Responding to the latest delayed transfers of care figures published today by NHS England, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“No one’s elderly parent, grandparents or friends should be left unnecessarily in a hospital bed, when they could be treated in the comfort and dignity of their own home.

“Councils are absolutely committed to reducing the level of delayed transfers of care from the NHS and are working with providers and hospitals to help reduce pressures on health services.

“Across the country nearly six out of 10 people delayed in hospital are unable to leave because they require further NHS services, with just over a third awaiting support from council social care.

“The scale of underfunding councils have faced in recent years is placing the care provider market under huge pressure, making it more difficult to discharge people from hospital back to their homes and communities.

“The £2 billion announced in the Spring Budget was a step in the right direction, yet councils still face an annual social care funding gap of £2.3 billion by 2020.

“For this money to be spent effectively, councils need to be given full freedom and flexibility to invest it in the areas where it is most needed.

“The recent announcement around how this should be spent shows this freedom is very much lacking. Setting councils what will at least in some cases be unachievable reduction targets for delayed transfers is unhelpful, and it is disappointing councils are being hit with even further pressures at a time when services are already strained and overstretched.

“It is absolutely critical that the Government brings forward its consultation for social care announced in the Queen’s Speech, and that it works with local government leaders in delivering a long-term sustainable funding solution for social care.”


Responding to a new study by Healthwatch on people’s experiences of care homes, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“Councils want to see everyone receive high quality care and for care homes to be of a high standard that meet people’s needs, going beyond simply getting washed and dressed but living as independent and fulfilling a life as possible.

“While it is clear that in some places, there is work to be done and areas for improvement, it is encouraging to note that most people have said the care they receive is good.

“The recent Care Quality Commission report also found that the majority of care provided for adults is rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

“Councils, as commissioners, work closely with providers who deliver services to ensure both the availability of high quality care and continuous improvement.

“But this study is yet another reminder of the stark reality of the funding crisis facing adult social care, and the urgent need to bring desperately needed stability to the provider market.

“While the £2 billion announced in the Spring Budget for social care was a step in the right direction, it is only one-off funding and social care services still face an annual £2.3 billion funding gap by 2020.

“It is absolutely critical that the Government brings forward its consultation for social care announced in the Queen’s Speech, and that it works with local government leaders in delivering a long-term sustainable solution for social care. This must address the issue of long-term funding, but it must also create the conditions necessary to ensure the development of the right kind of care and support services.”


Children’s social care is being pushed to breaking point, with growing demand for support leading to 75 per cent of councils in England overspending on their children’s services budgets by more than half a billion pounds, council leaders warn.

New analysis by the Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, reveals that in 2015/16 councils surpassed their children’s social care budgets by £605 million in order to protect children at immediate risk of harm.

Councils have faced an unprecedented surge in demand for children’s social care support over recent years, which is showing little sign of abating. More than 170,000 children were subject to child protection enquiries in 2015/16, compared to 71,800 in 2005/06 – a 140 per cent increase in just 10 years.

The number of children on child protection plans increased by almost 24,000 over the same period, while ongoing cuts to local authority budgets are forcing many areas to make extremely difficult decisions about how to allocate increasingly scarce resources.

The LGA is warning that the pressures facing children’s services are rapidly becoming unsustainable, with a £2 billion funding gap expected by 2020. Unless urgent action is taken to reduce the number of families relying on the children’s social care system for support, this gap will continue to grow.

The huge financial pressures councils are under, coupled with the spike in demand for child protection support, mean that the limited money councils have available is increasingly being taken up with the provision of urgent help for children and families already at crisis point, leaving very little to invest in early intervention.

LGA analysis shows that government funding for the Early Intervention Grant has been cut by almost £500 million since 2013, and is projected to drop by a further £183 million by 2020 – representing a 40 per cent reduction by the end of the decade. Without this funding, councils have found it increasingly difficult to invest in the early help services that can prevent children entering the social care system, and help to manage needs within families to avoid them escalating.

The struggle faced by councils attempting to balance increased demand alongside reduced funding is perhaps most starkly illustrated by the closure of 365 children’s centres and 603 youth centres since 2012, as local authorities are forced to make difficult decisions about the way in which they deliver these services.

Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:

“The fact that the majority of councils are recording high levels of children’s services overspend in their local areas shows the sheer scale of the funding crisis we face in children’s social care, both now and in the near future.

“Councils have done everything they can to respond to the growing financial crisis in children’s social care, including reducing costs where they can and finding new ways of working. However, they are at the point where there are very few savings left to find without having a real and lasting impact upon crucial services that many children and families across the country desperately rely on.

“With councils facing a £2 billion funding gap for children’s services in just three years’ time it is more important than ever that the Government prioritises spending in this area.

“There is no question that early intervention can help to limit the need for children to enter the social care system, lay the groundwork for improved performance at school and even help to ease future pressure on adult social care by reducing the pressure on services for vulnerable adults.

“However, cuts to the Early Intervention Grant have exacerbated a difficult situation where councils cannot afford to withdraw services for children in immediate need of protection to invest in early help instead.

“The reality is that services for the care and protection of vulnerable children are now, in many areas, being pushed to breaking point. Government must commit to the life chances of children and young people by acting urgently to address the growing funding gap.”


Responding to an NHS Digital survey published today on carers experiencing financial difficulties and social isolation, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“Unpaid carers play an invaluable role in looking after those with care and support needs, and are estimated to save the economy £132 billion a year. Without the incredible work of carers, social care and the NHS would collapse.

“The findings of this report and the link between financial problems caused by caring, and social isolation, highlight the need for government to set out how it will address the needs of carers in its long-awaited Carers Strategy.

“Supporting carers is fundamentally important to local government, and we fully backed the important changes brought in by the Care Act to improve the lives of carers, in particular the move to ensure that carers are recognised in law in the same way as those they care for.

“The whole sector needs to work together to identify carers, support carers in employment, and ensure they are able to maintain their own health and wellbeing, while raising awareness amongst the wider community of the vital work they do.

“However, the continuing underfunding of adult social care has limited councils’ ability to provide support to people with care needs and their carers.

“It is absolutely critical that the Government brings forward its consultation for social care announced in the Queen’s Speech, and that it works with local government leaders in delivering a long-term sustainable funding solution for social care.”


Responding to the new Public Health England report ‘Health Profile for England’, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“This ground-breaking PHE analysis shows how deprivation can lead to long-term ill health and premature death for the most deprived.

“We know that those living in the most deprived communities experience poorer mental health, higher rates of smoking and greater levels of obesity than the more affluent. They spend more years in ill health and they die sooner. Reducing health inequalities is an economic and social challenge as well as a moral one.

“Since 2013, local government has been responsible for public health in England and has specific responsibilities to tackle health inequalities as well as improving the public’s health overall.

“Local authorities and their public health teams understand how to use their traditional functions in conjunction with their newly acquired public health expertise to maximise the role councils can play in closing the unjust health inequalities gap. But reductions in councils’ public health grants of more than £530 million by the end of the decade will impact on councils’ ability to continue this good work.

“Central government has to play its part in reducing poverty and breaking the link between deprivation, ill health and lower life expectancy.”

North West volunteers have their fingers on the pulse of health technology

A team of volunteers has been recruited to help spot friends and relatives at risk of a stroke.

The AF Ambassadors have been signed up by the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, to identify people who may have atrial fibrillation (AF) – an irregular heart rate which can lead to a life-threatening stroke.

One in five strokes is caused by AF and the North West has one of the highest AF related stroke rates in the UK. Each stroke costs the NHS and social care services around £24,000 in the first year alone.

The Innovation Agency is spreading the use of AliveCor Kardia devices – portable Electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors which attach to the back of a mobile smartphone and display a heart rate reading on an app.

AliveCor’s technology captures the heart rate of the user in just 30 seconds and shows an alert if the user’s heart rate is outside the normal range.

When this happens, the Ambassador will advise the person to visit their GP as soon as possible and will email an ECG trace to the user’s doctor or send it to the person themselves so they can show it to a healthcare professional.

Kim Hughes, a stroke survivor from Walton, is one of the first AF Ambassadors. She said:

“A quarter of people who have a stroke are under 65 and I was just 33 when I had mine. I didn’t even realise I’d had a stroke. I just lost all the feeling down one side. I was trying to do my daughter’s hair and I couldn’t move my arms properly then afterwards I kept getting migraines and was sleeping all the time.”

Following a brain scan at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Kim was shocked to discover that she’d had a stroke. “I thought strokes only happened to older people – I was petrified.” she said.

It has been 11 years since Kim had her stroke and she is living proof that life can be good again. She said: “The first three years were really hard but I would like to reassure survivors that there is life after stroke. Keeping positive helps, as well as setting yourself small goals each day.”

Kim keeps herself busy volunteering for The Brain Charity at The Walton Centre and is enjoying her new role as an AF Ambassador.

“I want to help prevent strokes because I know the damage they can cause to the victims and their families. I’m going to be testing people for AF at the Disability Awareness Day in Warrington this weekend.”

Scott Smith, community development manager for the Stroke Association, has also become an AF ambassador. He said: “AF is a contributing factor in up to one in five strokes in the UK and it is estimated there could be another half a million people in the UK with undiagnosed AF.

“Prevention of strokes is one of our aims so we’re delighted to be working with the Innovation Agency. If using the app can prevent one person having a stroke then it’s worth it every time.”

Debbie Parkinson, Patient and Public Involvement Lead for the Innovation Agency said: “Our new AF Ambassadors will help to spread the word about AF and hopefully raise awareness in their communities and reduce the incidence of strokes.

“We have tasked them to test 50 people each on their Kardia Mobile. It’s a brilliant innovation and very easy to use.”

The Innovation Agency is recruiting more AF Ambassadors and anyone who would like to get involved should call Debbie on 01772 520250 or email debbie.parkinson@innovationagencynwc.nhs.uk.


A group of parents who each lost a teenager to meningitis have issued a hard-hitting warning to other parents to ensure their children take up a lifesaving vaccine against the disease.

Parents including; Michelle Bresnahan, Paul Gentry, Julia Styles and Ailsa Sugrue  – are spearheading charity Meningitis Now’s campaign to increase Men ACWY vaccine uptake amongst young adults.

United in their grief, they have taken the brave step to speak out about the pain of their loss to prevent similar tragedies happening to other families.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Michelle Bresnahan said: “We all know only too well how devastating this disease can be and have seen the worst it can do, destroying young lives and tearing apart those who remain. 

We want to appeal to all parents to ensure their children are vaccinated, especially those who are heading off to university this autumn.

“We’re also calling on parents to ask another parent in their son’s or daughter’s friendship group to do likewise – the more awareness we can raise the better.

“If by speaking out and sharing our tragic stories we can persuade other parents and their children to act then our children’s deaths will not have been in vain.

“No one should be left counting the cost of inaction when there is a quick and effective vaccination freely available.”

Meningitis Now’s campaign coincides with a campaign by Public Health England to increase vaccination rates among young people.

The Men ACWY vaccine has been offered to all 17 and 18-year-olds and all university entrants, aged 19-25, free on the NHS since August 2015, to combat the rise in Men W cases in adolescents. But cases continue to increase in England, from 30 in 2011/12 to 210 last year (2015/16), up from 176 the previous year.

Meanwhile uptake of the vaccine across the country remains stubbornly low at about one-third of those eligible.

Dr Tom Nutt, chief executive at Meningitis Now, said: “This is a brave step by these parents to speak out and a timely reminder to others to make sure young people get the Men ACWY vaccine.

“Teenagers are the second most at risk group of contracting meningitis after babies and toddlers and up to a quarter of students carry the bacteria that can cause meningitis compared to one in ten of the general population.

“Over 17 per cent of all cases of Men W occur in the 14 to 24 age group, with first year students being at particular risk.

“We remain deeply concerned about the low level of vaccine uptake – just 33% last year, which remains disappointingly below the 2015 uptake rate of 38%.” 

“It’s vital that young people and their parents are not complacent about the threat of meningitis – we urge them to take up this lifesaving vaccine.”

Those who are due to leave school this summer, or who are aged 17 – 18 and not in school (born between 1 September 1998 and 31 August 1999) are now eligible for the vaccine and should contact their GP practice.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE said:

“The MenACWY vaccination programme will save lives and prevent lifelong and devastating disability.

“We have seen a rapid increase in Men W cases across England in recent years and vaccination is the most effective way of protecting against infection.

“Young people are particularly at risk as they are carriers of the disease. Being in confined environments with close contact, such university halls, hostels when travelling, or attending festivals, increase the chances of infection if unprotected.

“Get vaccinated as soon as possible, remain vigilant and seek urgent medical help if you have concerns for yourself or friends.”

New entrants to higher education (university freshers) are also eligible. Anyone who is eligible and has missed vaccination in previous years remains eligible up to their 25th birthday and is urged to have the MenACWY vaccine.“

Meningitis Now is working towards a future where no one in the UK loses their life to meningitis and everyone affected gets the support they need.

It does this by funding research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis and rebuilding futures by providing dedicated support to people living with the impact of the disease.

For more information and to donate visit www.meningitisnow.org

Royal Free – Google DeepMind trial failed to comply with data protection law

The ICO has ruled the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust failed to comply with the Data Protection Act when it provided patient details to Google DeepMind.

The Trust provided personal data of around 1.6 million patients as part of a trial to test an alert, diagnosis and detection system for acute kidney injury.

But an ICO investigation found several shortcomings in how the data was handled, including that patients were not adequately informed that their data would be used as part of the test.

The Trust has been asked to commit to changes ensuring it is acting in line with the law by signing an undertaking.

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, said:

“There’s no doubt the huge potential that creative use of data could have on patient care and clinical improvements, but the price of innovation does not need to be the erosion of fundamental privacy rights.

“Our investigation found a number of shortcomings in the way patient records were shared for this trial. Patients would not have reasonably expected their information to have been used in this way, and the Trust could and should have been far more transparent with patients as to what was happening.

“We’ve asked the Trust to commit to making changes that will address those shortcomings, and their co-operation is welcome. The Data Protection Act is not a barrier to innovation, but it does need to be considered wherever people’s data is being used.”

Following the ICO investigation, the Trust has been asked to:

  • establish a proper legal basis under the Data Protection Act for the Google DeepMind project and for any future trials;
  • set out how it will comply with its duty of confidence to patients in any future trial involving personal data;
  • complete a privacy impact assessment, including specific steps to ensure transparency; and
  • commission an audit of the trial, the results of which will be shared with the Information Commissioner, and which the Commissioner will have the right to publish as she sees appropriate.

The undertaking we have asked the Trust to sign, and the letter outlining the conclusions of the ICO’s investigation, have both been published today.

The Information Commissioner has also published a blog, looking at what other NHS Trusts can learn from this case.

Outcomes following metal-on-metal hip revision have improved but could get even better, new study finds

A new study has found that outcomes following metal-on-metal hip revision surgery performed for abnormal reactions to metal have improved since the initial reports were published over five years ago, and are now similar to the outcomes in patients with other types of hip replacement undergoing revision surgery. The observed differences are in part due to increased surgical experience, researchers at the University of Oxford have suggested. However, the researchers proposed that surgeons had the potential to improve outcomes even further.

Approximately 1.5 million patients worldwide have received metal-on-metal hip replacements for painful arthritis. Abnormal reactions to metal can develop which may cause surrounding tissue damage. Many patients with these reactions require further operations, known as revision surgery. This is concerning as most patients who received this type of hip replacement are young and active. Therefore, poor results after these further operations would have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life.

The biggest study in the world of its kind, published today (Monday 3 July 2017), used National Joint Registry data on 2,535 metal-on-metal hip replacement patients undergoing revision surgery performed for abnormal reactions to metal (also known as adverse reactions to metal debris – ARMD). The study, funded by Arthritis Research UK and the Orthopaedics Trust, was carried out by researchers based at the University of Oxford.

The research team also identified some factors that the surgeon can modify during revision surgery, which could potentially improve the outcomes for patients further. These factors specifically related to which of the original metal-on-metal hip components were removed by the surgeon, and which material the surgeon used for the articulation at the revision procedure. These latest findings are important as surgeons have currently received very little guidance about how best to treat these patients.

On the study’s findings, one of the authors, Mr Gulraj Matharu, commented:

“Early studies in this area highlighted catastrophic short-term outcomes for patients undergoing revision for abnormal reactions to metal, with up to one third of patients requiring further surgery known as re-revision. Therefore, it is encouraging to observe substantially improved outcomes following hip revision surgery performed for abnormal reactions to metal.  This is positive news as there are still many patients who have metal-on-metal hip replacements that may require revision surgery in the future.

“It is important that surgeons have robust information concerning the expected outcomes of this type of surgery in order to appropriately discuss potential risks with patients.  The findings from our study should help support this dialogue between surgeons and patients.

“Additionally, our findings identified risk factors associated with a poor outcome but which surgeons could actually modify during the revision procedure. Surgeons should therefore be mindful of these when making decisions regarding the type of hip reconstruction to perform. Doing so may help to further reduce the rate of subsequent failure following ARMD revision, which would be beneficial to our patients.”

Dr Stephen Simpson, director of research and programmes at Arthritis Research UK; comments:

“This study will be welcome news to the 56,000 people living with metal-on-metal hip replacements in the UK.  This research could help the small percentage of those patients who may need to undergo revision surgery, by not only assisting in decision making but also by improving the outcomes of the surgery through advice for surgeons.

“There would seem to be real value in reviewing and carefully considering the recommendations made within this study by healthcare professionals.”

The findings have been published in the Bone and Joint Journal. The study was also selected as part of a prestigious ‘Game Changers’ session at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) annual meeting earlier this year.

The search is on for the best NHS suppliers and partnerships in the North West.

Supplier of the Year 2016 (1)

Supplier of the Year 2016 (1)

Applications are invited for the NHS in the North West Excellence in Supply Awards 2017 – recognising the work of businesses, third sector bodies and the NHS in working together to provide great patient care.

Last year’s overall winner was Falck Medical Services, who work with a dedicated NHS team in the North West and North Wales Transport Service, NWTS, to provide an ambulance service to transfer critically ill children.

There are 12 categories and the deadline for entries is 31 July. Applications can be made at: https://www.nwprocurement.co.uk/eiscategories.php.

Chair of the event organisers NHS North West Procurement Development and chief executive of one of the event sponsors, the Innovation Agency, Dr Liz Mear, said: “There are many different ways that our NHS partners are improving the way they deliver care, through partnerships with businesses, charities and other organisations.

“It is great to showcase examples of collaborations which are making care better for patients and service users – and more efficient for health services. These awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise these examples.”

Mick Guymer of NHS North West Procurement Development, said:

“This is the chance to build relationships with NHS trusts and be recognised and valued as an important partner. I urge anyone with a great product or service who is passionate about the work they do in the NHS, to apply.

“The awards have grown year on year and are now supported and recognised by senior NHS stakeholders as the pre-eminent accolade for suppliers’ achievements.”

The awards will be presented at an event at the Village Hotel, Blackpool, on Thursday 19 October.