Archive for July, 2016

Old colleagues and new partners

Monday, July 25th, 2016

It was a great privilege to spend an afternoon with Derek Davies, our longest serving County Councillor, in his Division in Chadsmoor, Cannock.  It is one of the most deprived areas in the county, but I was struck by the neatness and pride that residents evidently take in their area, and the connection that members such as Derek have with their residents.  We spent a half hour with a primary school at their end of term church service, in St Chad’s Church with Reverend Jane Nash, which reminded me why we’re doing this job, if I needed to be.  As budgets shrink and decisions become harder, it is useful to get out and see what we do, and how it affects people.

Becci Bryant, the new Chief Fire Officer, visited on Tuesday morning.  She is a worthy successor to Peter Dartford, and will be continuing the excellent work in the health and wellbeing arenas.  They’ve just had 6,000 of the 30,000 Safe and Well home visits they conduct annually audited by Public Health England.  The results will be published in September, but early indications are that they avoided almost 150 hospital admissions by catching problems early, predominantly with elderly people living alone, and that they save £7 for every £1 spent with these targeted visits.  Good going, and something that we need to build upon.

Remaining on Health, I finished the week at Leicester Racecourse with the challenge session for Staffordshire and Stoke’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).  It was chaired by Simon Stevens, the CE of NHS England, and included a high-ranking panel.  With our unenviable place in the national psyche for health, it was good to hear that our plan was well-received, and had pleasantly surprised the panel.  Simon Stevens, himself a former local Councillor, questioned me closely on how much commitment there was from the county council for working with health.  He was very happy to hear that we see it as our biggest challenge.  I understand that we’ve had more than our share of knocks and false starts, but those will longer experience than me tell me that there is a difference this time, and a real willingness to succeed.  I’m certainly giving it my best shot.

As we enter the summer holiday season, can I wish you all a restful and enjoyable break whenever and wherever you take it.

World events and local implications

Monday, July 18th, 2016

It’s been a rapid paced week, with world events dominating our thoughts.  Our sympathies are with those who have died in France on Bastille Day in a senseless attack by what appears to be a lone perpetrator, and we are seeing the sad return of instability in Turkey and the tension between the government and the military.  It almost, but not quite, distracted us from the appointment of our new Prime Minister, Theresa May, and her choices for her Cabinet.  After a period when it was easy to feel that we were at the mercy of events, it feels reassuring that we seem to have regained some form of direction.

This is timely, as we need to work out what are the implications of Brexit on Staffordshire and our residents.  I suspect that things will not become completely clear for some time, but there are some assumptions that we can make. The only thing of which we can be sure is that we will get some things wrong, but that will be more right than waiting for the perfect information and doing nothing in the interim.  There’s lots to do, with no template or guidebook, but our experience and insight will stand us in good stead.

Meanwhile, we are moving towards submitting the Health and Care Sustainability and Transformation Plan.  By the end of this week, we will have presented our initial work, and had the initial challenge session with the Department of Health.  After many attempts over previous years, there is a real sense of purpose, and an acceptance that we have to get this right this time.

Lastly, well done to everybody who has worked hard to complete the First Quarter reporting for the Delivery Plan.  I know that this is a new discipline for many in SCC, but it is really important that we hold ourselves to account and measure what we are doing, whether it is a commissioned external provider or an in-house service.  If you are one of the few who have yet to file your report, please do give it one big push before we get into holiday season.