21 December 2012

Ambulances: MP Goes In To Bat

Yesterday (Thursday 20 December) saw a debate in Westminster on Health.

Andrew Bingham MP stood up for the High Peak constituency with a detailed speech about the current disastrous EMAS proposals.  The speech is too extensive to reproduce in full here, but can be seen at the They Work For You website.

Two extracts deserve a wider audience.  First, about the contrast in consultations between EMAS and North West Ambulances (which serve Glossop, Stockport and so on):
The fundamental problem is the way the process has been undertaken and how the proposals have been arrived at. The North West Ambulance Service is looking at similar proposals, but it appears to be engaging with others, inviting key stakeholders to help to discuss and shape its plans. At a meeting, it referred to the hub-and-spoke model but, I am told, acknowledged that that method of delivery will not suit all areas.
"I do not wish to prejudge what NWAS may propose, but there appears to be an acknowledgement that one size does not fit all. EMAS, however, presented its proposals with little or no apparent discussion with anyone, key stakeholder or not, preferring to use what appears to be an off-the-shelf template.
Secondly, the conclusion of Mr Bingham's speech:
"The consultation has now closed. The whole High Peak community has united as one against these proposals. Two public meetings were attended by hundreds of local residents incensed by the proposals. At one meeting I attended, the chief executive said he was “listening very carefully” to local people. I hope he is.
"I hope that, when he presents his final recommendations to his board, they are not the same ones that are on the table today, as they are inadequate, unfeasible and unworkable: they reduce, not enhance, the service; they hamper, not improve, staff welfare; and they desert, not embrace, the people of the High Peak in their hour of need. The current proposals may improve some response times elsewhere, in the more populated areas of the east midlands, but they will not improve response times in the High Peak."

07 December 2012

Too Many Chiefs, Not Enough Policemen

The extraordinary saga of Derbyshire’s police election mismanagement has taken another strange twist this week.

The police used to be answerable to a committee which met in public, and which had all the shades of local political opinion on it.  Now a Labour Party place-man does the job - Alan Charles, who got less than half of the minuscule 14.4% turnout in the recent Police Commissioner elections.

So on receiving just over 7% of the vote, Mr Charles is now in effective charge of the Police.  He has gone from being a part-time local councillor to suddenly making £75,000 a year.  Paid for by the public, of course.

You would think that Mr Charles’s first priority would be to understand his new job and take on the new responsibilities.  But instead, he has decided to appoint a deputy on a £56,000-a-year salary.  Again using the public’s money.

Here is the ‘job’ description from the Derbyshire PCC’s website:
“You will need to be an excellent communicator and strategic thinker, with local knowledge and political awareness.”
£56,000 a year for someone with political awareness, who isn't even the Commissioner.  In a job that is supposed to involve impartial policing.  This is turning into a nightmare.