Monthly Archives: January 2014

Guildford NHS Special 29 Jan 2014


Yesterday, the Guildford Labour Party held its NHS Special event. It was a fascinating and informative evening. As the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, I addressed the meeting and I was really glad to see so many new members there.

The other presentations were very interesting. Here is a video which explains the current NHS top-down reorganisation:

There was also a talk from Ray Rogers, a Governor of the Royal Surrey County Hospital. I learned a lot about the means of holding foundation trusts to account. Ray’s blog is here.

It really is a tragedy that the NHS is being privatised and fragmented by the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Their “any qualified provider” clause is opening up the entire NHS to any private company. When Labour founded the NHS in 1948, a time of the deepest austerity, Aneurin Bevan said that the NHS is “a triumphant example of the superiority of collective action and public initiative applied to a segment of society where commercial principles are seen at their worst”.

I lived in the USA for over a year and saw the fear that a lack of universal healthcare provision causes. If people lose their job, they lose their healthcare, and so do their family. Even with insurance, long complicated treatment may not be funded and people could lose everything they own and become destitute if they are taken ill.

“Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, not an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community.” – Aneurin Bevan

Speakers from the floor joined me in deploring the way many carers are treated and agreed that social care should be better funded to save hospital capacity and costs. We discussed Andy Burnham’s “whole person care” where physical, mental and social care would be combined in a new National Health and Care Service.

The only way to rescue the NHS is to ensure a Labour majority government is elected at the 2015 election and the Tory-LibDem Health and Social Act is repealed.

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.” – Aneurin Bevan

Levels of Trust and Surrey Police


Background

Today I met with Deputy Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave to discuss the recent disciplinary case involving Surrey Police’s Head of Finance, Paul Bundy. Mr Bundy had been dismissed for gross misconduct on 26 November 2013 then reinstated after an appeal on 19 December. Not much more than that was currently in the public domain except that the misconduct consisted of a failure to declare a personal interest and mishandling internal information.

DCC Nick Ephgrave and Richard Wilson

DCC Nick Ephgrave and Richard Wilson

Why was I there?

I have been on record calling for Surrey Police to reveal more details of the case. There were two main reasons I met with DCC Ephgrave this morning.

Firstly, on behalf of the people, the taxpayers, of Surrey. They deserve to know if their public money is being lost. For example, Surrey Police are selling some former police station buildings and no indication had been given whether assets had been sold inappropriately. The public is rightly concerned about protection of their own data. People will have wondered if the data that had been “mishandled” was their personal information. After today’s meeting I can reveal that neither of these events have occurred in this case. The public need to trust Surrey Police to inform them if their interests have been harmed and how. Obviously, Surrey Police was harmed by the misconduct, or there would have been no disciplinary hearing, so in that sense the public interest was harmed.

Secondly, I was there on behalf of the rank and file police officers in Surrey. They have been putting their lives at risk during the recent floods, as they often do to protect us all. They deserve to know that they can trust their leadership team.

Just the facts

DCC Ephgrave was very open and helpful about the case and started by explaining the facts of the case and the procedure. I took some notes to ensure I got it right:

The misconduct took place over several months before the disciplinary hearing on 26 Nov. This was chaired by Commander Adrian Hanstock of the Metropolitan Police. Paul Bundy, whom DCC Ephgrave described as “a member of the chief officer team”, was represented by a lawyer, as is his right.

The hearing found

  1. on the balance of probabilities that the misconduct took place
  2. that it was “gross misconduct” and 
  3. the “sanction” ie punishment should be dismissal

Mr Bundy had 5 working days to appeal, which he did. The appeal hearing took place on 19 Dec and was chaired by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Fiona Taylor also of the Met. It is a requirement for appeals to be chaired by an officer senior to the one who chaired the original hearing. It is not a requirement for it to be chaired by an officer from a different force to the first one, although Cmdr Hanstock does not report to DAC Taylor in the Met.

The appeal hearing found that the original hearing was correct on points 1 & 2 above but overturned point 3. It found that a more appropriate sanction was a final written warning. Mr Bundy was reinstated with immediate effect. Each hearing took two days and, along with the investigation, cost the Force an unspecified large amount of money!
 
It was expected that he would receive his salary for the time he had been wrongly dismissed. It was unclear how much extra was paid to the PCC’s finance manager during the period where he was standing in as finance head. It was unclear to what extent the Force’s financial management had been impaired during this period.
 
Paul Bundy had a previously unblemished employment record. The “interest” which he had failed to declare has now been declared properly. He has not admitted the mishandling of internal information charge but he did not appeal against the hearing’s finding that he did commit this.

…And now for the verdict

Although I have not seen all the confidential documents relating to the case, I am satisfied that DCC Ephgrave, in his capacity as the chief officer responsible for professional standards, has treated this with the appropriate seriousness. I don’t intend to speculate about why the initial sanction of dismissal was overturned on appeal. It would have been better for Surrey Police if the original hearing had come to a decision which was not overturned but that can only be said with hindsight.
 
I believe that Surrey Police were correct to release the fact that Mr Bundy had been dismissed after the original hearing. However, they should have been more specific about the nature of the misconduct. I now know what the misconduct consisted of, broadly, and although it is very serious, if Surrey Police had been more forthcoming initially it would have prevented some of the wilder speculation. I invite them to be publicly more specific now.
 
Rank and file police have a difficult job, sometimes impossibly difficult. They have a right to expect the highest standards from their leadership team. In this case they were let down by one member of it. This sometimes happens in big organisations. The best way to minimise the damage to trust in the Force’s leadership is to be as transparent as possible. Personally, I am not interested in discovering details of anyone’s private life but I think some more information should be in the public domain about this case.


 
This has been a difficult issue for Surrey Police and they have learned lessons from it.

Rail Fares Petition


Rail Price Hikes Petition To Launch in the SE – news from Labour.

Labour’s parliamentary candidates and councillors will launch a petition on Monday 6th January calling for a tough cap on rail fare rises on all routes.

Across the region in Berkshire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, West Sussex, Surrey, East Sussex and Kent, Labour’s General Election candidates and campaigners will take the petition to railway stations.

Under David Cameron there have been four years of inflation busting rail-fare hikes with ticket prices up 20% since 2010.
This year train tickets will increase by an average of 3.1% outside of Greater London, in Reading tickets to London will increase by 3.2% while in Deal and Dover passengers will have to pay £5,012 a year, up from £4,864.

Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Mary Creagh, will be in Dover and Deal on Monday to meet commuters and to hear their concerns.

Gordon Marsden, Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister, will be in Crawley with Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate Chris Oxlade to meet commuters during the morning rush hour at Three Bridges station.

Mary Creagh said:”David Cameron’s cost-of-living crisis continues as fares rise this week by up to five per cent, while season tickets have gone up by twenty per cent under this Government, costing hard-working commuters hundreds of pounds.

“Over the last three years David Cameron has failed to stand up for working people, allowing train companies to hit passengers with inflation-busting fare rises of up to nine per cent.”

Some of the campaign activity in your area on Monday 6 January:

Kent:
Dover PrioryStation, Dover, at 7.30am.
Labour’s parliamentary candidate Clair Hawkins and campaigners will be on hand with their petition.
Deal Station, Deal, at 1.15pm.
Mary Creagh and Clair Hawkins will meet passengers after holding an HS1 Lobby event.
Chatham Train Station, Chatham, ME4 6PN, from 07.00am.
Cancelled and likely to be at Rochester now.

West Sussex:
Three Bridges Station, Crawley, West Sussex, from 8am – 11am.
Chris Oxlade and Gordon Marsden will be meeting commuters.

East Sussex:
In Brighton & Hove the local teams will launch the petition at:
Falmer Station, Station Approach, BN1 9PU, 9 to 10am
Preston Park Station, Clermont Road, BN1 6SG, 7:30 to 9am
At the Clermont Road/Station Road entrance.
Hove Station, Goldstone Villas, Hove, from 8 to 9am

Surrey:
Guildford Station, Guildford from 08.30am.
Labour’s parliamentary candidate Richard Wilson will be gathering signatures with some of the local Labour team.

Buckinghamshire:
Milton Keynes Central Station and Bletchley Station, from 7.30am
Andrew Pakes and the local campaigners will be on hand to meet commuters.

Berkshire:
Tilehurst Station, Reading, from 07.15am.
Victoria Groulef and councillors will be at the station asking commuters to sign the petition.

Hampshire:
Southampton Central Station, Southampton, during the rush hour.
Rowenna Davis and John Denham MP will be at the station with the petition.

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