Hinterland - 26 November 2018

In Hinterland this week - We have a Brexit free zone this week. Which I hope will attract everyone fancying some light relief. We still profile some hard hitting stuff: community care and the need to make sure any cash injection is strategically directed, the chance for the Public Works Board to ride to the rescue of councils in payday loan scenarios, the Eden project transferred to Morecambe Bay courtesy of the eco “shell”, evil deals leading to people losing the ownership of their roofs and more urban bias in the reporting of GP shortages. And finally no chance for privacy going forward – not even in the smallest room in the house. Read on.....

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Community healthcare in line for £3.5bn annual funding boost

This is long overdue – if it does come and I hope it does, lets hope its directed insightfully not just based on pumping more money into a failing system. The answer lies in creating micro-enterprises of mutualized care workers addressing market failure by directing more of the available resource to delivery rather than on-costs. But Im sure you knew that anyway!!!! This story tells us…

Primary and community healthcare in England will benefit from a real-terms boost of £3.5bn a year by 2023/24, the government has announced.

The spending, part of the NHS long term plan backed by £20.5bn over the next five years, is intended to improve care in the home, and thereby avoid patients unnecessarily going to – or staying in – hospital.

It will help fund 24/7 community-based rapid response teams made up of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists to provide urgent care and support for patients better treated at home than in hospital.

Additionally, the cash will go on assigning healthcare professionals to care homes where they get to know individual residents’ needs and can provide tailored treatment and support. The teams, including pharmacists and GPs, will also offer emergency care out of hours.

Announcing the funding increase on Thursday before a visit to a north London health centre, Theresa May said: “Many patients would be much better off being cared for in the community.


McDonnell calls for check on council loans that will 'waste £16bn'

This is something which definitely needs tackling. The article tells us…

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has called for a government investigation into the use of high-cost bank loans after a new report found local councils stand to waste up to £16bn on interest payments over the next 40 years.

Figures compiled by investigative cooperative Research for Action show that local governments which were saddled with complex borrowing schemes in the early 2000s could see annual interest payments halved if those debts were paid off with cash borrowed from the government’s Public Works Loan Board (PWLB).

The report explains that the top 10 council borrowers of lender option borrower option loans – knows as Lobos – stand to save as much as £4bn over the next four decades, while the 240 councils with high interest lobo loans could collectively save up to £16n.

McDonnell is now calling for government action: “The government has a role to play now in ensuring there is a full, independent and open investigation into the use of these financial instruments and action taken to restore any historic loss to the public purse


Morecambe flexes its mussels: New Eden Project to be shaped like giant shells

It didn’t even know this was being planned (much to my disgrace) in Morecambe – sounds really exciting….

It has been called Morecambe’s million-dollar question.

Ever since the Eden Project announced plans to open a version of its Cornwall attraction – famed for its giant biodomes – in the Lancashire seaside resort, one topic has dominated conversation in the town: what exactly will our Eden look like?

Now an answer has been offered: it will look like a giant mussel colony.

Architects have revealed the first artist’s impressions of the multi-million pound Eden Project North – and it features five giant mussel-shaped domes stretching out across the famous bay.

Inside the vast glass buildings will be performance spaces, immersive experiences, observatories and pleasure gardens, all inspired by marine life.

David Harland, chief executive of Eden Project International, told The Independent: “The biodomes in Cornwall are the size and shape they are because we were enclosing a rainforest, but we also wanted to be in newspapers around the world and get people saying, ‘I just have to go and see that building.’ That was the aim and we achieved it. And now we will do the same thing in Morecambe.

“So, we have talked about things like what do you find on the beach there? You find mussel colonies and, funnily enough, when you want a structure that has the ability to house gardens and attractions and to give people a unique experience, well, the shape of mussel shells would be perfect.”

Attractions within, he said, would introduce visitors to Earth’s various water worlds in the same way Eden Cornwall – which boats a 16,000 square metre rainforest – introduced people to the planet’s plants and trees.


Poor lose doctors as wealthy gain them, new figures reveal

This interesting article relies on the 2015 English indices of deprivation. These are an interesting set of indicators however they contain an inherent urban bias by binding people from rural settings (because of the way they use geographical boundaries) into urban settings and masking rural inequality. I am not saying there is a need to act to respond to the issues raised here. I am saying some of these communities are in rural areas and this statistical measure distorts the overall picture of the distribution of disadvantage. Read on:

The exodus, uncovered by Labour MP Frank Field, is exacerbating the existing “under-doctoring” of deprived populations – the lack of family doctors in places where poorer people live.

Experts said the widening divide between rich and poor areas in GP numbers – which is one of England’s starkest health inequalities – would force the least well-off to wait longer for an appointment, even though they are generally sicker and die earlier than the rest of the population.

 “A decade ago the country was beginning to make some serious inroads into the under-doctoring of the poorest areas. What these grim figures show is that in recent years that progress has not only stalled, but actually gone into reverse,” Field told the Observer.

“The most worrying trend here is the number of GPs ceasing to serve people towards the bottom of the pile, while at the same time people in the wealthiest areas have benefited from an even better service. Vulnerable people are having to suffer in silence without being able to see a GP.

“Here’s another example of everything going in the wrong direction if our goal is to equalise health opportunities and outcomes. It is a new appalling face of inequality in modern Britain.”

There were 8,207 GPs working in areas containing the most deprived quintile of the population in England in 2008. But by last year that number had fallen to 7,696 – a drop of 511 – according to the response to a written parliamentary question Field asked recently.

But over the same decade the number of family doctors working in the most prosperous fifth of the population increased from 4,058 to 4,192 – a rise of 134, public health minister Steve Brine told Field.


Homeowners trapped by 25-year solar panel contracts

This is shocking stuff and goes to show that no-one ever gets something for nothing. It is part of the crazy world of renewable subsidies that from windfarms to solar panels are well intentioned but have these sort of consequences if not well implemented. This story tells us:

The government introduced the generous incentives in 2010. The FITs, funded by a levy on all energy bills, have encouraged 800,000 households to go solar, but they have also spawned a multitude of startups that have exploited homeowners.

Homeowners who wanted to do their bit for the environment but could not afford the outlay were promised up to 50% off their bills if they signed over the airspace above their roof for 25 years. For the startups it was a bonanza.

Payouts would earn them an average of £23,000, more than triple their investment. But unscrupulous contracts obliged owners to seek permission if they wanted to extend or sell their home, or compensate them if the panels were temporarily removed for roof repairs.

Since 2012, as installation costs have plummeted, the feed-in rates have been slashed for new installations by 90%, and they will be abolished for those who install solar panels after 31 March next year. The profiteering startups have all but disappeared, but their legacy will blight the lives of homeowners and unwitting buyers for two more decades.

Many are discovering the high price of their “free” deal as they try to sell. The 25-year leases apply to the property regardless of who owns it, and they have to find a buyer willing to take on the remaining years. And even if a buyer is happy, mortgage lenders may not be. The deal is treated as a leasehold, and contracts skewed in favour of the company are deemed risky by banks and building societies.


 And Finally….

How high-tech toilets could soon be tracking your every movement

Just to prove there is no privacy anymore. If you ever find a loo in a rural setting in future you might be up for more than you bargained for! This story tells us:

The bathroom is arguably the last bastion of privacy, but soon a new high-tech lavatory could be tracking your every movement.

Researchers at the European Space Agency (ESA) and MIT have teamed up with sanitation specialists to create the ‘FitLoo’ which screens human waste for early signs of disease.

Data gathered by the sensors in the toilet bowl could be beamed to the users mobile phone so they can see how their health is changing or even directly to the GP so they could keep a remote eye on patients.

“The toilet offers an incredible opportunity for people to gain control of their health,” said Michael Lindenmayer, digital health and smart sanitation lead at the Toilet Board Coalition


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


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