Thursday, 25 January 2018

I want the whole healthcare wheel!

Yesterday, along with a large group of Buckingham residents and interested parties, I attended a meeting organised by Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. The purpose of the meeting was to continue a dialogue about the future of healthcare provision in the town, this time with a focus on outpatient and inpatient services.

Both Thame and Marlow community hospitals are in a transformation towards becoming 'hubs' for healthcare with a stated ambition to bring healthcare closer to home. We were presented with some of the details of these projects and then asked to discuss our views on how something similar might happen in Buckingham. The appraisal so far of these two projects is mixed, we were told:

Here is the agenda we were given as we arrived:

It was a busy morning and I hope that the notes of what was discussed will be out soon. Once they are, I will make sure a link is provided here to them (both slides presented and the feedback from the discussions recorded by the facilitators)

Anything to do with healthcare is complex and a wide range of views were offered. There was a concern that any new arrangements might (or might not be...) a threat to the Community Hospital which of course is a very special part of the town. There was little discussion about the move of the GPs to Lace Hill but clearly the size of the building being talked about there could well be a place for outpatient clinics too. Will the building of the Lace Hill centre have an impact on the Hospital? We didn't really get any answers on that question.

The senior nurse, Carolyn Morrice, who presented most of the slides and chaired the whole event was at pains to say that the developing service would be co-designed with local people using a stakeholder group (yet to be established - but soon hopefully). Having been involved with the health service as an adviser, worker, carer and patient over many decades... I remain just a tad cynical about whether co-design means what it says on the tin.

For example I noted that a new body 'FedBucks' suddenly made an appearance on the slides as one of the organisations working with the NHS to plan these changes. What, I asked, is 'FedBucks'. I was informed it is a federation of GP practices, in their role as providers of healthcare. GPs of course, are also heavily involved in running the Clinical Commissioning Groups too... As poachers and gamekeepers (as such!) they are therefore well represented. But funnily enough I did not see HealthWatch or any other patient representative body on the slides as part of the 'Accountable Care System' determining the future of health and social care provision in the county... I will have more faith in 'co-design' when the patients/users/carers/residents have equal status on the partnership bodies making the decisions...

This could be a very long blog - and long blogs don't work very well, I know that. So I will finish on a few points that I made during the event: here is my scribbled notes that I gave to the facilitator to state my key design criteria for any new service

And I will finish with the point I finished with yesterday to the meeting: whatever happens there must be parity between physical health care and mental health care. Why is it that someone who needs some kind of talking therapy may have to wait up to six months for an appointment (the set of which is then limited to six sessions, say) but a person needing cancer treatment gets it within days? And they get unlimited treatment too? Surely we should have parity here?!

Should we not?

I want the whole healthcare wheel for our town - hub, spokes and rim!!


I have written before about my ex-officio roles as Mayor where local bodies automatically make the Town Mayor a member - whoever they happen to be. And so I try to attend their meetings as much as I can. Last Monday lunchtime I went along to the regular, weekly meeting of the Buckingham Rotary club at the Buckingham Golf Club. I provided some after-lunch entertainment and gave a short presentation about my last few months as Mayor. I was asked some great insightful questions at the end. Good stuff! By the way, they are always looking for new members so if you are interested, please click the link above.

And on Tuesday, I attended a meeting of BACAB which raises money for the local Citizens' Advice services. They too are always looking for new supporters and sponsors. So if you are a business and looking to make a regular donation to a very worthy cause, please contact them. The work of the Citizens' Advice as we all know is invaluable - and we never know when we might need it ourselves... (See the case studies on their website)

Last week, I attended a regular meeting of the Buckingham General Charities to help make decisions about the upkeep of their properties and look towards the budget for the coming year.

So this blog is just an update on these matters and my continuing support for local teams of people doing their best for our local community. And they do a fabulous job! I and, I am sure, the people of the town are all grateful for the time and responsibility they put in. I remain delighted and charmed by all the people in the town to give so much to the town. Long may that continue and may those numbers grow!

Some of the allotments owned by the General Charities - helping Buckingham flourish!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The Mayor's Charity Ball!

Please let me know if buying a ticket in person would be problematic for you. I am sure we can work out some other way. Hope to see you there!

Friday, 19 January 2018

#MoreinCommon - another library!

Oxfordshire County Council have just re-opened their central library in Oxford as part of the new Westgate shopping centre. As this was a library that I used lots when I lived in Oxford, it was another one to which I have donated the biography of Jo Cox. (Please see my blog below for a short explanation as to why I am doing this.)

Needless to say: the library looks amazing and so much lighter than it was before. Such a wonderful space in which to learn and enjoy books and indeed connect to the world.

I was shown around by Shirley Toase, the Library Manager, pictured below. Thank you! It was also good to meet two of her staff: Molly Harvey (no relation as far as I know!) and Kylie Robinson (who took the picture). Below is the inscription in the book.

#MoreinCommon - the journey continues

Regular readers will know that I won my bet on how many seats the Conservative Party would win in the general election last year. With my £160 winnings, I bought 11 copies of the book about Jo Cox written by her widower, Brendan Cox. I have been donating these to the libraries of my life over the last few months. This morning, I went along to the school in Oxford where my children went for their secondary school career - and where I was a governor for eight years: Cherwell School.

I had about ten minutes to speak to their 200 strong sixthform and tell them the story and what Jo stood for. As we all know, her message was powerful and simple: we always have more in common than anything which divides us.

Jo was in the news again this week, as the Government moved forwards on appointing a Minister for Loneliness which was one of the other matters that concerned her. Jo's sister has revealed that Jo experienced bouts of loneliness herself.

It was great to hear about some of the things the school and the students are doing. I was frankly astounded when in talking about the forthcoming science fair, the teacher explained that some year nine students a couple of years ago built a robot out of Lego that could solve a Rubik's cube...! Heck, I cannot even do that!

The Headteacher, Chris Price was inspirational and is clearly well respected by staff and students alike. Here he is accepting the book I have donated. Below is the inscription for the book that will be placed in the school library.

The 'new' Villiers is open!

I was invited to help 'open' the newly refurbished Villiers last night and what a night it was. I met the new owner Rick and his wife Fi, the other investors, the people who had designed and installed the new look - and lots of other people. Hundreds had been invited and hundreds attended. The food and wine were sumptuous and the entertainment much fun!

Both and Rick and I thanked the staff for laying on such a great party and especially of course, one of Buckingham's treasures: Jean Rush, the Hotel Manager.

In my view, Villiers is one of the beating hearts of our town centre that helps make Buckngham such a great place to visit and enjoy. I hope revamp helps the hotel go from strength to strength!

Here is a pic of a few of the people present last evening listening to Rick's welcoming speech.

Below is the cartoon drawn of me by Michael Kyeyune, one of the caricaturists present on the evening. Such fun - it makes me look 30 years younger!

Not quite sure why I am pictured as a cross between Bond and Mayor??!


Sir Anthony Seldon gave a presentation on his work about Happiness at the county library last night. Organised by the friends of the Library, it was very well attended and appreciated. I was only able to stay a short while but I heard that he said some very useful things - which can all be read in his book (see pic below). He talked about the mnemonic 'great dream' which describes the ten keys to happier living.

Well done to Anthony, the library staff, the friends and everyone who made this evening such a great success. I know that Julie, the Mayoress, enjoyed it hugely.

May Buckingham become an even happier time as a result of yesterday evening!

Here are some (not my best!) pics: Sir Anthony, library friends and staff

The books on display (don't forget you can obtain these from the University Bookshop down Hunter Street!)

The assembled audience - great to see the library being used like this of an evening!

And here are some pics taken by Sue Duhig last night too. Thanks!


The wonderful library team!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

A rolling, strolling conversation (18/3/18)

UPDATE 0812 - 18/3/18

Despite the snowy weather - we are still planning to go ahead with the walk. Please wrap up warmly and wear sensible boots! Bring provisions to keep your energy and hydration up. Depending on how it goes, we may shorten the walk at a couple of strategic points. (So if you were planning to join at the later stages - if we don't emerge - it means we have stopped sooner!)

See you soon! 

the walk will be setting off with fruit, drinks and cereal bars kindly provided by Waitrose - thank you! And a couple of Uni students will be running a cake sale and offering biscuit decorating where we finish (the Marquee, Beloff Lawn) - to raise money for Mind (mental health charity). Fantastic! And I have just heard this morning that the Open University (after being contacted by The High Sheriff) will be sponsoring sandwiches and drinks at our final destination. So that is amazing too!!


It is becoming very clear that more and more young people are under great stress and there is a rising tide of mental health problems for this community (12 statistics to get you thinking about mental health in young people).

After a meeting, an email or two, the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, Peter Kara Esq., the Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, Sir Anthony Seldon and I decided on a small plan: to organise a journey around Buckingham one Sunday lunchtime and have a conversation about:
What more can we do to ensure that all young people have good mental health and well being?
And anyone who cares about this matter, knows something about what might be done or who has the power and can make things better, is invited. We figure that is probably just about everybody!

So if you are parent or carer, a teacher, a mental health practitioner, a provider of services, a commissioner, a politician, a community nurse, a doctor, a psychologist etc... or of course, a young person!... then you are most welcome to join us.

Please come and take part in the journey. Indeed, if you wish you can start joining in now by posting questions or topics here, that you hope will be discussed as the journey proceeds.

As the poster shows, we will assemble at 11.00 am on Sunday 18 March 2018 at the Community Centre. We will set off at around 11.30 am. and expect to arrive at our destination, the University Campus at around 1.30 pm. You are welcome to join us for all or some of the walk. Nearer the time, I will post the approximate times we will be arriving at points along the way so that you can join us here. The journey is nearly all traversable on wheels or foot (although there are some steeper and muddier bits to be aware of).

Here is the timed (approx) journey so that you can time your joinings and leavings as you wish. (There is also a google maps link below too.)

You can access the planned route on Google maps here.

We will end up in a marquee on the lawn of the University campus near Tanlaw Mill. There will be an opportunity then to much through packed lunches and record what you have learnt from the conversations

Our aim is to get some young cadets, scouts and guides to help with marshalling the moving body of people across various roads along the way safely. Although, we do expect people to look after themselves as they would in any case.

Please save this page, as I will be updating it with further information as the day approaches.

We look forward to welcoming you on the journey!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Great company!

I am fortunate only to experience a modicum of sight problems in that I have worn glasses for most of my life. But if I were to lose some or all of my sight, I know where I would be on Tuesday afternoons once a month: at Gawcott village hall at the regular meeting organised by Bucks Vision. I went along there on Tuesday at the invitation of Phillipa Atkinson (Secretary N.W. Division, BucksVision).

And what a warm and friendly welcome was waiting for me!

I sat on a table with Peg, Cath and Kira: and enjoyed learning about their lives and views on the world. All three were older women with (I presume) some degree of sight loss.

There were several other people there too: members of the club and the volunteer helpers/drivers. We were treated to a gentle and delightful presentation from Sally Chittenden who talked about her childhood as a baker's daughter in Padbury and Buckingham in the 50's and early 60's. Such wonderful memories and so well told. And then the afternoon was rounded off with some tea and cake. Sublime!

If you or someone you know would like to go along too, I would highly recommend it. It is usually the first Tuesday of the month at 2.30pm. You can find out more by contacting BucksVision:

BucksVision Office
143 Meadowcroft
HP19 9HH

T: 01296 487 556

And here is everyone who was there on Tuesday. What a wonderful bunch of people!

PS: Inspired by yesterday, we had our regular meeting to edit the next edition of Buckingham Town Matters today. I have offered to make a podcast of the next edition so that this can be listened to by members of this group or indeed anyone else who wants to hear the newsletter rather than read it. It will be an experiment! And I am no trained actor but we are going to give it a go!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Happy new twinning year!

This is my first post of 2018 so may wish everyone a very prosperous, healthy and happy new year! May all your ambitions, hopes and dreams be fulfilled this coming twelve months.

Julie and I had the delight of being invited to a “Galette des Rois” evening at the home of Stephanie and Henry Scrase last Saturday. The aim was to celebrate all the work of the Buckingham Twinning Association and begin to make plans for 2018. (Although it was mostly about wine, cheese and the delicious pudding called a Galette de Rois!)

We met some old friends (there are many town councillors involved with the Twinning Association) and made some new ones. It was a sumptuous, warm and welcoming evening.

If you would like to be involved in supporting the Association, please use the website linked above to make contact. The only limit is your imagination as to what more ways there might be to connect our town with Mouvaux and all the people in both places.

There are also the beginnings of a connection with a town in Germany: Neukirchen-Vluyn although this is not yet formalised into a twinned town as such. But... if you would like it be so, and you have German links in someway, please contact Stephanie who could talk you through what that entails. It would be lovely for Buckingham to formalise this link more but it will take some people to make this so. Could that be you?

One example of the work of the Twinning Association

And a quick shot from the party on Saturday night.

And another:

Our hosts, Stephanie and Henry

My last post on this blog

Last night I handed on the Buckingham Town Mayor's chain of office to my very worthy successor, Cllr Mark Cole. This marks the end of my...