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February 2015
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newlsetters A view from the County
By Tricia Birchley

News that Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust (BHT) Stoke Mandeville hospital was on ‘Black alert’ the week before Christmas will have concerned many of us and the shortage of beds that week prompted me to send an additional senior, social care team to support the discharge of patients who were ready to leave hospital. I am pleased to say that following the Keogh report into BHT they have worked diligently to address issues of concern and fortunately they were not amongst the hospitals named this week which have struggled to deal with the volume of patients attending A&E over the Christmas holiday. BCC has the lowest rate of ‘Delayed Transfers of Care’ amongst similar authorities (bed blockers) and we will continue to leave no stone unturned in getting the best outcomes for local residents. Frimley Park, which is the only hospital trust with an ‘Outstanding’ rating, has now successfully acquired Heatherwood and Wexham Park and I think we can expect to see substantial improvements in their services over the coming months.

The rising cost of providing residential and nursing beds is being reviewed as the Care Act becomes law on 1st April and the Council is looking at providing a more flexible service where appropriate. That’s to say we will aim to flex care in future as people’s needs fluctuate, so that they receive as much or as little care as required. You may be unaware that we have recently rebuilt Stokebury House (opposite Tesco in Old Amersham) providing new permanent homes for those with a variety of mental health conditions. 21 high quality flats are now available for aspergers, autism and other conditions with 24 hour support. People in these flats organise bike rides, attend college and have a varied programme of local events and I am personally pleased that we can demonstrate services of such high quality in our community.

Each year county councillors have a Community Leaders’ Fund to pump-prime local projects, support work in the community, schools etc. I’ve been holding back this year for two community projects which are now delayed and would be delighted to hear of any new ideas which might be suitable. The amount is generally up to £1,000 for an individual request. Last summer, for example, we were able to repair the kitchen at Pony Club camp, provide new junior cricket equipment in Chesham and provide gardening experience and plants at Chiltern Hills Academy. It would be really helpful if you could contact me now.

Work is currently being undertaken on road schemes which have become delayed and I remain a champion for the much needed repairs to our road network in the Chilterns, continually making it clear at County Hall that I am not at all satisfied with many roads in this Division. There is at last funding for rural roads and I was first to submit a list of those most needing repair. Over the Christmas holiday I have seen the type of road infrastructure investment abroad that we need so badly in this country, in my view so much more important than building an elite railway. We simply must achieve a tunnel throughout the AONB and I know how hard everyone is working to prepare for the House of Commons Select Committee.

I welcome your questions and am currently resolving several local issues with officers at County Hall.

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