Can we afford to lose Weybridge Children’s Centre

Surrey County’s financial difficulties are putting at risk one of the most useful and effective community services in Weybridge – the Sure Start for All Children’s Centre, based in Churchfields.

Who needs help?

Surrey says that the closure of this, and other centres is necessary as it wishes to target those children “most in need”. Sadly, the way need is assessed is based almost wholly on national measures of disadvantage which ignores the very real needs and risks to well-being presented by more hidden needs such as unrecognised post-natal depression, domestic abuse and the simple isolation experienced by new mothers in commuter centres like Weybridge.

Why place matters

I spoke this week with the Leader of Weybridge Children’s Centre and came away convinced of the need for there to be high quality services available for children and families in most towns in Elmbridge. Daphne described to me the subtle ways of encouraging reluctant parents to attend the centre, and then access further services, which comes about thanks to informal encounters out and about in town. This is just not possible when parents have to travel to another town.

Weybridge’s centre is very special

Daphne and her deputy also filled me on on the range of innovative programmes they have introduced in Weybridge, which have been adopted by other centres and which have participants from other centres, including: a brilliant 7-week post-natal course; a paediatric First Aid course (only centre to run one) and an NHS facilitated 8-week Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based mental health course for mothers with post-natal depression.

What does OFSTED say?

In 2015 OFSTED visited the centre and found:

“One of the most notable features of their work is how successful the staff are in helping mothers and families become more capable.  This goes well beyond mothers and fathers learning how to become better parents.  It has a track record of helping parents to access education and progress to paid work.”

“The centre leader has done a sterling job of maintaining high-quality frontline services alongside inducting new staff and ensuring it is ‘business as usual’ for families during a period of significant change.”

“Her work is highly respected and valued by partners and parents alike.”

“The centre has been recognised as an ‘excellence in
practice partner’ by the health care provider for its work with parents at their child’s developmental check.”

“Targeted one-to-one support for children and families is effective and highly valued. Parents described staff to inspectors as ‘caring, sensitive, non-judgemental and patient’.”

Case files are of good quality and show the tangible impact that staff interventions have, particularly in empowering families to take control. Parents, including those from priority groups, build skills and confidence from attending specific programmes that help them to manage their children’s challenging behaviour positively.”

“The outreach work provided for the relatively high number of children and families who are in most need of support is extremely effective in enhancing their health, safety and well-being and
sustaining their involvement with the centre until their needs are met.”

“The centre provides access to high-quality services for most adults identified as needing help to improve their education and skills. Initial entry-level English courses are delivered by the college at the centre, where a crèche is provided by centre staff.”

Can we really let this disappear without a fight?

Read more on the centre’s facebook page give your opinion to Surrey here

Elmbridge Cycle Group

The group’s next ride will begin at the Hand and Spear by Weybridge Station at 10am, on Sunday, 9th December. It will finish at 1pm at the Jolly Farmer Princes Road, Weybridge and be followed by Christmas Lunch  at the Jolly Farmer.

If you would like to come to the Christmas Lunch please let them know by emailing george.james @ elmbridgecycle.org by Saturday, 1st December so that numbers cab be confirmed with the restaurant.  Please also let them know your food selection from the menu here.

Details of the ride route will be sent out, as usual, a few days before the ride.  If you just want to come on the ride, but don’t want to stay for the Christmas Lunch, then you can just turn up on the day.

Special Educational Needs and Disability 

Surrey county is undertaken several consultations and it is seeking your views by 4 January 2019 to help it shape the special educational needs and disability (Send) services throughout Surrey for the future

Surrey says that its draft strategy includes proposals for giving support as early as possible, which would be better for those who need help. The aim is also to provide support nearer to home and reduce the need for children to go to schools out of the county. To achieve this an extra 350 specialist school places are planned to be created in Surrey over the next two years. Surrey believes that, overall, the changes will mean better outcomes for children and families and with government funding failing to keep pace with the big increase in children needing help, they may also avoid more costly services being needed in the future.

Further details on all the consultations and the opportunity to submit views on these proposals can be found here.  The consultation response is at the bottom of the  consultation webpage.

The analysis of the responses to the consultations will be presented to Surrey’s cabinet in January 2019 for consideration and then to full council in February.  There will then be a second phase of consultation where we will share detailed proposals in 2019 to seek resident’s views before any final decisions are made.

A new way to see your GP

A new service has just started for people registered with doctors in Weybridge and Walton, and it’s great.  It’s a GP consultation on your smart phone.  North West Surrey Commissioning Group has just introduced this free service, which of course we pay for through taxes.

To use the service, just download the app (you need a smart phone and photo ID to register) and request an appointment. I found this fairly easy,  unlike some computer/phone things!

Sameday appointment

I got an appointment for later that same evening.
Five minutes before the appointment time I received a reminder on the phone.  Then at the appointed time, a clear video picture of the doctor came on the phone, and in the corner I saw myself, so could see what the doctor saw. We had a friendly professional chat.

Any location, speedy outcomes

The GP I spoke with was in central London (I asked) but had access to my Weybridge medical records. When my description of symptoms wasn’t clear, she gently questioned me. The end result was she prescribed a medicine. The prescription was sent by the GP, electronically, to my usual pharmacy, and the doctor explained she would write the consultation up on my GP notes.
Later the same evening, I got a confirming message in the inbox of the app saying that the prescription had been issued.
Next day, 9am, the drug was waiting for me at my local pharmacy.
Just out of interest I popped into my surgery and asked the receptionist for the next non urgent appointment. It was in ten days time .

Urgent Treatment Centres – What to expect

New Urgent Treatment Centre Opens at St Peter’s

From 31 October, there will be an Urgent Treatment Centre, based at St Peter’s Hospital, serving patients of the North West Surrey CCG.  This is the closest such centre for residents of Weybridge.

Which conditions are treated at Urgent Treatment Centres?

Urgent Treatment Centres will treat minor injuries, and illnesses that require urgent treatment, these include:
• minor illnesses
• minor cuts and grazes, including those that require stitches
• minor scalds and burns
• strains and sprains
• bites and stings
• minor head injuries
• common infections, such as chest, ear and throat
• minor skin infections/rashes
• minor eye conditions/infections
• stomach pains
• minor broken bones such as toes, ankles, wrists, fingers and suspected fractures.

What if you cannot judge whether your case is minor or more serious?

Patients will be assessed at the Urgent Treatment Centre and then treated in order of medical need, including being referred on to A&E.
If your condition is assessed as minor and urgent (requiring immediate attention), you will be seen by an appropriate clinician in the Urgent Treatment Centre
If your condition is not urgent or immediate, you will be referred back to your GP.
If you are seriously ill, you will be referred to the Emergency Department which – at St Peter’s Hospital – is located next to the Urgent Treatment Centre.

Reshaping Weybridge Town Centre

A community hub in Weybridge

At the recent Portmore Park and District Residents Association meeting, Weybridge Surrey County Councillor, Tim Oliver spoke about ideas for developing Weybridge town centre. Surrey County and Elmbridge Borough officers and NHS property services have already met to talk about creating a Weybridge Hub on the Weybridge Hospital site.  .

Services on the site?

So far, we have no firm idea of what is meant by a hub on this site. Current thinking includes relocating Weybridge library and Weybridge Centre for the Community to the hospital site. Of course this will be alongside the redevelopment of the site for GP practices and community health services.

And then?

Some people are also in favour of creating more town centre parking spaces by paving over the old bowling green at the entrance to Churchfields Recreation Ground (Park).

So far, there has been no mention of where the much used and highly valued Children’s Centre fits into the ideas being discussed.

We will watch and report on developments.

Let us know what you think

We also invite people to let us know how they would like to see our town centre develop.  You can do this in person and hear others’ views at our next town meeting on Thursday 11th October, starting 7.30 pm, at the Centre for the Community, Churchfields Place.

Out of hospital services in North West Surrey

Residents of Weybridge have been invited by the North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG) to contribute their views on plans for out of hospital services in our area. The launch of this engagement is an event on Tuesday 2nd October, running from 3-8 pm at the Ship Hotel.

What services for Weybridge?

While the focus of the engagement goes beyond just the Weybridge Hospital rebuild, it is particularly pertinent for Weybridge. The CCG notice about the events says: “Following this engagement we will be better placed to determine the services that will eventually go into the new healthcare facility that will be built on the site of the old Weybridge Hospital.”

Register to attend

CCG staff will be able to give attendees a greater opportunity to put their views if attendance is spread out. People wishing to attend can sign up in advance and select a 30 minute time slot.

Weybridge Hospital

A year ago, on 12 July 2017, Weybridge Hospital was destroyed by fire.

One year on

The two GP practices have now been re-established in very smart ‘portacabins’ on the site. There are also enhanced treatment rooms, staffed by nurses; the phlebotomy service; and the wound management clinic – an essential service for many of the older residents of Weybridge.

Pre-engagement meeting

On Tuesday 10th July 2018, local councillors and other community representatives attended a meeting with the North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG). The CCG wished to outline plans for public engagement on local services across its area. The public engagement with Weybridge residents on the the rebuild on the hospital site will be part of this.

The CCG assured us that the Weybridge site will be used solely for healthcare and associated services (such as pharmacy, social care).

What was covered in the meeting

The meeting briefly covered progress on the technical aspects of the rebuild on the site and then considered views on services that could be available. The CCG set out the NHS policy and local healthcare context which will affect the eventual services provided on the site. From the CCG perspective, provision in Weybridge will need to fit with the overall plan for services across the North Surrey area.

Your local representatives were advocates for the citizens of Weybridge. Like you, we want access locally to the services we need.

What is possible?

One of the key concerns of Weybridge residents is to have the kind of services they received from the Walk In Centre delivered locally. However, NHS England has now tasked CCGs to reconfigure services that were previously delivered through Minor Injury, Walk In and Urgent Care Centres. These services are now to be delivered through new Urgent Treatment Centres. The CCG has not yet decided where Urgent Treatment Centres might be located within North West Surrey. This will form an important part of the CCG’s engagement campaign later this year.

One way of looking at this is that a new build on the Weybridge site gives the CCG an opportunity to design a mix of services that will meet current and future health and wellbeing needs of Weybridge residents in modern premises.  The CCG are very aware of the wishes of local residents with regard to local nurse-led, non-appointment services.

When will Public Engagement get going?

The CCG are keen to engage widely with Weybridge residents.  Engagement events will begin in September – advertised widely – and will include a range of ways to get involved. Full details will be posted later this summer on the CCG’s website, in other local bulletins and via local media.

You can be sure that your local councillors will also post on Facebook in the Weybridge Network Group.

Norman Lamb MP visits Walton

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for Norfolk North, spoke in Walton on Thames last week  about Brexit and the NHS and social care.

BREXIT   He  started by saying  there is  hardly any debate on anything other than Brexit  going on in Westminster at the moment.  He said that he had not known anything like it, it was as if  normal service has been suspended.

He said that when the reality of the Brexit deal is determined; sometime in the Autumn, he anticipates strong disquiet in the Conservative ranks and does not believe Jeremy Corbyn is electable.  However,  he continued,  that sadly this has not currently led to a boost to the Lib Dems in the polls. An autumn a political constitutional crisis was likely  (note by author : Vince Cable said something similar) but felt it was very hard to predict how this will play out and how Theresa May might navigate her way through it.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE    “ There was a  crisis in the provision of care,  we have seen a  15% increase in the need for care of the elderly over the last 10 years,  very rapid change.

  • 1984 there were 600,000 people in care in the UK,
  • 2002 there were 1,300,000
  • 2032 there will be 3,100,000

At the moment there are 1.2million people with unmet care needs. Half the population over 75 live on their own, and could become increasingly dependent especially as families have become much more dispersed, making  support difficult”.

He posed questions:

  • Should young people pay?
  • Should most of it be paid by older people?
  • Should freebies like winter fuel payments be paid universally?

We don’t yet have fair answers.

He said that traditional party politics are not moving this forward, although the Conservative manifesto proposal of guaranteeing that no one should pay more than £100,000 for their care was a brave initiative. However, it was not well received and was somewhat unfair as it depended on the value of property and on an individual’s wealth as only poorer people would likely have to sell their house.

So how to raise funds fairly? He had been instrumental in bringing together 90 cross party MPs to consider the options as Government is clearly not addressing the issue. It seems that Theresa May  is clearly not cable of taking initiative but wonderful at arranging consultations, she was  hostage to the right of her party and the Brexit process. The cross party group proposes that there should be a hypothecated charge of say 2% on income tax but it would be separately identified and separately and independently managed and monitored. It could be reviewed from year to year by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR)  This idea had been  discussed with various civil servants who are supportive.

He went on to talk about the very severe shortage of support for mental health issues especially with young people. When he was in the coalition (2010-2015) he set the first ever target for mentally ill patients to receive attention to be within 2 weeks of it being sought. This has drastically slipped now but it is widely recognised  advantageous.  If mental health problems can start to be tackled within two weeks the further development of the symptoms and the loss of employment, friends and society links can be substantially avoided leading to earlier recovery.

CIL – your FAQs

It sounds like there is CIL money every year.  Does it have to be spent in that year?
No.  The CIL is like a bank account.  Before a development may begin the CIL is paid into the account.  From this account, projects are paid for.  Spend less one year and their is more to spend in future.

Does every council ask local organisations to bid for CIL funds for projects?
Some boroughs have decided to develop their own strategy for spending the CIL.  They would allocate the fund between their key objectives: say, health, safety or social housing.

What is meant by the term infrastructure – what is ‘in’ and what is not?
As more houses, offices and shops are built we need more clinics, schools, ways of dealing with traffic and more leisure facilities.  This is the infrastructure.  The CIL enables boroughs to pay for it.  Otherwise boroughs would have to use Council Tax.

Why don’t you use CIL to mend the potholes?
The CIL is designed to fund new infrastructure: new facilities for schools, new zebra crossings, extra health provision, traffic calming etc. Pot holes occur when the roads have not been maintained properly.

Who decides if any project is an acceptable project? 
In Elmbridge the CIL is broken into three parts: The “Reserve pot”, for big projects that might become necessary over the medium term; the “Strategic pot”, for projects that could only be justified on an Elmbridge-wide basis; and, local pot, for projects relating to each of the nine towns in the borough.  Decision relating to the “Reserve pot” are decided on by the cabinet; those relating to the “Strategic pot” are decided by the chairs of the planning committees across the Borough; and, the local pot is decided by the councillors in that town. For CIL proposes Weybridge consists of three wards Weybridge Riverside, Weybridge St George’s Hill and Oatlands.

Are there criteria for selecting and approving bids?
Any organisation may go online and complete an application form for a CIL grant.  Currently all applications are presented to the relevant body for decision.  This can mean that many applications are totally unsuited for CIL. The criteria used for local CIL bids are:

  1. Does the project address impacts created by new development?
  2. Does the project provide wider community benefit: beyond just the benefits to the organisation submitting the application?
  3. Can the applicant deliver the project?  Does it have planning permission?  Is the landowner on board?  Are the costing realistic?
  4. Evidence of additional resources (people or money) available from partners to complement funding.

Are projects ever excluded?
Not at present.  The problem is that some projects are put forward without the permission of the landowner, without sufficient detail for plans, or without suitable quotes and costing. However a grant should not be given if the project is too small – for example for a kettle.  There are other borough grants for such projects.

What projects have received CiL funding in the past five years?
Around £2m of facilities for school across the borough, a walking bridge in Molesey. Manby Lodge Infant School quickly installed additional surfacing for all weather outdoor play space. Heathside Secondary School has installed much needed additional cycle parking. The Broadwater Path was completed over the summer of 2017. The Thames Landscape Strategy works at Weybridge Point – the car park at the end of Thames street – should be delivered in May 2018.  Significant preparatory work has been carried out on the Weybridge Streetscene project – outside Waitrose and up to the corner with Elmgrove Road..

Who makes the decision to fund or not to fund a project?
Councillors.  In Elmbridge the CIL is broken into three parts: The “Reserve pot”, for big projects that might become necessary over the medium term; the “Strategic pot”, for projects that could only be justified on an Elmbridge-wide basis; and, local pot, for projects relating to each of the nine towns in the borough.  Decisions relating to the “Reserve pot” are decided on by the cabinet; those relating to the “Strategic pot” are decided by the chairs of the planning committee and the leader; and, the local pot is decided by the councillors in that town. For CIL proposes Weybridge consists of three wards Riverside, Oatlands and  Burwood Park and St George’s Hill.

How are these people held to account for their decisions?
The local CIL meetings are in public and their recommendations are passed to cabinet, which is also meets in public. The decisions relating to the “Reserve pot” and “Strategic pot” are taken in private but their recommendations are passed to cabinet, which meets in public.  It is rare for cabinet to overturn a decision by the CIL committees.  If a councillor wishes they may ask that a cabinet decision is reconsidered by the full council.

When is the next local CIL meeting for Weybridge?

The meeting – called the Local Planning Board meeting – is at 7.00 on Thursday, 15th March, that is this coming Thursday. It is a public meeting.

If you have other questions do contact us.