The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wants to improve urgent care i.e. health problems needing a response within 24 hours (rather than life-threatening emergencies). Most of this need relates to minor illness, rather than minor injuries, and is provided in primary care, i.e. by a doctor, nurse or pharmacist based in your local General Practice. As appointments with overstretched GPs are hard to get, people turn to hospital services which were intended for accidents (injuries) and emergencies. The Walk-in Centre on Broad Lane in the city centre was supposed to prevent this by providing GP-style urgent care for minor illness.
As a Councillor for City ward, I am worried about closing the Walk-in Centre. It sees 60,000 patients a year, many of whom live in or near the city centre. Under the CCG’s proposals, rather than going straight to the Walk-in Centre, people will be encouraged to phone 111 for an urgent appointment with their GP. GP surgeries will be clustered into “Neighbourhoods” so that if your own GP is too busy, you will be offered an appointment in a linked practice. There are only two small practices in the city centre: Devonshire Green and the Clover City Practice at Mulberry Street. If they can’t cope, people will have to travel to Sharrow, Walkley or Crookes. Some residents of Neepsend and Kelham Island are registered with GPs in Burngreave. That Neighbourhood runs all the way north to Shiregreen! The proposed new Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at the Northern General with its poor public transport and inadequate, expensive parking will be the only other option.
When the Walk-in Centre was proposed in 2009, the Green Party argued that the money would be better spent on boosting GP surgeries which are local and know their patients. The CCG now say they want people to go to their GP for urgent care, but will spend all the money from closing the Walk-in Centre on the UTC at the NGH. This is another nail in the coffin for personalised, family care.
Mick N asks (Star Letters December 12) how a Green economy would work in a car free world. The Green Party is not calling for a car free world but we want to rapidly reduce the choking transport pollution that contributes to 7 million premature deaths a year across the globe.
“Polluter pays” is the principle behind Green Party policies, using taxes to ensure the cost of different types of transport reflect their social and environmental impacts. Currently the NHS is at breaking point picking up a massive bill for pollution-related health issues.
We hope that a rapid transition to electric or hydrogen powered cars will make a big difference although they are are not pollution free. We would like to have seen the Chancellor increasing incentives to help people take diesel vehicles off the roads in the recent budget.
Overall, people urgently need better public transport and safer cycling and walking options so they can choose to leave their cars at home. This would reduce congestion for all road users while improving dangerous air pollution and road safety. I note the absence of cycle routes in the Fitzalan Square scheme despite strong representations from Cycle Sheffield. Close to the rail and bus stations, this will do nothing for joining up cross-town cycle routes.
It’s great to see Sheffield’s Real Junk Food Project nominated as one of four finalists for the Social Enterprise of the Year Award. By working with volunteers serving 8,000 meals a month it uses 5 tonnes of food that would otherwise go to landfill. They are expanding rapidly with help from organisations like the Sheffield based Key Fund.
The tens of millions who have just watched Blue Planet 2 know that we have take action to move away from single use plastics. Those plastics often contain food and drink that ends up being wasted – 40% of bagged salads go uneaten, for example. The average UK family throws away £700 worth of food each year.
Real Junk Food Project are trailblazers. They “challenge the way producers, restaurants, supermarkets, and all of the players within the food industry, not least the government, handle ordering, over-production, distribution, and management of food in ways that create the unnecessary waste of edible food”.
They encourage us to reduce, reuse and recycle to cut down on the amount of waste we throw away and conserve natural resources, landfill space and energy.
Proposals to close the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at the Hallamshire Hospital and the Walk-In Centre on Broad Lane may work for accountants looking at spreadsheets. But it makes clear sense to keep both at their current locations which have good transport links from across the city. Not move them to the Northern General, which Sheffield Save Our NHS (SSONHS) rightly says is not “an accessible or acceptable alternative for people in other parts of Sheffield.”
The online consultation forces to you to choose one of a number of unacceptable options throughout – keeping the current locations is not offered.
What is the point of a consultation that doesn’t let you comment on the main proposals?
The suggestion that the proposed changes will mean simpler and less confusing service options for users has no obvious basis.
SSONHS sums up the situation well for the Minor Injuries Unit. It is “an effective and much valued service with a high degree of patient satisfaction. Many of us have used it ourselves.” My family have used it along with 18,000 people annually at the Hallamshire.
Sheffield Green Party has been helping SSONHS to collect signatures for their petition opposing the MIU’s closure. Lots of residents have signed it and many have said they’ve used the MIU.
Sheffield Green Party are giving Sheffield residents the opportunity to vote on Devolution. They have set up a poll with the same question being asked of Doncaster and Barnsley residents about whether to follow the Sheffield City Region or a wider Yorkshire model.
Speaker for the Greens on Sheffield Council Rob Murphy said “In October I called for our council to stop following the Government’s agenda on devolution and listen instead to the people of Sheffield. Barnsley and Doncaster Council’s are asking their residents and now the Green Party are giving the people of Sheffield their chance too.”
I would prefer Sheffield City Council to pursue a devolution proposal with:
a) Wider Yorkshire b) Sheffield City Region
Update – poll results
The devolution poll carried out by Sheffield Green Party has shown significant support for a wider Yorkshire deal. The poll showed support for the deal at 60.7% , a lead of over 20% above the alternative Sheffield City Region deal.
Green Spokesperson Cllr Rob Murphy commented: ‘It appears the people of South Yorkshire are not as divided as the Labour Party on devolution, with clear support for looking towards a strong Yorkshire voice on the national stage. It’s time the council leadership in Sheffield & Rotherham and the government started listening to the views of local people rather than each other.’
Sheffield has the ambition to grow its economy through devolution. Tell us which devolution model you think Sheffield should pursue.
What is Devolution?
Government is offering places in England the chance to have more responsibility and control over decisions that effect their area. It’s not about taking away powers from councils. This would mean that more decisions about spending on public services would be made here rather than by the Government in London. It could also help to strengthen our economy and increase the number of jobs.
Help us to decide
Before any new powers are formalised by government we need to find out your views about which devolution model you think we should pursue.
It’s important for every resident and business in Sheffield to give their opinion. We’re just asking a single question.
The poll closes on midnight on the 21st December. Please respect this poll and only vote if you are entitled to vote in Sheffield elections.
The last Full Council meeting before Christmas had an end-of-term air about it. There were Christmas chocolates, a collection for charity and a non-qualified teacher struggling to control a class of unruly children, even with the Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer acting as teaching assistants. Even those in the public gallery came very close to being ordered to sit out in the corridor for noisy behaviour.
Martin Phipps asked about the air pollution impact of council plans to widen the Inner Ring Road from two lanes to three. Cllr Scott denied this was a road-widening scheme. Jenny Carpenter asked about progress on an ethical procurement policy that had been promised in 2014 (now promised ‘soon’). Peter Garbutt asked why the council was spending time debating national topics it had no control over. Richard Davis asked about the accuracy of information about Amey’s health and safety infringements. Annie Taverner asked whether we had got beyond the days of the miners’ strike when masked officers would attack protesting miners.
When asked about the reputation of the city in the ongoing trees debacle and selling off the Central Library, the answer of Cllr Julie Dore was – inexplicably – that “most cities are envious of being in our position.”
There was a dignified and thoughtful petition from Graham Jones talking about real work a group of residents had done in Pitsmoor to inform people about the dangers of air pollution and what they could do. They had collected signatures by talking to people at school gates and in doctors’ surgeries. The vast majority were concerned and respectful. Graham stressed the importance of being informed, constructive and polite. This lesson was evidently lost on members of the council.
Members Questions is an opportunity for councillors to ask questions and for Cabinet Members to avoid answering them. I asked when we would hear more about commercial interest in the Central Library. The answer was “shortly.” What councillors did not know at the time was that selected media had already been informed even if councillors hadn’t.
We put amendments to motions opposing the closure of the Minor Injuries Unit and Walk-in centre, on the Council’s moral duty to protect the city’s children, and calling for an end to evictions of council tenants for debts of water rates. Other householders can’t even be disconnected for non-payment and we think there should be an end to this discrepancy.
Unfortunately, senior council officers objected to use of the words “to prison,” claiming they were “inaccurate.” It is indeed an astonishing discovery to find the official, if absurd, position of the council is that it never applied to send Alison to prison at all.
Unfortunately, instead of the usual process of giving us advice about formal wording, the officers deleted them and added some extra words of their own. This is certainly not permitted by the council’s constitution, raising serious questions about the relationship between elected members and paid officers on political matters.
There was more success with our Play Streets motion, inspired by Alison’s successful event on Wake Road in the summer. Whilst Labour couldn’t resist deleting the bulk of our motion, it did result in a positive statement that the Council was now designing a “transparent policy on street play.”
The meeting ended in a sea of increasing chaos with a report on significant changes to the constitution being voted on without proper debate. The changes will allow the Monitoring Officer to pursue her own complaints against councillors even where no external complaint has been made. The reason this is constitutionally unsound is because the Monitoring Officer has the role of overseeing the complaints process. I warned the council this makes her both judge and prosecution in her own case.
Both Alison and I (but no other councillors) had to make formal “declarations of interest” for this item, seeing that the Monitoring Officer has now accused both of us of breaching the Councillors protocols.
Finally, the Lord Mayor wished us all a merry Christmas, told us to get home safely and probably hoped some councillors wouldn’t come back next term.
Green councillors invited Sheffield City Council to protect council tenants by ending evictions for people who cannot afford to pay their water rates on time.
The move would bring council tenants into line with every other householder. Water companies were banned from disconnecting water supplies for non-payment in 1999 but council tenants can still be evicted if they get into debt.
The Green proposal came in an amendment to the council meeting on 6th December 2017, asking the council to account for water bills separately from rent accounts and ceasing to pursue eviction in the courts because of water rates;
Speaking on the proposal, Cllr Douglas Johnson said,
“I spent many years helping council tenants stop evictions when they got into debt. In every case, the council relies on non-payment of the water rates, as well as rent arrears. It is not enough for the council to say it will not evict where rent arears are solely due to delays in universal credit.
“The Council has a chance to make a real difference to the lives of council tenants at a time of crisis, simply by bringing their cases into line with everyone else.
After Labour councillors voted against the proposal, Cllr Alison Teal said,
“It was disappointing to see Labour councillors speak out so strongly against the idea and even deny that water charges were ever used to evict tenants.”
The proposal from Sheffield Green Party was:
“That this Council notes that, in Sheffield, only Council tenants can be evicted from their homes if they cannot pay water bills on time and therefore calls on the Administration to end this practice by accounting for water bills separately from rent accounts and ceasing to pursue eviction in the courts because of water rates;”
Sheffield’s four Green Councillors have submitted a set of amendments to the meeting of the full council on Wednesday 6th December 2017.
The meeting is at 5pm and is open to the public who are permitted to attend and ask questions.
The amendments represent what Green councillors would do differently to the ruling Labour Administration. They include:
An amendment to oppose a limit on the number of motions councillors can submit. This adversely affects the opposition parties. The amendment also calls for the chance to debate the Green motion at the start of the meeting. At October’s meeting, the council agreed to debate a Green motion first at the December meeting. However, in December, the Administration has put our motions to the end of the agenda to guarantee they will not be discussed.
To criticise the NHS proposals about closure of the Minor Injuries Unit at the Hallamshire Hospital and the Walk-In Centre on Broad Lane
To propose the view that the Council has a moral duty to protect the city’s children.
To call on the Administration to end the situation which means Council tenants can be evicted if they cannot pay water bills on time. No other householders in the city face this threat.
To apologise for the alarm and distress caused to Councillor Alison Teal for the Administration’s (failed) attempt to send her to prison.
The amendments are in addition to the Green motions. We proposed a public and independent enquiry into the conduct of members of the Administration and Council officers that led to the High Court case being brought against Councillor Alison Teal.
Separately, we proposed a scheme to enable requests for “Play Streets.”
Suspension of procedure rules
Proposed – Cllr Douglas Johnson; seconded Cllr Alison Teal
Delete the words “the number of motions submitted through the recognised groups …. will be limited to no more than four.”
Add “Re-approves the revised formula adopted at the meeting of this Council in October 2017.”
Access to Urgent Primary Care
Proposed – Cllr Douglas Johnson; seconded Cllr Magid Magid
Insert after (c):
(d) is disappointed that the consultation does not include options, or invite public comments, on the closure of the Minor Injuries Unit and Walk-in Centre;
(e) is further disappointed that NHS officials declined to share the draft consultation paper with the cross-party Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 20 September 2017, despite the consultation going live on 25 September;
(f) Believes that, in any consultation, it is vital to be open and clear about the most significant practical changes being proposed.”
Proposed – Cllr Alison Teal; seconded Cllr Magid Magid
In para (k) replace “believes that this Administration do everything it can to protect the city’s children” with “believes that this Administration has a moral duty to protect the city’s children.”
Proposed – Cllr Douglas Johnson, seconded Cllr Magid Magid
Insert after (m),
“Notes that, in Sheffield, only Council tenants can be evicted from their homes if they cannot pay water bills on time and therefore calls on the Administration to end this practice by accounting for water bills separately from rent accounts and ceasing to pursue eviction in the courts because of water rates.”
Public Accountability of Members and Officers
Proposed – Cllr Magid Magid; seconded Cllr Douglas Johnson
Add after (g),
(h) Apologises for the alarm and distress caused to Cllr Alison Teal