STP – Slash, Trash and Privatise

davies

‘Defend the NHS – Wirral’ and ‘999 Call For The NHS’ have contacted us to share their concerns about ‘Sustainability & Transformation Partnerships’ (STP). Of course we’re suspicious of anything with ‘Transformation’ in the title. And certainly anything touched by the dead hand of Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies.

Therefore we proudly present a crash course kindly provided by the above pressure groups as to why we all need to be concerned about  STPs.

The STPs are the vehicle to ‘slash, trash and privatise’. You can find all the gory details here:http://www.stopthestps.org.uk/mad-as-hell/4593267514

The story of Wirral Council’s leader and his steps from willing participant to Damascene conversion to unconversion along the road to health and well-being (taken from published minutes inter alia).

Step 1: 9th March 2016 Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

“The Board discussion included a focus on: How the Wirral Plan and 20 Pledges related to the work of the Board; How the Plan related to the emerging NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan; and How the Board could add value to help deliver more effective and efficient partnership working to achieve our priorities.

The Board agreed that a follow up discussion was required to understand and agree, within the Wirral Plan and emerging strategies:- Which strategies were top priorities for the Board; and Which strategies does the Board wish to; Lead; Influence; or be kept informed – included in Figure 1 of the report.

To help inform the follow up discussion, the report brought together some supporting information. This aimed to draw out the strategic linkages between the draft Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Wirral Plan in order to help partners agree the future focus, priorities and strategic direction for the Board. 

Councillor Phil Davies cautioned against duplicating work and suggested the focus be on how, as a Board, members could add value to the whole agenda.”

Step 2: 13th July Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

“Jon Develing, Chief Officer, Wirral CCG presented the report to brief members of the Health and Well Being Board on sustainability and transformation plans for Cheshire and Mersey and how this would be informed by a local delivery services plan for Wirral….…Members welcomed the report and agreed it would be a good framework and focus for the Health and Wellbeing Board with helpful ties to the Wirral 20:20 Plan.
Resolved – That the development of the Healthy Wirral Local Delivery System Plan and the mechanism by which this will feed into the wider development of the Cheshire and Mersey STP be noted and endorsed.”

Step 3: 16th November Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

This is the day the STP was officially published. Board papers included the milestones and timetable for the Sustainability and Transformation Plans and associated operational plan. Apparently glitches on the CCG web site were disrupting further dissemination. Item 4 on the agenda was the sustainability and transformation plan (STP) and a verbal report from Graham Hodkinson, Director for Health & Care. Councillor Davies refused both to take the item and to allow any questions or comments from the audience. The exchange is available on video via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTvIQwwwUWw  about two minutes in.

Step 4: Wirral Globe 21st November

Sit down before you read this…Leader of Wirral Council Phil Davies says: “we are extremely unhappy that elected members and officers have not been involved in the process of producing STPs and we will not sign up to any of the proposals until we have had an opportunity to discuss the contents of the STP and effective arrangements put in place to engage our residents.”  READERS FALL OVER IN AMAZEMENT…

Step 5: November: Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey (Wirral) statement:

”Yesterday I sat down with Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Borough Council, to discuss the Tory government’s plans for a billion pound in cuts to our local NHS. These cuts threaten the future of acute care across the whole of the Wirral. It became clear very quickly that the plans are yet another top-down set of cuts and reorganisations, imposed by the arrogant Tory government, on the Wirral, and that neither Phil nor I have had any say on the plans at all. It is wrong for the Government to act in complete defiance and without any consultation with local people, workers and their representatives. Sign our petition today at www.savewirralnhs.com to register your concerns.”

Step 6: 28th November Wirral People Overview Scrutiny Committee:

Rejected the Cheshire & Merseyside STP.

The plan was also rejected by Cheshire West and Chester Health and Wellbeing Board on 16th November, by Sefton Council on 17th November, and by the Liverpool Health and Wellbeing Board on 1st December. These have all been widely reported. Knowsley Council have joined the opposition.

Step 7: December 2016 full Council meeting:

 “agrees to write to the Secretary of State for Health and call on the government to withdraw these Plans immediately with a view to holding urgent discussions with key partners, including local Councils, on how good quality health and social care services can be provided going forward [sic] based on continuing to provide a National Health Service which is properly funded and free at the point of need.”  

There is no evidence that the letter was written or a reply received.

Step 8: July 2017 Phil Davies writes:

“I don’t see any sign that STPs are going away, although they have been re-badged as Five Year Forward View Delivery Plans. Locally, we have committed to integrated commissioning, and that naturally leads to the question of how the providers are going to respond.  There have been a series of workshops, led by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), to explore what our view is about accountable care on Wirral.  What has come out of that is that there are a number of options, ranging from a single ‘organisation’ through to an ‘alliance of providers’ and a couple of stops in between.  The very strong view currently expressed by the providers (and that includes the GPs) is that they do not want a single Accountable Care Organisation, so we are talking about an Accountable Care System…”

Meanwhile…

The cuts have already started – Wirral CCG ran something called a ‘consultation exercise’ late in 2016. It’s part of the STP but they don’t say that too loudly. And it asked the public for their opinions on proposals to cut a whole list of medical services. [And they’ve already been ending contracts for valuable work.]

So, rather than simple clinical decisions, the public were invited to vote in some kind of treatment beauty contest. People in other parts of the country are being asked to vote on different lists. The local NHS is becoming a postcode lottery.

Meanwhile the cuts have been happening for years because we and the NHS are being ROBBED.

Last year US drug giant Pfizer increasing the price of 100mg packs of an anti-epilepsy drug from £2.83 to £67.50.

We are being robbed by the PFI (private finance initiative) – hospitals built and then leased back to the NHS at eye-watering rates of interest, often by firms which also blacklist trade unionists.

And it’s happening close to home. Not many Wirral residents know that 20 of their local GPs are in cahoots with Richard Branson. Yes, the tax ‘avoider’ Richard Branson runs Virgin Care – and they are in a surgery near you. It’s not a huge contract BUT Branson is biding his time until the NHS collapses and he and his collaborators are asked to pick up the pieces and run a service on the cheap ‘in the community’.

We’re being robbed by accountancy firms like Price Waterhouse Cooper, brought in and paid £300,000 by the Cheshire & Merseyside STP to identify where the STP can make cuts.

Most of all we’re being robbed by the madness of running something we never used to have – an NHS market. Thousands of managers, administrators, lawyers, accountants, inspectors, regulators employed simply to oil the wheels of awarding contracts to private firms. Privatisation does NOT save money. The cost of running the NHS commissioning ‘market’ takes about 15% of the total budget.

So hospital waiting lists get longer and you can’t get an appointment with your GP despite the fantastic efforts of NHS doctors, nurses, paramedics and other staff whose wages have been frozen and whose conditions get worse. Medicines previously available on free prescription now have to be bought.

Why? Not because we need to ‘save’ money. The NHS is almost the cheapest health service in the developed world.

So why the problems?

Because there have already been billions and billions of pounds worth of cuts.

Because of the robberies listed.

Because staff aren’t been recruited and trained.

But most of all because this government WANTS to destroy the NHS and force us into some US-style insurance scheme.

That’s the emergency in brief.

 

News Travels

wirral-view-map-021

Well , we didn’t expect our Friday night badinage with Wirral Council’s Head of Communications Kev to have quite the impact it has. We just thought it was a bit of blogfodder whilst we researched a few other stories.

Little did we know it would lead to our first mainstream media headline http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14834014.Eyebrows_are_raised_over_council_media_chief_s_email_exchange_with_Wirral_Leaks_website/

As you can see we are described as  a ‘caustic website’ by Wirral Globe and ‘barely literate’ by one commentator. But then if you dish it out – you should expect to get it back. However we’ve decided to take a leaf out of Wirral View and accentuate the positive, and thank the no doubt delightful Ms. Natasha Eubank who we think sums up our raison d’être :

“Whilst Wirral Leaks has always been a satirical blog, it has previously raised , and continues to raise some very serious concerns regarding the conduct of Wirral’s Council”

Indeed , as we’ve said before , we swear by that old adage  : “If you want to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh or they’ll kill you” . . .

However we were distracted from following the Wirral Globe story when a glossy local magazine dropped through our letterbox. We thought at first it might be a priceless first edition of Wirral View . However it turned out to be a copy of Wirral Life  – billed as Wirral’s No.1 free premium lifestyle magazine . Some of you might remember that the publishers of this magazine beat Wirral Council to the punch over the Wirral Life title .

wirral-view-map-015

We were so disappointed that we endeavoured to find out when we might receive a copy of Wirral View itself. We went on to discover, appropriately enough via a circuitous route, that the company who will be printing the newspaper, Cliffe Enterprise Partnership , appear to be based in Eastbourne.This might explain why the first print edition has been so slow to reach Wirral !.

Apparently there are very few printers who can produce such a snazzy publication so Wirral had to go all the way to the South -East of England. Although we have to say we find it a bit perplexing to discover that a cash-strapped North West council is supporting  a business in the affluent and thriving South-East.

The print costs for the first edition of Wirral View are £8,100 with a further £9,000 for distribution costs. Distribution is to be provided by a company which is at least based up here. Well when we say up here – LDS Ltd are based in Liverpool !.

It’s hard to see where these arrangements fit with the pledges in the Wirral Plan and specifically Pledge 8 – ‘Greater Job opportunities in Wirral’ ,  Pledge 10 – ‘Increase Inward Investment’ and Pledge 11 – ‘Thriving Small Businesses’.

You’d have thought that , if anything , Wirral View would at least be a publication printed and distributed by Wirral companies. The fact that it’s not and Wirral Council are prepared to pay a premium for style over content further suggests to us that this newspaper is nothing more than a sophisticated and expensive PR tool and is not about ‘keeping people informed’.   

 

 

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?……

 

 

 

A Re-Imagining of Wirral Council

Re-imagine

Set out below is a tender recently issued by Wirral Council looking for yet another consultant to ” Reimagine  Leisure, Cultural and other Selected Services”.

We don’t know whether 150000 refers to the contract value. However we have a few observations to make from Leaky Towers and it appears to us that after Anna Klonowski’s monumental failure to “Refresh & Renew” the organisational culture of Wirral Council with her highly renumerated and totally ineffectual reports it seems they’re throwing good money after bad by employing another fly by night and moneygrabbing consultant to “Reimagine” Wirral Council instead.

Needless to say Wirral Plan, 20 Pledges and  2020 vision all get a mandatory mention in the tender blurb. Whilst the paragraph which reads “We have already undertaken significant work to develop our programme; we are implementing a new operating model which sets out the future operating principles of the organisation which includes a strategic hub, business management function and service delivery through a mixed economy of direct provision, shared service and Commissioned outcomes” makes us want to bang our head against the wall or better still bang the head of the person who wrote this BS against the wall – repeatedly and with great force.

No wonder Wirral Council are having to – yet again- pay through the nose for  “external expertise” if this cut and paste  council-speak job is all their own staff can come up with . Although of course we all know that ” Reimagine” is just a manipulative weasel word which really means ” Privatise” and “Outsource” . There’s obviously a good living to be made by some staff selling their colleagues livelihoods and careers down the River Mersey.

We’re left wondering here as to what is the consultant going to ” Reimagine” Williamson Art Gallery as  ? – The Louvre ?. ….and the Floral Pavilion as the Eiffel Tower maybe?.

Meanwhile we’d like to “Reimagine”  Wirral Council as a fully functioning, open and transparent ethical organisation that understood it was a public service employing public servants to serve the public but we understand we’d have to do a shedload of heavy duty mindbending drugs to achieve that particular vision.   

Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three……….

Professional Services to Reimagine Leisure, Cultural and other Selected Services

150000 – Consultancy

The Wirral Plan sets out a vision for Wirral: a set of 20 Pledges which will be achieved over the next five years to improve the lives of Wirral residents. In order to achieve these ambitions, the Council needs to modernise and work in a completely different way, and ensure it has the right culture, abilities, skills and approach to deliver the 2020 vision for Wirral. In order to deliver this plan we committed to delivering a modern public service and are developing a transformation programme to take this forward. It is vital the Council is able to deliver change at pace whilst continuing to deliver positive outcomes to improve the quality of life for Wirral residents. We have already undertaken significant work to develop our programme; we are implementing a new operating model which sets out the future operating principles of the organisation which includes a strategic hub, business management function and service delivery through a mixed economy of direct provision, shared service and Commissioned outcomes. The Council has also set out a Commitment to take a commercial approach to service design, management and decisions, encouraging innovation whilst optimising assets and services to exploit opportunities to generate income surplus for reinvestment and reduce costs. Wirral Council is now looking to make fundamental changes to the way in which it currently provides Selected Services such as Leisure facilities, Parks & Gardens; Arts and Culture (including the Williamson and the Floral Pavilion) and Libraries. We are seeking external expertise to establish how these assets and the businesses within them can be re-imagined to make them more effective and carry a lower cost burden for the council, whilst maintaining their focus on public needs and outcomes.

 

Peer Less

Peer review

Let’s make a declaration of interest from the outset  – we fundamentally object to peer reviews. Local government gurus glad handing  their well-paid peers and telling them that they feel their pain (for a fat fee  minus VAT) .

No thank you.

What we need is someone who has never worked in local government and preferably never had to climb that greasy pole like a pole dancer in a pin stripe suit.

No doubt their report would be somewhat more succinct and read :  ” WTAF!”.

So imagine our cynicism when we learned that the report about the latest Wirral Council peer review co-ordinated by the Local Government Association (LGA) had been not so much released as escaped  under the banner : Council Improvement Continues ( no laughing at the back).

We suspect even the Liverpool Echo weren’t buying that bogus headline.

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/news/10-03-2016/council-improvement-continues

The review  was led by Mark Rogers, Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council. The same council who have hit the headlines because their plans to cut care for disabled was ruled unlawful and is the leading case when it comes to cuts in social care.

Mr.Rogers tells us :

It is important to stress that this was not an inspection. Peer challenges are improvement orientated and tailored to meet individual council’s needs. You asked the peer team to explore:  The council’s capacity to deliver the Wirral Plan 2020  The council’s approach to partnership working  New models for service delivery

So basically Wirral Council controlled the show . But the cracks are there. So let’s a shine a light on them because that’s what we do best.

First of all –   BS bingo fans will be reassured that besides the obligatory pie chart there are the following  favourites:

Interdependencies ✓

Integrated commissioning hub ✓

Transformation agenda ✓

Pledge driven ✓

Personality proof ✓

Holistic ✓

Joined up conversations ✓

We particularly liked that reclusive  Chief Executive  Eric “Feeble” Robinson is described as ‘a breath of fresh air’  as this is basically a bit of bitch-slap for his predecessor Graham Burgess.We liked that. We liked that a lot.

Furthermore we liked the following sly dig :

However, the Senior Leadership Team is not currently giving adequate corporate leadership and this needs to be much stronger if the Plan is to be delivered effectively

Which may explain why Super Duper Directors Clare Fish and Joe Blott are on the way out. Initially we had a degree of sympathy for these two – way out of their depth and caught up in other people’s corruption and then we remembered their six figure salaries and all sympathy evaporated.

They also do a fine line in stating the bleedin’ obvious :

The peer team also had a concern at the current high use of consultants and interims

You don’t say !.

Meanwhile the naivete is staggering :

The delivery of the Wirral Plan and pledges and the role of scrutiny may be enhanced in the longer term by offering opposition members a leadership role on the Policy & Performance Committees.

Scrutiny ?. By opposition members?. Can we have some of what the LGA are on?.

However this was our favourite observation:

The council and its partner agencies recognise that they want to form a different relationship with residents in the future. There is general recognition that relationships with local communities has been negatively impacted by the past challenges the council has had to deal with. The new relationship will be based on a clearer Wirral narrative, a greater ability to listen to resident’s issues, making better use of the data and intelligence the council gathers across the Wirral and greater use of channels use as digital and social media. 

Somebody from the LGA needs to tell Wirral Council  that they simply need to follow Wirral Leaks……but then they already do that !. But unfortunately it is a “new relationship” over which they have no control…….and we all know how they love to be in control!. Therefore we predict that this is one relationship that will continue to be fraught!.

Cartoons and Puppets

PuppetMaster

We were treated this week to what Wirral Council are calling their “annual health check”. I asked Her Ladyship if we were to give an assessment what might it be ?.

” Do Not Resuscitate” she drawled.

However undaunted by our barbs Council “leader” Power Boy Pip Davies demonstrates his unlimited capacity for delusion by jauntily declaring :

“When we agreed the Wirral Plan in July 2015, we identified 20 Pledges to outline our ambition for Wirral.  Reporting our progress is an important part of being an open, transparent and accountable local authority.”

No laughing at the back please. Open , transparent and accountable ? – when each and every week we report the fact that Wirral Council is anything but. Oh how we long for the day when they actually are open,transparent and accountable and His Lordship and Ladyship can finally retire to their villa in the south of France.

Meanwhile for buzzword bingo lovers ( Empowering Locally – Leading Collectively , Acting Regionally- Organising Internally etc; etc; ) the Wirral Plan report is here :

https://www.wirral.gov.uk/sites/default/files/all/About%20the%20council/Wirral%20Plan/Wirral%20Plan%202020%20Annual%20Report%202015%20-%202016.pdf

However joy was unconfined at Leaky Towers when we learned we were also being treated to a movie double bill to accompany the launch of the report. It took us back to the days when nanny would take us to the Plaza on Borough Road in Birkenhead .There would always be a cartoon before the main feature . And so it is here with a  U-rated childishly patronising  animation before leading man Power Boy Pip takes to the screen like a matinee idol on the skids.

You can find an animation detailing our progress here

You can find a video of Cllr Phil Davies talking about our progress here

The animated feature is not for anyone on a New Year/New Me diet as its reliance on pie charts might be a bit subliminal. However suffice to say all the usual suspects are here – dodgy statistics , golf resort , potholes, streetlights , litter , dog crap etc; . There are also the usual bogus claims about “Wirral Waters” – a Department of Education funded college campus and allowing Asif “Massive” Hamid to throw up a contact centre at the back of Egerton House with no opposition from the  organisation running Egerton House – the Wirral Chamber of Commerce who’s Chairman just happens to be one  Asif Hamid – does not “Wirral Waters” make.

However the undoubted highlight is the performance of Power Boy Pip starring in his very own video. To our , admittedly jaundiced eyes , he has all the gravitas of a Spitting Image puppet made flesh – all foam-faced insincerity whilst reading unconvincingly from a teleprompter . We could almost see Frankenfield pulling the strings.

We’d like to pitch a  suggestion for Wirral Council’s next video  where they finally demonstrate that they do indeed take openness , transparency and accountability seriously.They could show  that they have finally dealt appropriately with some errant councillors of ill repute and  in which case  the video be a case of suspended animation!.