Joined-up Thinking between NHS and Thames Valley Police

Congratulations to Thames Valley Police and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for putting joined-up thinking into action. Between them they have launched a Street Triage scheme.

This innovation means that a qualified mental healthcare nurse will be on hand to assis the police five nights a week Thursdays through to Mondays (so covering the busy weekend period) so that mentally ill patients can be seen and assessed by a qualified practioner rather than simply being locked away in a cell before anyone asks any questions, followed by a long, long wait to see someone qualified in mental healthcare.

On its first week of operation, covering Reading , Wokingham and West Berks, some 20 incidents were attended by a mental health nurse, saving the police many hours of time that needs to be spent on their main job of protecting the public, and, importantly, getting the right help to mentally ill patients as quicklly as possible.

It has been a long time coming but well done to all involved in this scheme.

Slower speeds through wide 20mph limits is the top child protection measure

Children and families are big winners from slower speeds. Wide 20mph limits help parents and children to get around locally. Less danger or parent ‘taxi-duty’ and more walking and cycling means happier, healthier families with extra money to spend.

Child protection should focus more on slower speeds because crashes are the top
avoidable cause of early death or injury for 5-35 year olds. Some children are not allowed to go out without an adult because of fears of being run over. Leading expert Professor Danny Dorling says “roads imprison richer children at home, denying them the freedom to move and are the main sites of killing of poorer children”.

Changing adult driving styles does work. Signing drivers to obey a 20mph limit improves safety – especially if most roads are included. The World Health Organisation say wide area 20mph limits help protect walkers. Public Health body NICE advises 20 mph limits near children. At 20mph the risk of death is 7 times less than 30mph . There is extra time to get out of the way or brake. Just 20% of child casualties happen on school journeys. Yet until recently transport officials had focused on engineering slower speeds with humped, school zones. But, humps are costly. They result in confusing limits. Zones only protect a few hundred metres near schools (about 17% of a school trip). Zones encourage parents to drop off in the “safe area” and then remind them to speed up on leaving it. Wide 20mph limits are better because people who walk or cycle the journey enjoy a 20mph limit throughout the majority of their route. Noise levels fall by 50% too, plus its popular and good for the environment.

The results of protective parents stopping children from going about by themselves are all too clear. Very overweight child numbers are rising. 22% of London’s year 6 children (10/11 year olds) are obese. Body fat is controlled by eating fewer calories and exercise. Exercising one hour daily is recommended for kids, yet with most not allowed to walk or cycle alone due to mum’s and dad’s concerns, few are active enough. Also the focus on obesity is masking rapidly reducing child fitness levels. Nearly half of year 11 pupils (15 year olds) are unfit. This raises the risks of many other health problems such as heart disease.

From 20’s Plenty For Us which campaigns for a 20mph default speed limit in residential streets without physical calming. Web

Services for Vulnerable People or Tax Cuts

Tonight’s Council meeting really set out the difference in approach to running council services. The Tories attacked Labour for not sticking to their budgets. Labour accusd the Tories of not caring for vulnerable people. The spat arose over what to do with a windfall of £3.6m that Reading BC has been given from the government as a result of overpaid VAT. The Tories want to use it to keep next year’s Council Tax increase down to 0%. Labour want to use part of it to to pay off some iof the extra sopending incurred by Childrens Services and Adult Social Care in catering for a huge increase in demand for these services which has affected almost all local councils this year (as a result of some highly publicised abuse cases).

The Lib Dems sided with Labour in the votes and opposed the Tory idea of cuts across the board to pay for these overspends this year in order to have their0% council tax rise next year. They were never specific about where they would cut the money other than calling for ‘across the board cuts.’ This, from the party that could not even produce a budget last March and insists on being the party that knows how to run government.

I told the Tories that they could not run services for vulnerable people as though they were running a corner shop and that they could not simply ignore the increased demand this year, or slash other front line services to pay for it  when this windfall was available.

I also pointed out that the Labour Government knew exactly the level of demand currently being experienced by both Childrens and Adults Social Care Services up and dowm the country but had chosen not to provide councils with any more funds. They had been quite happy to spend billions to prop up broken banks but would not spend a few millions to support broken humans.