Thursday, November 17, 2016

Health-geekery November 2016

Another ever-growing, pulsating list of health and social care links ruling from the centre of the Ultraworld and being compiled here between now and the end of the month.

As usual, inclusion doesn't necessarily mean full agreement.

More STP analysis

King's Fund weighs in with a look at STP's through interviews with insiders in health and local government. 

Continuing Healthcare

A new report by the Continuing Healthcare Alliance, which the Association is a member of, has found that the CHC system in England is failing people with MND and other conditions.

Autumn Statement reportage and responses

Public Sector Executive - Councils and NHS bemoan 'missed opportunity' to fix adult social care
MND Association
MS Society 
New Economics Foundation - No relief for struggling households
Carers UK
United Response
Royal College Of Nurses

And otherwise

A range of views on how much money the Government is putting into the NHS (Grauniad)
Four in five councils struggle to provide older people's care (Grauniad again) 

A miscellany of Trumpean links

A miscellany of post-election reactions and reflections, collated here. As ever, inclusion of an article doesn't imply endorsement of the views, merely that I find them interesting.

The Way To Stop Trump - David Cole
Moving on from Trumpgate - Anna Feuchtwang
The American election was a referendum on system change - Brian Fitzgerald
Autocracy - rules for survival - Masha Gessen
The Weapon We Have Is Love - The Harry Potter Alliance 
The Failure of Facebook Democracy 

Cthulhu doesn't grow plants...

But if he did they would probably look something like this.


Taken at a visit to the Eden Project this Autumn.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

It's great when everyone's making the same movie: an evening with Mike Carey

Last month @rae102011 and I caught writer Mike Carey in conversation as part of the Birmingham Literature Festival

Until recently, Mike was best known for his comic and graphic novel work, most notably Lucifer. However, that may now be superceded by his post-apocalyptic zombie-esque novel and film The Girl With All The Gifts, where Mike did double duty, not only writing the original text but the screenplay in parallel.


He gave us a sneak preview reading of the opening to the follow-up to Girl..., a prequel which may or may not end up being called The Boy On The Bridge and then fielded questions from the audience.   

Of particular interest to me was the discovery that working in comics had transformed him as a  writer - it had given him a prescribed form to work within in terms of structure, length and pacing and that had helped a great deal when using the ostensibly freer form of the novel.

Mike had been fortunate with his venture into the film industry - not only writing the screenplay for Girl... but having a sympathetic producer and director who were very much open to collaboration. As he put it, 'making movies is great if everyone's making the same movie.'  

So the film got made with a shared vision of how best to adapt the original material, what would translate between media and what needed to change. For example, the book's interior lives and multiple viewpoints - the very things that novels excel at - got largely sidelined in favour of focussing on Melanie, the girl of the title.  

This isn't a film review, but as an aside it's worth reiterating what you may have heard elsewhere: Seenia Nenua who plays Melanie is outstanding and the narrowing of perspective certainly pays off.  

Similarly, casting knowledge also helps to shape the script. As Mike pointed out, if you know you have someone of the calibre of Glenn Close attached to a role you'll darn well find yourself writing for her.

However, he also identified the temptation in screenplay-writing both to over-write and over-prescribe what was happening on screen; not only do you have to leave room for the director to cut extraneous dialogue and even scenes as they go through the film-making process, you have to give them the space to decide how they want to shoot the film. And of course for the cast to play it in their own way too.

Much like the distinction between the text of a play and its perfomance, I suppose, but I hadn't really thought about it that way before. 

A most interesting evening, and worth mentioning that Mike was a lovely guy who stuck around with his wife Linda (also a writer) to sign books and chat to attendees.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Best of the Fests 2016 - acts we've enjoyed at festivals this year

We managed to take in two and a bit festivals this summer: The Great Escape, Truck and a day of the Lunar Festival. Here's a belated round-up at what caught our eye at the time and still sounds good now.

B J Barham (Truck)

This couldn't be more archetypical maudlin country balladry if it tried, but it worked a treat in Truck's mocked-up saloon bar. And what do you know, it still works now.

Find the tragic Mr Barham on Bandcamp.

Clean Cut Kid (Great Escape and Truck)

Marvellous band from Liverpool (Home of English Power Pop TM) from a cheerful chap with an excellent beard and his cohorts. So good we saw them twice - check out their video to Vitamin C.

Duke Street Workshop and Laurence R Harvey - Tales of H P Lovecraft (Lunar Festival)

Basically, if you like the idea of a couple of Lovecraft short stories being narrated breathily by a horror movie actor over the soundtrack to Drive, this is your jam.

Links to sample track and full download here. 

Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS? (The Great Escape)

As deleriously fun as cheap girl-group keyboard punk played in a Brighton hotel basement can be. 

Holly Macve (Truck)

The bleakest of acoustic blues, in the Marissa Nadler ballpark.

Ibibio Sound Machine (Lunar Festival)

The highlife LCD Soundsystem? 

Jurassic Five (Truck)

Hands down the best big name at Truck - breathtaking team rhymes and turntable tomfoolery. If you don't know the J5 then Concrete Schoolyard is the place to start.

Lounge Kittens (The Great Escape)
 
Limp Bizkit, Sean Paul and Slipknot in the style of the Andrews Sisters? The answer is, surprisingly, yes.

Thomas Truax (Truck)

Uncategorisable cult figure playing whimsical songs on home-made gadget instruments... which is way better than it sounds. Start at Tom Waits circa Swordfishtrombones and keep heading out for Neptune. Try Why Dogs Howl At The Moon and Beehive Heart, but more than anything else see him live if you ever have the chance.

Yndi Halda (Truck)

Somewhere between Grizzly Bear and Mono, swoonsome post-hardcore rock. Every track on the album over ten minutes, brevity fans!

Find them on Bandcamp here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Health-geekery October 2016

One of the challenges in my job is the sheer amount of information that crosses my desk; making sense of it, sifting out what is relevant, piggy-backing on the analysis of others while recognising that they too will have their own agenda.

A list of third-party links like the one below isn't the solution, but it is a way of ordering and keeping track of things. I'll try and mainly link to places that aren't hidden behind a paywall, but in the case of the Health Service Journal (HSJ) the issue is that the site itself is essential reading for anyone in the business.

And why put it on the blog? Hopefully it will be useful to others as well, but at least I'll know where to find it!

15 October - the Care Quality Commission launched its annual State Of Care Report

"More than 80 per cent of GP practices and six out of ten of adult social care services inspected by us so far have been rated as good or outstanding. Of the hospitals rated, 38 per cent were also found to be good or outstanding.

However, alongside these encouraging findings, there remains significant variation in quality and an unacceptable level of poor care. Up to 31 May 2015, 7 per cent of acute, primary medical and adult social care services had been rated as inadequate."

PS - the Walton Centre (specialist centre for brain and spinal conditions on Merseyside) got an outstanding rating from CQC.

And the somewhat less upbeat response from National Voices 

NV is the umbrella group for health and social care charities - the MND Association is unsurprisingly a member.

"The CQC’s State of Care report exposes the effects of chronic underfunding of social care services. Today we see people left to fund their own care, providers unable to deliver services, and a knock-on effect on overstretched NHS services as people repeatedly need help due to inadequate care arrangements."

National Voices' representation to the Treasury ahead of the Autumn Statement is also a very useful 'state of health and social care address' from the charity sector and well worth a look.

And while the NV love-in continues, here's their briefing on the current Health front-bench and their shadows.

Sustainability And Transformation Plans 

Birmingham first local area to publish its full STP submission (despite being told not to).

Birmingham City Council's Director for People has already expressed concern that there is too much focus on NHS finances in the STP proposal rather than a system-wide solution for health and social care (article here behind the HSJ paywall)

Behold the orientation briefing from Healthwatch Birmingham (plus the official NHS guidance on engaging communities in STP's)

Added 4 November - a round-up of further reporting online. Links do not imply endorsement, natch.

Birmingham Mail
Birmingham And Solihull Social Economy Consortium
Chamberlain Files (part the first)
Chamberlain Files (part the second)
Digital Health
Healthwatch Birmingham
Keep Our NHS Public Birmingham (pre-publication)
Local Medical Committee (pre-publication)
Local Medical Committee (post-publication)
Public Sector Executive
Solihull councillor Ken Hawkins

Further links collating known information on as many STP's as possible can be found on the Health Campaigns Together site.

King's Fund report on social care for older people

"The picture that emerges is of social care providers under pressure, struggling to retain staff, maintain quality and stay in business; local authorities making unenviable choices about where to make reductions; a complex set of causes of delays in discharging older people from hospital; and the voluntary sector keeping services going even when funding was curtailed."

25 October: Systems Not Structures Report on transformation of health and social care in Northern Ireland 

Written by committee chaired by international health expert Professor Rafael Bengoa, welcomed by NI Government. 

Full report, Executive summary, BBC article

At first glance, useful proposals and phrases from the executive summary:

People in Northern Ireland are disproportionately high users of urgent care, perhaps due to the absence [...] of alternatives.
2 of the 3 ‘Triple Aims’ are improving patient experience of care and reducing the per capita cost of care, which are things we're talking about already (especially the former, pragmatically the latter).
Recognition that some services are so specialist that they must be delivered at a Northern Ireland level.
Support for exploring innovative primary care models (e.g. community nurse-led care models)

I'd like to add a transcript of Health Committee discussions from 27 October - the Minister for Health Michelle O'Neill + Professor Bengoa were briefing them on the report and how the Government sees it (broadly speaking, we know they like it). Unfortunately, I think it may have been in closed session.

Stark figures in Wales

Report from the Health Foundation analyses the demand and cost pressures facing the NHS in Wales up to 2019/20 and in the decade beyond.

At least £700m of efficiency savings needed, saieth the report.

And finally ... Uptown Trust Ranking

New oversight ratings for every NHS Trust (in England) from NHS Improvement - you'll need a Health Service Journal subscription to have a look at this.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Prime Ministers with pubs named after them

On the back of the John Wilkes post, and because it's been a while since we've done a list on the blog:

If I've missed anything out (entirely possible) add a comment and I'll update this post.

Twentieth century Prime Ministers with pubs (or other drinking establishments) named after them

Arthur Balfour (a Conservative Club in Bargoed, Caerphilly)
Winston Churchill (Bilbao, Montreal and less glamorously a Harvester in Rochdale; probably more besides)
Harold Wilson (the Lord Wilson in Huddersfield)
Margaret Thatcher (Maggie's Club in West London, natch)

Honourable mentions

David Lloyd George (a function room and former bar at the Liberal Club) 
Jim Callaghan (has a coffee shop named after him in the James Callaghan Building at Swansea University)

Surely a missed opportunity, left-wing types?

Clement Attlee 

Nineteenth century Prime Ministers without pubs named after them

The nineteenth century was very much the golden age of pub-naming if you were a politician (especially an aristocratic one)

Spencer Perceval (apparently being the only PM to have been assassinated doesn't warrant commemoration in this form)
Earl of Liverpool (no theories on this one)
Viscount Goderich (should have had a catchier title if he wanted a pub name, perhaps)

A business proposal

A small chain of pubs each named and themed after a different twentieth century Prime Minister. After all, there's clearly a gap in the market after 1900.