Labour candidate challenges ambulance trust boss

Southend West Labour Parliamentary candidate Julian Ware-Lane has criticised East of England Ambulance trust boss Dr. Anthony Marsh over his recent woeful performance.

The Chief Executive of the East of England Ambulance Service earns £232,000 plus a generous expense package which has seen him spend over £30,000 on hotel and taxi expenses. Under his management the trust has managed to miss most of the government targets set for it. In July the trust did not meet its own Red 1 emergency response target anywhere in the region.

One of the earliest sound bites issued by the Coalition Government was that we “were all in it together”. Never has such a statement sounded so hollow.

The story of the last few years has been of a growing pay divide with some Chief Executives like Dr. Marsh receiving salary bumps well in excess of those who work for them. Their pay rises are well in excess of inflation, whilst those that work for them are lucky to see a 1% rise.

Julian Ware-Lane said “Dr. Marsh is being excessively rewarded by the taxpayer, whilst the service he leads is woefully underperforming. His trust fails to meet many of the Government targets. This cannot be right.”

Concerns that the new hospice build may be delayed

The proposed re-development of the former Ekco factory site has much to recommend it. It is a brown-field site and the proposals are for housing (including a good mix of social and affordable homes), some offices, and a new home for Fair Havens.

Southend West Labour Parliamentary Candidate, Julian Ware-Lane, is concerned that objections could lead to delays in building the homes and the new hospice. Fair Havens cannot progress
their project unless the landowner can get permission for the development as a whole.

Homes have to be built somewhere, and if not here then perhaps Southend West’s Conservatives, who are leading the objections, can suggest where.

The Ekco site is a brown-field site, and this is what we should be using, whenever possible, for new housing. Of course new homes mean more cars, and I can understand why those near the development might be concerned. But we have a housing shortage and this does seem an ideal site. I do understand the concerns of locals including those of the Thornford Action Group, but tackling the housing crisis sometimes means making some tough decisions.

Fair Havens originally wanted to build on the greenbelt in Leigh, but pressure brought by campaigners, including Julian Ware-Lane, meant that these plans were abandoned. Julian on a visit to the Chalkwell Avenue site suggested to Fair Havens that they look at the Ekco site, and he is delighted that this looks likely to be their new home. However, objections could introduce delay.

Fair Havens do sterling work in looking after people in the final chapter of their lives. My mother was one of their patients. The facility in Chalkwell Avenue is no longer big enough and a new home is desperately needed.

Hospital parking charges going up

Car parking charges at Southend University Hospital are to rise. The changes will take effect from Friday 1 August with rates revised as follows:

Up to 30 minutes free
Up to 3 hours £3
3 to 6 hours £4
6 to 12 hours £6
Over 12 hours and up to 24 hours £10
7 day concession £10

Full details of parking charges can be found on the hospital’s website.

It is worth remembering that NHS in-patients were to receive free car parking if Labour had won the 2010 general election.

Rewards for failure – what the increasingly privatised NHS brings

Yet again we witness another rewarded for failure, the Chief Executive of Southend University Hospital has picked up an extra £20K in a year that has seen her A&E department branded amongst the worst in the UK.

Jacqueline Totterdell (RGN, RSCN, BSc (Hons), MBA) claims she “is committed to continuing the drive for ‘Southend Excellence’, working collaboratively with our partners and supporting our staff to fulfill their potential.

Her staff’s potential evidently is not reflected in decent pay rises – whilst Ms Totterdell struggles to get by on £175K, her staff have been offered a below inflation 1% rise.

Over-rewarding the already rich is a familiar feature of the Conservative-led Government, who are also intent on seeing the NHS sold off. Administrators and executives getting huge salary hikes is something we may have to get used to. We may also have to get used to a reduction of available procedures as market forces increasingly override medical need.

Public health care should not be seen as either a business opportunity or a means of personal enrichment.

Zygological zygnomic zoilism

Conceptions at under 16 (Conception rate per 1,000 women)

2012 2011 2010 2009
Peterborough UA 6.6 6.6 8.0 8.7
Southend-on-Sea UA 6.5 9.4 6.2 8.2
Thurrock UA 6.3 7.7 6.3 6.6
England and Wales 5.6 6.1 6.8 7.2
Bedford UA 5.1 3.0 8.2 6.1
Suffolk 5.0 5.4 5.3 4.5
Luton UA 5.0 6.9 6.2 2.9
Essex 4.9 6.2 5.0 5.7
Norfolk 4.4 5.4 5.9 6.2
Central Bedfordshire UA 4.2 6.7 6.5 6.5
Cambridgeshire 3.4 3.9 4.1 6.1
Hertfordshire 3.3 4.0 3.9 4.4


The data is the table above was extracted from the Conception Statistics for England and Wales, 2012. This is the most current information available.

The Office for National Statistics produces all sorts of fascinating data. These are open to all sorts of interpretations, but they are facts. This data, for instance, about under-age conception rates could generate all sorts of arguments over causes and solutions, but the numbers themselves are undeniable.

My interest is in how my home town compares, and again it compares unfavourably with regional and national averages. However it is a large town in the region that does not have many large towns (Southend-on-Sea is second largest behind Luton), and you would imagine that this sort of data would show urban areas with higher numbers than rural ones.

I am not prepared to be at all judgemental regarding young pregnancies, but I do want to ensure that sex education, advice, and contraceptives are freely available to all, and that the incidence of young conception is not linked to abuse, poverty, or ignorance.

People under scrutiny

I am unconvinced of the merits of the idea to give opposition parties in Southend-on-Sea the chair and vice-chair of the three scrutiny committees. This has given UKIP a platform, something I am far from comfortable about. It has also denied some members of the Joint Administration the possibility of a role. This change is being written into the Constitution, which means that if should ever become the opposition then we will benefit, but with the whole structure of Cabinet and the scrutiny system to come under review it is possible that this change may only be in place for a short period. The Independent Group and the Liberal Democrats both appear to want a return to the old committee system, and whilst their votes alone will not be enough it is not impossible to envisage them being able to persuade others.

And on to last night’s two hours and twenty minute People Scrutiny Committee. There was an item on Southend Primary Schools’ Falling Grammar School Entry Figures. The debate began some two years ago with my questioning the statistics and make inquiries. However, whilst I think the grammar should be made to serve the communities in which they reside, my real hope is for universal comprehensive education in the borough.

I asked a question about the statistics included in the Partners in Adoption Annual Report which showed that we were below target, although better than the national average, as regards to placing adoptees and adopters together. This prompted Cllr James Courtenay (Conservative, Blenheim Park) to state that he hoped we will not become target driven. I find this somewhat ironic; the targets are set by Government, a Conservative-led Government.

There was an update from the NHS Southend CCG regarding access to treatments and the Service Restriction Policy. The spokesperson made one very important statement “any needed treatment will be funded”. I hope I do not have to remind the CCG of this public commitment in the months ahead.

The spokesperson denied there was a postcode lottery as regards to treatment. He had no data to back this up (making it a somewhat empty statement) and seemed to suggest that data may not be possible to produce. I did request some evidence, and this was promised. Watch this space.

The portfolio holder for Adult Social Care, Health & Housing left early, which prompted Cllr Lesley Salter (Conservative, Belfairs) to make at least three references to it during the CCG debate. I know that some preach about repetition for emphasis, which maybe why Cllr Salter kept noting that “it was a shame the portfolio was not here to answer these questions”.

This morning I received notification about the following article: CCGs restricting patient access to ‘vital’ operations – RCS.

I wanted our scrutiny project to tackle the thorny subject of health inequalities across the borough. This was a somewhat unsatisfactory debate that as far as I could tell left the matter up in the air.

TVs at Southend University Hospital

From a chance conversation I made inquiries earlier this year about television sets at Southend Hospital.

This is what I was told: In regards to the TV’s out of 734 beds we would expect to have a bedside TV, there are 462 Sets plus 12 in day rooms. The contract with the supplier is a national one but old and I have asked the Director of Estates and Development to draft some options as to what we can do as well as afford.

I received this response last month (from the Chief Executive of the Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) and can be taken as still correct as I write this post; I have asked that I be updated when the situation improves, and thus far I have had no update.

These numbers mean that less than two-thirds of beds (63%) have TVs. Whilst some patients will not want or be able to watch television, this clearly is not a choice for over a third of patients. The Trust must share my concerns as they are looking at “options”.

It is thirty-four years since I had a stay in hospital (four days following a patellectomy) but I recall long days with little to do. TV at least allows the time to pass a little more quickly.

This situation is not good. Since everyone values their health as the highest priority, and being comfortable and contented aid recovery, the lack of televisions is, in my opinion, deleterious to good health.

I do not know whether this situation has come about since the Government embarked on its privatisation agenda for the NHS. I hope that this situation soon improves, and I hope to be told that steps have been identified to make this so.

On a further note, I am also told that some TVs do not have headphones that work, meaning that you can watch but not listen. I am also told that there are whole wards without TV sets, and that those who purchase television pay  cards and who are then moved to a ward with no TVs are not being given refunds.

I think you could descibe the situation as a right mess.


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