This has been a big issue for me. To be honest, I’ve ruffled a few feathers and got a ticking off at this month’s Labour group meeting, but hey-ho.
In the wealthy belt across the south of the borough the GPs seem to have worked through the cohorts at breakneck speed, way ahead of the Government’s schedule. It’s paying off. The rates of infection are now too low to measure across that area which hitherto has consistently had amongst the highest rates in Trafford. Trafford’s vaccination rate is very, very good in general except for the Stretford/Old Trafford area.
Vaccine rates in the north of the borough (the wards of Clifford, Longford, Gorse Hill and Stretford) continue to lag. We didn’t get off to a good start – the Delamere Centre is not a convenient location to serve the whole of the area and it took too long for Limelight to be brought alongside in Old Trafford to provide a second centre.
Nevertheless, we are where we are with centre locations. We still have a problem with vaccine take-up. Vaccine hesitancy in poorer areas, particularly amongst the BAME population is an issue across the country and it’s something we need to take seriously.
The Government is not paying it very much attention yet, but I think we should in Trafford. I logged on to a Local Government webinar last week on this issue; and it was clear the Government’s take was just to concentrate on the numbers, get through the willing as quickly as you can. I get that. The numbers matter. However, leaving less protected populations will matter too.
We see that covid is not affecting people equally. My concern with the vaccine is that the very people that have a right to be concerned about safety for historical; and to be honest, contemporary systemic reasons are the same group of people at greater risk of exposure and death from the disease. So, it is really worrying and highlights the importance of having these conversations; and going beyond just saying ‘trust us, it’s safe’ to really engaging and listening to people; and understanding where people come from and taking the time to address those concerns. Because otherwise, you have a further widening of the inequality you want to avoid, where the vaccine coverage also ends up being unequal with lower coverage in areas of black and minority ethnic groups which would be such a tragedy.
Dr Tollulah Oni – urban epidemiologist at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge
The quote is from a video interview with Dr Oni published by the Voice newspaper and is well worth watching in full. https://youtu.be/2oE3IGOMXc4
There’s not enough acknowledgement that there are genuine issues. The video quoted above was released in December so it’s not as though we weren’t warned. We really need to listen to people, to be patient, to go the extra mile. It’s not simply a case of going through the Imams. I think there’s more we can do. I want to learn from places like Birmingham who have nearly 600 community covid champions – volunteers from within the community. We need to break through that lack of trust and it’s not going to be easy. The ‘hesitancy’ rate in the north of Trafford is at least double of any of the other areas.
However, I think we can do it and when you see the improved covid rates for Hale, you have to say we have every incentive to make this work.
Trafford is experiencing the rise in positive cases of Covid seen across Greater Manchester. We don’t seem to be experiencing a corresponding rise in hospital admissions.
The rise in positive tests seems to particularly focused on a younger segment of the population. The message continues to be vigilent and get tested if you have symptoms. Trafford’s testing facility is at UA92 this week. Tests are booked via the NHS.
Impact on Council Finances
Dealing with Covid-19 has had a huge impact on Council finances for this year. Remember that the Government’s diktat was to do what was necessary.
The Government has issued grants to councils but go nowhere near addressing the full amount.
So looking at this year’s budget spend, we’re about £17m down on where we should be for the year.
The Government is talking about spreading the cost but Trafford under Labour has been a frugal council. I’d like to see finance reform but unless that happens we’re going to need support from Government. It’s my view you can only squeeze so much out of Council Tax.
You may have seen reports that the impact on Trafford Leisure in terms of maintaining a service has been even greater than on the council since they’ve not been able to open their centres. The council has reconfigured reserves allocated to the Trust to assist but since some of these reserves were connected to a new Stretford Leisure Centre/Pool, it’s obviously a concern to us in Gorse Hill.
Crime in Greater Manchester is currently up by 25% compared to the same time last year. This is a significant change as the figures for April and May were quiet in comparison.
I’m told that Trafford is not seeing the same increase. That may be across Trafford as a whole but my experience suggests that there is a peak in crime and disorder, as well as anti-social behaviour.
We are not very good at reporting crime in Gorse Hill. We know there is drug dealing at a number of locations. It’s not being reported to the police.
Do report on Crimestoppers too. It gives police vital information to apply resources
Lostock Circle Court
Circle Court has been due regeneration for a number of years. Windows are draughty and uninsulated and it needs all aspects bringing up to 21st century standards. There were hints that building a new hotel (still subject to planning) could bring in the receipts needed to assist. However, the financial outlook is such that the Housing Trust has indicated that any regeneration is now pushed back.
As councillors we’re arguing that this is precisely the right investment to be making at this time. We’re angry about it and will continue to make the case.
I don’t think closing the household waste and recycling centres was ever a good idea. They are at last open but we’ve been left with a legacy across the ward of fly-tipping and overflowing and abandoned commercial waste. I’m doing my best to find a way through these but people are angry and I understand that.
We also seem to have had a spate of bin thefts this week. Now the collection service is supposedly back to normal, expectations are confused and it’s clear that there’s a backlog of frustration and unattended fly-tipping and a big increase in incidences of rats across the ward.
The September resumption is a really difficult issue. Schools have been operating primarily as learning hubs with most of their pupils learning at home. The effectiveness of the learning we know is very mixed and the quality of the learning environment is extremely varied. The impact of covid-19 on learning will range from almost zero to a level seriously detrimental to the child’s outcomes.
Teachers and staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the period. I know there are worries about a full resumption. I suppose I’m in the camp where I just think we have to get children back. It is not going to be easy.
I’m a governor at Lostock High as well as Old Trafford Community Academy; but I did want to report back on Lostock as it’s important to the ward. Since May we have a new Headteacher, Lindsay Brindley. I’m really impressed with how she’s addressing the current situation. She’s managed to recruit some really proven senior staff into key positions. She’s worked so hard and I really wish her all the best in September when it’ll be the first time she’s had all the children back.
Extremely disappointing that Trafford’s GP practices with the worst ratings amongst patients were all located in the Stretford/Old Trafford area.
Trafford has 30 practices:
27 – Delamere Medical Practice, Stretford (72), 28 – Old Trafford Medical Practice (67), 29 – North Trafford Group Practice, Stretford (61) 30 – Brooks Bar Medical Centre, Stretford (60).
Only Lostock avoided the bottom places coming in at 14.
I raised this with the Director of Public Health but I suspect it’s an issue for the CCG and the Council’s Health Scrutiny. I suppose looking at the position as a whole, then Trafford’s practices are doing well, however I’m not happy our practices are failing to serve their patients as well as others.
There are a number of pressures building up whilst covid-19 lockdown has been in place. It is only now that Social Landlords are entering into new lets. We had an effective freezing of movement. The ban on evictions extends until 23rd August.
Obviously no one wants to see evictions without cause but sometimes it’s the only way for a situation to ease and it’s pressured to say the least at the moment.
Easing of Lockdown
I think generally it’s gone well. Clearly a lot of this is for the council to police. The requirement to wear a mask was 100% adhered to when I visited Tesco, but I understand the company (along with Sainsburys) is now saying they won’t intervene with people not wearing a mask. I think that’s a mistake.
From what I have seen bars are quiet.
Really disappointed to see the Up Top project not proceed. I have no inside information on what happened there.
Not comfortable with gyms reopening personally.
Supporting the A56 Bike Lanes
I’ve made my position clear that I very much welcome the bike lanes. Perhaps interestingly, I think it’s less about facilitating bike riding and more about taming the A56 so that traffic movement is at civilised speeds and steady whilst people can reclaim the pavements for walking and chatting without the poisonous exhausts and imposing roar.
I think we’re going to see more facilities brought in quite quickly. Close to home we might see some filtering around Gorse Avenue and Ashover Street. Apparently letters are going out today though I’ve not seen them.
Planning appeals have been lodged against refusal on:
Hotel at corner of Warwick Road and Chester Road
The safe-storage facility opposite Arnold Clark showroom
A planning application has been submitted for the B&Q site to build 333 apartments (use class C3) and communal spaces ancillary to the residential use; flexible space for use classes A1, A3, D1 and/or D2; undercroft car parking; new public realm; and associated engineering works and infrastructure | Former B&Q Site Great Stone Road Stretford M32 0YP
We’ve also received a pre-planning consultation letter in respect of 13 storey appartments on Warwick Road. The letter has also been delivered to local residents.
This continues to be the busiest time I can remember for casework. At the same time, Trafford’s officers are mainly working from home. I’m continuing to do my best to deal with issues. I have had a mixture of complete success, partial progress and getting nowhere on various issues.
It’s a fabulous role being a councillor. It’s much better when I can get out and about as trying to deal with it all from a laptop is a pain. Have a great summer and hopefully things will be a little bit better come September.
A big thank you to all our services who worked through Storm Ciara. We shouldn’t underestimate the task of getting things back to normal after something like this.
My workload has been particularly focused on Lostock High School and continuity within the school as the head moves on to new challenges. We want to see the changes that have already taken place become embedded. I am still so thrilled at the standards set by pupils as at the previous week’s Holocaust memorial and that’s exactly where we want the school.
Circle Court Hotel
It’s nine storeys and 197 rooms so it’s bigger than I would like, and it’s creating the need for residents’ parking to be displaced. The main focus is on making sure the residents don’t lose out, that they gain from employment opportunities both within the construction and longer term operation of the hotel.
Labour Party Nomination – Lisa gets 12 points from Stretford and Urmston
I voted to nominate Lisa Nandy for leader and Angela Rayner as her deputy. I think for the first time, my choices coincided with the majority of members in Stretford and Urmston Labour Party. So it’s quite nice that I’m mainstream for once. I think Lisa is the one that’s showing the most insight into the reasons we lost and how we go about regaining trust.
Living Streets is the charity promoting Everyday Walking. Essentially normal urban walking to nip down to the shops or get the kids to school. A small group of us has decided to get a Local Living Streets Group set up for Stretford. We know there’s a lot going on to get Bee Networks developed and we’re keen to see that happen, but we’re also keen to put pressure on to improve existing crossings as a matter of urgency through timings etc. and it’s something we want to pursue. We’ve got the seal of approval from Living Streets HQ, so you should be seeing us spring to life in the coming weeks.
Stretford Memorial Hospital and the lack of Health Infrastructure for Stretford/Old Trafford
I noticed Stretford Memorial Hospital came up on the agenda at Health Scrutiny the previous week. There was no report attached so I ran through the YouTube video to see what it was about.
It’s presence on the agenda was triggered by my colleague Councillor Judith Lloyd. Judith quite rightly wanted to know what was happening following the closure Stretford Memorial. She was making the point that there was a dearth of decent quality health resources in the north of the borough. It’s a point I too have been making. The Conservatives steered everything to Altrincham, we now need to make sure that we get some decent facilities here.
Below is my response to the consultation. Closing date is 31st October 5pm. You can complete the consultation online. I urge you to do so. It’s vital that the views of residents in Gorse Hill Ward are taken into account.
Do you support our long-term vision for an Integrated care system in Trafford?
I support it with some reservations
The integrated care model is the only way forward in improving health outcomes. The recent research showing that a quarter of instances of bowel cancer are only diagnosed after admission to A&E highlights that accessibility to health provision is not where it should be. We do not have easy convenient access. Many people are only seeing a health professional as a last resort.
Once in the hospital machinery we know that patients (particularly the frail) are staying in hospital for too long without clinical need for them to be there. The only alternatives offered are discharge to the expensive care industry or inadequate support at home.
I am concerned too that there seems to have been very little research into the assimilation of mental health care into the integrated care pathway. What little I could find on the web suggests positive outcomes but also suggests the need for more thinking in this area.
For example see the evidence review made by York University for Leeds NHS trust which concludes that the evidence base is insufficient.
We know that early intervention works. We know that the quality of care provided by GPs for patients with mental health problems is inconsistent and can be a contributory factor in variations of likelihood for presentation at A&E.
I very much support the integrated care model but would want to see greater consideration to mental health aspects than is contained within the consultation. I am also disappointed that progress towards an integrated care model is framed in the consultation as an alternative to local provision of A&E. There are many positives in respect of integrated care but it should not be seen as an ‘either or’ with A&E.
I can not ignore my own suspicion and widely held by my constituents that there will be insufficient funding to provide an effective provision of integrated care. I see little evidence within the consultation paper suggesting that the remodelling will do other than reduce the financial deficit; rather than free up funds to enhance improved community provision. There is an argument that in reality a quality integrated care model will be so financially demanding that the benefits in tackling health inequalities will never be realised.
I fully support the vision but I’m gravely sceptical about the delivery. The amount of investment needed in Gorse Hill, Firswood and Old Trafford to deliver even a basic level of care under the current model is huge. The standards expected for the integrated care model raise the financial demand to unreachable levels without a contribution from National bodies.
Do you accept the view that Trafford hospitals need to change in order to make sure services are high quality, efficient and affordable?
I have serious reservations about this view
The Guardian reported on 24th October 2012 that only a small number of trusts were breaking even on their Accident and emergency departments. This suggests to me that the funding regime for accident and emergency treatment is out of kilter. We obviously can not close every accident and emergency dept that is in deficit. I do not therefore accept the financial case.
The safety and quality issues are weightier, but here again there are reservations. Anecdotal evidence has challenged the figures used for attendances at the hospital’s A&E. It is clear to me that there is sufficient scepticism within the community over the figures for overnight admissions that the case is not yet made. We do need authoritative figures.
And the quality/safety argument has to include consideration of accessibility/travel-times to alternative provisions. We know that the ambulance service is already stretched. We know that links to Partington, Carrington and Woodsend by public transport to other centres are poor and will need to improve.
By definition any changes in provision at Trafford General will have an impact on other centres. I am extremely disappointed in the extent to which these other centres have engaged in the consultation. For residents in Gorse Hill Ward, Trafford General is their primary Accident and Emergency Unit. It is the nearest unit for most but not all residents within the ward; as some will be nearer to either Salford Royal or MRI. We have heard very little about the effect on capacity at these two hospitals. Certainly it seems anecdotally, that Salford does not want additional Trafford Patients. The commissioners have focused on Wythenshawe given its relationship to the South of Trafford, but for many in the North of the borough, Wythenshawe is only the fourth closest hospital. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that, should Trafford surrender some of its provision, the finances released will not be put to safe quality care accessible to patients displaced from Trafford General.
The overall impression is that Trafford residents are being thrown to the wind. The plan lacks a cohesive steer and that is neither reassuring on quality nor safety. Perhaps the cohesion in the plan will come from the forthcoming ‘Healthier Together’ review across Greater Manchester but that makes the argument compelling for this proposal to be only considered as part of the wider review. How can we be assured that quality will improve, when it is not certain how provision will be allocated across the city region?
To what extent do you support the Orthopaedic Centre in our proposal ?
I support it with some reservations
The proposals are welcome. Suggestions for utilisation of the facilities at the former Greater Manchester Surgical Centre are particularly encouraging, and steps must be taken to ensure they’re fully realised. However we learned from the surgical centre that a contributing factor is the inaccessibility of Trafford General for the rest of the conurbation and whether we like it or not, there will be resistance from patients in other parts of the city.
We will want to ensure that Trafford General raises its reputation beyond those in the locality.
To what extent do you support the outpatients element of our proposal?
I support it with some reservations
I believe this is a positive aspect and would expect improved out patient treatment with greater outreach care undertaken. The integrated care model should include this aspect within the design. Consultants should not be an add-on but integrated into the model.
The effective delivery of good or excellent outpatient care in a community setting is constrained by the shamefully poor quality of health infrastructure in many parts of the borough, particularly Gorse Hill and Old Trafford. The Gorse Hill Surgery together with Seymour Grove, Stretford Memorial and many other locations are not appropriate settings for 21st Century health provision.
To what extent do you support the discontinuation of intensive care and emergency surgery in our proposal?
I do not support it
I have more difficulty with this question than any other aspect within the consultation. I have to be mindful that the low numbers does place a question mark over the quality and safety of provision. It is a compelling argument.
Nevertheless, the ‘Healthier Together’ review next year has to look at provisions across Greater Manchester and in my view we should look at what Trafford General’s role is within the revised specification before withdrawing services.
To what extent do you support the downgrading of Accident and Emergency provision in our proposal?
I do not support it
Again the decision should be deferred until the ‘Healthier Together’ review is undertaken.
However additionally, we have not been given any assurance from the ambulance service given the extra mileage and possible additional waiting times. Nor do we have assurance that other centres can cope. There is a case to be made for investment in Wythenshawe as it is already over capacity. Reducing A&E provision will mean more patients admitted to other hospitals and there is no good public transport provision to any of them for visitors or aftercare.
If our proposal is taken forward, are there any issues relating to emergency care (intensive care, emergency surgery and accident and emergency) that we need to consider?
Public Transport and better signposting both literally and figuratively. We know that severe trauma cases will already be ambulanced away from TGH. How is the parent driving a sickly child to know the quickest route to the most appropriate hospital?
How do we provide a quality response to Partington?
Are there any aspects you feel have not been considered?
I simply want to highlight the urgent need for better quality facilities in Gorse Hill, Firswood and Old Trafford.
I feel that A&E has dominated the debate, but there are other issues including additional pressure on the GP’s out of hours service that have struggled to get a hearing.
Councils back Kate Green MP in critique of Trafford’s Health Plans
Manchester has become the latest body to question whether the plans to downgrade A&E at Trafford General are viable without the assurance of investment in other services across the region.
Most significantly, the City Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee joined calls from Kate Green for Trafford’s health provision to be looked at in conjunction with the wider “Case for Change” review across Greater Manchester rather than in isolation.
The Committee agreed with Kate that Community Care urgently “needs to be resolved”. This is absolutely vital. Too often patients are admitted to hospital when they could be better treated at home if only the investment was in place. Everyone seems to agree on improving community care, but just closing A&Es doesn’t make it happen. It’s ludicrous to be cutting the strings to the parachute before we’re safely on the ground.
If we’re moving to new models of care and treatment delivery, we need to see firm commitments rather than vague aspiration. And again, Trafford should not; and indeed can not evolve in isolation. This transformation has be considered across the city-region.
Manchester has raised genuine concerns over the impact that changes in Trafford will have on availability of health provision for Manchester residents. They are right to do so, We need investment in Wythenshawe Hospital’s A%E capacity today, as Kate Green, Paul Goggins MP, and reiterated here by the council’s scrutiny committee.
We need to be assured too about the impact on other services and Manchester has cited the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
The City Council has produced an excellent report which alongside Trafford’s similar excellent report under the chairmanship of my colleague Cllr Judith Lloyd and ably supported by Labour members, Cllrs Sophie Taylor, Joanne Harding and Kevin Procter.
These two reports will feed into the combined Scrutiny Report across the two councils and to be submitted to the consultation.. The committee meets tomorrow night (Monday, 29th October at 6:30pm in Committee Room 11, Manchester Town Hall).