Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #3

We’ve got stories backing up like a blocked up bog during the plague – and believe us they all stink to high heaven.

However let’s get on with this week’s Wirral snippets :

Rock the Boat 

There has been an interesting development with regards to New Brighton Lifeboat story which we have reported on from time to time. Apparently Wallasey MP Angela Eagle has belatedly intervened to rock the boat and ask some pertinent questions as to what exactly is going on in this long running saga . The Royal National Lifeboat Institution ( RNLI) has rejected Eagle’s claim that a ‘restricted service’ at New Brighton Lifeboat station has had an impact on its life-saving work and patronisingly invited her over for a cup of tea and a chat.  Read here : New Brighton Lifeboat
As ever there is much more to this than meets the eye and one of our long standing sources on the story has written to us to say :

Someone makes a fairly astute ‘comment’ after the end of the (Wirral Globe) article ….yes, why doesn’t Angela Eagle have a word with the Chairman of New Brighton Lifeboat, LABOUR Councillor Tony Jones. As we all know he is the bloke who fucked over the sacked crew in the first place.  And while she is at it maybe she could get Phil Davies to take a bit of interest…..

And so it would appear -and not for the first time – that the Eagle has landed without fully knowing the local background and finds herself out of her depth . Once she finds out we guarantee she’ll retreat to her eyrie
A Direct Approach to Saving Money
After an inglorious history of  DASS -tardly plots to saving money and denying vulnerable services the to which they are legally entitled – unlawful charging, 4 week delays in care packages etc; – we bring you  Wirral Council’s Health & Social Care Service (formerly Wirral Council’s Department of Adult Social Services ) latest cruel wheeze which has been forwarded to us from Facebook.
image1

Toxic Twins

Evil Twins

We’ve long bemoaned that Wirral’s pre-eminent institutions are virtually indivisible in terms of their toxic cultures. Further confirmation arrived this week :

You may want to ask some questions of senior management at Wirral University Teaching Hospital where I understand that there is an systemic culture of bullying and arse covering at the expense of both patient and staff welfare.
(This week) – management refused …..to classify a matter as a serious incident, preferring instead to downgrade the matter and protect their reputations……… 
the coroner’s findings will be very interesting to all who of us who are obliged to use this failing establishment for their medical needs.
Wirral Leaks asked : But is this a failing establishment or is it being deliberately run down? Your thoughts please. 
My belief is that it’s a failing institution. I don’t believe there is any intention or ulterior motive – certainly not on a regional or national level, it is simply managed by an incompetent team of senior managers, deeply worried by their failings, and consequently under-reporting, buck-passing, and blaming others in a desperate attempt to protect their own positions.
With Wirral University Teaching Hospital and Wirral Council being run in such a similar way are you still surprised that we scarpered? Especially , when coincidentally , we received this ‘ Where Are They Now’ update featuring failed WUTH CEO Len Richards :

Your old mate who I think last featured in your organ in 2012 has rocked up here in deepest darkest Wales as CEO of Cardiff and Vale UHB.

He’s already embarked on a fact finding trip to Canterbury with a small team. (No not Chaucer’s Canterbury, the other one in New Zealand) on behalf of his cash-strapped employer.Thought you might like to be kept informed of how one of your old boys is progressing
This is the problem – bullshitters everywhere. Surely there must be a meme for that somewhere?
Billionaire’s Breakfast Club

WIRRAL ‘SET FOR £1BN INVESTMENT BOOST’

That was the headline in this PR job published this week on the Insider Media Ltd blog  – which was no doubt set up by Wirral Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies right hand/left wing man Martin Liptrot. The plans were apparently detailed at Insider‘s ‘Invest in Wirral’ breakfast event held on Tuesday, 6 February 2018. No doubt this was followed by a ‘powerlunch’. Unfortunately the headline was far removed from the reality of the situation as what Pip actually said was :

“We are looking at £1bn development opportunities across five areas in Wirral from Birkenhead town centre right through to Bromborough. We’ve never done anything of this scale and it’s a new way of working.The attraction of this model is that we share in profits going forward. It’s important, not only for new jobs and investment, but in bringing in an ongoing revenue scheme for the council….” Full story here :  £Billion Investment Boost

Forgive us but Pip’s ‘Wirral Growth Company’ comes across as a kind of malignant local authority tumour spreading across the peninsula as Wirral Council hawks its tawdry wares dressed up as ‘development opportunities ‘ for  private investors – and all for the sake of a good news story.
Wirral’s disabled : A thorn in the side?

Meanwhile under yet another misleading headline:

Staffing issues force temporary closure of Wirral care home

We have the news that NHS respite service for people with learning disabilities at Thorn Heys  in Oxton is to close temporarily because of difficulties over staffing levels. Yeah right –  as Wirral Leaks readers will know this has been on the cards for some time.

The decision was made by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group so this is something more than just a ‘Wirral care home’. In fact it is another slap in the face to Wirral Council’s pledge to protect vulnerable people following on the closure of respite services at Girtrell Court.

As we reported in our Good Health In Bad Hands post from September 2017 :

However more concerning for us was an issue that received  zero press coverage and caused considerably less outrage among councillors and that was the closure of  Thorn Heys, an NHS respite service for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs.  Somebody remind us what was that Wirral Plan ‘pledge’ about ‘protecting the most vulnerable’ again?

 And finally ……as a follow up to this week’s pothole story The Hole Truth we’d like to leave you with this from The Daily Mash which proves the Freudian dictum that there is no such thing as ‘just a joke’ and some things are just beyond parody :  Pothole confident it will survive latest council tax increase

Good Health In Bad Hands

DONHS 2 012

Apologies for the delay in publishing this but it landed in our spam. This is feedback from the Defend Our NHS (DONHS) Wirral meeting that we previously plugged. 

In the mean time it seems that local politicians have been belatedly gegging in on the action , most particularly in relation to the now ‘temporary’ closure of Eastham NHS Walk-in centre. This week’s Adult Care Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee was a humdinger with NHS head honchoes – Simon Banks ( NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group) and Karen Howell ( Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust) getting a good mauling.

Acting chair  Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin took the opportunity to say that it was “important that the decision-makers are held to account.” Yes, those words actually came out of her mouth. My, how we laughed. And then we cried such bitter tears.

She also took the opportunity to plug a prospective Labour councillor who had organised (yet another) petition.  We note that campaigning for next year’s local elections has already started then !

However more concerning for us was an issue that received  zero press coverage and caused considerably less outrage among councillors and that was the closure of  Thorn Heys, an NHS respite service for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs.  Somebody remind us what was that Wirral Plan ‘pledge’ about ‘protecting the most vulnerable’ again?

What is most apparent is that ‘partnership’ working between Wirral Council and its NHS counterparts is not what it should be – the power struggles and the safeguarding of ever diminishing budgets was there for all to see – although of course some highly paid public servants and consultants still seem to be doing okay out of it ! As ever the only people to suffer are those who pay for what appears the deliberate (?) and ongoing (mis)managed decline of a once great institution !

Dear friends of the NHS

Are you angry? The packed audience at our public meeting on Thursday were angry. But they were also full of ideas for the fight back to defend our NHS. There was a spirited and constructive discussion after superb inputs from national campaigner Steve Carne and from a number of local campaigns on our own patch.

Why are people angry? Read the list below* and then come back here.

Are you angry yet? You should be. And if you are you can do something! This is what Thursday’s meeting decided. You can do some or all the following now.

  1. Let us have email addresses of others who might want to join the fight.
  2. Read AND act upon AND share the ‘to do’ list (in the ‘Files’ section on our Facebook page and attached to this message):https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/files/
  3. Come along to the many NHS meetings and protests (some on the ‘to do’ list but starting with the Eastham event on Monday detailed below). Some important events are shown. PLEASE COME!
  4. Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth will be in Eastham to meet with members and people affected by the closure.
    If you are available, and if you know anyone who is concerned about the closure, please bring them along.
    When? Monday September 11, 2017 at 11am – 1pm. Where? St David’s united reform church Eastham Wirral ch62 9dg
  5. STOP THE STP! Wirral Council has the power – and has already said it opposes the STP. Why doesn’t it do it? Wednesday 13th September 6.00pm at Wallasey Town Hall. Let’s make this the biggest lobby ever! Arrive early! http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=819&MId=6118&Ver=4
  6. Attend the Wirral CCG AGM @Tranmere Rovers 28th September from 1.00pmhttps://www.wirralccg.nhs.uk/news/wirral-ccgs-annual-general-meeting-2017/ It’s the CCG which has the local purse strings and makes the cuts.
  7. Share your experiences on Facebook or by email.

Thanks and best wishes on behalf of Defend Our NHS

…………………………………………………………………………………………

* That list:

  • The closure at short notice last week of the Eastham NHS walk-in centre.
  • The simultaneously announced end of the Eastham-Arrowe Park bus service.
  • The ‘pilot’ closure of the Clatterbridge dermatology ward.
  • A further near ONE BILLION POUNDS of cuts in the pipeline for Cheshire & Merseyside.
  • The payment of £300,000 to Price Waterhouse Cooper to compile the list of cuts to be made locally.
  • The payment across England of £21 MILLION POUNDS to firms like PwC for similar ‘work’.
  • The news that PwC and other ‘tax management’ outfits are being given the job of organising NHS service commissioning.
  • All this part of the 44 awful ‘sustainability and transformation partnerships’ (STP) including one here in Cheshire & Merseyside.
  • The STPs and everything else above comes from the brain of the head of NHS England Simon Stevens who now effectively controls the whole of our NHS. (Jeremy Hunt has washed his hands, Pontius Pilate-style.)
  • The revelation that Simon Stevens came to the NHS from US health ‘corporation’ United Healthcare.
  • The revelations of the anti-patient and anti-doctor business behaviour of United while Stevens was a boss.
  • EVERY local council has rejected the STP. Wirral Council has the power to stop the STP in its tracks and voiced its opposition last December – BUT it took the leader of the Council, Phil Davies, EIGHT MONTHS to write the letter to Jeremy Hunt.
  • Meanwhile the cuts have got worse, the waiting lists longer, the appointments harder to get, the adverts for American-style health services appear on GP notice boards – yet wonderful NHS staff continue to offer a fantastic service despite all this and despite years of effective pay cuts.

 

 

Method In The Madness

insanity

We’ve been musing on this car parking malarkey and we’re still trying to make sense of the madness. Last night’s Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee did nothing to dispel the notion that something amiss is going on here.

For a start haven’t we been down this road (pun intended) before?  We remember that The Brand New Brighton Rocks On campaign forced Wirral Council to do a U-turn on parking charges in New Brighton in 2015. Now Wirral Council are thinking out of the box (and out of their minds)  by proposing parking charges all over the place.

The Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee Cllr Michael Sullivan was at pains to explain during his comedy turn at chairing the meeting that these were only proposals, nothing had been decided and they had statutory duties . We assumed the main statutory duty  was to cause as much dissent and opposition to the proposals as possible. In which case – job done!

It has been suggested by one of our commentators that :

Everyone seems to assume that this proposal is real.
Wirral has form for putting forward proposals similar to this so they can be withdrawn as a demonstration of “listening to the public”
Standard PR tactic.
What is it within budget proposals they are trying to draw fire from?

An interesting viewpoint and one we would certainly give credence to having observed the ‘bureaucratic machinations’ of Wirral Council over the years. Especially when the controversy over these proposals is creating a bigger smokescreen than a broken exhaust pipe. Perhaps to hide something even more toxic?

We also note how teen sensation Labour Cllr Warren Ward was given the elder statesman role as the rest of the councillors on the committee backed his notice of motion calling  for an impact report on the proposals.

We anticipate this impact report will be very short and read : CATASTROPHIC

As we replied to our commentator :

We hear what you’re saying……especially when the proposals seem counter-productive to their so-called pledges. Nothing but nothing would surprise us when it comes to Wirral Council.
We await developments and political manoeuvrings with interest.

 

freud-einstein

New Term at St.Frank’s Academy

DUNCE

September always has an air of ‘back to school’ about it and so it is that after the summer break the cycle of Wirral Council meetings resumed this week.

Things kicked off with a meeting of Cabinet on Monday at 10 am . All the better to ensure it gets less coverage than Tom Daley’s swimming trunks and the prying eyes of the public are kept away. Although to be honest these meetings are more stage managed than a Busby Berkeley production number. It’s usually a case of  Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies handing over to  deputy Cllr Ann McLachlan  who recounts how everything on Planet Wirral is “going forward” despite the “Tory cuts” . Then assorted cabinet members chime in with gushing good news stories about their portfolios whilst using either the words “Wirral Plan” “20/20 Vision” or “Pledges” (they haven’t quite co-ordinated a consistent approach yet).

However we understand that an absentee from yesterday’s meeting was Cllr George Davies as it was left to Power Boy Pip to reveal Davies’ grand plan for the Lyndale School site. Yes  – what a surprise it’s going to be a property developer’s  paradise. And so it came to pass  with cruel circularity and sickening similarity to the Wirralgate story as George finishes off what Foulkesy started with the former drawing up the final plans for the disposal of Lyndale School after the latter chaired the original “consultation” meeting proposing the closure.

One councillor that did manage to turn up and nod approvingly at everything that was said was Cllr Stuart Whittingham who will be attending  an event “The impact of congestion on bus passengers” in London on 14 September 2016. Although a) you would think Cllr Whittingham, as a bus driver with Arriva, would know this already… and b) the only congestion to be experienced on Wirral is when there’s badly co-ordinated roadworks as recently experienced by the poor people of Hoylake and West Kirby.

Also worth noting at this meeting was the rubber -stamping of the Public Health ‘commissioning intentions’ which included a £7,709,379 contract with with  drug and alcohol support provider ‘Change, Grow , Live’  – no questions asked.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50036101/APPENDIX%20ONE%20-%20PUBLIC%20HEALTH%20COMMISSIONING%20INTENTIONS.pdf

A meeting to look out for later this week is the “People  Overview and Scrutiny Committee”

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=760&MId=5758

Curiously for a committee which pays so much attention to inclusivity it is surprising to see an exempt item on the agenda. Could it be another report that the the people on the People Committee don’t want the people of Wirral to know about?……