Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #1

Following on from last week’s post and with our readers continuing to send us dispatches of despair from dystopia we thought we’d instigate a weekly foreign exchange. Be warned – it might not be weekly. We’ll be treating these titbits like we’re shopping in the local market – keeping it fresh,seasonal and whatever catches our eye.

Tag Hag 

Several of you have been in touch to tell us that Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram plans to fudge a mayoral election pledge to ‘slash’ Mersey Tunnel toll charges . It now transpires he wants to reduce tolls for off-peak fast tag users but to raise charges to £1.80 for everyone else ! We believe the word for this type of manoeuvre is sophistry. However all we can say on the matter is that the £1.70 we paid to get out of Wirral and onward to Liverpool John Lennon Airport for a flight to Nice was the best £1.70 we’ve ever spent. Just sayin’!

What’s in a Name?

We have been sent a very sad story about the death of a young man named Mark Potter –  Wirral Man,32, who died in his sleep was very much loved   

Mr Potter’s family attended the inquest and they repeatedly quizzed mental health workers about how their son would know how to access their services.

Mr Potter’s dad asked Marion Blackburn, from Wirral Ways To Recovery: “Since 2015, how many people have died in your care?

She replied: “We have learnt things and [we’re] to make changes to make things better for people.”

Mr Potter said: “How do we [the public] know you are there?

“People are falling down the cracks. I hope you’re sorting that organisation out because people like Mark might be dying all over the place.”

Needless to say we’ve long raised the same concerns about Wirral Ways To Recovery and particularly the services that operate under the Change Grow Live  (CGL) banner. This of course led to an investigation which concluded the high mortality rate associated with the takeover by CGL of services previously provided by NHS was due to an ageing population. We’re still not convinced.

Public Health england brought in to investigate concerns first raised by Wirral Leaks

Wirral Council are having Nunn of it !

What better way of avoiding scrutiny and accountability by pulling the ‘vexatious’ card from the bottom of the pack. The latest target of this dubious tactic is our old friend Charles Nunn – who has been denied information about consultant Stewart Halliday’s ongoing (?) inflated remuneration because he might say mean things on social media. Wirral Council solicitor Rosemary Lyon , who must be a delicate little flower ,  is also upset by Charles’ ‘tone’ and writes:

I consider that you as a third party are pursuing a legitimate interest.
However I consider that that legitimate interest has been lessened by the
tone of your request in asking the Council to confirm whether “there will
be no further contract extension for this man?”

I have had regard to the guidance issued by the ICO “Dealing with
vexatious requests (Section 14) 20151218 Version 1.3. Paragraph 56 states
that “The context and history in which a request is made will often be a
major factor in determining whether the request is vexatious.” Having
regard to your previous requests about the same individual and also having
regard to comments you have made in the public domain concerning this
individual, I consider that the tone of part of this request for
information is potentially vexatious.

I consider that the processing of personal data ie the release of personal
data in respect of  Mr Halliday is unwarranted  by reason of prejudice to
the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of him as the data
subject………..I consider that disclosure of the requested information would be
unwarranted having regard to the prejudice that would be caused to the
rights and legitimate interests of Stewart Halliday. 

For full details : Stewart Halliday FOI Request

Ms Lyon appears to have cut and paste her response from various other FOI cases she’s been involved with and one in particular which she suddenly withdrew from. Now that would be a really interesting FOI request for someone to make . The Lyon sleeps tonight? – might we suggest she’ll sleep soundly if she’s got her own solicitor to back her up in case she suffers any detriment for refusing to front a case for Wirral Council that is riddled with corruption. We can only hope the tone of that particular comment doesn’t upset Little Miss Snowflake too much!

All’s not well in Sandwell  

If Rosie Snowflake thinks she’s got it bad she needs to spare a thought for her old boss Surjit Tour who we know she admired immensely. As we’ve previously reported Tour is now fitting in nicely at Sandwell Council . We know this because we have been sent details of a threatening missive he sent last week to the magnificent local blog The Sandwell Skidder . Tour’s full hilarious rant including the immortal phrase ‘ excitable language’ can be read below, but we have to say that we’re a tad disappointed that we never received such a threat of legal action from Tour when he was at Wirral . Hmmmmm- why was that we wonder? He certainly wasn’t averse to issuing such threats as local blogger John Brace can testify. If he would have had the gonads to send such a threat to us we guarantee he would have got the same response from this Julian as he did from The Sandwell Skidder‘s very own Julian Saunders  :  

Dear Mr Saunders

Sandwell Skidder (“the Blog”)

Allegation of Harassment

I am writing to you on behalf of the Council.

The Council considers that your behaviour and conduct over the past few years cannot be left unchallenged any longer. Whilst it had hoped that your activities would die down over time it is clear that that has not happened and instead they have only increased. In addition to using your blog to attack Councillors and employees you are targeting the same individuals on Twitter and other social media sites. You are regularly seen outside of the Council offices seeking to obtain information.

The Council fully accepts that, as a body, it must be subject to criticism but as an employer it has a duty to its staff to ensure that they can work in peace and are not harassed and targeted, and a duty to Council tax-payers to ensure that their needs are not neglected whilst having to expend considerable time and effort trying to dealing with a persistent and vexatious individual such as yourself.

Whilst the Council has carefully considered whether there would be any merit in trying to engage in dialogue with you again unfortunately it does not seem to be possible or be likely to achieve any measure of success. Only today, 25th January 2018, you have posted a witness statement in a blog entitled “The Statement Sandwell don’t want you to see!” that was produced for a quasi-judicial standards hearing that was held on 24th January 2018. You were put on notice that the Council objected to the content of this statement yesterday. You have nonetheless gone ahead and not only published your statement but presented a skewed account of what took place.

The excitable language you use on your website is indicative of a motive to do damage. Unlike newspapers or news websites you fling out with abandon accusations of corruption and criminality against individuals. Nor do you appear to verify your accusations. Your persistent publication of a photograph of the Council leader with the captions on it, is designed to harass him. That is why you are doing it.

We would ask you to go through your blog and consider carefully the appropriateness of the accusations you are making and the language you are using.  The council requests that you remove all unfounded abusive/offensive remarks and images immediately.

We consider that when you do you should recognise that the language is excessive and much of the content inappropriate and together it is harassing of individuals and is unacceptable.

To that end, we are engaging specialist Counsel to assist us with this matter but would hope that you will take steps to ensure that no further action is in fact necessary.

For the avoidance of doubt, if action is taken by the Council, we will comply with the relevant pre-action protocols. At this stage, we hope you will act to ensure that there is no need to proceed any further.

If necessary, we reserve the right to show this letter to the court.

Yours sincerely

AND HERE IS MY REPLY:

To: Surjit Tour <Surjit_Tour@sandwell.gov.uk>
THIS IS NOT A PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATION

My reply is – you are well out of order and can fuck off.

For the full response : An Exchange of Correspondence with Surjit Tour

 

Health Cheque

 

Fiona Loves CGL

Fiona loves her £91,935 salary

 

Tonight at Wirral Council’s People Overview and Scrutiny Committee a report will be presented which allegedly reviews the  drug and alcohol service provided by Change,Grow,Live (aka Wirral Ways To Recovery)

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50037772/Enc.%201%20for%20Review%20of%20Services%20provided%20by%20Change%20Grow%20Live%20CGL.pdf

Now we thought Public Health England were being brought in  to investigate concerns about mortality rates first raised by Wirral Leaks .

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/public-health-england-brought-in-to-investigate-concerns-first-raised-by-wirral-leaks/

But no!  as the introduction to the report on page 2  states : “The number of deaths of people in contact with the service has been increasing; we have been aware of this situation and working with the provider to ensure we have a safe and effective service. However this increase has also given rise to heightened concern and it was this that led to a member of staff from Wirral Ways to Recovery contacting both an elected member and the national BBC news team to highlight this trend. The Public Health team have responded to both expressions of concern, and have linked with the regional Public Health England team, and both the local Wirral Ways to Recovery team and officers from the national parent organisation, to examine and seek a better understanding of the cause of the continuing rise in the number of deaths. This report is focusing on the 72 reported deaths of people in contact with the service over the period, 1 st February 2015 to 31st August 2016. The 72 deaths are the result of a wide range of causes, with a significant percentage being associated with long term health conditions.”

And so it would appear that not only have we been written out of history  it would appear that Wirral Council’s own Public Health team have undertaken the review  and have merely “linked ” with the regional Public Health team and CGL/ Wirral Ways To Recovery. We had our doubts about Public Health England doing this review anyway this makes a complete mockery of external scrutiny and oversight.

As a concerned source writes to us expressing their concern about this situation :

This is PHE review into drug related deaths on the Wirral. The report was authored by Fiona Johnstone, she is Director of Public Health for Wirral I believe and was instrumental in bringing in CGL after the tendering process.

The report is just 12 pages long which shows the level of indifference the council have for this marginalized group, the report doesn’t say anything other than they were old, we don’t know how old because they haven’t said. These are just a few of the crucial questions that need asking.

1.  How many were off their prescription at the time of their deaths?.
2.   How many were on a reducing prescription?.
3.   Were any excluded from services through so called behaviour issues at the time of death?.
4.   Were there any deaths after successful completion or drop out of treatment?.
5.   How many had been released from prison?.
6.   Did any die during changes to medication?
7.   Were they attending the services needle exchange scheme without fear of being challenged?
8. How many had recently been discharged from hospital prior to their death?
9. What are communication/care pathways like between the provider and the hospital?
10. How many were homeless?
11.How many had dual diagnosis?
12.Numbers diagnosed with Hepatitis C?
13. Has the provider spoken to their bereaved relatives?
I could go on Julian I’m just shocked by such a poor report
From what we can make out the report concludes that the rise in deaths is part of a national trend and mainly involves long term drug/alcohol users with underlying health problems . Anecdotal evidence is also used from  CGL/Wirral Ways to Recovery staff comparing the new and previous service provided by NHS which suggests that a number of those that died would probably have been discharged/left the service before the point of death.
We just wonder whether the whistleblower from CGL/Wirral Ways To Recovery is satisfied with this review as there appears to be no analysis or consideration of the numerous practice/service concerns raised on this blog and we very much doubt anyone would raise their concerns about death rates without mentioning concerns they had about how the service operated.
 We also wonder whether they’re reassured by the fact that scheduled contract meetings between Wirral Council’s Public Health team and CGL/Wirral Ways to Recovery will monitor the rather vague actions included in the conclusion of the report?. A further consideration that isn’t mentioned in the report that the  CGL/Wirral Ways to Recovery contract is ,at £7 million + per annum , the largest contract the Public Health team has.
From our perspective we continue to despair that public services and health and social care services in particular are being dismantled and being subject to market forces and profit margins. Unfortunately it seems to us there are many so called public servants  who in exchange for a significantly high salary seem happy to facilitate this dismantling without evidence to suggest that there has been an improvement in services or that these services provide better value for money.