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December « 2006 « PRImage

Archive for December, 2006

Post Office Plans: Closure fears

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

A fresh round of post office closures are feared as the Government prepared to announce how much money will be spent on maintaining the Royal Mail’s branch network. Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling is expected to tell MPs what level of financial support the loss-making network will be given. Opposition parties, sub-postmasters, business and campaign groups urged ministers not to sanction wholesale closures among the 14,263 offices spread across the UK.

PRimage comment

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team believe that the Government has to listen to these concerns about closures – and that they should make a committment to the post office network across the country.  The fact is that Government has taken business and services away from post offices – for example, you can’t get your TV licence from the local post office.   

Many members of the public – the elderly, disabled and mums with young children, and those people who don’t have access to a car – rely on their local post office. This reliance is especially strong in rural areas.

What’s your view?

No suprise – Poor financial control within NHS!

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

An absence of financial control in the NHS is leading to cuts which affect staff morale, according to an MPs’ report. The cross-party Health Select Committee study said tackling NHS deficits by slashing the amount spent on education and training was unacceptable. Other “soft targets” such as mental and public health services should not suffer as a consequence of the financial crisis in the service, it said. The NHS ended last year £512 million in debt but Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has promised it will achieve overall balance by the end of this financial year.

PRimage comment

The PRimage team are not suprised at the findings and comments of the Health Select Committee report – are you?

We’d like to hear the views and experiences of healthcare professionals about the issue of NHS spending cuts which affect staff morale.  Please post a comment

New UK pension scheme is unveiled

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Plans to enrol millions of workers into a new pension system automatically are unveiled by the government. The Telegraph comments that small print in Government proposals for a new type of pension strips the elderly of the right to claim compensation if it proves bad value.

£250m NHS surplus should be delivered by 2008

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

NHS chief executive David Nicholson has said the NHS should achieve a net surplus of £250m by the end of 2007-08. Other priorities, set out in an operating framework for 2007-08, include 85 per cent of patients admitted for hospital treatment and 80 per cent of patients who do not require admission being treated within 18 weeks by March 2008.Local targets should also be agreed between PCTs and providers to reduce hospital-acquired infections.

Do you agree with weight loss ops for fat children?

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Controversial guidelines that could see children offered weight loss surgery have been published by the Government’s health watchdog. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) report is the first of its kind from the body aimed at tackling the obesity crisis in England and Wales. The guidance focuses on the prevention and treatment of obesity in adults and children and will be sent to NHS professionals, schools, local authorities, employers and town planners. Nice said there was a need “for urgent action” to stem the rising tide of obesity. Obesity is more damaging to health than smoking, heavy drinking or poverty, the Government agency claims. In total, 24 million adults are overweight or obese. Among children, 16 per cent are obese compared with 11 per cent in 1995. A fifth of all children is expected to be obese within four years. Nice added that the obesity epidemic costs the nation between £3.3 billion and £3.7 billion a year in health and economic costs.

PRimage comment

The PRimage team believe that the ‘obesity time bomb’ is a major public health problem – but is this a realistic solution to the problem?  What’s your view on this issue?

£100m bill for migrant translations

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

More than £100 million of taxpayers’ money is being spent each year on translation and interpreting services for migrants who do not speak English, according to a report. BBC2′s Newsnight totted up the figure from language services provided by local councils, hospitals, police forces, courtrooms and other state institutions across the UK. On Tuesday night the programme said the bill was rising fast, with a 300% increase in spending on translation and interpreting over the past five years in the court system alone.

PRimage comment

This is madness!  As a former District Councillor, Judy Viitanen has experience and understanding of the need to ensure all communities and residents know and understand the range of services available; but there is also the issue that these translation services can also serve to discourage migrants to actually make the effort to integrate and learn English.

What’s your opinion?

Free cash machines for poor areas

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Up to 600 free-to-use cash machines are to be sited in low income areas of the country, a committee of MPs says.

Cameron: Family at heart of agenda

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Conservative leader David Cameron has pledged to put families at the heart of his agenda, as a party commission warned that marriage breakdown was behind many of Britain’s social problems. A study led by the Tories’ former leader Iain Duncan Smith warned that massive debt and broken families were creating a “growing underclass” in the UK and called for a radical reappraisal of policy on marriage. Hailing the report as “powerful and convincing”, Mr Cameron said that Tory policies should aim to help families stay together – possibly by reforming the tax system to reward marriage.

PRimage comment

We believe that Cameron is right to highlight the social problems that result from marriage breakdowns.  Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team think that most people would welcome his idea to reform the current tax system to reward marriage.

Do you agree with David Cameron’s decision to put family at the heart of the Conservative agenda?  PRimage want to hear your views on this.

880 police stations axed since 1992

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

A total of 880 police stations in England and Wales have closed in the past 14 years, the Government said. The vast majority of those still in use are open to the public for only limited hours, with most closing at night. The figure may be even higher as some forces, including the Metropolitan and West Midlands police, have only provided figures in recent years. According to the Telegraph, the vast majority of those still operating are only open to the public for limited hours.

Tories claim maternity units ‘under threat’

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Forty-three maternity units across the UK are under threat, the Conservatives have warned. The Tories compiled their figures from Royal College of Midwives data and from press reports. They say 21 midwife-led units and 22 run by consultants have either closed or may do so. Most are in England, and two-thirds are in Conservative, Liberal Democrat or Independent seats, the analysis of the possible closures finds. But the Department of Health challenged the figures, saying safety and quality demands meant services must change.Of the midwife-led units the Tories claim are under threat, 16 are operated by trusts which finished the 2005-06 financial year in deficit. Out of the 22 consultant-led units, 11 are run by trusts which had a deficit.