Category Archives: News

NHS health check programme improving

health-check1Good to see improvements in the NHS Health Check screening programme in Harrow.
The programme is to prevent a number of health problems for certain age group (40-74) with no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Those who not already have these risk factors will be invited (once every five years) to have a check to assess their risk.
The programme, commissioned by the Harrow council through the public health grant, used to commission individual GP practices to deliver the programme but this achieved very low results, said Carole Furlong, Consultant in Public Health.
Now the change of provider to Harrow Health CIC has allowed them to look at different delivery models e.g. centralising the delivery of the checks which reduces pressure on individual practices, Ms Furlong informs.
“The recent data (Jan 18) shows a big improvement in numbers having healthchecks” said Ms Furlong .
They focused on the more deprived areas in Harrow where the health inequalities are more pronounced but the programme has now been widened to include less deprived areas and invitations should be going out on a practice by practice basis.
The practice is responsible for advertising/promoting and inviting eligible patients and for delivering the full health check.  They are performance managed by HHCIC and the council performance manage HHCIC.
Not all GP practices in Harrow appreciate the change in the NHS ethos to respect patients as clients nor do they feel comfortable when patients ask them questions about the performance of the practice, but still the concerned patients should ask practice for a health check.  If they are signed up to deliver they should be able to make an appointment.  If they are not signed up, they can be asked to do so.


Institutional collusion to keep patients silent

Harrow GP surgeries need to offer high quality services which meet users demands, manage expectations and be responsive to meet the needs of the different communities in Harrow, finds the Healthwatch research, commissioned by the Harrow council ‘to gain an understanding of patients and service users experience of GP services within the borough’.
The research report recommends that surgeries address patients’ frustrations as many lack awareness of the health care services or how to access these or how to complain about their GP.
Raising patient awareness to complain is important but what is more important is to give them rights to deal with any backlash to their complaint, like GP removing them from the practice list – victimisation difficult to prove but does happen.
We support the Harrow Council for Justice initiative asking for more and better patient rights. In a letter to the Commons health select committee, they said:
‘We would like to draw your attention to the NHS England Standard General Medical Services Contract 2015/16 (GMS) and its interpretation by David Lock QC.
As you would see from the section 13 of the GMS and section 11 of the QC report, a GP has absolute powers to remove a patient from the practice list (reference here is not the removal of the patient because of violent, or threatening to be violent, towards a GP or practice staff which it is different matter). GPs are at lib to determine their own ‘good reasons’ for the removal action and there is no mechanism to challenge it, not even through the Ombudsman action.
The NHS practice contract gives the patient no right to object to the proposed removal or to challenge the factual basis of the decision to remove him or her from the practice list.  The provisions in the contract treat this mater as being solely to be decided between the practice and NHS England.  Neither the GMS Regulations nor the GMS contract gives any legal right to the patient to object to being removed from a practice list.
It is therefore difficult if not impossible to see how a patient could construct a cause of public law action arising out of the decision of a GP practice to remove a patient from their list of registered patients.  The patient’s only remedies appear to be to sue in defamation or to complain to the GMC.
Such a denial of rights to a patient is against the natural justice with serious Human Rights implications!
Institutional collusion to keep patients silent is highly concerning.
We would appreciate if you could take up this matter with the legislators, with a view to make legislative changes to allow patients a right to seek a review or appeal against the GP’s decision to remove them from the practice list’.


Positive tick for Harrow council!

We reported that ponding after rain around a Wealdstone bench, near a bus stop, makes it unusable.
IMAG0297_BURST007This long standing problem near 130/132 High Street Wealdstone, seemingly due to the slop towards the bench or the earth sinking around the bench, not only caused water build-up but also attracted environmental abuse.
Within days a senior manager at the Harrow council positively responded, “We will raise a job to have the levels improved at this location – will take between 5-8 weeks for its completion”.
We have noted that the work has been carried out today – well within four weeks!IMAG0319_BURST001


Council budget debate goes on!

SSHarrow council prides itself for being one of a minority of councils in the UK that is ‘not expecting to raid its financial reserves next year’ – despite facing massive cutbacks in government funding.
Cllr Sachin Shah, leader of Harrow Council, said, “I take being careful with your money very seriously. Reserves are for emergencies. That’s why we are cutting our cloth to what we’ve got”.
But opposition leader councillor Paul Osborn questions the council leader’s budget assertion.
“In their Final Revenue Budget 2018/19 which they approved at Cabinet and Council in February, it makes it clear that the only reason they have not touched the reserves this year is because they are not allowed to do so” says Cllr Osborn.Paul Osborn
In his budget statement, Cllr Sachin Shah also said, “We are making hard choices every day. Some councils, like Northamptonshire, have run out of money – with disastrous consequences. Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen in Harrow.”
In responding to the council leader’s stated approach to keep the council in a healthy financial state, Cllr Osborn points out overspend in this year’s budget, resulting  in running down reserves as the Quarter 3 figures in the budget show ‘a draw down from reserves of £2.815m’.
Commenting on the appropriateness  of the administration’s financial decisions, Cllr Osborn said, “They have run the reserves down to a minimum whilst also making Harrow residents pay £421 more on average on Council tax since Labour took control of the Council”.
“They have not been careful with public money and cannot be trusted to do so” he added.
Like many local authorities, Harrow Council has raised Council Tax this year by 2.99% plus 0.5% in a government-authorised precept to pay for rising costs of adult social care.


Don’t make planning political issue

buildingIt looks that some opposition councillors with little knowledgeable of planning matters are making most noises in Harrow that ‘Labour cannot be trusted on planning’, all because these Tory councillors don’t like the developments needed to meet the challenge of housing shortage in the borough.
They seem to be more interested in point-scoring rather than appreciating the housing needs in Harrow.
According to the recent information from the Harrow council, there are 329 homeless in temporary accommodation in the borough and 47 outside borough. Total on waiting list for council accommodation as at 07/12/17 was 1995 – average waiting time for being re-housed in permanent accommodation could be anything up to eleven years.
It is interesting that the Tory councillors on the Harrow planning committee can vote against a planning application but cannot produce good reasons for a refusal, using the local, regional or national planning policies, when needed to overturn officer recommendation to grant a planning permission (pity that the planning-able Tory councillor who could effectively do so has been kept away from the planning committee by some in her group since her return to the council in a 2011 by-election).
Similarly their attack on London Mayor for granting some housing developments is immature.
According to London Councils’ analysis of housing statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and Greater London Authority, 526,000 new homes are needed to be built between 2011 and 2021 in London just to keep up with current housing demand.
It is easy to outcry ‘green belt’ but building on just 25% of the green belt land inside the M25 would allow for just over one million new homes to be built. This would be a substantial gain in the current housing crisis.
[Green belt is not necessarily open countryside; green belt designation is an issue of policy and not necessarily always applicable to the wider countryside].
It can only be good that Harrow council plans to build almost 6,000 new homes during 2017-2022. Numbers of anticipated houses and sites as per LBH housing plans, 2017-22, are – to maximise the use of available land and to attract developers, tower blocks are unavoidable.


Labour candidate for Harrow East

PamNews is coming  that Harrow councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick has been selected as Labour parliamentary candidate for the Harrow East constituency.
Amongst others, Cllr Fitzpatrick enjoyed support from the key trade unions, Labour party Momentum as well as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell MP who came to Harrow to endorse her at an event and said, “Jeremy and I would be proud to see Pamela in Parliament alongside us”.
The result indicates the end of Tony Blair era of Labour right in Harrow and increased hold of those who firmly believe in social justice.
Cllr Fitzpatrick says she is a community activist and a proud trade unionist, and that as Chair of the Harrow Labour Group on the council, she has witnessed the ‘brutal consequences of austerity and privatisation on our communities’.
Cllr Fitzpatrick adds that as director of the Harrow Law Centre and chair of the National Law Centres umbrella group, she has focused on ensuring that justice remains accessible to all.
Cllr Fitzpatrick believes that Harrow East needs someone who will resist unlawful eviction rulings for working class families, and break down the divides between politicians and the community.
Harrow East is a traditional marginal seat between Labour and the Conservatives, and has remained so despite the growing numbers of Asian voters. The constituency also has the sixth highest proportion of Jewish residents of any seat in the country.
Cllr Fitzpatrick stands for social justice for all which is important considering that the sitting MP Bob Blackman uses the divisive politics to exploit the foreign situations like Kashmir and Palestine to secure votes from the Indian and Jewish background communities.
In a motion last year, Harrow council condemned Mr Blackman for hosting a divisive Indian Hindu-nationalist at an event at the UK Parliament.
Mr Blackman’s majority was heavily slashed by Labour at the last general election.


Labour confident to keep administration

budgetIn deciding its 2018-19 budget last week, Harrow Council agreed that the authority will not spend beyond its means in the coming year.
Therefore, like most local authorities across the country, Harrow Council also raised council tax this year. The rate is rising by 2.99% plus 0.5% in a government-authorised precept to pay for rising costs of adult social care.
In the council election year, many UK councils use their reserves to overspend and keep council tax down to keep the voters happy but Harrow did not! Such a bold step indicates that Labour is confident to retain the council without bribing for votes.
As part of the budget, Harrow Council will provide £9 million in new spending for the most essential services that the borough’s most vulnerable residents rely on. This includes almost £3 million for children’s services and nearly £6 million for adults and social care.
“We believe Harrow people want to care for the vulnerable and make our borough clean – and we will continue to devote our efforts to those causes, within our means” said the council leader Cllr Sachin Shah.
Harrow has announced £7.4 million of budget savings – partly found by reducing services and funding to external organisations, and partly found through back-office cutbacks and creative and innovative ways of making the council more efficient.