Whitehaven Harbour

Originally a hive of industrial activity. Now home to leisure craft.

John Paul Jones

Whitehaven was attacked by the founder of the USA Navy!

History Is Everywhere!

Remnants of the towns coal mining history are everywhere!

Coal Mining Took Place In Whitehaven

The pits were the most dangerous in the UK.

Tall Ships Visit Whitehaven

Beautiful, Tall Ships often berth in Whitehaven!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Care Quality Commission Report: Hospital Is Unsafe

West Cumberland Hospital Is Unsafe

On the 10th July, the Governments NHS watchdog published their findings from inspections carried out at Whitehaven's West Cumberland Hospital. It doesn't make for pretty reading.

West Cumberland Hospital Is Unsafe

Key Findings By The Commission:

Mortality Rates

  • Since our last inspection and the Keogh review, there had been a significant improvement in mortality rates, which were now within expected limits.
  • Patients whose condition might deteriorate were identified and escalated appropriately.
  • The hospital was clean throughout. Staff generally adhered to good practice guidance in the prevention and control of infection.
  • Infection rates were within expected limits.

Food And Hydration

  • Patients had a choice of nutritious food and an ample supply of drinks during their stay in hospital. Patients with specialist needs were supported by dieticians and the Speech and Language Therapy Team (SALT).
  • There was a period over mealtimes when all activities on the wards stopped, if it was safe for them to do so. This meant that staff were available to help serve food and assist those patients who needed help. We also saw that a red tray system was in place to highlight which patients needed assistance with eating and drinking.

Medicines Management

  • Medicines were provided, stored and administered in a safe and timely way.

Medical And Nurse Staffing

  • Care and treatment was delivered by committed and caring staff who worked hard to provide patients with good services. However:
  • There were numerous consultant vacancies that were adversely affecting timely treatment for patients and effective support for junior doctors in a number of core services.
  • Nurse staffing levels, although improved, remained of concern and there was a heavy reliance on staff covering extra shifts, and bank and agency staff to maintain adequate staffing levels. Adequate staffing levels were not consistently achieved in all core services.

Service Changes

  • There had been changes to the functions within both accident and emergency and surgical services regarding the management of trauma, high risk general surgery and colorectal cancer patients, which began in June 2013. This care has now transferred to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. This has led to routine elective work being regularly cancelled at the Cumberland Infirmary, but the transfer of routine work to West Cumberland has not been as systematic as anticipated, as patients prefer to wait to have their procedure at Carlisle. The distance between the two sites appears to be a major factor in patients’ decisions regarding where to have their surgery rather than the care delivered.
  • This had exacerbated the trust’s inability to meet referral to treatment time (RTT) targets for admitted patients, particularly in orthopaedics. The distance between the two sites was a major factor in patients’ decision making.

Staff Concerns And Whistleblowing

  • Communication from the executive team to the staff on the wards and departments had improved. Staff were positive about the executive team for the direction they have communicated regarding the future of services.
  • However, we were concerned about the lack of openness of the culture within the trust as we received a high number of anonymous whistleblowing concerns about this hospital before, during and after the inspection. This indicated that staff felt unable to share concerns with the trust despite the concerns being about patient safety and the quality of services provided.

Poor Practice

  • Care and treatment was not always provided in accordance with best practice guidance.
  • Care and treatment was not always delivered in accordance with national expectations.
  • Poor patient flow meant patients were placed in areas not best suited to their needs.
  • The provision of case notes and records was inconsistent across the hospital. Storage and retrieval of patient records was poor, which meant some patients did not have a consultation at their appointments because the records could not be traced. This was particularly important because of the use of agency staff.
  • Nurse record-keeping was poor in the paediatric ward.
  • We did not see a formal plan in place for a replacement for the Liverpool Care Pathway for patients at the end of life, although the trust has since informed us that it has a formal plan in place.
  • Audit data was incomplete in some areas and the application of learning from incidents and complaints lacked consistency.

Importantly, The Trust Must:

  • Ensure that there are sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced nurses to meet the needs of patients at all times.
  • Ensure medical staffing is sufficient to provide appropriate and timely treatment to patients at all times.
  • Ensure that all departments within the hospital have the required skills to meet the needs of patients at all times.
  • Improve the support given to junior medical staff.
  • Take action to ensure that the planning and delivery of patient care and treatment is consistently carried out in
  • accordance with published research and guidance issued by professional and expert bodies.
  • Take action to protect the health and welfare of children and young people with mental health needs by ensuring that timely health and social care support is provided in collaboration with other providers.
  • Take action to improve the patient flow through the hospital to cope with the routine workload and reduce patient waiting times.
  • Work towards achieving the target of no more than 18 weeks wait from referral to treatment.
  • Improve the standard of nursing records in the paediatric service.
  • Develop clear action plans to assess and manage the impact of the lack of a dedicated second theatre and no provision for urgent obstetric/gynaecology surgery at the hospital.
  • Take action to ensure that patient records are fully complete and up to date and made available in a timely way for all outpatient clinic appointments.
  • Develop a formal End of Life Care standard framework to assure safe, effective care at the end of life. Plans need to be in place to formally replace the Liverpool Care Pathway by July 2014.
  • Ensure the safety and security of all patients, staff and visitors who attend the A&E department by training all the staff on the procedures to follow in the event of a security or safety incident.

In Addition The Trust Should:

  • Improve the management of people with diabetes, stroke and people with a diagnosis of dementia in line with national guidance.
  • Ensure that staff have the opportunity to regularly discuss their personal development and any issues or concerns they may have.
  • Ensure the security roles and responsibilities of the portering staff when dealing with violence and aggression are within the acceptable parameters of legal restraint.
  • Improve access to CT/MRI scanning to ensure patients receive a scan quickly.
  • Improve reporting times for radiology and CT scans so that patients receive timely results to improve the quality of treatment outcomes.
  • Ensure the maternity service has the ability to undertake grade 3 caesarean sections.
  • Ensure the trust’s information regarding ‘How to make a complaint’ is accurate.
  • Ensure the infrastructure is in place before establishing additional outpatient clinics.
  • Ensure there is a clear vision and strategy for end of life care and provide clear leadership for end of life care, both at director and non-executive director levels.
  • Provide training for staff to enable care bundles to be implemented.
  • Review the lack of standardisation across trust locations, such as the availably of evening clinics for early pregnancy advice and access to termination of pregnancy clinics.
  • Continue to develop robust audit processes to verify that staff are adhering to the ‘five steps to safer surgery’ checklist.
  • Review the lack of standardisation across trust’s locations, such as the availably of evening clinics for early pregnancy advice and access to termination of pregnancy clinics.
The Trust requires “requires improvement” and will remain in “special measures”.

North Cumbria Health Trust Response:

Commenting on the CQC report, chief executive Ann Farrar said:
Today marks another important milestone in our improvement journey and we wholeheartedly welcome the CQC report and recommendations. I am immensely proud of our staff who have been recognised by the CQC for the care and compassion they show our patients every single day in very challenging circumstances. 
Despite the challenges we continue to face, we must never lose sight of putting patients at the heart of everything we do and every decision we take. Everyone working for North Cumbria can today take real pride in the acknowledgement of their tireless efforts to look after our patients and provide high quality care. 
We are also very pleased to see many examples of good services within the CQC report and of course welcome the extra scrutiny on where further improvements still need to be made right across our organisation so that the Trust can be taken out of special measures.  
What is clear from the CQC report is that some improvements, such as those relating medical records and outpatients, are within the gift of the Trust to deliver. Other problems, such as those linked to recruitment, will require NHS system wide solutions to ensure we can sustain services at West Cumberland Hospital and this must be addressed in the development of our five years strategies with NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group. 
We are under no illusions on the work that still needs to be done, however our staff, patients and the public should take confidence in today’s CQC report and the significant progress which we have made in the past 12 months to bring our mortality rates to within expected range and improve quality of care – this progress should not be underestimated is again down to the hard work and sheer determination of all our staff. 
We have always been very clear that this is a journey of improvement and today’s CQC report is another important step for us. The support we have had so far from Northumbria Healthcare has been invaluable and acquisition, once it takes place, will make us even stronger and further support our journey of continuous improvement.
Later this year, North Cumbria University Hospitals will open a new centralised patient contact centre which will allow the Trust to standardise booking processes, prevent overbooking of outpatient clinics and help ensure that all patients have their appointments within nationally recommended timescales.

Whilst outpatients reception desks in both hospitals will remain in place and continue to play a vital role, a new centralised contact system, similar to the successful model in place at Northumbria Healthcare will be introduced to manage over 200,000 outpatient appointments every single year.

The aim is to make care as seamless as possible for patients and having one central point of contact will not only improve patient experience making it easier for people to access our appointments team, but also means we can implement a robust system to manage all patient bookings. Similar plans are also being developed to create a long term sustainable plan for the future of medical records management across the Trust.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Low Road Traffic Issues Need Sorted - NOW!

Congestion. Rage. Accidents. Death? 

For many years, Low Road in Whitehaven has suffered severe congestion. Residents have made lots of complaints about the traffic, and reported incidents to the Police, Cumbria Highways, Cumbria County Council and Copeland Borough Council - all have fallen upon deaf ears. Feedback to residents from the various authorities is that there is not an issue on this stretch of road.

Are The Authorities Waiting For A Death?

Does someone have to die, before something is done with this stretch of road? What price is a life? The traffic impact assessment for the new Albion Square development has been a joke - work on the assessment only started after the building was approved, and work began with construction. Soon, 900 additional employees will be descending upon Whitehaven. Things will get much worse.

Low Road has conveniently been omitted from much of the research carried out by Cumbria Highways - why? the road is a serious pinch point, with a fatality waiting to happen.

Confrontation is a frequent occurrence, with drivers unwilling to give-way:

Congestion and Road Rage on Low Road

Congestion on Low Road, Whitehaven

Damage to residents cars is common-place:

Damage to residents cars on Low Road, Whitehaven

A number of solutions ARE available to rectify the problems on this notorious stretch of road:

  • Make the road one way.
  • Widen the road.
  • Install traffic lights.
  • Lay a new road above or below Low Road.
  • Install chicanes/bumps to slow traffic.
  • Install passing points.
  • Off street parking, with yellow lines.
  • Access Only, during peak periods.
Unfortunately, the public on Low Road are ignored.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Petition: Council Executive Should Resign Immediately

Copeland Executive MUST Resign: 

On Wednesday, we revealed the size of Copeland Borough Councils mismanagement... £1.217 million. This was the amount of UNDER-SPEND that the council had, while actively cutting jobs and reducing services to the public.

The current executive is a failure, and the public voiced their opinion on May 22nd in a landslide referendum. The Time For Change Team are calling upon the leader and executive to resign. We invite you to sign our petition:
The Council Leader And Her Executive Should Resign

Low Wages And Job Losses!

On Thursday July 10, a number of council workers are due to go on strike, having to rely on low wages, with no pay rise for four years - during this time, the council executive voted to award themselves increases in allowances. The council have also cut jobs during this time. They could have been retained.

On our petition page, the following comment from an ex-council worker is very upsetting:

Kevin Armstrong: My job could have been saved

Many people in the borough have to rely on food-banks, during these austere times - an increase in pay, and employment would have helped those that were struggling. But no. Please sign the petition, and help get shot of those that have lost touch with the public. Signing the petition takes less than 30 seconds to complete.
Share Petition On Facebook | Share Petition On Twitter

MORE REASONS TO SIGN OUR PETITION:

  • The mayor needs a chance when he or she starts - each week of mismanagement by the current leaders makes his or her job harder.
  • The leaders have proven that they can't run the council - having closed things down and stripped away services at the same time as a coming in £1.2 million under budget, in the last financial year (2013/14).
  • They've proven they don't care - the leader accepted a 30 per cent pay rise with cuts on the horizon and the rest have rejected out of hand a suggestion that they take a bit less.
  • The ruling executive will be replaced by a new system soon – but cannot be allowed to do any more damage between now and then, so they should go now. 

IN COPELAND IN THE PAST YEAR, THEY HAVE: 

  • Closed and demolished our main town’s only public toilets.
  • Closed our Civic Hall leaving community groups nowhere to meet.
  • Wasted millions of pounds of socio-economic funding on projects which have been so badly mismanaged that they haven’t come to anything – and are now cancelled.
  • Cut every service, including statutory ones like waste collection, to the bone so that they deliver only the bare minimum.
  • Increased council tax, so people pay more even though they get much less.
  • Grossly mismanaged the budget, so that they actually underspent by over £1.2 million – money which could have saved some of what they’ve so ruthlessly cut.
All the while the ruling executive, and leader, have collected their full allowances. The leader even accepted a 30 per cent pay rise in 2012 – knowing what was coming for the rest of the local residents. They’ve been publicly encouraged to prove that they aren’t in it for the money, but have declined to surrender a single penny of the tax payers’ money they claim for “managing” the council.

Some Background: 

After years of campaigning for change and a powerful petition which, under legislation, could not be ignored; and recently the people of the borough of Copeland in Cumbria were finally given the chance to vote on how they want to be governed, in a poll known locally as “the people’s referendum”.

The electorate voted overwhelmingly for change, with 7 out of every ten votes cast in favour on a new system, the change campaigners won a landslide victory, and the current leader and executive model will be replaced by a directly elected mayor.

But with every passing week of on-going gross mismanagement the job for the new mayor when he or she takes office becomes more and more difficult.

The current executive and leader have shown that they are not competent enough to run the council and that they do not understand budgetary control.  The public have been let down drastically.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

£1.2 Million Underspend By CBC Is Shocking!

Poor Management Of Public Money!

STATEMENT:

Some members of the Time For Change Team (T4C) attended the first full council meeting on June 18 2014, following the Copeland Elected Mayor referendum result, at the Copeland offices in Whitehaven alongside other members of the public.

It was announced through literature handed out to members of the public and to full council that there had been a BUDGET UNDER-SPEND by Copeland Borough Council for the financial year (2013/2014) of £1.217 million.

As lay people, we believe that CBC will apply their budget at the beginning of the year, with savings already applied. In the name of transparency, could CBC please tell us if this is the case? We do understand that CBC say that they have to save money – these savings would surely have been applied at the beginning of the year.

No business would say that they need to save £1.2m, and then take it off at the end of the year. They would reduce their budget by the amount required at the beginning of the year. This begs a number of questions:

  • Does CBC have a grip on public finances?
  • Why close public amenities if the money was there?
  • Why put up Council tax, if an underspend of this magnitude?
  • Why did CBC tell the public there was no money for the Mayor referendum/election?
T4C are listening to the people and the people are angry. CBC are not helping matters with their lack of transparency and failure to put this information into the public domain. We believe that rectifying this poor financial mess ‘proactively’ at the beginning of the year would have seen benefit for the electorate with regards their basic and necessary needs such as grass cutting, refuse collections and public attractions. This has not happened and the public are feeling ignored. Their money is being wasted and dissolved back into an opaque pot.

T4C are curious as to why this underspend has not been managed before the need to ‘carry forward’, essentially dissolving into the following years budget. If the savings are carried forward as specified in the CBC report, and we need to save £1.4m next year, are we really saving money, or shifting it about? Could our council leader please explain why this movement of money, and why the people of the borough are being let down, miss-managed and failed on a daily basis?

Why have our council allowed this to happen and are happy to support volunteer groups to do their work for them. This does not make sense, these families have better ways to spend their time. T4C feel it is commendable that volunteer action groups are springing up pre and post-election, but we feel that their work should be supported heavily if this is to continue. This money could also have been loaned to CCC the Highways to improve some of our most disastrous roads or possibly allow the public to have weekly bin collection.

T4C feel that to operate a business in this manner and to underspend the public’s money when the families are crying out for assistance daily is absurd. Can CBC explain why the public are getting short changed please through their poor financial planning? They have not used the peoples budget to its maximum potential – therefore the people have lost this at the hands of the inadequate financial rule.

T4C would also beg the questions as to why CBC told the electorate that they had no financial means to hold the May 22nd referendum, it poses the question that they are telling the electorate the truth regarding an October election. T4C believe that the majority of the voting public that voted in a landslide 70% win voted for change to happen as soon as possible – we now strongly support an October stand-alone mayoral election.

This financial mismanagement needs to be address immediately. CBC have stated that this £1.217million is an underspend. T4C believes it is much more than that. It is public money which has effectively been lost. The underspend is the result of an ineffective council leadership which continues to receive £tens-of-thousands of taxpayers money in allowances, for substandard work.

Last week, T4C called upon the CBC executive to relinquish their special allowances. They declined. How much more substandard work do we accept from them, while paying them lucrative allowances?

Copeland is a sinking ship under the current leadership. The Elected Mayor referendum was effectively a life-buoy, where the public demanded change. Change should happen now. We reiterate our call for the leader and executive to relinquish their allowances, while sitting in office as caretakers.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Council Leader & Executive Decline To Relinquish Allowances

Not Concerned With Saving Money! 

This week Time for Change called for the Caretaker Council Leader and her executive to give up all additional allowances from now until the Election for Mayor, this would save the Taxpayer in the region of £60k should the Election not go ahead until May.

In tonight's Evening News & Star Caretaker Council Leader Elaine Woodburn has declined and exactly as predicted in our press release has trotted out exactly the same tired old line we said she would in refusing to give up additional allowances, saying they are paid an appropriate amount decided by an independent body, as we pointed out Elaine you can decline and there has previously been a precedent set of an executive member only taking a basic councillor allowance.

The Councils Caretaker Leader has made comparisons with what a Mayor will potentially earn, what she does not seem to get is a Mayor has been voted in by a huge majority, in fact the same majority that voted her out, we are not entirely sure she understands that losing that referendum means her time is up. When seven out of ten voters reject your leadership it's beyond belief the Council Leader did not resign and that the Executive have not taken steps to remove her which only adds fuel to the speculation she would try to take them and her party down with her should they try.

We know there a councillors reading posts on this site and we would be delighted if you could come here a post a justification for continuing to support your current leader and keeping her in office. It would make very interesting reading.

The Caretakers are using the cost of an October Election as a smokescreen to extend their period of office running what is now a lame duck administration, they are hoping to milk every last drop they can, if there was the slightest concern for saving the taxpayer money the have just declined an ideal opportunity to prove it.

Statement: October Mayor Election Preferred By T4C Team

We've Listened To The Public: 

The Time for Change campaign was set up to campaign to give the public a choice of how they wanted the council to be led, this was largely as a result of the council having wasted millions of pounds tax payers money, yes millions.

The council were very much against holding a referendum and fought this on the basis that the cost of a referendum was a waste of taxpayers money, that was what they said, in reality they did not want the public to have the choice in case they chose to remove them.

The referendum went ahead and 70% voted for change! the public had their voice heard as a result of a referendum the council did not want the public to have, it was as it turned out money well spent you can't put a price on democracy.

The referendum could have been avoided and the cost saved if two thirds if the councillors had voted for an Elected Mayor (as we requested), if the councillors were in touch with the mood of the people they represent and casted a vote to reflect that feeling we would be getting an Elected Mayor without the cost of the referendum.

Time for Change support completely efficient use of council money, that is why we have also petitioned successfully for a Town Council for Whitehaven which Copeland Council blocked for years, the Town Council can apply for and bring in additional funding that is not available to Copeland Council.

We were initially in favour of delaying the Election to May to reduce costs, the council only after the referendum massacre also wanted the delay but that was more about extending their stay in office than saving the electorate money. As a direct result of feedback from the people of Copeland it appears they want the Election to take place in October not May (Many would like it sooner if they could) we endeavour to act as a conduit for public opinion, the referendum result would appear to back up the fact we are more in touch with the public feeling than the council, the general feeling is it would be more costly in the long term to keep the current regime in office any longer than necessary.

It also appears the council have failed completely to acknowledge the crushing defeat in the referendum and are carrying on as if it never took place, the public by a huge majority demanded change and they have not changed a thing, it is barely conceivable the leader has not taken some kind of responsibility for a result that should tell her all she needs to know about how the people view her leadership, she has no mandate and should have resigned on the morning after the referendum, having failed to do so she should have been removed by her colleagues, they represent the people and are mandated to act on their behalf and the people rejected the current leadership so why haven't they.

The remainder of the council have done absolutely nothing to demonstrate they can start the process of change the referendum result demanded, the first full council meeting following the referendum they did not even mention the referendum or the result, there was no discussion that the people had demanded change let alone any discussion or debate about what changes they intended to make and nothing about how the interim period was to be managed or the impending change facilitated, they just carry on as if nothing happened.

In the month since the referendum had the council acknowledged change was needed and had started to initiate that change it would have given confidence to hold the election in a May on the grounds of cost but they have done absolutely nothing and we can only envisage them wasting more money and inflicting more damage by extending their stay for another seven months, to lose an election on the scale they did and to stay in office for a few days short of 12 months would be unprecedented in a truly democratic country.

We would on the basis of cost effectiveness alone now prefer the election to be in October, the leadership is continuing to do what it has always done and the referendum result tells you how we all feel about that, more importantly from the considerable feedback we are receiving it would appear that is what the people want, the council will fight for an Election in May for no other reason than to outstay their welcome by extending their term in office for another seven months, they will use cost as a smokescreen as they did when opposing the referendum.

If the reality if there is some kind of new found prudence and the current leader and executive sole motive for delaying to May is saving the tax payer money they should match their words with their actions, we have called upon them to give up all the additional allowances they receive from now until the Election for Mayor taking just the basic councillor allowance, this will save the taxpayer circa £60k between now and next May, they are after all now just in the roles in a caretaker capacity.

We of course would welcome as many comments as possible as to the pros and cons of delaying this election and as such ask everyone who reads this statement to share it on Facebook, we would be delighted to hear the view of as many of the electorate as possible.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

We Call Upon CBC Executive To Relinquish Allowances

CBC Need To Listen: 

TIME FOR CHANGE CALL FOR COUNCIL LEADER AND EXECUTIVE TO RELINQUISH ALL ADDITIONAL ALLOWANCES IMMEDIATELY, UNTIL THE MAYORAL ELECTION TAKES PLACE.

Carla Arrighi
THE figurehead of the group who triggered Copeland’s mayoral referendum is calling for Copeland Borough Council’s leadership to save the borough £60,000 between now and when the vote is held in May – by giving up the special allowances they receive.

Carla Arrighi became the face of the Time for Change team in the run up to last month’s election, which resulted in an overwhelming landslide vote in favour of change.

But last week she attended Copeland Borough Council’s first full council meeting since the referendum to find it was business as usual, with the public vote not even acknowledged.

Carla was disgusted by this but rather than criticises, has come up with a novel way the executive and leader can save the tax payer a small fortune between now and the vote in May.

Carla said:
Elaine Woodburn and her executive team have still got their heads buried in the sand. The people of Copeland have removed their mandate to govern, by a landslide, and it’s time they listened to what people want. 
In an ideal world the referendum would have been followed by an election as quickly as possible, but we recognise the need to save money, that’s why the Time for Change group initiated the process of having the vote delayed. 
However, that doesn’t get us away from the fact that the role being performed now is not the role of leader and executive, it’s the role of caretaker, and it should be paid as such – surely if they are so concerned with saving the tax-payer money then they will recognise this as the right thing to do. 
That’s why we are proposing that Elaine and her executive team relinquish their additional allowances. 
I have no doubt that they’ll trot out that tried and tested line about the allowances being set by the independent panel – but just because they are set it doesn't mean they have to accept them.

Paragraph 6.1 of the council’s Scheme of Members Allowances states that:
A Councillor may by notice in writing given to the Head of Legal and Democratic Services, elect to forego any part of his/her entitlement to an allowance under this scheme.
Carla said:
All they would have to do would be to write a letter to inform them that they don’t want to be paid the extra money – there is precedence for this, as Councillor Karl Connor did when he was appointed to the executive team in 2010, and decided only to take the basic councillor allowance of £3063, and not the £9400 plus that he would have been entitled to.
All Copeland Borough Councillors receive a basic allowance, but the leader receives an extra allowance of £25,500, with executive members pocketing an extra £6350.

Carla added:
It is staggering that after such a resounding vote of no confidence from the good people of the borough the council leader did not tender her resignation – however that is her right not to, and if she wants to cling to power and avoid change she can, the people of the borough will judge her and her council colleagues for allowing her to do that when the election comes along. 
However, between now and then that’s another £60k plus that could be saved by them recognising the fact that the role has changed forever and giving something back to the people of Copeland. The public have spoken, the public are watching, the public deserve to be heard.
ENDS