Hinterland - Friday, 25 May 2018

We are looking forward to our Economic Development themed regional meeting in Durham today.
Meanwhile, in Hinterland we look at water, abattoirs, broken local council budgets, NHS innovation, charity funding in terms of the need to move away from grant dependency and a “Loch Ness” excuse to mention to the Palnackie Flounder Tramping festival.

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‘Local’ meat may have travelled hundreds of miles, say groups calling for ‘mobile abattoirs’

I think local abattoirs on the basis set out below could have a really positive impact in terms of local food developments. This story tells us:

Meat labelled “local” may have travelled hundreds of miles to be slaughtered, farmers and environmentalists have warned as they call for more efficient rules after Brexit.

The Sustainable Food Trust is one of several groups calling for the introduction of “mobile abattoirs” in the UK to improve animal welfare by reducing the distance they have to travel.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the organisation criticises the dwindling of red meat abattoirs from 1,900 in 1971 to 245 today, and blames EU red tape for stifling efforts to slaughter animals more locally.

Current rules mean official vets have to examine animals before they are slaughtered.

However, the SFT said improved technology means vets can now monitor welfare standards remotely using CCTV.

The letter is co-signed by a Gloucestershire farmer, Jane Parker, who is leading a consortium of local farmers pioneering a mobile abattoir able to process approximately six cattle and 75 sheep a week.

“Brexit presents an opportunity to create a system with less bureaucracy that would reduce costs and thereby sustain and strengthen smaller abattoirs, enabling consumers to choose locally-sourced, high-quality meat produced in their communities,” the signatories write.


Council calls on Whitehall to fix ‘broken’ funding system, rejects claims of bankruptcy

I said Northamptonshire was the “canary”. This story tells us:

A Conservative-controlled council has called on the government to sort out its “broken” funding system, and claimed it was not going to go down the same path as Northamptonshire council after reports claimed the authority was at risk of going bust.

A fall in government funding alongside rising costs to social overheads such as children’s services —found in a formal peer review earlier in the year — have led to claims from The Guardian that a failure to balance the books could lead to Somerset County Council to collapse.


Charities respond to the civil society strategy consultation

I don’t agree with the thrust of this article – its time we moved away from charities being dependent on grants. Enlightened social enterprise is the way to the bright sunlit uplands in my view in terms of this debate. We’re thrilled to be working on this agenda in the context of rural market failure in Leicestershire. I’m happy to tell you more if you email me. The article itself says:

Charity representative bodies, think tanks and grant makers have told the government that the new civil society strategy should include an emphasis on grants, encouraging the sector to speak out and better more meaningful engagement.

The minister for civil society, Tracey Crouch, announced that she was working on a new strategy last year and the consultation opened earlier this year. The deadline to respond was 9am yesterday.

Here are some of the things that charities have asked for:

  • Reform of the Lobbying Act
  • Better consultation and engagement
  • Improve commissioning across government to widen access to smaller charities
  • Beef up the Social Value Act
  • Use dormant assets to support community foundations
  • Fund charities with grants
  • Funding for the Charity Commission

Risk of water shortages for England warns Environment Agency

As a third of all water is lost through leaks I consider putting the blame on water users is a “low blow”. I predict this debate will end up in punitive charges for heavier users, many of whom are based in rural settings rather than any transformational effort to stop the leaks! This story tells us:

England is facing water supply shortages by 2050 unless rapid action is taken to curb water use and wastage, the Environment Agency has warned.

Its new report says enough water to meet the needs of 20 million people is lost through leakage every day.

Population growth and the impact of climate change are expected to add to supply pressures.

The agency wants people to have a personal water target and has urged them to use water more wisely at home.

The study, the first major report on water resources in England, says that population growth and climate change are the biggest pressures on a system that is already struggling.


Future-proofing the NHS: how the UK’s largest workforce is gearing up

Interesting overview of some of the key changes leading to a more flexible NHS – reported in a bit of detail as they have the capacity to transform things from a rural perspective. This article tells us:

The government is committed to increasing nursing associates – a bridging role between healthcare assistant and registered nurse. By 2027 some 45,000 will be in post, with 17,000 expected to become registered nurses. The development, according to Health Education England (HEE) chief executive Prof Ian Cumming, has already triggered a rise in the number of people applying to become healthcare assistants because there is now a defined career path. A growth in medical associate professions is also expected – such as surgical care practitioners trained to perform some supervised surgery and advanced critical-care practitioners who look after hospital patients with life-threatening conditions. In future, more physician associates – who can carry out many of the duties typically provided by a GP – are also likely to be found across the NHS.

Helen Gilburt, policy fellow at the King’s Fund thinktank, says: “Physician associates have taken up roles in general practice and hospitals; they are adaptable with a broad skills set. In the US they are found in hospital and surgical teams and treating people with long-term conditions, so it will be interesting to see where they develop and grow in other parts of the NHS.” While these new roles are emerging, it’s also crucial to build on the skills of existing staff, she says: “Getting people who have different skills to work more closely together is more effective than redesigning traditional roles.”

Opportunities for existing staff to become advanced clinical practitioners – experts often working autonomously – will increase in future. Danny Mortimer, chief executive at NHS Employers, says: “I think there is more interest in roles around advanced clinical practice in nursing and the allied health professions than, for example, physician associate, because there are more of these roles and the people are already there.”

Most of the growth in jobs is expected to happen in the community as more people are treated outside of hospital. Technological advancements, which enable patients to self-monitor their condition at home, will also have an impact on how health careers develop: “I think the iPad will transform primary care,” says Cumming. The desire of doctors for more flexible careers will also influence how medical paths develop. Chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, predicts there will be more portfolio careers in medicine in future and hopes there will be more flexibility in junior doctor training, including the chance to work overseas – an avenue HEE is already exploring. Cumming says: “More people want the option to work internationally, and we are looking at what we can do to build links.” Nurses might in future spend some of their training in Australia, while Australian nurses work in the UK as part of a job swap, he suggests.


Scientists hunt for Loch Ness Monster using DNA sampling techniques

An interesting story – but nearly as exciting as the Palnackie Flounder Tramping Festival I was discussing with my good friend Les at the Dumfries and Galloway Council today. This article tells us the latest lead in the search for “Nessie” says: ‘I don’t believe in the idea of a monster,’ said professor Neil Gemmell. ‘But maybe there’s a biological explanation for some of the stories’

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