Campaign against Accountable Care Organisation contracts allowed to appeal against High Court decision, while NHS England begins consultation on contract which may not be lawful!

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The Court of Appeal has issued an order granting campaign group 999 Call for the NHS permission to appeal the ruling against their Judicial Review of the proposed payment mechanism in NHS England’s Accountable Care Organisation contract. I am supporting 999 Call’s legal case. At the same time, NHS England has launched its public consultation on the contracts, which you can respond to here.

‘999 Call for the NHS’ says:

The Accountable Care Organisation Contract (now rebranded by NHS England as the Integrated Care Provider contract) proposes that healthcare providers are not paid per treatment, but by a ‘Whole Population Annual Payment’, which is a set amount for the provision of named services during a defined period. This, 999 Call for the NHS argues, unlawfully shifts the risk of there being an underestimate of patient numbers from the commissioner to the provider, and endangers service standards.

In April, the High Court ruled against the campaign group’s legal challenge to NHS England’s Accountable Care Organisation contract – but the group and their solicitors at Leigh Day and barristers at Landmark Chambers found the ruling so flawed that they immediately applied for permission to appeal.

Although fully aware of this, on Friday 3rd August – the day Parliament and the Courts went on holiday – NHS England started a public consultation on the Accountable Care Organisation contract – now renamed the Integrated Provider Organisation contract.

The consultation document asserts that the payment mechanism in the ACO/ICP contract is lawful, because:

“The High Court has now decided the two judicial reviews in NHS England’s favour.”

Steve Carne, speaking for 999 Call for the NHS, said

“It beggars belief that NHS England is consulting on a contract that may not even be lawful.

And a lot of public funds is being spent on developing the ACO model – including on the public consultation.

We are very pleased that 3 judges from the Court of Appeal will have time to consider the issues properly.

We shall shortly issue our stage 5 Crowd Justice appeal for £18k to cover the costs of the Appeal.

We are so grateful to all the campaigners and members of the public who have made it possible for us to challenge the lawfulness of NHS England’s attempt to shoehorn the NHS into an imitation of the USA’s Medicare/Medicaid system.

We will not see our NHS reduced to limited state-funded health care for people who can’t afford private health insurance.”

Jo Land, one of the original Darlo Mums when 999 Call for the NHS led the People’s March for the NHS from Jarrow to London, added,

“All along we have been warning about the shrinkage of the NHS into a service that betrays the core principle of #NHS4All – a health service that provides the full range of appropriate health care to everyone with a clinical need for it, free at the point of use.

Since we first started work two years ago on bringing this judicial review, there have been more and more examples of restrictions and denials of NHS care, and the consequent growth of a two tier system – private for those who can afford it, and an increasingly limited NHS for the rest of us.”

Jenny Shepherd said

“NHS England’s rebranded Accountable Care Organisation contract consultation is a specious attempt to meet the requirement to consult on a significant change to NHS and social care services.

We don’t support the marketisation of the NHS that created the purchaser/provider split and requires contracts for the purchase and provision of services.

Integration of NHS and social care services, in order to provide a more straightforward process for patients with multiple ailments, is not aided by a system that essentially continues NHS fragmentation.

This new proposed contract is a complex lead provider contract that creates confusion over the respective roles of commissioner and provider. It requires multiple subcontracts that are likely to need constant wasteful renegotiation and change over the duration of the lead provider contract. This is just another form of fragmentation, waste and dysfunctionality.

The way to integrate the NHS and social care is through legislation to abolish the purchaser/provider split and contracting; put social care on the same footing as the NHS as a fully publicly funded and provided service that is free at the point of use; and remove the market and non-NHS bodies from the NHS.

Such legislation already exists in the shape of the NHS Reinstatement Bill.”

The campaign team say they are determined in renewing the fight to stop and reverse Accountable Care. Whether rebranded as Integrated Care or not, they see evidence that it is the same attempt to shoehorn the NHS into a limited role in a two tier healthcare system that feeds the interests of profiteering private companies.

Steven Carne emphasised,

“It is vital that we defend the core NHS principle of providing the full range of appropriate treatments to everyone with a clinical need for them.”

999 Call for the NHS hope the 2 day appeal in London will happen before the end of the year. The Appeal will consider all seven grounds laid out in the campaign group’s application – with capped costs.

Details on the first instance judgment can be found here, and the judgment itself here.
David Lock QC and Leon Glenister represent 999 Call for the NHS, instructed by Rowan Smith and Anna Dews at Leigh Day.

Claire Wright sets up support group for people who are struggling with the Department of Work and Pensions, such as those on working tax credits or who are trying to claim PIP or carers allowance

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claireClaire Wright, my Independent colleague on the County Council, says:

“Hi, I have set up a support group for people who are struggling with the Department of Work and Pensions, such as those on working tax credits or who are trying to claim PIP or carers allowance, for example.

The first meeting is on Tuesday 21 August at 7pm, in the Institute, Yonder Street, Ottery. The meeting is primarily for people living in my council ward, however, I won’t turn anyone away.

Please help get the message out there by liking and sharing this post. Many thanks:

Claire Wright
Devon County Councillor
Otter Valley Ward”

Any demand for this kind of group in Seaton and Colyton?

I’ve signed a petition by councillors against the Government’s move to allow fracking exploration under permitted development rules

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Here’s the text:

Dear Claire Perry MP (CC James Brokenshire MP, Greg Clarke MP),

The UK government has proposed changes to planning rules that would allow exploratory drilling for shale gas to be considered “permitted development”, removing the need for fracking companies to apply for planning permission.

The current planning framework for shale gas provides an important regulatory process for the industry, offering necessary checks and balances by local authorities who best understand the circumstances in their areas. Crucially, it also allows communities directly affected a say in how, and whether, shale gas exploration proceeds in their neighbourhoods.

We believe that applying permitted development to exploratory shale gas drilling represents a distortion of its intention and is a misuse of the planning system. Permitted Development was originally intended to be used to speed up planning decisions on small developments – like garden sheds or erecting a fence – not drilling for shale gas.

As elected representatives of our communities, we the undersigned call for the withdrawal of this proposal, and respect for the right of communities to make decisions on shale gas activities in their areas through the local planning system.

Devon looking for volunteers to help refugee children settle as quickly and easily into their new lives as possible

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refugee boyThe county of Devon is providing a chance to start life afresh free from fear for children who have arrived on their own in the UK having fled conflict in their native countries.

Devon has welcomed unaccompanied children seeking asylum since 2015 when under a Home Office programme up to 70 children, displaced from refugee camps outside Calais, were transferred to Devon.

Most moved quickly through the county to be reunited with relatives across the UK. A few remained and have since settled well to life in Devon.

Since then a further 41 children have arrived as part of the Government’s National Transfer Scheme, and as referrals from Immigration, Police or by other local authorities.

Devon County Council is part of the response in helping such children settle as quickly and easily into new lives.

It’s just commissioned Space*, which used to be the Devon Youth Service, and Young Devon, to support the children in their local communities, helping them integrate into new home lives, schools and becoming active members of society.

It’s now looking for members of the public to join a team of skilled volunteers and mentors to enable children and young people to do that; to be better connected with their local communities, and to make use of Devon’s support networks, facilities and activities.

It’s a pilot that will initially run for a year. Details HERE.

 

‘THE RUINOUS PLANNING POLICY MPS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT’- The Times on the new National Planning Policy Framework, rushed out by the Government before they went on holiday

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From The Times via East Devon Watch:

“To save you the eye strain, or possibly to sublimate some Freudian desire for self-flagellation, I have waded through all 73 pages of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Slipped out last week under cover of Brexit, the document that will shape the look of England for years to come was duly awarded minimal coverage by the press.

I partly blame its clunky title. If the NPPF were called “Why a ghastly housing estate will soon be built just outside your favourite village” it would get a lot more attention. Still, at least the name of the minister responsible for it — the housing and communities secretary, James Brokenshire — has an ominous ring.

The trouble with having a “national plan” for anything, as Russia found in the 1930s, is that what seem like good ideas to centralised bureaucrats tend to collide with overlooked local realities to produce unforeseen catastrophes. I fear that’s the case with the NPPF, particularly since it covers everything from new housing and the future of town centres to protecting the environment, dealing with floods, promoting sustainable transport, rolling out broadband and preserving historic buildings.

Take its emphasis on “good design”. On paper, that’s admirable. Theoretically it gives local councils the power to reject those soulless estates of identical, boxy homes beloved of the big developers. The aim is to ensure that all new developments excite the eye, please their residents and enhance their environments as much as, say, Ralph Erskine’s celebrated Byker Wall in Newcastle. That would be a fine aspiration if local councils had the experts, time, resources and money to match what any big housing developer can deploy in a planning battle.

Unfortunately, thanks to central government’s ruinous cuts to their budgets, they don’t. Some, such as almost bankrupt Northamptonshire, can hardly run their bin collections let alone turn themselves into architectural watchdogs. For every Byker Wall built in the future, there are still likely to be a hundred soulless “off-the-peg” estates nodded through by councillors too helpless to resist.

And there’s a new threat. From November local authorities will have to comply with a “housing delivery test”. It will penalise those that fail to conjure up an agreed number of new homes in their area. Again the intentions are good: to bridge the enormous gap between the number of new homes given planning permission by councils and the number actually built by the developers. Councils will have to police much more thoroughly the progress of approved building applications — another strain on their scant resources.

The real worry, though, is that councils will panic because they aren’t meeting the set targets and will nod through schemes of scant architectural and social merit, repeating the appalling mistakes made in the 1950s and 1960s. No wonder that the Campaign to Protect Rural England has called the combined effect of the new planning rulebook and the housing delivery test “a speculative developers’ charter” that will result in councils and communities having “little control over the location and type of developments that take place”.

On town centres too, the NPPF seems to be living in a bygone age. The big problem in the next ten years won’t be banning ugly shopfronts or propping up small independent butchers and bookshops, or even halting the march of out-of-town shopping malls. It will be ensuring that there are any shops left, as the relentless shift to online retail gathers pace. As town centres fast become boarded-up wastelands, local authorities need the power (and the money) to make much more imaginative interventions. Yet the NPPF has nothing to say about this.

I find its paragraphs about protecting England’s green belts a bit weaselly too. These sacrosanct meadows are apparently safe from development except where local authorities have “exhausted all other reasonable options”. OK, but who decides what “exhausted” and “reasonable” mean? And there’s another glaring loophole. When it comes to brownfield sites inside green belt areas, it’s apparently a free-for-all.

There’s much that is sensible in the NPPF, of course. If I were an ancient woodland, for instance, I would feel better protected from rape by chainsaw. Nevertheless, my overall impression is that the bureaucrats who penned this well-meaning document imagine that England is still a country of communities safeguarded by strong, efficient local authorities. The sad truth is that government ministers have spent the past eight years paying lip service to “localism” while running down the democratic institutions that preserve it. Brokenshire’s legacy could well be broken shires.”

 

Local Economic Partnership massages local businesses’ anxieties about Brexit: just 1 business out of 29 surveyed thought it would have a ‘positive’ impact, 9 said negative, many were worried – but that is just a ‘quite varied’ assessment according to the LEP!

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Devon for Europe County Hall 15.2.18The Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership (LEP) has belatedly published a report (dated May 2018) on local businesses’ views of Brexit.
This table shows answers to the question, ‘What is your overall assessment at this stage of the likely impact of Brexit on your business?’
POSITIVE (1)  
NEGATIVE (9)
Neutral (7)
Mixed (6)

Don’t know (6)

 

The LEP summarises this table as ‘Businesses’ assessment of the overall impact of Brexit at this stage is quite varied.

VARIED? ONE BUSINESS OUT OF 29 THINKS ITS IMPACT WILL BE POSITIVE, COMPARED TO 9 WHO THINK NEGATIVE, AND THAT IS VARIED?

Other findings:

  • two-thirds of businesses have done no formal planning for Brexit
  • uncertainty is a big concern
  • the biggest specific concerns are about are changes to regulatory alignment [i.e. departure from the Single Market] and the speed of customs arrangements [i.e. departure from the Customs Union]
  • only 1 out of 29 expects it to be positive for their sector; 9 out of 29 expect it to be negative (the rest expect it to be ‘neutral’ or ‘mixed’, or don’t know)

This report (How firms across HotSW are preparing for Brexit, Report to HotSW LEP, Devon County Council and Partners) was prepared in March and April 2018, drawing on interviews conducted in February and March 2018, so it is already seriously out of date.

In the spring, businesses could reasonably have hoped for a deal:

  • What do businesses think now that May’s government has caved in to Rees-Mogg and ditched plans for a customs union with the EU?
  • What do they think of the ‘no deal’ scenario?
  • How are they going to cope if they still haven’t done the formal planning?

It isn’t difficult to guess. And why has this report been so delayed? Why wasn’t it reported earlier to DCC?

Vehicle activated sign finally installed at the entrance to Colyford – I almost missed it as I was doing under 30!

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Vehicle_activated_sign_(VAS)_speed_limit_enforcementThe Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS) on the A3052 near Gully Shoot – which I funded by my Locality Budget with support from the Colyford Burgesses – has finally been installed. At least it will be working through the rest of the summer.

This is the first of several long-awaited traffic-calming measures. A second VAS is planned for the other end of the village, which Colyton Parish Council and Colyford village organisations are expected to fund, and Devon County Council is currently doing design work for a zebra crossing near the Memorial Fund, due within this financial year.