Some very interesting calculations from our comrades in Adel and Wharfedale Labour Party.
“Looking ahead, the NHS and social care are now set for a decade-long funding squeeze which will see the largest sustained falls in spending as a share of GDP on both services in modern times.”
John Appleby, King’s Fund, commenting on 2016-2020 Spending Review, Nov 2105
On Thursday you’ll be voting for the person you want to represent your area on Leeds City Council. ‘What does that have to do with the NHS?’, you may ask. Here are six reasons why it’s important.
Our local NHS services, provided by the government, are closely tied to social care services provided by Leeds City Council.
Local council budgets for social care have been cut to the bone by the Coalition and Tory governments. John Appleby of the King’s Fund, an independent health think tank, reckons government cuts have resulted across England in a 25% reduction in the number of people receiving social care.
Leeds, like other local councils, is struggling to maintain social care services such as home carers. With these services cut back, people in hospital beds have to wait longer to go home safely (known as ‘delayed transfers of care’), which in turn puts more pressure on NHS hospital beds and A&E services needed by other people.
Older people, and people with disabilities or with long term medical conditions, are more likely than others to need both NHS and social care services.
Our ward – Otley and Yeadon – has an ageing population. In other words, there are more older people than average living in our communities, and the numbers are likely to grow with new housing designed for older people. This means that in our ward, family members, friends or neighbours will be more likely to need NHS or social care services from time to time or on a long term basis.
Confusion about the NHS out-of-hours system
Another reason for pressures on A&E services is that people are confused about how to access out-of-hours GP care, urgent care, and other types of out of hours care, such as district nurses. These services are all important in keeping people out of hospital, but many people find the out of hours and urgent care system confusing, partly because it’s so fragmented.
Two of the things that contribute to fragmented and confusing NHS services are:
- falling government spending in real terms on health service
- and continuing privatisation.
Government spending on the NHS is falling in real terms
The graph below from the King’s Fund (an independent charity working to improve health and care) shows UK NHS spending as percentage of Gross Domestic Product since the NHS was set up in 1948.
While spending on the NHS as a share of GDP rose visibly under the last Labour government, the blue line shows how sharply it has fallen under the Coalition and Tory governments. With the Spending Review settlement last autumn, it will continue to fall up to 2020. Although the government allocated more cash to the NHS for the next 5 years in the November Spending Review, this will almost all be eaten up by inflation, rising costs and rising demand for health care, so the proportion of GDP spent on the NHS will in fact fall.
John Appleby, Chief Economist for Policy at the King’s Fund says this is “the largest sustained fall in spending on health care as a percentage of GDP that we’ve seen since the foundation of the NHS.”
The NHS is being fragmented and steadily privatised
A key reason why NHS services seem fragmented is that they are increasingly run for profit by a range of private companies such as Circle and Richard Branson’s Virgin.
Virgin Care was only set up in 2012 to take advantage of the Coalition government’s Health and Social Care Act, which brought in much wider competitive tendering for NHS services. Circle, the private company that took over Hitchingbrooke Hospital and its debt in 2012, handed back the contract in 2014. Circle made ambitious claims about being able to make the hospital profitable, but following a damning report by the CQC, backed out of the contract only two years later.
The Tory Government has slashed Leeds City Council’s public health budget by over 7% – the largest cut to public health in Yorkshire
These are not ‘NHS’ services as such, because the government moved public health from the NHS to local councils in April 2013, but Leeds City Council’s public health budget covers important health services such as:
- sexual health
- school nursing
- health visiting
- suicide prevention
- domestic violence prevention
- drug and alcohol treatment services
- weight loss support
- health protection services including immunisation and infection control.
The Labour-controlled city council has done everything in its power to protect social care services for children, older people and vulnerable adults, and its public health services.
May 5 is a chance to elect a Labour councillor for Otley and Yeadon who is committed to protecting these important services.
It’s also a chance to send a message to the Tory government about the NHS. Enough is enough. It’s our NHS, paid for by our taxes. We don’t want it sold off to private companies for profit.
May 5 is a choice – and that includes a choice about our precious NHS. Use your vote – and vote Labour.
There’s a huge buzz in Otley today with the Women’s Race early this morning and the Men’s Race this afternoon. Otley is very proud of our own Lizzie Armitstead, competing in the Tour de Yorskhire Women’s Race, which has attracted the most lucrative women’s cycle race prize in the world.
Nik Rutherford, our Labour candidate was out and bright and early this morning before the Women’s Race at 8.15. Nik is pictured above talking to the Leader of Leeds City Council, Cllr Judith Blake, and Welcome to Yorkshire’s Chief Executive, Gary Verity just before the start of the Women’s Race.
Nik believes the Tour presents a golden opportunity for the town’s organisations to get together with Leeds City Council and other regional tourism bodies, to develop a robust tourism and marketing strategy to promote our town .
“The Tour de Yorkshire is televised live across the UK and to more than 100 countries around the world. Labour-led Leeds City Council has worked with Welcome to Yorkshire to put Otley in the global spotlight.
This represents a huge, tangible and lasting investment in our town by the city council. We need to be energetic and creative in bringing local organisations and people together to make the most of this opportunity, and use it to raise our profile as a visitor destination.
With vision, and support from tourism specialist bodies such as Welcome to Yorkshire, we can continue to draw visitors that will ensure the town’s catering, hospitality, entertainment and retail businesses will thrive and expand long after the cycle races have departed. This in turn can help to generate more local jobs and potential for business and enterprise in the town, so that fewer of our younger people will be forced to look for work elsewhere.”
Read more about Nik’s vision for tourism in Otley here
Our candidate Nik Rutherford, who works as a music teacher with 11 to 18 year olds across West Yorkshire, has set out his vision for working with young people in Otley and Yeadon if elected on May 5th.
“Young people have been badly let down by this government, with youth work across the UK cut to the bone as result of cuts to local councils. We need to invest in young people and show them they’re a valued part of our community.
Many young people don’t get involved in the activities available for young people In Otley or Yeadon, and feel what’s offer is not for them. The figures for young people who are not in employment, education or training are twice as high from one part of Yeadon to another, and the picture is the same for Otley.
But we are small communities, where we can and should be able to reach every young person, especially those who’ve missed out at school. We have to tackle the idea of a two-speed community where some young people do well while others miss out altogether.
This is what young people, parents and people involved in youth work tell me would make a difference in Otley and Yeadon:
- Being listened to –local councillors, groups and organisations already catering for young people, and those willing to do more need to listen to young people about what kind of activities and resources they’d like. Listening to young people’s ideas is how the first skate park came about in Otley, driven by volunteers and Labour councillors in the late 1990s. Let’s work towards a Youth Forum in both communities.
- Space of their own – teenagers need somewhere they can go just to hang out with their friends – somewhere safe, that doesn’t cost them money. Let’s look at the spaces round Otley and Yeadon – possibly empty spaces like the old Weston Lane Youth Centre, or organisations with space who might need the right support – perhaps a small grant, or volunteers, or youth work know-how.
- Things to do – for young people who aren’t catered for, or don’t get involved in what’s on offer, we need to find ways to reach them with things they want to get involved in – for example, art, music, IT, or more pop-up cafés like the one at Yeadon Tarn. Let’s find out if any of local organisations who already offer activities for young people – for example, Yeadon Cricket Club, the Scouts, the Big Hoohaa in Otley, dance and theatre groups – might with more support be able to take out what they offer to more young people.
If I elected on May 5th, I want to start a conversation with young people, schools, local sports, arts and community organisations and the City Council youth service to look at spaces, activities and possible grants or loans (e.g. from the Lottery, the Prince’s Trust, the city council’s community committee). Let’s find small ways to steadily build up the activities and support that our young people need.”
The Otley ODD campaign has emailed all the candidates seeking views on the impact of planned housing developments on Otley’s traffic congestion.
ODD points out that unless action is taken to ensure that infrastructure improvements are identified in advance, the planning system will consider each development individually. This could mean that any infrastructure improvements will be incoherent and inadequate. Below are Nik Rutherford’s responses to the two questions that ODD has put to him.
(1) Do you agree that a comprehensive traffic impact assessment study is necessary to identify the totality of Otley infrastructure improvements that the LDF developments will require?
” This study is absolutely essential. At present there has only been limited and piecemeal work to understand the impact of specific developments – a larger and more holistic approach is needed to assess the impact of area-wide development on traffic in Otley. Such a study should collect sufficient data to analyse traffic flows in detail and properly understand the sensitive nature of traffic through Otley and the impact of all proposed developments. This study would use sophisticated number plate recognition data rather than the more usual turn counts employed by most traffic assessments. An impact assessment of this nature was being worked-up and part-funded by Otley Town Council last year, but since the change of political administration this study appears to have been abandoned.
If you agree that such a study is needed …
(2) What are your proposals to (try to) ensure that such a study takes place as soon as possible?
” It will take partnership working between Leeds City Council, the relevant developers and Otley Town Council. I propose that these stakeholders are brought together to joint fund and develop a study of this nature. If elected I would push hard for these negotiations and subsequent study to take place before any major development occurs.”