Delay in bowel cancer diagnosis as Blackpool Victoria Hospital revealed

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Only one-in-seven people urgently referred to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust with suspected bowel cancer receive a diagnosis or an all-clear within four weeks, figures reveal.

There is a delay in bowel cancer diagnosis at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

There is a delay in bowel cancer diagnosis at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Only one-in-seven people urgently referred to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust with suspected bowel cancer receive a diagnosis or an all-clear within four weeks, figures reveal.

Cancer support charities say urgent investment is required to tackle workforce shortages and reduce waiting times across England which they say can tragically slim patients’ chances of survival.

The figures come just months away from the introduction of a new NHS target for three-quarters of all suspected cancer patients to get their diagnosis within four weeks.

Of the patients who were forced to wait longer, 19 had to wait at least 62 days.

Proportionately, suspected bowel cancer patients were more likely to wait over four weeks than those being tested for breast, lung or skin cancers following an urgent referral to the trust.

From October, NHS trusts will be required to provide a result to 75 per cent of all suspected cancer patients within four weeks as part of the new faster diagnosis standard.

But charity Bowel Cancer UK said staffing shortages meant more funding was needed to carry out enough endoscopies, which can diagnose bowel cancer.

Chief executive Genevieve Edwards said: “Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, but it’s treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early, and it’s tragic that some patients will face poorer outcomes as a result of having to wait too long for tests and treatment.”

Cancer Research UK also called for long-term investment into the workforce as well as for diagnostic equipment.

The charity’s head of policy, Kruti Shortri, said: “Endoscopy is vital for the diagnosis of a number of cancers, in particular gastrointestinal cancers.

“As with all diagnostic services it was hit hard by the pandemic, but even before this the service was under considerable strain as staff numbers and equipment simply weren’t rising to match demand.”

Separate NHS England figures also show how many people were waiting for an endoscopy in June.

At Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust, 643 people were on the waiting list – including 181 who had been waiting six weeks or more and 169 on the list for at least 13 weeks.

Across England, 88,000 people were waiting for an endoscopy in June.

NHS England said it was continuing to make progress through the pandemic with a quarter of a million people tested for cancer in June – the second-highest monthly number on record and 42% more than in the same month last year.

National medical director for England, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “NHS staff have made effective use of the additional resources made available to use to recover services which were inevitably disrupted during the pandemic, and we are continuing to tackle the Covid backlog.”

 

Blackpool hospital’s delight as first home-grown apprentices join heart team

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Blackpool’s hospital has welcomed the first recruits from a scheme aimed at addressing a shortage of staff.

 

The hospital has found it hard to find staff for certain areas in recent years and so launched its own apprenticeship training scheme.

Natasha Bentley and Nicole Clews, both from Blackpool, have secured First-Class BSc (Hons) in Healthcare Science Cardiac Physiological (Apprenticeship) Degrees after a three year apprenticeship at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The pair will now begin their careers as qualified cardiac physiologists at Lancashire Cardiac Centre with the trust.

Natasha Bentley and Nicole Clews have joined the Vic’s team after completing First-Class BSc (Hons) in Healthcare Science Cardiac Physiological (Apprenticeship) Degrees after a three year apprenticeship at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Natasha Bentley and Nicole Clews have joined the Vic’s team after completing First-Class BSc (Hons) in Healthcare Science Cardiac Physiological (Apprenticeship) Degrees after a three year apprenticeship at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Angelic Goode, Cardiac Investigation Manager at the Trust, is delighted to see Natasha and Nicole progress to a role within a specialism which is traditionally hard to recruit into and one where previously candidates would have had to pay for their own studies with no guarantee of a job, and very little on-the-job experience of the role.

Angelic said: “Blackpool is geographically remote, we are not a city and we can’t attract some candidates because of our location.

“Healthcare Science workforce is small in terms of employees in the NHS and Cardiac Physiologists profession is more specialised with fewer in the workforce” said Angelic.

“We have problems with recruiting our profession into the workforce as students self-fund their degree, so they spent three years attending university with only weeks in a hospital setting. Many hadn’t actually experienced what the role entails, so they qualify and then try and find a job without the relevant experience.

“Once they come into the service, they then need to complete a preceptorship programme and some people really aren’t suited.”

The trust currently has a further eight candidates studying.

Nicole said: “It makes me proud to work at my local hospital in Blackpool, especially at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre. It is known all around the north west as being the best and it is a great place to work.

“The course was challenging at times with a lot of travelling into Manchester, but it was definitely worth it. You get your hands on experience and you know what it is that you are learning, rather than just the theory you get to see it in action as well.”

Angelic added: “The long-term benefits will be that if we can grow our own, they stay loyal to the department, and become our workforce of the future. We really want to attract Lancashire lasses and lads to come through this competitive training programme and become part of our fantastic team.”

 

Blackpool housebuilder secures £4m financial package for new homes

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Blackpool based house builder Create Homes has secured a £4m funding package to help deliver its latest development.

 

The Whitehills-based firm has obtained the fighting fund from Paragon Development Finance to support its 23 home development in Pilling.

The company’s St William’s Gate development will consist of 23 two, three and four-bed houses.

Phase One of the scheme is sold out and the company has just embarked on building and marketing Phase Two.

Create;s St William's Gate developmentCreate;s St William’s Gate development

Paragon’s funding has enabled Create Homes to refinance existing debt related to the scheme, as well as completing the project.

The deal was led on behalf of Paragon by Relationship Director Dave Rowlinson, who focuses on the North West.

Paul Mathison, group chief executive of Create Homes, said: “After the success of our first two residential developments in the region, we are really excited with this latest residential project.

“We are convinced that the quality of our homes and the rural setting allows us to offer an exceptional product – the quality of which will be the best in the area.

Dave and the team at Paragon completely understand the needs of SME housebuilders. They were efficient, flexible and able to deliver on what they promised.”

Dave Rowlinson, Paragon Development Finance Relationship Director, said: “Create Homes has forged a great reputation for delivering quality family homes in attractive locations.

“This scheme has already proved popular with Phase One selling out quickly and I’m sure Phase Two will be equally as popular.”

Create Homes is a new client to Paragon and the deal was introduced by David Rainford, Property Finance Director, Cowgills.

The funding has been arranged over 26 months and the scheme total Gross Development Value stands at £6.4m.

Other advisors included Hayden Manifold of Savills (Valuer), David Boyes, Rhian Griffiths and Oliver Labbett of Dalbergia (Project Management) and Peter Williams of DAC Beachcroft (Legal).

 

No inquiry into free tickets election pledge for Blackpool residents

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Calls for an official investigation into Labour’s failure so far to fulfill its election pledge of free attraction tickets for residents have fallen on deaf ears.

 

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on Blackpool Council, had written to authorities including the police and crime commissioner and the Electoral Commission demanding they look into the promise.

Free admissions election promise for Blackpool residents waylaid by Covid

He has questioned how the scheme could be funded ever since the pledge was first made ahead of the May 2019 local elections.

Town hall leaders pledged free tickets for residentsTown hall leaders pledged free tickets for residents

The current Labour leadership has repeatedly stated the pledge still stands, but its launch has been delayed due to the Covid epidemic.

But Coun Tony Williams said: “I have received dozens of calls and emails from Blackpool residents and even been stopped in the street in regard to the free attraction tickets the Labour group promised in the last local elections.

“I have told them the council has stated that Covid lockdown has delayed the offer being made. However like myself most people are sceptical this is the real reason.”

He added: “Without any real information or details since the offer was made, it was decided a formal complaint should be made to establish the truth as to whether or not any legal election rules have been breached.”

But the office of the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner advised Coun Williams to direct his concerns to the Electoral Commission.

And a spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said investigating the issue did not fall under their remit as they did not “have a regulatory role in relation to the content of campaign material.”

They added: “The Commission‘s role is to regulate political finance and ensure that voters have transparency over the money spent and received by campaigners and parties.”

Blackpool Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said it was hoped to reveal further details of the scheme later this year.

She said: “We were all set to go in April last year, but how could we deliver that during a worldwide pandemic?

“All the attractions were closed, and even now they are open they are not all at full capacity.

“And I don’t think residents would have wanted to take up the opportunity when people were fighting for their lives.

“We are still having conversations with the attractions, but they need to get up to full capacity and we are hoping to make an announcement later this year.”

 

Blackpool church loses planning battle with council

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A Blackpool church has lost the latest chapter in its battle to install an LED sign on the front of the building.

Layton Methodist Church

Layton Methodist Church

Leaders at Layton Methodist Church on Westcliffe Drive had submitted an appeal after the council twice turned down planning permission for the sign.

Now an independent planning inspector has also thrown out the application, backing the council’s ruling that the digital message board would be out of keeping with the heritage of the church which is locally listed.

The inspector also dismissed warnings from ecclesiastical chiefs who said the sign was needed to help the church survive.

In a written report planning inspector J.M. Tweddle branded the sign “a prominent and discordant feature that would significantly harm the amenity of the area.”

The report added: “I acknowledge the appellant’s comments in relation to the challenges faced by churches and that many face the threat of closure.

“I also recognise the important social role that the church plays in the local community and its desire to modernise its methods of advertising events and activities in order to reach a wider audience and realise financial efficiencies.

“However, these matters do not outweigh the harm I have found, and I have no evidence before me to suggest that the church would cease its activities in the event that the appeal should not succeed.

“Nor am I convinced that the use of an LED digital sign is the only effective way of promoting the church’s activities to the public.”

The council had refused the application because it wanted to avoid ‘visual clutter’ in the area.

But the applicant had warned with many churches closing, it was vital to advertise events and services using modern technology.

They said 15 churches in Blackpool had either closed, were boarded up awaiting demolition or had been converted to non-religious uses in recent years.

The council is currently considering proposals to create a conservation area in Layton to protect its heritage.

 

Police granted extra stop and search powers in Fleetwood following drive-by shooting

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Police patrols have been stepped up and additional stop and search powers have been granted after an attempted drive-by shooting in Fleetwood.

 

Armed police were deployed to Wansbeck Avenue after a handgun was fired at a man at around 12.35am on Tuesday (August 17)

Two men were seen making a quick getaway in a dark-coloured vehicle, but their alleged target, a man aged in his 20s, was not injured.

Following an investigation, detectives arrested two men, aged 22 and 28, and a woman, 24, all from Fleetwood, on suspicion of attempted murder.

The 24-hour order will remain in place until 2.10am on Saturday (August 21).

“Enhanced Section 60 powers allow us to stop and search people and vehicles without suspicion, but are only put in place when we believe violent incidents will take place or weapons will be used,” a spokesman for Lancashire Police said.

Police have been granted additional stop and search powers after an attempted drive-by shooting in Fleetwood. (Photo: Shutterstock)Police have been granted additional stop and search powers after an attempted drive-by shooting in Fleetwood. (Photo: Shutterstock)

“You should be reassured to see a really visible policing presence in the area. However, if you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to speak to one of our officers.”

“The powers are usually in place for up to 12 hours and we are obliged to inform the public. We will inform you of the results of the powers in place in due course and whether these will be extended.”

It follows a previous announcement that police patrols would be stepped up in the area as tensions grew between two groups of people.

Anyone with information about the incident has been asked to contact police on 101, quoting log number 0031 of August 17.

Map issued by police showing where the Section 60 order will be in place.

Map issued by police showing where the Section 60 order will be in place.

You can also report it online at the Lancashire Police website by clicking HERE.

Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.

 

Bookworm bikes into Blackpool to boost literary campaign

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A young Bolton boy biked into Blackpool to continue his county-wide campaign to promote reading among children his age.

Milan on Blackpool Promenade

Milan on Blackpool Promenade

Milan Kumar, nine, arrived in Blackpool on Thursday as part of his ‘Fit for Lit’ campaign, taking on various fun physical activities while also boosting the importance of reading.

His mum Daxa, 40, said: “There have been a lot of families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and that is something he is aware of. Milan goes to private school, but he’s really passionate about helping others who are disadvantaged, and that’s why he has been working with the National Literacy Trust in the past 12 months.”

Milan was inspired after discovering a love of reading during the first coronavirus lockdown last year, reading 50 different books by authors ranging from David Walliams to JK Rowling and winning praise from the Duchess of Cornwall.

Milan with Get Blackpool Reading manager Stephanie Wood, Revoe, Mereside and The Grange library manager Lois Duxbury and Central Library manager Jools Morgan-Jones.Milan with Get Blackpool Reading manager Stephanie Wood, Revoe, Mereside and The Grange library manager Lois Duxbury and Central Library manager Jools Morgan-Jones.

He has raised £5,500 for the National Literacy Trust so far, hiking, cycling, skiing and go-karting in places of great literary history, from the Lake Distract, home to Beatrix Potter, to Cardiff, where Road Dahl was born.

He met the National Literacy Trust’s Stephanie Wood, hub manger for the Get Blackpool Reading campaign, at Louie Horrocks Park in Lytham Road, South Shore, along with Revoe, Mereside and The Grange library manager Lois Duxbury and Central Library manager Jools Morgan-Jones. He then jumped on his bike to cycle the Golden Mile, visiting some of his favourite spots including Blackpool Football Club.

Milan said: “During lockdown I felt miserable and unsettled because I couldn’t see my family and friends. This is when I discovered my love for reading and keeping physically active. Reading and exercise helped me to relax and feel better – I want everyone to feel better too.”

Daxa added: “Blackpool has always been a special place for Milan. We’ve been visiting since he was a baby. You’ll often find him on the beach with a book in one hand and an ice cream in the other, and so it seemed like a really good place to come, especially as the Literary Trust has already done a lot of work here pushing the Get Blackpool Reading campaign.”

Katharine Tinker-Switzer, fundraising manager at the National Literacy Trust, said: “Milan’s fundraising help get books and resources to families who need them most and will also inspire fellow young people to get reading this summer to support their wellbeing.

 

‘Golden goodbyes’ cost Blackpool Council £405,000

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Blackpool Council let dozens of employees go last year, figures show, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds in redundancy payments.

Blackpool Town Hall

Blackpool Town Hall

Blackpool Council let dozens of employees go last year, figures show, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds in redundancy payments.

The Association of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers said job losses will continue across England because the Government does not see local councils as a priority.

Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show 37 exit packages, totalling £620,100 were awarded by Blackpool Council in 2020-21.

The total value of exit packages nationally more than halved from £544 million in 2016-17 to £252 million last year in real terms.

Ian Miller, honorary secretary of the ALACE, said: “The higher spend between 2014 and 2017 reflects that councils were making very significant reductions in their workforce at that time as a result of the Government’s austerity programme which has cut funding for local government since 2010.

“Job cuts will continue because local government has not been a priority for this or previous governments.”

He added that councils aim to protect frontline services, and that workforce reductions slowed in 2020-21 because the focus was on responding to the pandemic.

Since 2014-15, the average cost of exit payments has risen by 31% for senior employees – when adjusted for inflation – and 15% for those below this level.

Mr Miller said costs for older employees tend to be higher as the local government pension scheme requires immediate payment of pension rights where someone over 55 is made redundant, or let go to make the council run more efficiently. The figures were published as part of the Government’s research into ending “excessively high”

exit payments in the public sector.

Legislation passed last year – which capped payments at £95,000 – was revoked in February after the Government admitted it may have had “unintended consequences” for the lowest paid workers.

Mr Miller said the figures show there is no need for a cap when the average exit payment is just £26,703.

The average cost of all exit packages in Blackpool last year was much lower, at £16,759 – up from £9,662 in 2019-20.

The Local Government Association said its survey of local authorities council restructures tend to be focused on removing senior posts, which means older, longer-serving and higher paid staff are often the ones affected – and these workers are also more likely to volunteer for redundancy.”

An LGA spokesman said: “Councils are required to ensure termination payments are fair, proportionate, lawful and provide value for money for the taxpayer.”

The MHCLG said councils are best placed to make decisions, but that the Government is still committed to tackling excessive exit payments.

An MHCLG spokeswoman added: “Severance pay is the responsibility of individual councils and we urge them to ensure that payments reflect value for money to the taxpayers who fund them.”