Marlyn Glen MSP

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Scottish Labour MSP for North East Scotland

Council tax freeze : councils have no power to increase tax on individual tax bands

29 October 2010

Marlyn Glen has been informed by the Scottish Government that councils do not have the power to raise the level of council tax in some higher tax bands while freezing the tax in lower bands.

Ms. Glen queried whether or not councils had the authority to do so, but was told,

“A local authority does not have discretion to vary the council tax levels in a certain set of bands (such as G and H) in relation to the other bands.

“Section 74 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 sets out the proportions between the bands.

” Band A is required to be a third of Band D and Band H is double that of Band D.

“The proportions are:

Band A – 6/9 of Band D

Band B – 7/9 of Band D

Band C – 8/9 of Band D

Band E – 11/9 of Band D

Band F – 13/9 of Band D

Band G – 15/9 of Band D

Band H – 18/9 of Band D ”

Commenting on the present funding arrangements, Ms. Glen said,

” The Scottish Government must fully fund its council tax freeze in Dundee.

“The unfairness of the council being forced by the Scottish Government to slash both its spending and its services in return for a small inadequate sum to impose a council tax freeze must end.

” So far the SNP’s endless council tax freeze has benefited those in the top council bands the most.

” Over the three-year period in Dundee , and because council tax did not keep pace with inflation, those in the highest band, H, have seen their council tax payments reduced by a total of £380 overall in the past three year period.

“By contrast, those in the lowest Band, A, have seen their council tax payments reduced by a total of only around £125 overall in the past three year period.”

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Education amalgamation : Plea for no job losses in Dundee

20 October 2010

Marlyn Glen has written to Education Secretary Mike Russell calling for a guarantee that there will be no jobs lost in the Dundee following the announcement that the existing organisations HMIe and Learning and Teaching Scotland, both of which have offices in Dundee, will be amalgamated to form of the Scottish Education Quality and Improvement Agency.

Ms. Glen said,

” I have misgivings about the formation of this mega-quango from the current two quangos of Learning Teaching Scotland and the Education Inspectorate, HMIe

” The justification for its formation is the drive to trim red tape and bureaucracy with more resources being diverted into classroom teaching.

” The concern is that this justification is a camouflage for cuts with no assurance of the quality of education will improve.

“To protect that quality, I am asking the Education Minister for a guarantee that the mega-quango amalgamation will not result in any posts being lost in Dundee.”

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200 posts now predicted to go at NHS Tayside to go : SNP government responsible, says MSP

15 October 2010

Marlyn Glen said that it is “the responsibility of the SNP Government to convince a skeptical public that the shedding of 200 posts at NHS Tayside can be achieved without damaging the quality of service for patients”

She was responding to a reply from NHS Tayside on the number of posts and reduction in spending that the health board is currently undertaking.

Ms. Glen commented,

“The shedding of 200 posts in NHS Tayside would represent a substantial loss to NHS staff, patients and the wider community.

“The SNP Government demanded that NHS Tayside find ‘savings’ of £30 million this year.

“It is now the responsibility of the SNP Government to persuade a skeptical public that this can be done without damaging the quality of the service for patients.

“The Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee report on health boards’ budgets, published in June 2010, expressed its concern on the effect of planned reductions in staff on the quality of service in the NHS through ‘vacancy management’.

” The report highlighted the problems created by filling of vacant posts by existing members of staff and its possible impact on the quality of service.

” It pointed out that the remaining staff ‘may be left to cope, with implications in terms of increased stress and sickness absence, damaging the quality of service.’ ”

Ms. Glen said that she would be writing to NHS Tayside again on the reductions in spending and posts.

NHS Tayside informed Ms. Glen that over 105 whole time equivalent (WTE) nursing posts have been shed so far this year in the health board area.

Other posts that have been shed include :

Allied Health Professionals 6.7 WTE

Healthcare Scientists 7.9 WTE

Text of message from Marlyn Glen to NHS Tayside

“A media report indicates that NHS Tayside has achieved reductions in posts so far this year that are the equivalent of 164 WTE.

“Can you indicate how many such posts are distributed amongst the following groups :

Nursing and midwifery

Allied health professionals

Healthcare Scientists

“The report indicates that the final reduction may be around 200 WTE posts, rather than the original 495 envisaged.

“Can you provide me with details of the economies and efficiencies and their costs that have already been made and will still have to be made to ensure that the number of WTE posts shed is 200 and not 495 WTE posts by the end of the financial year.

e. g. any reduction in the number of acute inpatient-bed days.

“Can you inform me of what evidence-based practice exists within the health board to determine what effect the economies and efficiencies that are being made have on the quality of patient care in NHS Tayside.”

Text of NHS Tayside reply to Marlyn Glen

“NHS Tayside, like all other responsible organisations has adopted an approach ensuring robust management systems are in place for careful local scrutiny and approval of any staff vacancies as they arise.

“This is appropriate for any body which utilises public funds.

“Where recruitment decisions are required, these are devolved to senior budget holders who, working closely with local clinical and management teams , remain best placed to form judgements as to the appropriateness of filling any vacancy consistent with our on-going programme of service redesign, and the more effective utilisation of existing staff through internal recruitment/redeployment.

“This helps ensure the continued development and progression of our existing workforce, matched both to current service need and to new roles emerging through service redesign.

“At all times all staffing decisions are taken against ensuring that our over-riding priorities of patient safety and quality of care are maintained.

“To best meet the needs of our current and future population demographics, NHS Tayside is delivering on a programme of modernisation.

“Modernisation requires us to examine the location and configuration of services on an ongoing basis to maximise the potential of the resources available to us.

“The National 6 Step Workforce Planning Model is fully utilised across NHS Tayside.

“This systematic approach to workforce planning ensures all influences and impacts of planning are accounted for, including education and training and recruitment and retention strategies.”

Notes : The section of the Scottish Parliament’s Health & Sport Committee report ( June 2010 ) referred to above which deals with vacancies in the NHS reads :

“Boards regard moving on from cash-releasing efficiency savings to reducing wage costs as absolutely inevitable, and they are now planning for reductions in the number of staff posts, through ‘vacancy management’.

“The intent is that when staff leave or retire they will be replaced by existing staff.

“The Committee recognises that vacancy management can help to achieve efficiency savings by redeploying and retraining existing staff.

“Nevertheless, this raises a number of issues—

“If the staff member leaving is a specialist, the person reallocated to their post may need training and experience over several years to provide the same quality of service, and this assumes they have the same aptitude for the job

“If an existing staff member is recruited to fill the vacancy, they in turn leave a vacancy in their former role. Unless their former role was either entirely redundant or no longer requires the same level of skill, this will create problems and may damage the quality of service

“Existing staff may be left to cope, with implications in terms of increased stress and sickness absence, damaging the quality of service.

“There is a danger that, if NHS boards make changes without measuring the impact on quality, they may therefore conclude there was no evidence that quality was harmed, thus justifying similar changes of the same type.”

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/hs/reports-10/her10-08.htm

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Cost of care for the elderly : MSP asks council again for figures

14 October 2010

Marlyn Glen has written to Dundee City Council asking if it has now estimated how much it will cost in the near future to provide care for the elderly in the city at the same level of provision as at present.

Ms. Glen wrote to the council in May asking if it had made any estimates on the maintaining the present level of provision of Free Personal Care as it is now in future years based of population projections.

In reply, the council said, that these estimates were ” being developed as part of an estimate of demographic pressures”.

Now 5 months later, Ms. Glen has written again asking if the estimates have been made.

She said,
” Free personal care in the city will need to cope with major demographic demands.

“Firstly, we see the onset of the retirement of the post-war “baby boomers” in large numbers.

“Population-wise, Dundee’s population is forecast to be 142,000 in 2013 with almost 27,000 of that population being aged 65 or over.

“By 2028, it is envisaged that the population will decrease to 137,000 but that the numbers aged over 65 are predicted to rise to almost 32,000.

“Secondly, the increase in life expectancy has not been accompanied by a corresponding increase in healthy life expectancy.”

Ms. Glen said that figures from 1999-2003 indicated that both men and women in Dundee spend more years were below the overall average for Scotland.

Healthy Life Expectancy is the number of years that people may expect to enjoy good health

For Dundee males, life expectancy was estimated at 71.8 years, and healthy life expectancy at 64.6 years.
This means that the number of years “not spent in good health was 7.2 years”
The comparable Scottish figure for males is less, and estimated to be 7.0 years.

For Dundee females, life expectancy was estimated at 78.0 , and healthy life expectancy at 68.8 years.
This means that the number of years ” not spent in good health” was 9.2 years.
The comparable Scottish figures for females is less, and estimated at 8.5 years.

Ms. Glen added,
“As council budgets are set to contract even more, the financial forces on the provision of the service will increase.”

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Welcome for more cleaning staff at Ninewells

7 October 2010

Marlyn Glen has welcomed news from NHS Tayside that there are now 17 more full-time equivalent cleaning staff in Ninewells hospital after a two year period when the numbers fell.

Ms. Glen received figures from the health board which show that there are now 219 ( 219.3 in precise numbers ) full-time equivalent cleaning staff at Ninewells compared with 202 ( 202.1) in both April 2008 and April 2009.

These last two figures showed a drop from 203 (203.6) in April 2007.

NHS Tayside said that the increase in the number of domestic staff recruited in 2010 reflected the increase in government funding for the “specific purpose of increasing the level of hours for cleaning services in patient areas.”

They told Ms. Glen that the figures refer to the front line basic grade domestic assistant posts that the board employs and does not include any management posts.

Welcoming the figures, Ms. Glen said,

” Cleaning staff are highly important members of any healthcare team.

“Increasing their number is an essential measure in improving levels of hospital hygiene.

” More cleaning staff on wards will reassure the public of the NHS’s commitment to maintain its progress in reducing the level of healthcare acquired infections.”

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Over 1,400 elderly people in Dundee have been emergency admissions after falls over the past three years

6 October 2010

Marlyn Glen has received information from the Scottish Government showing that a total of over 1,400 elderly people in Dundee have been emergency hospital admissions as a result of a fall over the latest three years.( 2007-2010)

This equates to, on average, around 490 elderly people over the age of 65 each year.

In the latest year 2009-10 , for individual communities in Dundee, the figures have been :

West End ( West End, Logie and Blackness, Perth Road, Balgay ) 43

Broughty Ferry ( Broughty Ferry West , Broughty Ferry East, West Ferry, Barnhill ) 90

Lochee ( Lochee, Menzieshill, Charleston ) 50

Kirkton, Downfield Ardler and St. Mary’s 41

Hilltown 15

Douglas 21

Whitfield 12

Fintry ) 18

Ms. Glen said,

“NHS Tayside’s Falls Prevention and Bone Strategy helps to reintegrate back into the community those elderly people who have fallen and to minimise the occurence of further falls through exercise and improvements in bone health.

“Falls at home, resulting from conditions such as poorer vision, lesser mobility as well as osteoporosis, can contribute to injuries that might have been prevented.

“Elderly people can suffer consequences that are both physical such as fractures and hypothermia, and psychological , such as loss of dignity and independence.”

Ms. Glen added that the British Geriatric Society had indicated that falls affect almost one in three of those aged over 65 and half of those aged over 80, and that they are a major reason for hospital attendance and admission amongst the elderly.

Falls and fragility fractures are both linked with illness and mortality, and the estimated cost of the care of fragility care to health and social services is over £2billion in the UK.

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New class size of 25 in Primary 1 : Maximum can still be exceeded

1 October 2010

Marlyn Glen has been advised by the Scottish Government that parents will retain the right of appeal against class sizes in primary 1 being set at a legal maximum of 25 proposed for the next school session, 2011-2012.

Despite new regulations setting class sizes at a legal maximum of 25, it has now been established that parents can still appeal, as before, to have their child placed in the class.

If successful, this would bring the number of pupils above the new legal limit.

Ms. Glen queried how the proposed new 25 limit in primary one classes would affect the prospects of a pupil moving into the catchment area of a school where all of the P1 classes had 25 pupils.

(At present there are three primary schools in Dundee where all P1 classes have 25 pupils, Eastern , Fintry and St. Andrews.)

Would this mean, as from next year, that the local council could say that there was no place for the child at that school because of legal maximum being set at 25 pupils?

Scottish Government sources indicated that families are moving in and out of catchment areas all the time and under the Accepted Pupil Provisions, local authorities can allow the number of pupils in the class to exceed 25 as any ‘excess’ pupils are not counted in the first year.

This is allowed for in the regulations.

These pupils would be counted in any subsequent years.

Ms. Glen said,

“The SNP’s political intention behind this new maximum of 25 is to try and give the impression that they are achieving something new and remarkable.

“However, their own figures, by their definitions, show that 93 per cent of P1 pupils are already in classes that are 25 or under.

“This is to try to distract attention away from major problems in education such as their broken promise to reduce all P1-P3 classes to 18, probationer teachers unable to find jobs in Dundee schools, and the overall drop in the number of teachers. ”

Ms. Glen is raising the matter with Education Secretary Mike Russell.

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