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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 189

Date:- 26 February 2005

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Usdaw says minimum wage increase will boost retail living standards

RENTAIL union Usdaw says the Goverment's announcement that the minimum wage will finally break the £5 barrier is good for its members and will boost the whole retail sector.

Usdaw is delighted ministers have accepted the Low Pay Commission's recommendation that the minimum wage should be set at £5.05 which will significantly boost the living standards of its 340,000 members.

"This is a very welcome announcement of a rise above inflation which will help our members achieve a living wage for their efforts. We're even more pleased that it will rise to £5.35 next year which will massively boost our member's pay packets. Labour knows that a well-paid retail workforce will deliver the goods in Britain's stores boosting the booming retail sector and the national economy as well.

Labour brought in the minimum wage which we had lobbied hard for and this above inflation increase shows they remain committed to decent increases on the basic rate."
says John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary.

The union has pledged to continue its high profile campaign making the strong economic case for further significant rises and payment of the full adult minimum wage to be extended to all retail workers over 18.

The union's leader dismisses claims by Conservative leader Michael Howard that the minimum wage would cause massive job losses. "The reality is that the minimum wage has been one of the biggest success stories in retail and there is no evidence whatsoever that it closed even one business. If the Tories bothered to check their facts they'd find half a million more people work in retail since the minimum wage was introduced.

This sort of scare mongering is a feeble attempt to hide their penny pinching attitude to some of our lowest paid workers. The Tories pretend they support the idea of a minimum wage, but if they were implementing it our members would be significantly worse off as they would only increase it at or below inflation leaving our members seriously out of pocket. 

Don't forget even with this increase our members only earn less than £200 a week before tax for a basic week so the Tories arguing the minimum wage should be much less undermines their attempts to represent themselves as caring about the low paid."

Letters to Editor:-
"Hunting Act 2004"

DEAR Sir, "The Hunting Act 2004 has nothing to do with animal welfare and everything to do with political prejudice, and this weekend has shown it. Politicians have created a situation that has resulted in police officers being diverted from frontline policing activities and refocused on ensuring rural people are culling foxes within the law. The British people don't want this legislation, rural communities are opposed to it, and more importantly, the police don't want it. To use the words of the head of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), this legislation "fills many of his fellow officers with dread". The Crown Prosecution Service and the ACPO policing guidelines on the Hunting Act indicate that this legislation is a low priority for police forces throughout England and Wales. Indeed the Assistance Chief Constable of the Dorset force said earlier this week that illegal hunting was much less serious than letting off a firework after 11pm.

Anti-hunting organisations have reported alleged incidents to the police, but so far, these have been proved to be nothing more than malicious accusations. Self proclaimed
"hunt monitors" are wasting valuable and already overstretched police resources. Anti-hunting organisations and hunt saboteurs should now stop their malicious, prejudiced attacks on the hunting community, understand that hunts intend to act within the law until this ridiculous and badly-drafted legislation is overturned, and stop causing unnecessary trouble in rural areas."
Tom Fell, Countryside Alliance Regional Director 

Warning to ALL Churches on Merseyside!

TO ALL Southport Reporter REAERS, "A bogus "British Gas" meter reader attempted to arrange access to our Church/Meeting Room this morning. Having phoned the vicarage and then my office, having been referred by vicar, he failed, did not obtain access or in fact arrive at the church. 

The matter has been reported to the Police. Also St Michael's Blundellsands was broken into a few days ago. 

I would be grateful if you would pass the word round and keep an eye open for any suspicious activities around churches. We would like to warn other churches about this bogus "British Gas" meter reader."
The Church Security, St Lukes Church, Formby. 
(Name with held due to nature of letter)

If you know any information about the two incidents, call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111

WARNING 
about food contaminated by carcinogenic dye

THIS WEEK all shops and retail outlets should have taken all products that could have been contaminated with “Sudan I” - a red dye that is used for colouring solvents, oils, waxes, petrol, and shoe and floor polishes. This dye was in a batch of chilli powder used by Premier Foods to manufacture a Worcester sauce, which was then used as an ingredient in a wide range of products.

If you have not already checked you home for the products you can get a list of contaminated procucts from this page:- www.food.gov.uk/safereating/sudani/sudanlist 

So if you have some of it… don’t eat it.

Trust's Accident and Emergency Department among the best in the country

ACCORDING to a recent survey of patients using Accident and Emergency services throughout the country, Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust is among the best in the country in 3 categories as it scored the highest mark. Patients were asked to answer 36 questions about their experience in the Accident and Emergency departments at both Southport & Formby DGH and Ormskirk DGH. The Trust was in the top 20% of scores in 29 of the 36 questions.

The 3 questions that achieved the highest score in the Accident & Emergency survey were:- "Were you given enough privacy when discussing your condition or treatment? If you needed attention, were you able to get a member of staff to help you? Did you feel bothered or threatened by other patients? 

The greatest satisfaction in these results is in the improvement we have made since the last survey in 2003. Then we were in the top 20% in only 6 out of 34 categories. It shows that all the hard work that all the staff who work in A&E have put in is paying off. However, we cannot afford to become complacent and appreciate there are still areas where we can improve."
said Janette Brookes, Director of Specialist and Emergency Services. 

Other questions in the survey covered... 
The arrival at the department; 
Waiting times; 
The doctors and nurses; 
Care and treatment; tests; pain management;
The hospital environment and facilities and leaving the department.
Respondents were then asked to rate the department overall. 

Of those who responded, 88% said they felt they were treated with respect and dignity while in the Accident & Emergency Department at all times, up 7% on last time. Asked how they rated the care they received, 82% said it was either excellent or very good, up 12.7% on last time, and 77% said that the main reason they went to A&E was dealt with to their complete satisfaction. Another area of improvement was in waiting times. This year 84% of respondents said they were seen within an hour of arrival compared to 67.1% from the last survey, and 30% of respondents were discharged within an hour compared to 18.2% last time.

In a survey of Outpatient services carried out at the same time, the results also showed an improvement on the last survey carried out in 2003. The Trust was in the top 20% in 13 out of 41 categories and within 2 marks of the top 20% in a further 13 categories.

Allan Stephenson, Director of Planned Services said:- "We are pleased with the improvement in these results, as in 2003 we were in the top 20 per cent in only 7 of 35 categories. Since the survey was carried out last year, we have restructured our outpatient services and we are constantly looking at ways we can improve our services. This survey will help us a great deal in this, as we can now see where we are not coming up to patients expectations and can work to improve in these areas."

Areas where the Trust scored well in the outpatients survey include the time given by doctors to each patient; the clarity of the information given by doctors; the privacy afforded to patients to discuss their condition or to be examined; and that the majority of patients felt the main reason they went to the outpatients was dealt with to their satisfaction. Also, patients felt the environment and facilities were clean and easy to use. 

The areas where we would want to improve include the time patients have to wait to get an appointment, lthough this currently meets all the Government's targets, whether they are given a choice of times and the time waiting to see the doctor on arrival, although patients report they were told why they had to wait.

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