Whitstable Campaign: Carnall Farrar take millions from NHS England

Scandal’s implications

Many thanks to Diane Langford and Julie Wassmer, two Whitstable activists who, through hard work and persistence, were able to expose a regional scandal in NHS spending with distinct national implications.

What they discovered was the use of NHS funds to pay consultancy firm, Carnall Farrar, over £6 million for barely 18 months work.

Add to this the fact that Dame Ruth Carnall, a former NHS executive, and partner in Carnall Farrar, was, at the same time, also the Independent Chair of the Programme Board of the local Sustainability & Transformation Plan (STP) – one of 44 regional bodies put in place by NHS England to implement cuts within the NHS – and you can see that there is a conflict of interest here.

If £6 million has gone to just this one firm in just one region, how much more is disappearing in the NHS as a whole?

It took these two doughty women over a year to dig out the truth, making numerous Freedom of Information requests, a lengthy and time consuming process.

There are several notable things about this story.

Firstly, that NHS Trusts are obliged by law to register all payments of £25K and over, and yet these sums paid to Carnell Farrar were not recorded. The explanation was that the STP was ‘not an organisation’ and therefore had no obligation to publish its payments.

Secondly, that it took two independent campaigners to discover this. When the women first approached the Trust they were told that the figure was £2.2 million. It was only with the help of research organisation Spinwatch that they were able to show it was at least £6.05 million, and possibly more.

Finally, that the story has hardly been touched by the press. The only national paper to take it up was the Morning Star. No other print paper has seen fit to publish it and it has not been reported by the BBC or any other broadcast medium. The only other report of the issue appeared on an independent website.

Why is the government encouraging health managers to fritter away millions on unaccountable management consultancies? With such a lack of transparency, it’s no wonder our NHS is in trouble.

NHS
NHS march on Downing Street, 03/02/18

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From The Whitstable Gazette 01/02/18

The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.

Send letters to: The Editor, Room B119 Canterbury College, New Dover Road, Canterbury CT1 3AJ

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Whitstable People: Ritchie Harnett

House prices are driving people away.

People on Island Wall, Nelson Road and the adjoining streets, will have noticed that they have a new postman.

This is because their old postman, Ritchie Harnett, has moved to Grimsby.

There’s been a lot of talk about house prices in the paper recently. Ritchie’s move is the perfect illustration of that.

He has a growing family to care for and needed more space. He simply couldn’t afford to get a bigger house in the town on his income.

His family have lived in Whitstable for generations. He was born and brought up here. He went to school here. His relatives are here. His roots are here. Everything he has ever known is in this town.

On the other hand, most of his contemporaries have long since moved away. They too, like him, couldn’t afford to live in Whitstable any longer.

It’s a five hour drive from Whitstable to Grimsby, which means it will be very difficult for his Mum and Dad to get to see their grandkids.

On the plus side: the house he has brought up there is four times the size of the one he lived in in Whitstable, with a garden five times the size. He says his new kitchen is the size of the ground floor of his old house.

Also, his new office is within walking distance of his house, unlike the Whitstable office, which is eight miles away.

He probably never would have wanted to move had the delivery office not been shifted to Canterbury.

Ritchie was very popular with his customers. I spoke to one of them who told me they trusted him implicitly. There was even a petition going around trying to persuade him to stay.

Let me assure them: their new postman is just as trustworthy and reliable, just as honest as Ritchie, and will serve them just as well.

Nevertheless it is a measure of everything that is wrong in this world that postal workers and other people doing essential jobs, such as Ritchie, can no longer afford to live in the towns where they were brought up.

There is a chronic shortage of affordable housing in the UK, something which needs to be urgently addressed.

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From The Whitstable Gazette 10/08/17

The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.

Send letters to: The Editor, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3SE

fax: 01227 762415

email: kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk

website: kentishgazette.co.uk

Whitstable views: job centre closures

Job Centre closures put more pressure on vulnerable

It’s that word again: “modernisation”.

They used it when they closed down the Royal Mail delivery offices.

They used it when they closed down the Whitstable police station, and then when they tried to close down the Crown Post Office and move it as a franchise into Somerfield supermarket.

Now here it is again, being deployed as an excuse for shutting 78 Job Centres across the country, including those in Whitstable and Herne Bay.

It is always portrayed as something that we should be grateful for.

“At the heart of everything we do is our customers,” says the Department for Work and Pensions. “We have made it easier than ever for people to access our suite of specialist services.”

What they don’t tell you is that if a job seeker is late for their signing on appointment, they can be sanctioned, and could lose their benefits.

This can often have horrific consequences, as anyone who has seen the new Ken Loach movie, I Daniel Blake, will testify.

People who have lost their jobs are vulnerable, and often depressed. They feel insecure, and uncertain about the future.

There are known cases of suicide following sanctions, so the loss of the Job Centres is not just a matter of a minor inconvenience: in some cases it may be a question of life or death.

As for disabled people, the bus journey itself will be complex and stressful and would certainly lead to discomfort and possible trauma.

As many as 1200 job seekers over the two towns may be affected.

In April 2014 the Whitstable Job Centre was threatened with closure, but a successful campaign by the Whitstable and Canterbury Stop the Cuts group managed to keep it open. There’s no reason why another campaign can’t also be successful.

The current campaign is supported by the PCS union as jobs will be threatened.

The public consultation ends on the 28th of February. Here is the address:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposal-for-the-future-of-whitstable-and-herne-bay-jobcentres

Or put “Proposal for the future of Whitstable and Herne Bay jobcentres” into your search engine.

We need to protect the vulnerable in our society, not cause them more distress.

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