Hinterland - 21 October 2019

In Hinterland this week, NHS innovation (not always for the better), two different perspectives on good and bad omens for the High Street, yet more county farms for sale and a reminder of that strange phenomenon “the commoner” all finished off by a chat on a bench.  Read on...

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NHS to scrap paper prescriptions under plan to save £300m

 I have a spooky feeling this is going to fox vulnerable older people, many based in rural settings. This story tells us:

 Paper prescriptions will be scrapped next month under an NHS plan to save £300m over two years, with Jo Churchill, the primary care minister, announcing all prescriptions across England will be digitised.

 The electronic prescription service (EPS) will be rolled out nationally after a trial run in 60 GP practices and hundreds of pharmacies.

 At least 70% of all prescriptions are already being prescribed and dispensed through EPS and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has already received positive feedback from GPs and pharmacies.

 The first EPS went live in 2009 at a GP surgery and pharmacy in Leeds. Once the final stage is rolled out, nearly all prescriptions will be sent electronically.

 Under the electronic system, patients can get their medications by either nominating a pharmacy that will receive the details directly from their GP or receive a paper prescription with the digital barcode.

 The medical information is held on a secure NHS database called Spine and will allow a patient’s prescription to be accessed quickly by GPs and pharmacies.

 The EPS is expected to save the NHS £300m by 2021 by increasing efficiencies, reducing the amount of paper processing and prescribing errors, the DHSC said.




Fashion chain Bonmarché calls in administrators

 Another body blow for the smaller high street where many Bonmarche shops are stalwarts of affordable new clothes. This story tells us:

The fashion chain Bonmarché has called in administrators, putting nearly 3,000 jobs at risk.

The Wakefield-based retailer, which sells fashion for women over 50 and has 318 shops, said it had got into difficulties after a “sustained period of challenging trading conditions and cashflow pressure”.

Administrators said they would continue to trade Bonmarché while assessing options for the future for the business. All stores remain open for the time being and no redundancies have been made.

Tony Wright, a joint administrator and partner at FRP Advisory who was appointed on Friday afternoon, said: “Bonmarché has been a staple on the UK high street for nearly three decades, but the persistent challenges facing retail have taken their toll and led to the administration.” He said he hoped to find a buyer for the business.




Hundreds of New Forest cows to lose their horns after attacks on dog walkers

 This is an interesting story not just because of the challenges these cattle present to walkers but in terms of the light they throw on that strange phenomenon “the commoner”. You’ll find these folks in a number of historic and often upland landscapes and they have a very long tradition stretching right back to the middle ages. The article tells us:

 Hundreds of cows in the New Forest will have their horns removed following a series of attacks on dog walkers.

 A rise in serious injuries to walkers in the last year, including the reported goring of an 86-year-old woman, has led to the move.

 The New Forest Commoners Defence Association (CDA) has been forced to write a letter to the 200 people who are registered to turn cattle out to graze the forest to dehorn their stock.

 Tony Hockley, chair of the CDA, said it was because people have “lost any respect” for the dangers of livestock.

 Mr Hockey said: “People seem to have lost all connection with the countryside and any healthy respect for large livestock.




Death of the High Street is overstated, claims Which?, as analysis shows rebirth of independent shops

 Not sure I agree with this research based on my own sense of what a number of iconic towns I know but it tells us:

 The ‘death of the high street’ may be overstated, with independent shops booming across the UK, says Which?

Despite a number of well known retailers disappearing from Britain's High Streets in recent years, new research shows that they have been replaced by smaller businesses that have prospered.

The consumer champion analysed almost 1.5 million Ordnance Survey (OS) business records to compare Britain's retail and services landscape from 2014 to 2019

The analysis suggests that concerns about the future of the high street may be overstated, and that instead, many high streets are beginning to move towards services that cannot be replicated online, with significant growth in cafés, tattoo parlours, hair and beauty services and function rooms.

Of the 10 sectors that have seen an increase in premises on UK high streets, six are categorised as 'eating out and services', with the biggest increase since 2014 seen in banqueting and function rooms (114 per cent).



Seven Staffordshire County Council holdings up for sale

Always sad to see Counties selling off their farms although I can understand to an extent why they do it. We are seeing an ongoing erosion of local authority involvement in direct land ownership and management, which is pity from my perspective. This article tells us.                                             

Five fully-equipped farms and two blocks of bare land have been put on the open market as part of Staffordshire County Council’s plans to sell off part of its estate.

 The mixed-use livestock and dairy holdings and land lots are to be sold by informal tender through property consultant Bruton Knowles.

The council announced in February 2019 that 688ha across 16 holdings would be on offer – more than 20% of its total estate.

 Affected farmers were given the opportunity to buy their tenanted holdings. To date, three sales have been agreed with tenants and negotiations are continuing.

 Proposals for the seven properties launched by Bruton Knowles must be submitted by the end of November 2019.

 More information can be found on the Staffordshire Farms website.

 A further five farms are due to be sold by the consultant in early 2020.




And Finally


I had to feature this as a really simple but brilliant idea. The story tells us:


'Happy to Chat' benches: The woman getting strangers to talk


This is such a simple and powerful idea I thought it important to quote it in And Finally…

 For 40 minutes an elderly man sat on a bench in a busy city centre park - alone.

 He was ignored by the passing dog walkers, joggers, parents with pushchairs and teenagers with headphones, all too busy to even say "hello".

 Did he want company? Did he want to be alone? Did anyone actually care?

 It was enough to move one woman to try and get strangers to chat, helping inspire a movement that has spread across the world.

 "There was some of that British reserve that made me think he may think me weird if I sat next to him," said Allison Owen-Jones, 53, from Cardiff.

 "Wouldn't it be nice if there was a simple way to let people know you're open to a chat, I thought.

"So I came up with the idea of tying a sign that would open the avenues for people. I didn't want it to sound too vulnerable so I wrote, 'Happy to chat bench. Sit here if you don't mind someone stopping to say hello'.

 "All of a sudden, you're not invisible anymore."

 The idea in May this year led Allison to laminate cards and begin tying them to benches in parks around her home city.

 It was a blissfully simple idea to tackle loneliness that swiftly created a buzz.

The Senior Citizen Liaison Team charity took the idea a step further.

 It has already set up partnerships with both Avon and Somerset Police and Gwent Police to have permanent benches across their areas and arrange volunteers to "chat-bench".


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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