26/02/2014 Midlands Today


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soon. That is all from the BBC News at Six, goodbye from me. On


The power of the written word. How one stranger's letters are judging


the lives of people around the world. There has been a springlike


filter today, and with more sunny spells on the way tomorrow, you


would be forgiven for thinking things are on the up. But the wintry


weather is backed by the end of the week.


Good evening. The Mid`Staffordshire NHS Trust will be dissolved `


Stafford and Cannock hospitals will now be run by other trusts. The end


comes following concerns over the standard of care and financial


problems at the Mid Staffs Trust. In April 2012, the Trust revealed it


had a deficit of ?16.5 million. A year later, the trust was declared


insolvent, and administrators were appointed to look at its future.


Last December, the Trust Special Administrators recommended


downgrading services. But today it was announced that Stafford could


still retain consultant`led maternity services ` if an NHS


England review finds it's feasible. Our health correspondent Michele


Paduano reports. At the moment premature babies under


34 weeks have to be born in Stoke on Trent. Then was three lbs. Eight


oz.. His parents praised Stafford Hospital's maternity unit. We have


not got a bad word to say about them. All the negative press, we


cannot do anything but praise them. They are also gearing up to open 12


more beds at Stafford, but then Prime Minister `` the Prime Minister


dropped a bomb cell. What is being proposed are steps to make sure that


A continues at Stafford Hospital. And make sure that we can continue


with consultant led maternity services.


For protesters gathered opposite Stafford Hospital was a cautious


welcome. It is talking about the future. I think we need to wait and


see what happens. If it does happen, absolutely great. The devil is in


the detail. We have now got the statement, we will work with it to


make sure we have a debate and discussion about whether or not


obstetric labour maternity is possible, but it may not be.


Cannock hospital will still be taken over by Wolverhampton hospitals.


There was no reprieve for children's services.


23 years of working on the children's Ward, it is heartbreaking


to think there will no longer be a paediatric ward at Stafford. There


have been two demonstrations, the largest 50,000, and there is no


doubt the majority at Stafford still want all the services.


I have had experience at all the departments, so I would like it to


stay as it is. It is not good. The fact it is going to be passed over


to new ownership almost, so quite disappointed really.


It is not yet clear what the announcement on maternity really


means. What is clear is that campaigners `` politicians get


nervous around hospitals. Today marks the end of an


organisation so inextricably linked with bad care, but not the end of


the Stafford story. Let's talk now to the Conservative


MP for Stafford, Jeremy Lefroy, who's in Westminster for us. Mr


Lefroy ` do you not feel that on the day that such a significant decision


has been made by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt and the


Department of Health, that their refusal to be interviewed about this


decision is unacceptable? I cannot speak for them, but I am


being interviewed here because I think it is an extremely important


day for Stafford. We heard the announcement by the Prime Minister,


which I welcomed, because in my view and in the view of those who support


Stafford Hospital, alongside the children's paediatric services are


absolutely vital. I had feared that all that would happen would be a


rubber`stamping of the proposals which were not acceptable. Will you


be speaking to Mr Hunt about this? I have spoken to him already on


several occasions in the last few days, but the key now is to continue


to make the case for these consultant led maternity services,


with the other services that paediatric services, that go


alongside them. We have been given are of hope on this. One year ago we


were faced with a downgrade with removal of acute services, or


maternity services and many others. Those have not by and large gone.


90% or more of patients currently treated at Stafford and Cannock will


continue to be treated there, but this consultant led maternity issue


is extremely important. We have more than 2000 babies born per year, they


have been given excellent service, continue to begin an excellent


service there, and it is vital that this service remains available to


the people of Stafford and further afield. Campaigners say they will


keep fighting for services at Stafford. Is it time for them to


move on? The Prime Minister has said he wants to see as far as possible


consultant led services, so this is the case we have got to make. I


don't think it is time to move on, I think it is time to say the trust is


dissolved, Stafford and Stoke will work together in what I am hope will


`` I hope will become an excellent University Hospital trust. But we


have to fight for those consultant led services.


Coming up later in the programme: We're at Shropshire's first ever


house swap, as people look to move up and down the property ladder.


A campaign has been launched to educate parents about the need for


children to use booster seats in cars. The idea came from a West


Midlands firefighter who says he's met a shockingly high number of


pupils who claim they don't even wear seat belts. The latest


Government figures show that 56 child passengers were killed in the


UK in 2012, a 4% increase on the previous year. And nearly 11,000


more were injured. Ben Godfrey reports. Hands up anyone who has


ridden in a car without putting a seat belt on. It is not a good


reaction, but no surprise to West Midlands firefighter Jeremy Lefroy,


Ash Mike pence a macro, who wants pupil `` Darran Gough, who wants


pupils to educate their parents about road safety. A colleague's son


was killed in a crash because he put the belt under his arm.


Darren believes `` Darran believes if these children can walk through


this hole in a cut`out Range Rover without ducking, they should still


be using a child or booster seat. If you didn't have one, you could be


in serious consequences and you could die, but if you have got a


belt, you have better chances of surviving.


Children under 1.35m tall or younger than 12 are required by law to sit


in a booster seat. So are parents listening? The oldest one's 12 but


he is nearly as tall as me so it can be a bit conflicting, but generally


I think they should have booster seats. In our car we have the child


seats and also seat belts. Here at MIRA near Nuneaton, Tony


Payne has the job of preparing test dummies for crashes. Take a


six`year`old child, this is how it shouldn't be done. We buckle him up


there. Because he is sitting lower than the seat, this belt is


automatically riding up across his abdomen. It is now lying across his


neck and face. There are other potential injuries to those areas as


well. The impact of a crash can be


devastating ` car seats do save lives.


All child seats today are fitted with a system which attaches the car


seat rigidly to the car itself. You also have side impact bars for


safety. But this seat is only really safe if the driver is following the


instructions carefully. The campaign is all about pester


power ` can children convince their parents to do more to protect them


on our roads? A mother, her lover and his wife have all been sentenced


for conspiring to cover up the death of a commentary toddler who died


from head injuries. Police say they have been shocked at the way adults


threaten to cover up the events. The three`year`old was captured on CCTV


in November 2011, minutes before paramedics work call. `` before


paramedics were called. Members of the Unite union have been


protesting over plans to hand over the running of Nuneaton's George


Eliot Hospital to the private sector. Two companies and an NHS


Trust are currently bidding to take on the role. The hospital has a


history of high death rates, but has substantially improved over the last


year. A thousand tenants in Shropshire


have been invited to swap their homes with each other. People deemed


to be living in under occupied or overcrowded homes came together to


see if it would be beneficial to move into each other's properties.


It's seen as a way of helping householders to avoid paying the


bedroom tax and reduce a shortage of social housing. Here's Bob


Hockenhull. There are 15,000 properties are available to rent in


Shropshire Council's area, but many tenants feel they are not living in


the right accommodation. Elizabeth spent a year is trying to


get off and estate she did not like in Oswestry. Now she has finally got


a two`bedroom real property for her son and herself. I had been in tears


egging them to move me, but their hands were tied. The structure of


the system meant you had to have so many qualifying positions to be able


to move. Tenants like Elizabeth living in


properties too big or too small met at this event. It is a kind of speed


dating, where they are hoping to be matched up with somebody else's


home. We want to put people in touch with, I have an three`bedroom house,


if you are looking for it and I have something `` you have something I am


looking for, we will swap. The Johnsons have outgrown their


house and want something smaller. If people are struggling with one


bedroom or two`bedroom, probably they could do with an upgrade. We


are prepared to downsize. There was no shortage of potential


swap partners wanted to upgrade their properties. It is very, very


small, and the boys' bedrooms are quite small for the two of them.


Swapping houses could be a good way for some people to avoid the


so`called bedroom tax. If they have got one extra bedroom, they face a


14% cut in housing benefit, and with two extra bedrooms it is a 25%


reduction. The house swap event moves to Bridgnorth tomorrow.


This is our top story tonight. The final verdict ` the Government


announces it's to dissolve the Mid`Staffordshire NHS Trust for


being financially unsustainable. Your detailed weather forecast to


come shortly from Beccy ` also in tonight's programme: The next


generation of Winter Olympics hopefuls, perhaps?


We meet the youngsters competing in a skating contest inspired by this


year's Games. And the power of the written word `


how one stranger's letters are helping to boost the morale of


people worldwide. Manufacturing in the Midlands


suffered more than anywhere else in recent years when many firms


relocated overseas. Tens of thousands of jobs disappeared in


this region. It will be a very different sort of


programme. To illustrate the ministers of manufacturing, we have


gathered together over 100 different objects made here in the Midlands.


What happens in our region is predicted to have a major impact on


the national economic recovery. But it is not just about motors, we also


make flooring, food and even food all seats. Tomorrow evening we will


be talking to industry leaders and a master brewer. `` football seats.


If you want to find out more about what is made in the Midlands Today,


join Nick Allen and me at half past six tomorrow. `` Nick when.


`` Nick Owen. As part of our First World War


commemorations, the BBC has teamed up with the Imperial War Museums to


tell the story of the War at Home. Today we focus on one of the most


heartbreaking stories of the Home Front. Scenes of horror unfolded as


a group of children, many of whom had relatives fighting on the front,


took to the stage for a fundraising show. Cath Mackie takes up the


story. It's April 1916. For the last 20


months, the world has been at war. In Hereford, a group of children


whose fathers and brothers are fighting stage a fund raising show


at the Garrick Theatre to send presents to the front. They decided


to stage a winter wonderland, and what a grand event it was. There


were ice maidens, Eskimos and they were all dressed in little cotton


wool costumes. But the laughter and applause soon died out, as a


nightmare unfolded on stage. The laughter stopped. The curtains came


down and there was a shout of fire from somebody at the back. Bender


was a piercing shriek from one of the little girls, `` then there was.


The flames had caught fire from her costume onto those of the other


children. The theatre had actually staged a real`life drama of horrific


proportions. Six girls died on stage in front of


their families and friends. They were aged from five to 13. Two more


girls later died in hospital. There's a heartbreaking account here


of the children's clothes going up in flames, and it says, "so


unexpected, so sudden and so awful was the outbreak, that older people


were temporarily paralysed as by a hideous nightmare." It's just awful.


And yet it's a story that's largely forgotten. The only visible reminder


is a plaque on the side of a car park where the theatre once stood.


But there are calls for those forgotten children are to be


remembered. Dance teacher Rebecca White is planning a performance in


their memory. That legacy still stands through now, we do lots of


performances for charities and four soldiers. It is devastating that


children died in front of their families. `` and four soldiers.


Where do we think the graves might be? Probably in the far corner.


Thousands lined the streets for the girls' funerals, but sadly we could


not find their graves. Their whereabouts on the street, much like


the cause of the fire. The inquiry found no fault at the theatre. There


had been claimed that somebody had seen a man a cigarette burn, but


this was never substantiated. One can only imagine the despair


with which the news was greeted by the Herefordshire men caught up in


the fighting. `` had seen a man throw a cigarette down.


The horror of War had reached home ` and claimed eight more victims.


And you can read more about the First World War and how it changed


the lives of people left at home on our website, that's bbc.co.uk/ww1.


The Bromsgrove cyclist Jess Varnish will attempt to wipe out memories of


her Olympic disappointment by winning a world title in Colombia


tonight. Varnish and team`mate Victoria Pendleton were disqualified


from the sprint at the 2012 Games. A back injury has severely disrupted


her career since. But Varnish returns to the event with new


partner Becky James this evening. It is hard not to compare yourself to


other people, but you have to go out there and race against these girls


every day and every competition, you have to beat them, and every scalp


you take is good. This year has gone well, but obviously the world


Championships is the one you want. I want my own brain by just Mac I want


my own rainbow jersey `` I want my own rainbow jersey.


Thirty years ago, Torvill and Dean won gold at the Winter Olympics in


Sarajevo. Their brilliant Bolero inspired a generation to get their


skates on and have a go for themselves. This week at the Telford


Ice Rink, that passion is still very much alive for 300 youngsters, as


Ian Winter reports. It is day one of competition, and


everything has to be perfect. The skaters warm and supple, and is all


important lucky charms simply bursting with good fortune. `` those


all important lucky charms. Young skaters are superstitious and


always on the look out for that extra special something to give them


the edge. What is the most difficult thing you


have done? My most difficult thing was a leap, I have to jump a


full`time, but I never get round. No point in choosing something too


difficult if they cannot do it. This time last week Liz was judging the


Olympic figure skaters in Sochi. This week she is in Telford to cast


an eye over the next generation of young talent. It is nice to get back


to normality, Sochi was wonderful but with `` I like to see the


youngsters. I like to see where that progression will be towards the top.


It won four medals in Sochi but none in figure skating. Perhaps over the


next couple of days in Telford there is a future Olympic champion waiting


in the wings. `` Britain won four medals.


Over the next couple of days, 300 young skaters from all over the


country will be showing off their talent. All sharing the same dream


that one day they will be sweeping up the ice.


`` sweeping up the floral tributes on the ice.


A year ago Jodie Ann Bickley came close to committing suicide, but


then an idea to open up her e`mail inbox to the world saved her. Our


arts reporter Satnam Rana been to meet the 25`year`old performance


poet, who's become a letter writer to strangers.


This is Jodie Ann Bickley's 1,580th letter to a stranger. You have come


so far. Look back down the mountain at how far you have become.


The journey to her letter writing project began in 2011. She was


performing slam poetry at Camp Bestival on the Isle of Wight. On


her trip, she was bitten by a tick. She caught encephalitis, a brain


infection which led to a stroke. She was then diagnosed with chronic


fatigue syndrome ` ME ` and she suffers with regular fits. Last year


she hit an all`time low. If I am feeling like this, there will be


some other people but are feeling like they are at the bottom of the


abyss, and they are trying to get out. I thought if I can help some


other people get out, then it will give me a bit of a reason.


So she set up a website, onemillionlovelyletters.com,


inviting people to nominate a friend who would like to receive a letter a


from her. Within three months of setting up


the website this time last year, she had received 50,000 views from 150


countries. And a request for 750 letters.


Amongst them, Phil Maguire, a postgraduate student from


Huddersfield in Yorkshire. I was very demotivated and down, and since


I got but let it started a whole thought process about what I really


want to be doing, and it helps me put in motion what I needed to do to


be where I am today, which is a good place.


And this appreciation is echoed on Jodi's walls, adorned with thank you


notes. Some of them are featured in her debut memoir One Million Lovely


Letters. But with 1,500 requests for letters in her inbox, the writing


will continue. There is no weakness in asking for a little help. The


storm clouds are a lot more bearable when we have someone to walk in them


with. I hope I can get to write to more people across the world.


I just want to be able to help as many people as I can, and hopefully


do it for ever, which would be lovely.


We wish her good luck with her letter writing.


It has been very springlike today. Normal service is resumed tonight, a


wet and windy night to come, but it looks better tomorrow. Some good


spells of sunshine to come through the morning, but more in the way of


showers through the afternoon. Tonight we have got a clear, dry end


to the day but temperatures are going to fall away under those


skies, but cloud starts to build ahead of this next band of rain


which is working its way through. Five to ten millimetres of rainfall


was a ball. It will clear away eventually as we head into tomorrow


morning, but temperatures are not going to fall away too far. We start


tomorrow with that rain clearing away eventually. Some good spells of


sunshine to come, a pleasant start of the day. A breezy day than we


have seen today, but then we see showers filling in through the


afternoon. At times they will be quite blustery, but temperatures


ranging between eight and 10 Celsius. But it is too good to last


because as we had through tomorrow evening those showers continuing to


push through ahead of the next weather system. A deep area of low


pressure once again. Some heavy rain to come at times, it could be a


touch wintry bats well particularly over high ground. `` a touch wintry


as well. Friday morning, the Met Office has issued an early weather


warning. Of higher ground they will be more like snow, but on lower


levels like sleep. `` over higher ground. `` on lower levels it will


be more like sleep. `` sleet.


Let's go back to our top story tonight, the news that the


Mid`Staffordshire NHS Trust will be dissolved.


`` sleet. Let's go back to our Our health


correspondent Michele Paduano has spent the day in the town gathering


reaction. So Michele, does this decision today really draw a line in


the sand for the hospitals, and what happens next?


This is certainly the end of the Mid`Staffordshire trust, which has


become synonymous with bad care around the world. People would know


Stafford everywhere and know that it had this relationship with poor


care, but the process goes on. From today they will have to divide up


hospital between Stoke on Trent and Wolverhampton hospitals. That


process may take until as early as July, maybe as late as October. We


don't know. Is it the end of the campaign? Now, the Secretary of


State for health and the Prime Minister today through the


campaigners a crumb, a line of hope that they might be able to get


consultant led services back here. And today the Care Quality


Commission are again looking at elderly care, so it is the end of an


era, but sadly not the end of the tunnel for this hospital.


That was the Midlands Today. I'll be back at ten o'clock, where I'll be


looking at what the future holds for Stafford Hospital and the impact it


will have on people living there. Have a great evening. Goodbye.


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