Probe into NHS service quality in York

York Councillors will be given an insight into the several problems faced by the NHS in York over the winter period.

They will be told that the number of patients increased with GP to hospital referrals up by as much as 19%.

NHS managers say that nationally it was one of the most challenging winters with the “lowest national performance since reporting began in 2004”.

There was  a “surge pressure” from Christmas Day to the New Year (footfall increase of 14% +522; ambulance increase 9% +123, compared to same period in 2015 -16).

Staff sickness, in particular on bank holidays, limited the options for additional cover

Emergency Care Standards (4 hour waits) targets in A & E were not met. They hit a record low point in January but performance had improved by March.

Hospital report on A & E performance

Lack of hospital beds continues to be blamed on delayed discharges (bed blocking) with over 5000 bed days being lost.

The report  is bound to fuel demands for higher investment in NHS services. It has emerged as a key issue in the current General Election campaign

York Council takes action to ease debt risk for poorer families

The York Council has agreed to pay some of the fees involved in setting up and running a budget bank account at the Credit Union shop at 8 Acomb Court off York Road (tel.03030 300010) .

Details of budget and other accounts available at the branch can be found on the SYCC web site

The Council is taking the action to encourage those reliant on the Universal Credits benefit package to budget to avoid debts. Univeral Credit is paid in arrears and can be difficult to manage.

report to a recent meeting says,

“A recent article on the Association of Retained Council Housing site indicated that:

  • 86% of universal credit (UC) claimants living in council owned homes are in rent arrears (compared to 79% at March 2016).
  • 59% of universal credit claimants living in council owned homes have arrears that equate to more than one month’s rent.
  • Although 63% of UC tenants in arrears had pre-existing arrears before their UC claim only 44% of them are on APAs (alternative payment arrangements with direct payment from DWP)
  • The average value of arrears tenants owed across UC households has almost doubled to £615 since 31 March 2016 when average amount was £321.

A research article expressed concern about rent arrears.

“Not only are numbers of households increasing as UC is rolled out, but the percentage of households falling into rent arrears and experiencing financial difficulty is critically high.

If this trend is not reversed it will have significant impact on local authorities’ rental income streams and the long term ability for housing departments to provide essential services to their communities.

Use of the SYCU budget account and related services by customers could be one way of helping them manage their money effectively, prevent debt and help manage debt where this is accrued”.

Council officials will now help to promote the budget account to qualifying residents.


Health check at Acomb Explore library proving popular

 Today’s Health Check and Boccia session at Acomb Explore Library has proved to be popular with residents

Visit  to learn more about free health checks

Cllr Sue Hunter had her health checked out

Energise were there

& Health Watch

Muscle or fat?

Older Citizens Advocacy Group

PCSOs were there

New pilot service aims to reduce falling at home

A new scheme to help prevent people falling in their homes is starting in York by a partnership of housing, health and safety experts.

Research commissioned by City of York Council from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in 2015, identified that falls in the home was a cause for concern. Typically the risk of falls was increased due to missing stair rails, uneven flooring or poor internal lighting especially for children aged under five and older persons. Clifton ward was identified as one of the wards with a higher level of risk of falls than the city average

As part of its drive to offer preventative help and improve the quality of the city’s housing, the council brought together partners including the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue. With its own public health, occupational therapy and building maintenance teams, it has developed a project to reduce the risk of falls for residents in their homes.

Over the 12-month pilot, free home safety checks will be offered to residents in Clifton ward, as part of the council’s YorWellbeing Services.

An advisor with handyperson skills and an occupational therapist will request home visits and offer practical advice specific to the resident and their home. The team can make simple improvements there and then such as fitting a grab rail or fitting brighter light bulbs, or their advice could include tightening carpets or using non-slip mats under rugs to smooth out trip risks or suggesting exercises to help the resident improve their balance. They will also signpost residents to other relevant services.

To date, the findings from the BRE study have been used to revise the council’s Private Sector Housing Strategy in 2016; to attract funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority to tackle excess cold by offering insulation grants or interest-free loans to owners or landlords; and to raise awareness of the link between quality accommodation and good health which included hosting a regional health and housing conference at the University of York.

Now The Retreat gets disappointing inspection report

Inspectors have criticised standards at York’s Retreat home which specialises in the care of people with mental health issues. The report may place further pressure on York’s mental health services following the sudden closure of the Bootham Park hospital 2 years ago,

The Retreat report – prepared by the Care Quality Commission – cites concerns about;

  • Medicine management
  • Poor staff development
  • Unnecessarily long stays for older people
  • Inadequate staffing levels
  • Incomplete risk assessments s
  • Poor dining arrangements.

The report does say that all areas were clean and tidy, that staff had good support from managers, patients and carers were involved, staff had a good knowledge of legislation and that proper safeguarding processes were mostly in place.

The Retreat York was established in 1796 and is an independent specialist mental health care provider for treatment of up to 98 people with complex mental health needs. The service is located on a forty-acre site on the outskirts of York City centre. The main building is Grade II listed with a range of their buildings situated in the grounds.

NB The Retreat at Strensall was rated as “good” by the CQC in a similar inspection

All eyes on investment in health budget as York NHS hits crisis

UPDATE – So not much hope for the NHS in todays budget announcement. There will be a scheme to put a supplementary GP workforce into some A & E departments next winter and there is more for social care. But Councils face a further dramatic reduction in government grants with a likely knock on effect on crisis management by either the NHS or emergency services.. 

EARLIER: Whether the Chancellor will do anything in today’s budget to help York’s cash strapped NHS services remains to be seen.

A report, being considered by the York Council today, reveals the extent of the problems facing local health services.

Currently cuts of around £45 million are expected placing additional pressures on a service which is already facing a crisis.

NHS York started off with the lowest funding per head of population across the whole region. Cuts are now expected to fall on:

  • outpatients
  • continuing healthcare
  • prescribing
  • high-cost drugs
  • elective orthopaedics (e.g. hip, knee replacement)
  • out of hospital facilities

The local LibDem health spokesperson said, “Cuts in services such as continuing healthcare and out of hospital care are not welcome news”.

“Liberal Democrats will continue to call for the Government to acknowledge the growing pressures on health services and give York a fair funding deal.”

Meanwhile the scale of the centralisation of GP surgery facilities has become clearer. Many are set to become localised mini hospitals with several in Acomb – including the now huge Priory Group which has premises on Cornlands Road – now the largest in the City.

In the Westfield Ward a “Local Area Coordinator” is being appointed by the Council to support people who may “feel vulnerable due to age, frailty, disability or mental health needs”

Interviews are currently taking place and the successful applicant is expected to start work later in the Spring.