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NHS Care Failing Older People


The BBC News site led today with a story about the NHS failing ' treat the elderly with care and respect.' What makes this story particularly disturbing is its origin. It doesn't come from a charity representing older people, or from a political group opposed to the cuts. It comes from the Health Ombudsman, the government regulator, the highest authority you can appeal to through the NHS complaints system. As such, it describes real failings. The government's response is that changes resulting from the Health and Social Care Bill will makes the NHS 'more responsive'. Leaving aside the obvious question about the relationship between 'responsiveness' and massive cuts to the NHS budget, the Bill's proposals for public involvement also look like ... [click here to read more].

Thriving Youth Centre at Eynsham


Search Eynsham Youth Centre on the Oxfordshire County Council website, and you'll find the following quote from a satisfied customer:
"We are very happy that we don't have to worry any more about it shutting down and that we still have somewhere to stay out of trouble and have fun and chill out."
Search Eynsham Youth Centre on the Oxford Mail website, and you'll find the following from Council Leader Keith Mitchell:
"Youngsters are perfectly capable of being responsible young adults who do not indulge in antisocial behaviour with or without youth centres."
Leaving aside the contradiction between the views of Mr Mitchell and those on the Council's website, does Mr Mitchell have a point? Well ... [click here to read more].

CQC Criticies Stroke Care


The government social care watchdog has criticised the quality of stroke care in many parts of the country, according to BBC News. The Care Quality Commission has found that people face increasing delays after discharge from hospital, and have particular difficulties in accessing speach therapy and physiotherapy. All this has undermined improvements in NHS services, which have generally improved over the past couple of years. In Oxfordshire the PCT are currently consulting about services here. There's an event on 17th February or you can respond by post, phone or e-mail - see here for details.

Future of FACS In Question


An article in social workers' trade mangazine Community Care has questioned whether the Fairer Access to Care Services (FACS) is still working. Recent decisions by some local authorities to limit funding to people with 'critical' needs, and to divide 'substantial' needs into two categories, have discredited the system in the eyes of some commentators. FACS is theoretically a national system for determining eligability, but local authorities are now interpreting it in very different ways, leading to a 'postcode lottery' for service users and disabled people. In Wales there are already plans for a national eligability threshold, and some people in England are now talking about the same thing.

Registration Certificate Received


Early in July, Keith and Jon excitedly opened the envelope containing their brank new certificate of registration as a Community Interest Company. That's it then - it's official!

Social Enterprises: Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?


I was disturbed to hear the new government crowing about the number of NHS employees planning to bail out and work independently in it's response to the consultation on the recent health White Paper. By next year, we expect 25,000 staff – delivering some £900 million of NHS community services – to be doing so as members of social enterprises.’ It’s noteworthy that this is a part of a bigger plan to allow ‘any willing provider’ to deliver larger and larger proportions of NHS services. Apparently this isn’t privatisation, because the services will be delivered as a part of the NHS ‘brand’. Some of us, though, think of the NHS as rather more than just a brand. Click here to read more.

Cuts to Supporting People Budget 'Will Get Worse'

Cuts to Supporting People Budget 'Will Get Worse'

A widely reported study has predicted that cuts to the 'Supporting People' budget, which pays for housing-related support, are likely to continue to get worse. Tory Chancellor George Osborne announced a 12% cut to the SP budget in October's Comprehensive Spending Review, but as the budget will no longer be 'ring fenced' from next year, many Councils are raiding the pot to pay for other essential services. According to today's Observer, Nottinghamshire Council are intending to cut their SP spending by 67% over the next 3 years, whilst Cornwall are planning a 40% cut over 3 years. The National Housing Federation's Chief Executive, David Orr, has said that the government's spending cuts are already having a disproportionate impact on disabled people, and may ultimately pose a threat to independent living.

Congratulations to Restore, Bridewell and R&B


Congratulations to local organisations Restore, Bridewell Organic Gardens and Root & Branch. They have just been awarded the contract to run the new 'Recovery Service' by Oxfordshire PCT (NHS Oxfordshire). The PCT has produced an update which you can download from our web site. This provides details of all the services commissioned as a part of 'Keeping People Well', including the 'Wellbeing Service' which will be delivered by Oxfordshire Mind. Our best wishes to everyone at all 3 organisations. It's great to see local organisations working with each other instead of being forced to compete.

Congratulations to Oxfordshire Mind


We have just heard that Oxfordshire Mind have been successful in their tender to provider a 'Wellebeing Service' in Oxfordshire. Since the early 1990s Mind has enjoyed a justifiably excellent reputation for their provision of 'day services' in the county. Four years ago the old day centres transformed into Community Resource Projects. The new service looks like being another move in the same direction. The new service will 'go live in April - for more information click here. Congratulations to all service users, staff and volunteers at Mind - it's good to know the good guys sometimes win!

A Brief Word About Outcomes


Is it realistic to be talking about improving outcomes at the same time as making massive cuts to services?


Last week Oxfordshire County Council leader Keith Mitchell set out the County's plans to improve outcomes for users of adult social care services against a backdrop of severe cuts to the budget. I should say up front that in my opinion Officers and Members of the Council have made every effort to minimise the adverse effects on vulnerable adults; Oxfordshire is generally thought to be one of the best performing local authorities in the region, and adult services usually do well when inspected. But is it realistic to be talking about improving outcomes at the same time as making massive cuts to services?

Position on ILF 'Clarified'


The government's position on the future of the Independent Living Fund has been clarified, but many uncertainties remain. The ILF stopped taking applications from new clients for the rest of 2010-11 in June. Then in September Community Care magazine quoted Pam Duncan of the Independent Living in Scotland project as saying that the scheme faced permanent closure as a part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. At the time the government responded by saying that no decision had been taken. And when details of the review were published in October, the future of the ILF was still 'under review'. Today Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller has said that the ILF is 'unsustainable' in the long run and will remain permanently closed to new applicants. However, existing recipients would be protected. [Click here to read more].

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