onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003


Archive for Health and Care

Essex Consults On How Good Is Your Local Chemist

Essex County Council is holding a public consultation on local pharmaceutical services. The consultation will run until 30th April.
Members of the public are asked to complete a short questionnaire on the services provided by pharmacies, dispensing doctors and internet pharmacies in the Essex area. The results of the survey will help the County Council and the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board to understand how local people use the services, how they rate their experiences and what services they would like to see in the future.
The questionnaire is completely confidential and does not require any personal identifying information.

The results of the survey will be used to help produce a Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment for Essex determining what, if any, services will be required to meet local needs. The report will be available to the public from early 2015.

Councillor Ann Naylor, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health & Wellbeing, said: “We would really encourage members of the public to tell us about their experiences of services from chemist’s shop. It will only take a few minutes to complete, so please take advantage of this opportunity to help shape the services of the future.”

The survey is live at

For more information or to request a paper copy/alternative format call 01245 430 430 or email

Food For Thought

Cafe Life DSCF0372


One of our Lib Dem colleagues in Watford mentioned that their local paper had published a list of all the food establishments in that town which got a rating of “Zero” on food hygiene.

Which prompted us to check for our district. You can find out about this by going to the Food Standards Agency website here. You can then search for a particular restaurant etc or you can search by town or district.

There are 480 entries for Rochford District , you can find them all here.  We are pleased to say that most  get a rating of 5 out of 5. And none at all get a ‘Zero’. Just seven of them get a rating of “1″.



In Praise of Health Care Assistants


Southend Lib Dem Neil Monnery had to visit the Acute Medical Unit at Southend Hospital on Saturday…

Well Saturday didn’t go quite as planned. I was woken up at around 4:45 by my body coughing and eventually I was able to hack out a blood-ball from my throat. Not pretty in prose let alone in reality…..

Doctor and senior doctor came down around 5 o’clock and said I was an extremely healthy young man. The key thing was my lungs looked in perfect shape and the issue was with my blood. However it wasn’t an issue that concerned them too much, not enough to keep me in anyway. Basically they think my body is still battling whatever infection it started fighting three weeks ago…

After this Neil adds:

….One other thing I want to write about though is the staff. I have been involved in Hospital Radio for several years, so I see a window into what the staff have to deal with but on Saturday I was a patient and saw first hand for several hours everything thrown at them. I was treated thoroughly and both the doctor and the senior doctor were truly first rate. The nurse who admitted me and did all my initial tests was great as well and I didn’t really have any dealings with any other staff. However I did watch the HCA’s closely as they get a lot of stick in the press for not being nurse’s and this one young HCA didn’t sit down between the time I was admitted at around 11:45 to the time she went for her lunch at around 2ish. She genuinely did not sit down once, not even for a few seconds.
I was extremely impressed by her considering the job she was doing was certainly not glamorous in any way shape or form. It included helping people to pee and poo as well as then clean them up. I didn’t see her roll her eyes once. I thought that was a miracle in itself. I know if I had to face some of the issues she faced in those five or so hours that I watched then I’d not be able to take it at all. So for all those rubbishing HCA’s for not being nurses then I think they should go and watch an HCA for a shift and I firmly their opinions will change mightily quickly.
As for me, I’ll live. I’ll heed the advice to basically only do essentially talking until I have been cough and phlegm free for a good week or so.

A Little Bit Of Help For Hospital Patients


Councillors John and Christine Mason are launching a modest but worthwhile initiative to help hospital patients a little:

…. we have become increasingly aware that there are other needs that some patients have, especially those with a slightly longer hospital stay and it is these simple needs that the TLC fund hopes to address.
Imagine being ill and in bed, alone but not alone, with nothing to occupy your mind. However because you have no family or friends able to visit, no one that can fetch that half finished book or knitting, you are unable to take your mind away from the situation you are in.
….This is where the TLC fund comes in, administered by the Hospital Chaplaincy team, the funds aim is simple – to provide the means for a crossword book or a newspaper, to allow the patient the dignity of purchasing some sweets or biscuits of their choice. It sounds so simple but if you are imprisoned in a Hospital bed relying on the services of strangers sometimes it is the little things that can lift spirits and bring that extra measure of comfort.
We are not trying to change the world, just improve our corner of it.
Donations can be sent to Rochford District Residents at Wistaria Cottage, Englefield Close, Hawkwell, Essex SS5 4LE, clearly marked for the TLC Fund. All donations will be paid into Rochford District Residents Bank Account and given in cash to Southend Hospital…..

Full article on their website here.

A Row Brewing….

There’s a big political row brewing over past problems at Basildon Hospital.

Peter Black (no relation) blogs about it here.

According to the Sunday Times Mr. Burnham, who is now the shadow health secretary, is preparing libel proceedings against one of his successors in that post, Jeremy Hunt over remarks made on Twitter. They say that Labour party lawyers yesterday wrote to Hunt demanding that he remove the comments from the social networking site or face further action…. Jeremy Hunt is refusing to back down, which leads me to wonder whether Burnham will go ahead with his threat to sue. After all juries are notoriously (and quite rightly) unsympathetic to politicians and their reputation.

More damagingly though such a court case could lead to a very public and forensic dissection of Andy Burnham’s time in charge of the NHS. Would any minister, irrespective of party voluntarily agree to such a scenario?

“See You On The OUTSIDE”

Project Wild Thing is a film-led project – about getting people, especially children, outside, into nature.

If you want nature, wildness and free-range living for kids and adults to exist alongside an increasingly industrialised and technological society then join us and get involved in making that happen.
See you on the outside.

This little film explains it better and is worth watching. Sometimes you are tempted to laugh – or maybe wince :

Hat-tip: Liberal England

No Increase In Life Expectancy, More Violent Crime, More Smoking, More Diabetes, But Fewer Opiates.

The new 2013 Public Health profile for Rochford District can be found on this page . Just look for Rochford, and click on the one for 2013.
For some reason we didn’t write anything about last year’s profiles, though we did write about them in 2011 and 2006

Here’s 10 lots of statistics about our district:

1. A baby girl growing up here has a life expectancy of 84.0 years, that’s better than average for England and with no change from a couple of years ago.
2. Nearly 15 percent our Year 6 children are classified as ‘obese’. Shockingly, that’s still better than average for England.
3. Over 25 percent of our adults are classified as obese and that is worse than average.
4. Deprivation is lower here than average. Even so, 11 percent of children – over 1,700 individual children are classified as living in poverty. (That means living in families receiving means-tested benefits and/or low income).
The percentage of children living in poverty has increased by about a tenth in the past 2 years.
5. Violent crime in our district is much lower than average – 6.2 reported crimes against the person per thousand population per year. That’s 519 violent crimes in the 12 month period 2011-12. But this is significantly larger than the figure 2 years ago, which was 397.
6. 15 percent of adults smoke – that’s lower than the average in England , but higher than two years ago, when the figure was only 12 percent.
7. 5 percent of patients on GP registers here are diagnosed with diabetes. That’s 4066 people. That’s slightly better than average, though slightly higher than 2 years ago.
8. We have 171 people who are problem drug users using crack and/or opiates. That’s down from 223 a couple of years ago, and much better than average.
9. Levels of skin cancer here are slightly higher than average for England – though things are getting slightly better. Apparently 12 people were diagnosed with malignant melanoma
10. Levels of TB in our district are very low – only 3 cases a year, compared with 4 cases a couple of years ago.

Food Hygiene Map

The Guardian website has an interactive map here , showing food hygiene ratings – not only for restaurants, but schools as well.

So it’s good to see, for example, that Downhall School gets a “5″ rating:

Let’s Aim For Longer Lives

Public Health England is a new government organisation – dealing with public health.

In this video John Newton, Chief Knowledge Officer at Public Health England, introduces Longer Lives — a new web-based tool which allows local people to see how their areas perform on early deaths from major killers, like heart disease and cancer, and how it varies across the country.

We’ll be looking at the Longer Lives website again in the future – here’s just a taster of the info there, which shows that Essex isn’t do that well in preventing premature deaths from cancer:

But we are doing better with heart disease:

Questions and Answers On “Land North Of London Road”


We are almost certainly going to get about 550 new homes “North of London Road” and about 220 on the Rawreth Industrial Estate. We didn’t want it, but now we must work to get the best outcome we can. Chris Black has been asking the council some questions recently – here they are, with the answers:

I notice that in the Allocations Document, in the section dealing with Land North Of London Road, it states:
“A Health Impact Assessment must be undertaken and accompany any planning applications to develop the site. Actions required to address any negative impacts identified through the Health Impact Assessment must accompany the development of the site.”
What sort of impacts could these be? Could they result in an additional local GP surgery?


A Health Impact Assessment should consider the impact of the proposed development on health care provision in the surrounding area, including an assessment of existing healthcare provision at the time the application is made, and whether additional facilities would be required.
A Health Impact Assessment should also look at the wider health impacts of a proposed development, examining such issues as access to open space and leisure facilities; and whether the design of the development would contribute positively towards health through, for example, the density being such that it allowed for good size living and amenity areas.

Who will carry out the assessment? What developers have contacted the council so far regarding “Land North of London Road”

The assessment will have to be submitted alongside the planning application and would be produced by the agent / applicant, or a consultant on their behalf (for example, the health impact assessment for the application to redevelopment the former brickworks site at Star Lane, Great Wakering was produced for the applicant by Pegasus Planning Group). As part of the planning application process, public health (now transferred from NHS to County) will be consulted and have the opportunity to review the assessment (in a similar way to how ECC highways would review a transport assessment submitted alongside a planning application).
Countryside Properties have stated they have control over land between Rawreth Lane and London Road, and are in the process of drawing up a masterplan for the development of the site.

– are Countryside also involved with the redevelopment of the Rawreth Industrial Estate, and how is is that proceeding?Is anything you have told me in this exchange of emails confidential or not suitable for publication?

I do not believe Countryside are directly involved in the redevelopment of the Rawreth Industrial Estate. However, they are mindful of the need to ensure development of the proposed site to the west can integrate with the proposed redevelopment of Rawreth Industrial Estate in the future. Redevelopment of Rawreth Industrial Estate is projected to take place later in the plan period than the adjacent greenfield site.
In terms of progress on redevelopment of the Rawreth Industrial Estate, it is still at a very early stage. Property consultants are currently looking at the detailed viability of redeveloping the site, and of course there remains the matter of ensuring suitable alternative land for displaced businesses is allocated, which the Allocations Document currently being examined by the Planning Inspectorate seeks to do.

None of the information I have set out above or below is confidential or unsuitable for publication.

“Trying My Patients”

We’ve stumbled upon a blog called Trying My Patients . It’s written by someone called Ella , who works in the Ambulance Service “somewhere between Land’s End and John o’Groats”. It is very readable. Here’s an example:

12 year old male, rash on body
….We pulled up outside the house to be greeted by ‘that frantic wave’. You know, the wave I have mentioned before that tells you something isn’t right and you really need to get a wiggle on. I followed the mum through the front door straight in the lounge. The boy was just wearing his underwear which enabled me to see most of his skin. Every part of him was bright red and covered in the worst hives I have ever seen. His face was swollen and he was in untold discomfort. He stood up and rushed to the toilet. It turns out he also had uncontrollable diarrhoea. Although his tongue wasn’t swollen and he denied struggling to breathe I felt his condition was bad enough to treat for anaphylaxis and after a brief conversation with our Clinical Support Desk they agreed.
Once I’d decided what we were going to do, I then had to do it and this is where the second guessing begun! It is very rare to have to cannulate a child and if we had been 5 minutes from hospital we’d have just run but the fact it was longer and the fact his rash was getting worse by the second I wanted to try for a vein before they all completely vanished…

She also has some very blunt advice for motorists, cyclists, relatives, GPs…. Here’s some of her advice for care homes:

It’s horrible to see the elderly who have spent a lifetime serving the country and paying taxes left in squalor because the care staff don’t give a crap. Invariably there are two sides to every care home. The side that the relatives see during visiting hours and the graveyard shift. During the day, patients are paraded in social areas, full of Amitriptyline and polite, English speaking nurses tend to their needs in full view of anyone who pops by. At shift change they are replaced by a bunch of miserable mis-fits who don’t care one iota about the people they are supposed to be looking after. OK, I’m generalising massively and tarring the good ones with a bad brush but in all honesty the good homes rarely call us so I we don’t see them. They care for their patients as they should and as a result their patients rarely go to hospital. When they do, they are clean, we get a handover, a full history with matching paperwork, an escort and a smile. Sadly we are more likely to get a seriously ill patient, be greeted with a grunt, no handover, no paperwork, no history and no escort. Our patient is likely to have soiled themselves and been left to suffer. These are the homes I want to Take Note. These are the ones that need investigating.

Don’t leave your patient lying in their own faeces.
Don’t tell us they were fine an hour ago when they’ve been dead for 6.
Don’t put your patient to bed after they have gone into cardiac arrest.
Don’t negate to start CPR because “We are short staffed”
Don’t negate to start CPR because “I forgot”
Don’t call yourself a ‘care home’ if you’re not going to care
Don’t put coded doors on every corridor and look annoyed when we knock.
Don’t call 999 just because your patient fell over. Check them first.
Don’t allow a catheter bag to fill to bursting point.
Don’t allow a colostomy bag to fill to bursting point.
Don’t put tea in the mouth of someone who is dead to cover your arse.
Don’t call yourself a ‘care home’ if you’re not going to care
Don’t wait until your patient is septic before calling us.
Don’t leave your patient uncleaned for days on end. We can tell. We can smell.
Don’t look at me blankly when I ask what room we need to go to.
Don’t look at me blankly when I ask what is wrong with the patient.
Don’t look at me blankly when I ask for a medical history.
Don’t call yourself a ‘care home’ if you’re not going to care

Let’s hope the care homes in our area are all better than the ones Ella describes.

Good News On Blood Testing

Good news today – as the Echo reports:

BLOOD testing is to stay local in south Essex after a long fought campaign.

Congrats to the Echo for their efforts on this, also to former Rayleigh Councillor John Gibson for his campaigning, and to Castle Point Borough Council for passing a motion opposing this.

But no credit to Rochford District Council – who refused to take a view! When pressed on this by Chris Black at the last full council, Tory leader Terry Cutmore responded:

Responding to a question on the proposed move of GP blood testing facilities from Basildon and Southend to Bedford, the Leader advised that the Council’s position had not changed since this question was raised at the last scheduled Council meeting. While it was clearly vital the residents continued to have access to the correct blood tests in a timely manner, it was also the case that all public bodies had to make savings. The decision on the future of blood testing was one that would be made by the Clinical Commissioning Groups who were better placed to take an informed decision.

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The Core Strategy

This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

Planning Applications…

If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

If you want to know what new planning applications have been submitted this week, click here.

Reporting A Problem

If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
There's also an independent website called FixMyStreet. It's very good for reporting minor street problems like holes in the road, grafitti or failed streetlights. You can find FixMyStreet here.

The Roads That Need Repairing

The County Council admitted in July that over 200 roads in our district need repairing! They say they will fix them by May 2013. Click here to see the list.

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