company with no local knowledge will have a detrimental impact on patient services. Continue reading

Something for nothing- private health and the N Staffs Health Economy

Something for nothing- private health and North Staffs Health economy

There is much talk in the media nowadays about ” something for nothing” society and “welfare dependency”. Usually these comments are directed at someone who has been on benefit for a long time and is deemed as putting nothing in to the community. And barely a day goes by that the newspaper exposes someone for fraud.

There is another form of dependency, which costs the taxpayer far more than those felons reported on in the pages of the Sentinel. Continue reading

Job Cuts At University Hospital North Staffordshire

The Guardian and the TUC are reporting this morning that 50,000 jobs are to be cut in the NHS over the next few years although the NHS is supposed to be protected from public sector cuts.

According to information gained from FOI requests University Hospital North Staffordshire is looking to reduce staff by over 1300 or almost 23% in the next 5 years.

The positions under threat over the next 5 years are:

  • 2010/11
    • reductions not clear. Figures are subject to review.
  • 2011/12:
    • Medical & Dental – 43.28;
    • Nursing & Midwifery – 190.06;
    • Other Clinical – 38.74;
    • Other – 100.48.
  • 2012/13:
    • Medical & Dental – 49.96;
    • Nursing & Midwifery – 219.42;
    • Other Clinical – 44.4;
    • Other – 115.99.
  • 2013/14:
    • Medical & Dental – 32.6;
    • Nursing & Midwifery – 143.17;
    • Other Clinical – 29.46;
    • Other – 75.69.
  • 2014/15:
    • Medical & Dental – 30.83;
    • Nursing & Midwifery – 135.4;
    • Other Clinical – 27.6;
    • Other – 71.58.

Should the NHS & UNHS be protected from the cuts? What affect with this have on people in Stoke-on-Trent who have a lower life expectancy that the rest of the UK

Figures are for Whole Time Equivalents.

Stoke-on-Trent – In A Nutshell?

The Guardian feature Stoke-on-Trent in the latest article in their series ‘Where Else Can I Go’.

The article makes interesting reading, especially to those who live outside of our city.

But what about those who live in the Potteries and surrounding areas? What do we make of the facts listed in the article?

Where else can I go? – The Guardian

What they said about Stoke-on-Trent

”Despite going through some of the most difficult times in the history of this council our staff continue to work hard for the people of this city and we are eager for that to carry on.”

”Charles Dickens once described Stoke as ‘a picturesque heap of houses, kilns, smoke, wharfs, canals and river lying as was most appropriate, in a basin,”

Population District


Local politics,strong/>

Stoke-on-Trent city council is a unitary authority with no overall control, led by Labour as a four-party coalition.

MPs Three, all Labour.

Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South); Joan Walley (North) and TV historian Tristram Hunt (Central).

Local authority

The council “performs adequately” but does not deliver consistent value for money. Teenage pregnancy rates are among the highest in England. The different political groups on the council make it more difficult for the council to conduct its business smoothly. Adult social services are “performing well.” Children’s services perform “adequately”.

Job prospects

The council wants to shed 700 jobs. Priority for applying for any vacancies is going to staff on the “at risk” list.

Health service

University hospital of North Staffordshire NHS trust runs North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary, the City General and the Central outpatients hospitals. A new £370m hospital on the City General site is due to open next year. North Staffordshire combined NHS healthcare trust, the mental health and learning disability trust, runs Harplands hospital. Stoke-on-Trent primary care trust and other trusts all qualify for a licence under the new Care Quality Commission standards regime.

Central government

HM Revenue and Customs and Cafcass have offices in the city.


The council wants to install solar panels in all suitable council properties as it tries to become one of the country’s first sustainable cities. A new £20m transport/bus interchange redevelopment is going ahead next year. A planned £270m shopping complex will create 4,000 new jobs.

Voluntary sector

There are 23 international, 43 national and 271 local charities in the district with a combined income of £68m; 1,642 charitable trustees live here.

Commuter links

M6 junctions 15 (three miles); A50/A516 to Derby (34 miles); A50/A453 Nottingham (50 miles). Trains: London Euston (93 mins); Manchester (43 mins); Birmingham (47 mins).

Property prices

Two-bed flat: £60k- £150k; three-bed semi: £65k-£185k; four-bed detached: £150k-£699k.

Would the above information make you want to uproot your home and/or your business and relocate to Stoke-on-Trent?

Do the above headline facts hide the reality of the socio-economic prospects for the city?

Better Bus Links To University Hospital North Staffordshire

Thanks to the Government Kickstart fund winning bid, plans for better bus links to the North Staffordshire hospital on the London Road can now taken shape.

Hospital users in North Staffordshire and Stoke are to get a major boost thanks to £388,000 brought in by transport chiefs in the city and the county.

Plans include a brand new direct service running from Werrington, via Stoke, Hanley and Newcastle, with new low floor accessible buses ensuring everyone can use the link with ease. The plans also include an improved and extended 98/99 service from Burslem and Tunstall through Wolstanton and Newcastle.

Drivers will get extra training to ensure that patients’ needs are their top priority.

More connections to other services from Newcastle bus station, with more frequent shuttle links to the hospital are also planned.

Brian Ward said, We are very pleased with this funding from the Department for Transport, which will allow us to work with Staffordshire County Council to improve bus services to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. We will be able to provide more direct services from North Staffordshire’s towns and communities to the hospital. This will mean many passengers won’t need to change buses at Newcastle or the city centre bus stations, resulting in quicker journey times. The money will also allow us to provide branded, high-quality and comfortable buses so passengers have a good journey experience.’

Staffordshire’s Cabinet member for Infrastructure and regeneration Robert Marshall said the package was great news for the local community. ‘Getting to the hospital can be a real trauma for many people, making the whole experience all the worse. The health service isn’t just about treatment and cure; it’s also about how you get there. The county council is committed to a real citizen focus, listening and responding to local needs. Working together we can achieve so much more value for everyone,’ he said.

Now the cash has been secured the team can get on with the complex process of putting all the pieces in place for a launch later on in the year with service operators, NHS Trust and the council partners will all be involved in setting the standards and publicising the new services.

More Local Food Is Used In UHNS.

Dozens of local companies have been asked to supply around 65% of food products served at the UHNS.
Food preparation giant Sodexo had, since the summer of 2008 prepared and chilled meals in Wales, then driving them 140 miles for them to be re-heated on local hospital wards. Now, work as been done to extend kitchens as been done, more food will now be prepared within the hospital.
Around 4.000 meals are served at local hospitals each day and Sodexo had come under fire about the quality of some of the food and the environmental damage done on the long daily truck trips.
Andrea Green told the local press that Sodexo had been told of complaints at weakly meeting and that it had in-fact been the intention from the start to enlarge the local kitchen to cook more food locally.
With this move around more meals would be locally sourced from suppliers within 30 miles of the hospital.
She added “Since freshly-cooked food has been going onto the wards, the number of complaints has fallen, and by buying locally we are also creating or preserving jobs in the area.”
Most of the main hot meals will still be cooked in Wales and then warmed at Hartshill, but now foods like fruit, vegetables, milk, bread, butter, cheese and sandwiches will be supplied at a local level.
The move comes after health unions became involved in the problem and the local MP’s also called for changes.

In another development Sodexo have also committed the company to use Steelite to supply the crockery in all its contracts in the UK

I Come Out In Favour Of Hospital Grub.

I have been in and out the UHNS the last few weeks, it happens like that you know. First off, can I use this blog to thank the staff of the Cardiac Lab, Ward 76, and the Intervention team for all the care they once again give me.

What I want to talk about is food at the Hospital, which to say the least as come in for a bit of a kicking over the last year or so in the local paper.

I know all the thing about local food cooked on site, and yes, I agree with that. The problem is that its not done at the moment, but the food you get in there is top rate, and you get all you need.

OK, breakfasts a bit basic, but you get what you need at that time of day- Corn Flakes, as much toast as you can eat and the old NHS coffee (there’s always some one willing to go to the coffee machine for you after).

Lunch is the hot meal for the day, and I got some outstanding ones, there’s always a good Pie, a Curry, Meat and Veg or Fish up for grabs. I’m not one for a desert but I enjoyed a few of them to, the Apple Pies very nice indeed, and if you don’t like Custard, and I can’t abide it ,the staff slip you a bit of Ice Cream, which is more then nice of them.

The evening meals menu is very nice to, a good dish of Hot Soup, a few nice butties or a large plate of salad and meat, a bag of Crisps if you want, Cheese, Crackers and a large slice of cake. All of this washed down with as much NHS Coffee, Tea, Orange or Apple juice as you like.

All this mixed in with the stuff you loved ones smuggle in on the pitiful one hour a day visiting at the moment because of the S ‘n’ D thing, and your eating like a king with very little expense to yourself. Even the Coffee at a 75p a cup is as good as you would pay a good few quid for in a café.

To be honest, much of the criticism levelled at the UHNS Food I think is just unfounded. If you take time to read the menu-lets face it, your in the hospital, there an’t much to do- , fill it in right and not be that much of a guts as you don’t want chips on the side of everything or feel the need to cram £15 worth of ruddy Pizza in your gob of a night, witch some loon was going on about the other week, then your on to a winner. I just hope I don’t have to eat it again for a bit, not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I don’t like being in hospital at times.

Visiting Restricted And Wards Closed At UHNS

Three general wards at UHNS are currently closed to new admissions because of the prevalence of Norovirus and the hospital has today announced a second restriction on hospital visiting times.

Until further notice visiting will be restricted to one hour a day, normally between 6.30pm and 7.30pm and no children will be allowed onto the wards on both the Royal Infirmary and City General hospital sites. The visiting restrictions are in place across all wards at both the Royal Infirmary and City General hospital sites. Anyone who wants to check the visiting times on any particular ward should nominate one family member to call the ward directly.

Helen Jenkinson, Deputy Director of Infection Prevention and Control, says, “We are now in the prime season for norovirus, commonly known as the “Ëœwinter vomiting bug’. We are taking this quick action again as a precaution to try and prevent it taking a hold within the hospital. In addition to a range of infection control measures on the wards, restricting visiting will help prevent further spread of this illness. Norovirus comes into the hospital from the community but is more contagious than the common cold and can be dangerous for vulnerable patients. Visiting time will generally be restricted to 6.30pm to 7.30pm on all wards, and no children will be allowed onto the wards, but staff will exercise discretion in some areas where families need to visit, for instance Children’s wards, Critical Care and the Maternity department. We know how important visiting is for our patients and their relatives so we will not keep this restriction in place for any longer than we need to.”

To help reduce the spread of the virus, anyone experiencing symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting should seek advice from their family doctor or NHS Direct rather than coming to A&E unless they are seriously ill.

NHS Direct can be called 24 hours a day on 0845 4647

Hospital food should be brought back in-house

By Matt Taylor

It is pretty blatantly obvious. Today’s Sentinel quotes elderly patients’ gripes over poor, tasteless food being resigned to the waste disposal as nearby takeaways count the profits. And only a matter of weeks ago, there were reports of Dominos delivering pizzas to UHNS to calm the hunger of disgruntled patients.

But it’s nothing new. Ever since Sodexo took over the contract to cater for the hospital last year, there have been problems with quality of the food. And it’s not as if it hadn’t been predicted. As soon as the idea of sub-contracting out the supply of food to those unlucky enough to be in a hospital bed was brought up, there was much concern. And rightly so; a well-rounded diet is pretty key to the most healthy of people, let alone to the recouperation of bed-ridden patients.

So why on earth did they decide to allow Sodexo, a company based in South Wales, to take over the catering? Because it’s more cost-effective and, of course, much easier. It seems that rather than have the hassle of managing a team of catering professionals in-house, and sourcing produce locally, top-brass at the PCT would rather have ready-meals brought up the M6 in a lorry.

The idea to involve contractors in public services is rarely a popular one. Plans to move council services into the ‘business district’ and allow private companies to run parts of council services has not gone down well. Kier Group taking over the maintenance of council housing in the city has been fraught with problems and reports of unsatisfactory service. Yet it seems that the powers that be insist upon continuing such unpopular and often unsuccessful moves.

The difference here is that we are talking about the health of frail people, who should be able to assume that the food they are going to be served during their stay in hospital is, at the very least, edible. No matter how many meetings hospital boss Julia Bridgewater has, it’s not about to alter the fact that the Sodexo move was the wrong one. It’s about time that she and those on the decision-making panel reversed the move, and brought locally-sourced, freshly-prepared food to the patients of UHNS.

A&E Hit Under Four Hour Target.

By Warren

The A&E department at the University Hospital Of North Staffordshire has hit and indeed passed Government targets with 99% of patients treated and sent home or found a hospital bed within four hours. This comes only one week after an extra ward opened, taking pressure of the unit.

This comes after A&E had been fighting all winter to cope with demand, leaving ill patients with long delays in admission to hospital wards. Patients and Nursing staff both told visitors from the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority(WMSHA) of the problems when senior executives came to the hospital to see that the new initiative was working .

Chris Bourne, of The Royal Collage Of Nursing UHNS branch told the Sentinel that some of the Nurses had indeed been very forthright in the views they expressed. They were pleased that these views were now being listened to by executives.

A&E staff are said to be  thrilled with the figures but stress its still early on in the new system.

A spokesman for the WMSHA said: ‘Assessments will show where improvements are working well and if any plans need to be brought forward.’

Good news there form A&E, what are your thoughts on the improvements, as anyone been up in the last week or so and been pleasantly surprised.

Now, I hope you don’t mind my pinching a little bit of room here for something a little bit personal. This week saw the offcial opening of the UHNS Heart Attack and Acute Stroke unit on the City General site. This unit has in fact been doing this very important work for a few years now, I myself receive ongoing care from the dedicated staff of this unit and the heart lab, may I wish them all the best and thank them for what they have done, and still do for me.