10/02/2013 Sunday Politics East


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In the East, health care failures, damning reports an investigation of


the region's hospitals. And time is running out for of disabled workers


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2472 seconds


Hello and a very warm welcome to your local part of the program.


Coming up: Financial problems at two hospitals not many miles apart


but down to complete lack of strategic oversight according to a


damning new report. It was decided after the establishment of a


private finance initiative which the report describes as


catastrophically bad value for taxpayers. On top of that to


establish the franchise to hospital used by a private provider just 24


miles away. And the end of the line for disabled workers at Remploy


unless an 11th hour buyer can be found. I don't know what to think.


I just have to hope for the best, that's all, and that I'm not going


to be on benefits for years like I was before I went to work at


Remploy. With me are the Labour peer and former Basildon MP


Baroness Angela Smith. And Dr Dan Poulter, the Health Minister and


Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and Ipswich North. Let's start with


the news this week that a key investor has pulled out of plans to


build a new nuclear reactor at Sizewell. Centrica had teamed up


with EDF and were planning to take a 20% share in the multibillion


pound project. Something that was raised by Baroness Smith this week.


If the Government has lost three companies out of the nuclear


program, what is plan B to ensure we keep the lights on? So, Angela


Smith, did you get an answer to your question? Will the lights stay


on? The minister assured me we would. I think we have to have good


energy security. That is the third company that has pulled out of the


UK nuclear program. E d f say they are continuing with Sizewell C.


There is real concerns about why the companies are pulling out.


Secondly, we've got to make sure we've got the high-value skills we


need in engineering, in construction, which means getting


apprenticeships in place, working with employers and industry. But


all those need to step up a gear. Can we rely on the private sector


to solve the energy problems? know we need Sizewell in Suffolk.


We need it in terms of our energy security, we need it in terms of


the jobs and investment that will bring to Eastern Suffolk. We have...


It is disappointing what has happened this week but there are


other companies that have shown interest in taking this over.


Hitachi has been involved in similar projects elsewhere. I am


very confident we will get to the right solution and we will have


Sizewell built. Now, it's been a bad week for the


NHS in the East with four of our hospitals in the spotlight. Health


trusts in Basildon and Colchester are under investigation for having


higher than average death rates. In the last year, the number of


patients dying at Basildon was 14% more than expected. While in


Colchester, the figure was 16%. The local MPs there met with the Chief


Executive on Friday. We've been so impressed by the strength of the


management here. It's better than it's ever been in the 20 years I've


been a member of Parliament. Very open and transparent, ready to


learn what has happened at Mid Staffs. But there is no comparison


between what happened at Mid Staffs and what is happening here. This


hospital is safer than it's ever been.


Meanwhile, a damning report from the Public Accounts Committee


fiercely criticised decisions to build a new PFI hospital at


Peterborough and to award a franchise to run the nearby


Hinchingbrooke Hospital as a complete lack of strategic


oversight. The private company Circle has been brought in to run


Hinchingbrooke but so far it's been unable to meet its savings targets.


While Peterborough hospital was built 24 miles away which has left


the Trust with a �50 million deficit. We've really lost and got


the worst of both worlds. It's simply the case that the Department


of Health cannot afford to sub Peterborough hospital �50 million


to pay off its deficit every year. It's not sustainable now and both


the Department of Health and the Treasury need to pick up the pieces


of the decisions made by the previous government.


So, where do we stand? Hinchingbrooke is the first


hospital to be run by a private company. It's a political football,


and Peterborough has a 30 year PFI contract. Something's got to give.


What? One of the points that was made in the clip you played is the


point about good management, having good people running hospitals and


that makes a huge difference. visited Peterborough Hospital.


There is massive PFI debt which was completely unsustainable, that deal


and arrangement should never have been signed. Almost 19% of the


Trust's annual income is going on paying PFI repayments which is


unsustainable. It was a bad decision to do it. The point now is


we've got to help and the Government has already helped with


some bailout funds to support Peterborough Hospital. There's lots


of things that can be done locally. For example, the old hospital site


could be sold off and that is something that the local council


needs to do a bit more to support the hospital in in selling that. It


is also about making good managers and getting to grips with its


finances. That is something we've been supportive with to make sure


the local patients continue to get high-quality healthcare. Angela


Smith, that PFI contract happened under Labour. It did and we have to


look and learn lessons from this. The first thing to do is to say


what are the lessons that can be learned? Get the problem sorted out


first of all. Get the players around the table, the Department of


Health, the Treasury, the local health authority. And where do we


go from here to resolve the problem. Then we have to reflect on where


the problems were and looking at the Audit Commission report, what


is very clear is when the board and the strategic health authority


submitted their plans to the Government back in 2004, they were


vastly overoptimistic about the kind of work they'd be doing at the


hospital. That should have been picked up, they shouldn't have put


that in. The Strategic Health Authority should not have been


supporting that bid. The problem is that the Department of Health


didn't pick it up but now even if they did, because of the way the


law is, they couldn't stop it. is the way forward? What is the


Treasury going to do? And the Department of Health? One thing


we've already done and I'm personally involved in overseeing


is making sure we've got a task force going into Peterborough with


big PFI debts to help those Trusts work out how to minimise... It is a


huge debt, what can happen? We've already worked out we can reduce


some of the PFI repayments by better structuring the debt. We've


got a task force helping hospitals and the Trust to do that. Isn't the


significance here, what I don't understand is why was a nearby


hospital given a 10 year contract for a private company whilst we


knew there were these problems in Peterborough Hospital? That has to


be the second part of any investigation. Why are they locked


into these contracts? Do you think these hospitals will have to close?


We will make sure local patients continue to be treated and we have


a guarantee about that, they will continue to have high-quality


healthcare. The previous government on Hinchingbrooke looked at


tendering out to a private company. And to the NHS. To running


Hinchingbrooke and that was the idea. A group of doctors came


together with Circle healthcare with clinical knowledge about how


to reduce costs. That company has made good strides in reducing some


of the debt burden. It does show how having clinical leadership,


doctors and nurses in charge is not perfect because they had a


difficult situation to start from, but it has made a difference in


reducing the debt because they are prioritising services. The priority


has to be patients and resolving the problem but those two issues


have to be looked at. One is about having the kind of bid that was


made by the hospital was overoptimistic and should not have


been allowed. But, secondly, you really shouldn't be giving private


contracts to hospitals who are then competing with the NHS. The NHS


should be running the hospitals, not the private sector.


Well, now to the future of the workers in the region's remaining


Remploy factory. It is the last Government factory especially set


up for disabled workers in the East. In December, workers heard the


plant was not commercially viable and was threatened with closure if


private investors can't be found. The deadline for buyers to express


an interest is at the end of March an interest is at the end of March


Between them, Susan Wright and Harvey Ken have worked the Remploy


Norwich for 38 years. Susan has autism and Harvey has learning and


mobility difficulties. The whole country is in a massive mess.


You've got millions out of work. It is hard for anybody to find a job.


In May, their cardboard packaging factory will close unless private


investors can be found to take it over. Susan and Harvey want to show


us what they do but we've had to speak to them at a nearby hotel


because Remploy's head office, which comes under Government


control, won't allow us into the factory. However, in 1999, when


Remploy's future was assured, we were given access. I'm devastated


because it's not myself, it's my friends, including Susan, we will


never work again. Because people won't give us a chance. They don't


think we've got skills to offer. We're put on a rubbish tip. It is


difficult for me to get another job in spite of the fact I've got


skills because there's so many other young people and other people


you're competing against, against these younger students and that.


is devastating to think that when you're young, you will never work


again. It is weeks and months, and you are not good enough for what


they want. Remploy was set up after the Second World War for those


who'd been disabled during the conflict. Of Remploy's 54 factories,


36 of them are set to close including Remploy in Norwich which


has 46 employees, 28 of whom are disabled. Like most things, it


comes down to money. The average Remploy wage is �14,000 a year. The


Government also pays �11,000 per employee for extra assistance for


the employees to be kept in the work. That's a total of �25,000 per


worker. Instead of specialist factories for disabled people, the


government wants Remploy workers to get jobs alongside everyone else.


At a time when the economy is struggling, at a time when there is


no economic growth on the horizon whatsoever, to essentially turf


people out of Remploy, to remove the Remploy support network, which


is what it is as much as anything else, and to say to say good luck


getting a job, I think it is wrong. Nearby in Norwich, there's a county


council factory with eight employees five of which are


disabled. Next year they hope to make a profit so that they can do


without the Council's support. can provide for three little ones


and the good lady at home. The best thing about it is the teamwork,


really, how everybody pulls together. We are not in a position


to take on Remploy workers, unfortunately. But there are so few


places around like us that actively discriminate for disabled people.


In that when we do recruit, we try to recruit people with disabilities


where we can. There is a last-ditch attempt to encourage private


investors to take the Remploy factory on as part of a final


three-month consultation. I would encourage any firms who are able to


do that to follow the process as set out on the Remploy website for


making an expression of interest in the Norwich factory because that


could be a good solution all-round to keep that interest and that


packaging business going in Norwich. I haven't had any contact from the


company as part of the existing consultation. How do you expect to


retrieve the situation and compound business plans which will save


millions of pounds and these people's jobs if you're not having


any consultation? There are plans to subsidise Remploy workers in


mainstream jobs for three years. After that, there are no promises.


I don't know what to think. I just have to hope for the best, that's


all. That I'm not going to be benefits for years like I was


before I went to work at Remploy. Well, the Government is arguing the


budget for employment services for disabled people could be used more


effectively than spending �25,000 supporting each worker in Remploy


factories. I met up with Esther McVey, Minister for Disabled People,


and I put it to her the Government support scheme had found very few


former Remploy workers new jobs. When it first started, you were


quite right in October last year, we had only got 35 people into work.


We have reshaped it, we have been working with former workers to do


that, we have got 220 people into work, 250 people on to schemes,


training schemes, so actually we have come on significantly which


they think is positive and there is more we can do. We have taken


positive steps. Isn't it true that some people have said they may find


it difficult being in a mainstream work place? Well, I am not sure I


see what you're saying, but what we are looking to do is to get people


into mainstream work, disability experts, and disabled people


themselves say that that is what their aim should be, not to keep


them separated but actually put them in the mainstream. That said,


if Remploy factories will to continue, which several bomb to, if


people want to buy the assets and take that forward, because we have


had company buyouts, people will choose where they want to work and


I am a third choice. Does this make financial sense? Has subsidised job


could be cheaper than the hidden costs of supporting someone who was


not in work. It makes financial sense. What we've got the 2,200


workers who are in Remploy factories, the 5th of the budget


goes their. We now know we've got 6.9 million people who are disabled


and we've got to help all of them. Last year alone, we found 50,000


people jobs through employment services with similar disabilities.


We've got a look at the future because Remploy has had an


uncertain future for a very long period of time.


The reality is the majority of these people will not be able to


find new jobs. 85% of former workers have yet to find work.


the clip we had, we did talk about a transitional scheme to help


people into new jobs. The point that was made there it was


important. Many millions of people have disabilities. And they need


help and support and training, education and getting into the


workplace. The scheme third only helps disabled people, just 2000


people, that is not good money. It is about giving transitional help


to those employees. What do you think about that? Spreading money


thinly to help more people. If it was happening yes. If you look at


the number of Room for You workers and even with the numbers given


there, higher than the figures I understand and have seen, there are


still 750 of the 1,000 that have lost jobs that do not have work. I


think it is only for three years is the transition from doing. A lot of


people have to have support through their whole employment which is


going to be withdrawn after three years. What we want to do is to


give people support in their employment every day in they


implement how people cope with the work place. You don't do that at a


time when there are fewer full-time permanent jobs for people. People


find it hard to find jobs. That man and woman, they are bred


pessimistic about finding jobs. -- they are both. Remploy workers may


find they have even more to worry about as people with disabilities


are finding huge welfare changes. One in six people in the East is


disabled according to the ONS and the Tendring District -- district


of Essex has the highest proportion of disabled people at 26%.


Disability living allowance is to be replaced by personal


independence payments and the Government hopes that will save �2


billion. The disability element of child tax credit worth �57 a week


will become a disability addition within household benefit


entitlement. The severe disability payment will be replaced by the


Universal Credit and adults could lose �58 a week. General welfare


cuts will hit disabled people must according to the Government's own


impact assessment. There's also the bedroom tax were council tenants


over occupying homes will lose some of their benefit. This month gave


up his work to look after his wife. She had two brain haemorrhages and


sleeps in a special bird which is too small for them both. He sleeps


in another bedroom which will now cost them �60 a month. That is


something disabled people are more affected by it. The department had


said they have set aside �155 million for councils to help people


in a discretionary case, so that is good, isn't it? Nobody is going to


be in need of. I wish that is going to be the case but I fear that will


not be. If you are looking at a couple who do not really have a


spare bedroom, they either have a choice - moved to a smaller


property or pay the extra �14 a week. How will they be able to


move? You properties are not available for them to move to.


you say to people who say that the Government have made an arbitrary


cut. They wanted to take 500,000 people of disability allowance and


cut 2 billion Homs of the bill. First of all, there is some


discretionary relief to support any sort of bizarre cases they come up


or cases where there is real human need, for example the one you have


raised. Secondly, we him courage as much as possible to be engaged, to


be better off if they are in work than not in work. And it is also


important we make sure people who can participate in work, sometimes


part-time work... There is more and more people requiring help. We have


put in place all these changes and I have been involved in some of the


health care changes, making sure we have transitory support for the


rest deserving cases. It is important as well we don't get to a


state where people are written off as they have been in the past as


been disabled for the rest of their lives and we need to do what we can


to make sure people are helped back into workwear they can and this is


what it is about. Making sure everybody who can work does work.


Thank you. Now, for our political round-up of


the week. It is true for politicians, too - you use some,


you win some. -- you lose some. Norfolk council has lost its leader,


Derek Murphy resigned after being found guilty of bringing the Office


of lead into disrepute. News this week the disreputable practice of


discarding fish because of European quotas is to end. Our fishermen at


Aldeburgh and Lowestoft will actually get more flexibility, more


autonomy over what they do. improving the rest of the A120 is


what Essex MP would like to do. the importance of this road to the


economic well-being of the region and the county of Essex cannot be


understated. But parliamentary debate was the winner this week as


many of our MPs spoke passionately on the issue of gay marriage, none


more so than Ian Stewart. It's not just about a ceremony. It's about


being with them for the rest of their live. Richer and poorer,


sickness and In Health. That can apply as much to me as to straight


couples. Now, you will support us because


you voted for gay marriage. Were you prepared for that? I think one


county councillor only. The situation is as a matter of


conscience, I did what I thought was the right thing which was to


vote for equality and to give people who Ardgay the same rights


and freedoms everybody else has but we must respect everybody's opinion


and move on. It was a matter of conscience and I will do the same


thing again. Now, when it comes to the Lords, do you think it'll be


such a good debate? I think it will be very good. It was a measure


debate in the Commons but people want to show a lifetime commitment


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