The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has published data that shows malnutrition, among other diseases we associate with Victorian times, has increased in the Devon, Cornwall, and Isles of Scilly NHS area. You can see the data in the excel file Topic of Interest-Victorian Diseases-Data here.

In the year August 2014-July 2015 the rate of malnutrition admission episodes in Devon, Cornwall, Isles of Scilly NHS team area was 2.4 per 100 000 population, the highest of the twenty five areas of England. This is nearly double the average rate for England of 1.3. There has been an increase of 34 percent over 2010/11 admissions for malnutrition in the Devon, Cornwall, and Isles of Scilly area.

The number of admissions in the area is very small but I think it is troubling that malnutrition is around and increasing in 2015. Look too at patients’ ages. Note too that the numbers are not of individuals but admissions as a patient may be admitted more than once in a year.

The Trussell Trust, which runs foodbanks, has said, “We often see parents who are going without food so that they can feed their children.” In Britain. In 2015. There is a growing food crisis for many in our country and the Tory government is floundering.

The published data does not show how many of the admissions were of people separately resident in each of the three counties in the team area.

In this this post I am recording how the Lords members associated with Cornwall voted yesterday on the government’s planned tax credit changes.

Read the amendments, debate, and votes

There were three amendments, all proposed by women members, to the government’s plans. I put details and references below, along with the votes of members of the Lords who I am aware are associated with Cornwall and who voted.

Liberal Democrat Zahida Manzoor’s amendment rejected the tax credit cuts outright saying the house “declines to approve” the tax credit cuts: defeated 310-99. Liberal Democrats Judith Jolly, Robin Teverson, and Paul Tyler voted for the amendment. The amendment is at column 982, the vote at column 1030.

Crossbencher Molly Meacher’s amendment requires a response from the government to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) analysis of the changes and possible mitigation of adverse effects. Liberal Democrats Judith Jolly, Robin Teverson, and Paul Tyler and Labour’s Tony Berkeley voted for the amendment. The amendment is at column 1033, vote at column 1034.

Labour Patricia Hollis’s amendment requires the government to provide “full transitional protection” for present claimants against adverse impact of the tax credit cuts for a minimum of three years, along with a response to the IFS analysis and possible mitigation. Liberal Democrats Judith Jolly, Robin Teverson, and Paul Tyler and Labour’s Tony Berkeley voted for the amendment. The amendment and vote are at column 1038.

I welcome the Lords positive Meacher and Hollis votes. We live in interesting times.

On Monday, 20 October 2015, the Commons debated a non-binding Labour motion: “this House calls on the Government to reverse its decision to cut tax credits”. The debate begins at Hansard column 845 and the vote at column 923.

The debate arose from the concerns that the Tory government’s changes to welfare and tax credits make around 3 million families worse off. I wrote about this in the posts Robbing the working poor  and Assaulting poverty or the poor.

In the vote on the Labour motion Sarah Newton was a teller for the noes and the other five Cornwall Tory MPs voted against the Labour motion.

This is a repeat of the vote from Cornwall MPs last month to approve the regulations for the tax credit changes: see Hansard 15 September 2015. The debate begins at column 964, the vote is at column 989. Sarah Newton was a teller for the ayes and the other five Tory MPs for Cornwall voted for the regulations.

At prime minister’s questions on 21 October David Cameron said he was “delighted” – yes, that’s the very word he used – that the tax credit cuts and other changes had been approved by the Commons (Hansard 21 October 2015 column 948).

Are the Cornwall Tory MPs delighted too? Read the comments of Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) and Derek Thomas (St Ives) extracts of which I have put below; do read the whole of what they said.

On 22 October 2015 Steve Double wrote on his blog : “I have been working behind the scenes to ask the Government to do something to ease the impact of these cuts. I have met with the Chancellor George Osborne and have written to the Prime Minister… I want to make clear that I support the principle of reducing tax credits but believe the severity of what is proposed needs to be addressed. I will continue to work towards a different solution, a solution that softens the blow that has come relatively swiftly.”

Protestors against the cuts gave Derek Thomas a petition. The   Cornishman  reports on 28 July 2015:

“Mr Thomas said he would work to alleviate the plight of anyone suffering hardship as a result of the cuts…

‘I completely agree that the Government needs to strike the right balance when reforming welfare. There is a need to reduce welfare spending but we must be careful that people do not experience unacceptable (and unintended) levels of hardship.

‘I will work hard to help people who find themselves in this situation and I have offered to hold a regular drop-in surgery in the Changing Room so that people can get help when needed.’ ”

I am not clear what the other four MPs think on the issue.

The Commons will look at the tax credit changes yet again on 29 October with a motion calling for mitigation of the effect on low paid workers and their families. It will be interesting to see how the six vote. The issue will be before the House of Lords on 26 October. Signatories to a letter from members calling for change so that working families do not experience “major overall losses” include Tim Thornton, bishop of Truro, and Robin Teverson. The prime minister and chancellor insist the tax credit cuts will not be changed at all. We’ll see.

Added 26 October 2015
Very difficult findings for the government on the effects of its tax credit cuts from research group Policy in practice


21 October 2015

Alas, the myth that the streets of London are paved with gold is a myth for very many Londoners. Alas, the envy of a pampered town showered with money that we should have rings untrue for very many Londoners. Alas, the tale that pay in London is fantastic is far from true for very many Londoners. How many?

Well, 21 percent of people living in London are paid below the London living wage.  27 percent of Londoners live in poverty (after housing costs are reckoned).

These figures come from the excellent and well-researched annual London’s poverty profile. The 2015 profile is out today. You can read it here.

It runs to nearly a hundred 100 pages but there is a helpful, brief list of key findings on page 7 and each of the ten chapters has a key points introduction.

This should be compulsory reading for everyone who thinks all Londoners are living in splendour, awash with money. Some people in London are and, yes, Cornwall and too many of its people experience poverty and serious housing issues which I highlight on this blog as in Poorly paid in Cornwall and Deprivation in Cornwall 2015. But it would be good if the Cornwall political parties and commentators took a minute to acknowledge the plight of very many Londoners and scotched the myths and tales of universal riches. We are all in it together, right?


19 October 2015

Housing news usually centres on questions of affordability, long waiting lists of people for housing, opposition from people comfortably housed to new house building developments, numbers and density. Difficulties, problems, only small bites of hope.

It is very good to have a story about housing, about homelessness, a story that warms hearts.

The Guardian reports it here and the Independent here.

Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, two Manchester United footballers, have agreed to let homeless people live in their planned hotel over winter.

I honour the two gentlemen and their generous, civilised action.


16 October 2015

See updates of 7 and 16 October 2015 at the end of this post

ORIGINAL POST 24 September 2015
Another judgement day for our Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) with three hospitals at Treliske Truro, St Michaels Hayle, and West Cornwall Penzance. The latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) report on the RCHT, published 23 September this year, is here. Incidentally, scroll down that page for the report on the inspection of January 2015, published 27 March 2015.

The trust was inspected on four days in June this year. Do read the report on that inspection and consider what you think. I believe it is a mixed picture though the grim and unsafe have been rightly emphasised by the media. It is a very great concern that the report says the safety of services is “Inadequate.”

A serious issue in the report is shortage at times of suitably qualified staff on duty. I should like to see the CQC well analyse the origins of the shortage at RCHT and other hospitals. Does it consider it is all due to administrative inadequacies by RCHT or are government policies part of the cause? The CQC should consider how far present issues are due to government decisions, especially about cut backs on nurses’ jobs and training places and harsh limits on public sector pay rises; both by the Tory/Libdem coalition. The present Tory government is continuing public sector pay restraint. Is the work load now so onerous that it is damaging nurses’ wellbeing and the NHS?

The RCHT will be inspected again. Let’s hope the managers can engender large improvements. Let’s hope the CQC takes a wider look.

The RCHT ended 2014/15 with a deficit of nearly £7 million. It plans a £5.5 million deficit for 2015/16: see report here.

Further reading
Head of Royal College of Nursing – Nurse shortages are life-threatening: Guardian 2 September 2015

Polly Toynbee on government spending cuts damaging the NHS: Guardian 22 September 2015

Deborah Hopkins, Labour candidate for St Austell and Newquay in May, has an interesting take on this issue on her facebook

End of original post

Update 7 October 2015
Read the telling report by Denis Campbell in the Guardian NHS leadership in crisis as running hospitals becomes near-impossible.

Update 16 October 2015
The Care Quality Commission has just published its latest annual report The state of health care and adult social care in England 2014/15. This is the full report.

In the section dealing with acute hospitals the Commission reports that that two thirds of hospital trusts are in deficit (page 11 full report) and 8 percent of inspected hospitals are judged overall as “inadequate” and 57 percent “require improvement” (page 69). The CQC now says that hospitals are being asked to make significant savings and at the same time deliver an excellent service as work increases in load and complexity.


12 October 2015

The Office for national statistics (ONS) has today published data showing that last year there were about 53 000 jobs in Cornwall paying less than the then living wage hourly rate of £7.65 for those aged twenty one and over. This represented 31.6 percent of all Cornwall jobs.

Of the 293 local authorities in England outside London, Cornwall is at 250 where 1 is best (lowest proportion) and 293 is worst (highest proportion).

The voluntary living wage, set by the Living Wage Foundation, is higher than the mandatory minimum wage and George Osborne’s recently announced and misleadingly called national living wage.

Five of the thirty three local authorities in London, where in April 2014 the living wage set by the Mayor of London, was £8.80 an hour, had a higher proportion of jobs below the wage than Cornwall.

The estimates of percentages are based on the 2014 provisional ASHE data.

The data shows that poor wages are a lively issue in Cornwall. They underlie many other difficulties for many here, including poverty and housing and choices in everyday living. Cornwall Council and town and parish councils should scrutinise their spending to ensure their poor get a very fair share and none is wasted on frivolous projects.

I should like to see the parties in Cornwall responding positively to the issues raised in this post and in my post of the other day Deprivation in Cornwall 2015 and to the risks of increasing poverty for children that I discussed in the post Assaulting poverty or the poor – that is, responding to the issues (not to me) with specific and material ideas for at least mitigation of distress. Let’s hear the clarion from Labour, Liberal Democrats, Mebyon Kernow, and the Greens here in Cornwall, and, yes, the Conservatives and UKIP here too.

ASHE: Annual survey of hours and earnings (ONS)

The ONS explains that the jobs are for employees aged eighteen and over paid at adult rates of pay; the coefficient of variation (cv) shows that the Cornwall figures are “precise”.