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station100squareb.jpg Sally Keeble says Network Rail has criticised Network Rail for causing chaos over the access arrangements for Northampton's new Castle Station.

She called on the company to improve the access at the front entrance to the station on Black Lion Hill - there's a staircase that will be hard for people with limited mobility or heavy suitcases to manage.

But the company has said that some original proposals for a ramp were scrapped and that the main entrance will probably be the back entrance where there is an even bigger staircase and a small lift.

Network Rail's description of the access arrangements came in a letter to Sally which can be downloaded here. and here.

Sally said: "This is an important and valuable development for Northampton, and it's essential that the public can get proper access to the new station. Network Rail's letter makes things look very much worse - with confusion over which is the main entrance to the station, and what the status is of the multi-story carpark. How they can say that the stairs at the front of the station are suitable for people with disabilities is beyond belief - you will need to be very fit indeed to carry a heavy suitcase up those steps."

The Rail Users Group is meeting on Saturday, and the issue of the new station's access can be expected to come up then.

Sally slates chaos over access arrangements for Northampton's new station

 Sally Keeble says Network Rail has criticised Network Rail for causing chaos over the access arrangements for Northampton's new Castle Station.

LIPgraphic125.jpgAn overhaul of NHS support for people with dementia is needed with a duty on health authorities to provide advocacy services to help people apply for care. You can download a copy of the report here.

These are two of the recommendations from Sally Keeble's report, "Lost in the process" which sets out a package of reforms needed for NHS support for the 800,000 people living with dementia and other longterm conditions. The report draws from a survey of health services in England and the experiences of people in Northampton caring for relatives.

Sally Keeble said the seven recommendations would ease the heartache of people lost is a the maze of red tape that surrounds funding. "Fewer than one in ten of people living with dementia get access to NHS continuing healthcare funding which is designed to help meet the costs of caring. My report puts forward practical steps to help them.

"If you are living with dementia, or have a family member affected by the condition, I want to hear from you. You can let me have your views and comments here."

The report recommends that: 

  • Clinical commissioning groups, the new health authorities, should spend a proportion of their resources on specialised advocacy services to support people through the application, appeal and review process.
  • A mandatory, accredited training scheme is needed for all health and social service staff involved in assessing people for continuing healthcare.
  • GPs need to be more routinely and effectively involved in assessments of their patients for continuing healthcare.
  • Detailed guidance is needed on how the views of family members should be taken into account in the process.
  • Detailed guidance is also needed on involvement of external specialists.
  • CCGs should have a proportion of their continuing healthcare decisions audited nationally.
  • A national review is needed of how decisions on continuing healthcare are made to protect against a postcode lottery.

Welcoming the report, Alzheimer's Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: "people with dementia can often require round the clock care, putting huge strain on families and individuals both emotionally and financially. The financial support provided by NHS continuing healthcare is a lifeline for people with dementia and their carers.

"Callers to our Dementia Lifeline tell us that applying for continuing healthcare for a loved one with dementia is a minefield. All too often we hear of families who are refused funding because their local CCG does not adhere to proper process. 

"It is entirely unacceptable that there is no duty on CCGs to fund advocacy services  - which are essential to support families through the complex assessment process. A thorough review of NHS continuing care is needed to ensure vulnerable people are not unfairly disadvantaged by a flawed and poorly implemented system."

You can contact Alzheimer's Society through their website here.

To support Sally's work on dementia care services, Liz Kendal MP, shadow health minister, pictured, visited Northampton and took part in a roundtable discussion.

You can see detailed results of the survey of clinical commissioning groups here.

 

Overhaul of support needed for 800,000 people living with dementia

An overhaul of NHS support for people with dementia is needed with a duty on health authorities to provide advocacy services to help people apply for care. You can download...

Swingeing cuts to advice services in Northamptonshire are to be made according to a County Council report  -  despite the rising number of people with money and benefit problems.

 And the changes will not go out to public consultation or to councillors for decision - because the report says that authority has already been delegated to a council official to make the changes.

Sally Keeble has slated the changes and said that the report should go to a council meeting so that it can be debated and the decision made by councillors. The County is planning to scrap the entire £240,000 funding for charities that provide money and debt advice.

The review of debt advice services recommends that:

- the Value of the work should be cut from £240,000 to £150,000

- the money should be divided up between the district and borough councils - with £10,000 to be held back for reserves.

"It is noted that the Cabinet report was consulted on. No further consultation on the delegated decision is required," the report says.

Meanwhile, £1,000,000 left in the Social Fund - which is supposed to help families in desperate need - is to be spent on one-off training of 3,000money advisers across the County.

The changes are due to come into place in October - allowing little time to adjust for the existing agencies which include Community Law Service in Northampton and five of the County's CABs, providing services by phone, face to face and through home visits.  In total they provided advice for 5,025 people across Northamptonshire, claimed £6,878,192 in benefits for clients, managed £11,183,722 worth of debt and helped 622 people with court and tribunal hearings.

The ending of the existing arrangements, which cover money, benefit, housing and related advice services, was due to be told to the local agencies that provide existing services by mid July, with their contracts ending and the new arrangements coming into place in October.

Sally Keeble said: "At a time when people are struggling to manage debt and benefit changes, this strategy makes no sense. The cuts in voluntary sector funding threatens an expert and specialist service that is very highly regarded.

"It's a big and controversial decision with far-reaching implications. So it is completely wrong that it should be left to an unelected official to take and implement over the summer holidays. It will affected people in every part of the County, and councillors should have their say.

"Meanwhile what's left of the Social Fund, which is supposed to help people in real emergency, is being used instead for basic training. Yet this basic training will not be enough to deal with complex and specialist cases," Sally said.

You can sign the petition to call on the Council to publish and consult on the report, and then take the decision at a public council meeting here.

 

Swingeing cuts to advice services in secret Northants County Council Report

Swingeing cuts to advice services in Northamptonshire are to be made according to a County Council report  -  despite the rising number of people with money and benefit problems.

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