Thursday, 28 January 2010

Privacy and Dignity in Healthcare

The Bracknell Standard reports that new research has shown that 97 per cent of people in Berkshire view privacy and dignity in healthcare as important. This comes after a health service memo, seen by the BBC, which says the government is "rattled" over the "failure" to eradicate mixed-sex wards in English hospitals.

Katherine Murphy, director of the Patients Association said she was glad Alan Johnson finally accepts the government has failed time after time to deliver on its promises on mixed sex accommodation.
"Single-sex accommodation is the only way to ensure patient dignity, privacy and safety.
"Successive ministers have made promises for the past 11 years - patients finally deserve action not words."

Friday, 22 January 2010

Dr Phillip Lee

There was a question on another blog about the Conservative candidate for the next General Election. I thought that I may as well post the information here as well with a few useful links.
Dr Phillip Lee has already been on many “walkabouts” in the constituency despite the weather. The reception he has received has been most encouraging. People are impressed by his sincerity and integrity. There have also been deliveries of old fashioned leaflets through the doors. The literature has been somewhat slow going
out due to the weather situation. You can read the thing (in PDF format) at

The Conservative party has a Facebook page for local Conservatives at and Phillip has a page at

If you are really passionate about a better future for tomorrow, why not join the campaign, donate, or just get involved at

Why not go that bit further - join the Conservative Party and Make Change Happen.

The hole problem

It is not just Bracknell forest, but in a great many other Local authorities, that they are working flat out to repair large potholes that have appeared across the country’s road network following the worst winter weather for 30 years.

A condition called “freeze-thaw” has attacked our roads. As the water in a road freezes it expands, causing the surface of the road to break up. Councils have asked the public to report problem areas so that holes can be fixed as soon as possible. Call BFC on 01344 352000, or log it online at (Use the highway damage report form on the right). I reported several roads in Priestwood, before the last freeze, but roads like Shepherds lane have suffered even more since. One worries about the knock on effect on next years highways budget, already constrained but the current monetary situation.

At least the rubbish collections are getting back into order. Our HUGE pile of recycling was collected today. We had a lot of it because we were away on the collection day before Christmas, and forgot to ask someone to put the bin out for us. The residuals bin normaly does not have that much in it.
In an article in the LGA First magazine the chairman of the LGA environment board, says rubbish and recycling had been collected as normal wherever possible – but public safety had to come first. “Sending a 26-tonne dustcart down an icy residential street packed with cars and pedestrians is extremely dangerous.”

A further brief on the situation is given here 

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Choice Based lettings

I attended a presentation on Choice Based lettings today.

This new system moves Away from the traditional points base allocation scheme, and gives people applying for housing a say in where they live. It empowers applicants to play an active role in choosing their home. On joining the scheme applicants are advised of which band they are in and the date from which their date on the register will start. Anyone registered for housing will be able to make a bid for any property they would like to be offered.

Properties are allocated to the bidder in the highest band with the longest waiting time. The results of bids will be published so that everyone can see where the winning bidder stood in the system

Properties available for letting will be advertised on a weekly basis, and anyone registered for housing will be able to make a bid for any property within their band that they would like to be offered.

The system make for better transparency all round, and should provide better data on the housing list situation.

Have a look at

So far the feedback from the users of the system has been good. It will be interesting to see how it develops, and what further feedback the council gets when the system is fully functional at the end of this month.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Snow, grit, birds, and things

It might not seem like it, but the gritters went out last night and this morning to prepare primary routes, but at a reduced rate of spreading in line with government advice to conserve salt stocks.

I had to drop some people at Heathrow Airport at 7am, and made it there and nearly back. The snow has covered up all our hard work on the road, and the car has to stay at the bottom of the hill for the time being. The birds were waiting for me to put more food out for them when I came back. I must get out to the shops to get more food for the birds. I must check back to the RSPB website to see what it is they need. They have water available from our artificial stream (we are having to keep it trickling through to avoid it freezing), and from a couple of trays.

Three gritters have been out this morning on the primary routes, and one doing the principal roads. Traffic congestion around the borough, caused by the snow of course, is slowing progress. Unfortunately It looks like the bin collection plan is back to square one. I will get out shopping one the main roads look less busy, and the griiters have had a chance to work. Probably after 10ish to allow for the belated school openings today.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Thaw Spot

The Bracknell Standard says "Bracknell is getting back to normal this morning". Well it did on Monday Morning anyway.
Barney the Rough Collie is still enjoying the snow. On Monday evening's walk across the Elms recreation ground we came across some Eskimo types. Maybe Inuits? Igloo dwellers of some type. I thought it best to take a 'photo from a little way back, and not directly into the entrance, so as not to disturb the occupants who were giggling away.

The BBC news web site tells us how Councils and staff at some schools worked throughout the weekend to clear snow to ensure students could sit their GCSE, AS and A-level exams. The Daily Express tells us of just one of many stories of how people have pulled together to help their neighbours. It says a man used his 4x4 to tow an ambulance to a house. He then braved snowdrifts to find an off-duty midwife who arrived with just minutes to spare.

In the Bracknell Standard Council leader Paul Bettison is quoted as saying: “We’re doing what we can to maintain essential services and protect and care for our residents but everyone can help in the effort to keep the borough moving. “We’re asking people to shovel, sweep and salt if they are able to and to check on their neighbours to make sure they have essential supplies and to give them a bit of company as they might not be able to get out during these conditions.”

There is a planned programme of refuse and recycling collection.
The council is prioritise collection of household waste from flats (where there is already a weekly collection) to reduce fire risk.

Subject to the weather, the council will operate a limited waste collection service for refuse only for the remainder of the week, and residents are asked to put their refuse bins out in a safe place from Wednesday, January 14.
There is more detail at

Thaw spots where the gritting, and shoveling have been greatest. Too much shoveling might be bad for one. Following an afternoon of shovelling snow, I had great difficulty lifting my pint of refreshing and invigorating liquid. My right arm is quite stiff. Still, It was good to see people in our road clearing their bits, and bits next to the other neighbours.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

True Grit

It was supposed to be a picture of the hill going down from our house. Due to the flash being on, but all I have are white dots. I suppose it just shows how much snow was coming down.

I did take another picture of Barney (our Rough Collie), but I might of well have of taken a picture of a polar bear in a snow storm. Barney just loves all of the snow. The only bit that upset him was getting the fur on he feet all iced up. We had a bit of a time persuading him to put his feet in some (cold) water to help melt the ice.

Whilst Googling around for the weather I came across an fascinating site HERE. Some interesting data from someone's weather station.

The Bracknell Standard are doing their bit, and reporting the current situation on their website each day. It is interesting to note the comment about the salt/grit level, since the governments "Salt Cell" has taken over. Bracknell's deliveries have suffered since it seems.
A source said: ‘It would be fair to say that while some authorities have shown excellent best practice this time around, some just haven’t got their act together, again, and haven’t learnt from last February’s events
One senior highways officer told it was unfair those authorities that did nothing to improve their resilience and stock plans were now ‘shouting the loudest for salt’.

‘I accept everyone has to have salt but surely the answer is a properly planned stock management scheme. The other issue that has failed to have been addressed in this country is spreading rates. There is suggestion that the Highways Agency is spreading up to two or three times more salt on average than authorities. Is this really necessary?

Salt reduces the freezing point of water to -3C, so that very cold weather is a further problem. There being less vehicles on the road, there is also another problem it that the salt performs better when "churned", by traffic.

I am told that the SITA staff have been unable to perform the usual refuse, and recycling collections, but this has meant that some can be redeployed on other tasks such as clearing walkways.

There is information about road gritting by the council HERE.