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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 212

Date:- 31  July 2005

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Mission to tackle emissions moves up a gear

ENVIRONMENTAL experts in Warrington will be 'exhausting' every avenue in the quest for cleaner air, as part of a major blitz to beat bad vehicle emissions. A 'Testing Team', involving Council officers and police officers, will pull over random vehicles and test car emissions in a bid to deter drivers from further damaging Warrington's air quality and environment.

Over recent years, Warrington Borough Council has carried out a series of formal and informal testing days. During the last week the testing team has been checking vehicles on a main Warrington road and anyone found to be driving a vehicle that exceeds tough emissions levels will be served with an automatic £60 fine.

However, people could have the fine reduced or waived entirely if they agreed to have the fault corrected within 14 days and an MOT certificate is provided.

Cllr Pat Wright, Executive Member for Community Services, said:- "Keeping the air clean is one of our top priorities and this testing day conveys an important message. Drivers should take responsibility for their vehicles' emissions and be aware of the problems they cause. It makes sense to have your car tested - proper tuning helps to save the environment from pollution, your health from breathing problems and your pocket from using too much fuel."

Members of the public can find out more about emissions testing by visiting:-
www.cleanervehicles.org.uk or contacting the Council on 01925 442590.

MERSEYSIDE HEROES SELECTED AS BRITAIN'S TOP LIFE SAVERS IN NATIONAL BRAVERY AWARDS

A Search and Rescue Team from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, who saved 165 people in the recent Carlisle floods, could be on its way to 10 Downing Street to be congratulated by the Prime Minister after reaching the National Shortlist of the annual Vodafone Life Savers Awards.

Dan Stephens, Gary Leith, Kevin Longshaw, Tony Brown, Paul Hitchin, Steve O' Neil, Joe Cunliffe, Keith Williams and Ben Ryder have been shortlisted to the final 50 for their pivotal role in saving lives at danger in the severe Carlisle floodings. They will now go before judges who will select Britain's 10 most outstanding lifesaving stories for national recognition.

The Awards - which honour the unsung heroes behind Britain's most remarkable lifesaving rescues - were launched in April by Vodafone UK in recognition of the vital contribution mobile phones can play when minutes matter.

The 10 National Life Savers, who will include members of the public as well as the emergency services, will receive a personal invitation from Prime Minister Tony Blair to a reception at 10 Downing Street in November. 

Afterwards, the winners will attend a glittering star-studded event at the world famous Savoy where celebrities will be on hand to offer their congratulations before presenting the awards.

When floods devastated the city of Carlisle in January this year, local fire and rescue services were unable to cope with the level of help required.

Amongst teams brought in from across the region was the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, who quickly made their way to the Warwick Road area which was under several feet of water. Power supplies had failed and cars were being washed through the streets by the swirling flood waters. The Rescue Unit found many people hanging out of windows calling for help but it was clear that many more were trapped inside, including a number of elderly residents who needed help to move from flooded rooms to the safety of the upper floors of their homes.

The team manager later describes the situation as 'absolute mayhem' and none of the operatives had seen flooding on such a scale before.

The Merseyside Fire and Rescue team worked through the night, checking each house to make sure every resident had been evacuated. Over a period of some 60 hours, they saved 165 people from the floods, working calmly and professionally in spite of the unusual demands placed upon them.

Ally Stevens of Vodafone UK said:- "The Search and Rescue Team's rescue efforts were instrumental in saving the lives of many people endangered by the Carlisle floods. Their actions epitomise the spirit of the men
and women in our emergency..."  ...continued... 

...continued...  "...services, whose work and dedication so many of us all too often take for granted. Vodafone is delighted that the team has been shortlisted in these national awards."

The 10 National Life Savers will be announced later this Summer. The awards judging panel, chaired by the Royal Humane Society, includes Falklands war veteran Simon Weston, actress and forces sweetheart Claire Sweeney, model and television personality Nell McAndrew, actor Martin Kemp, actress Jane Asher, and broadcaster and journalist, Michael Buerk.

Government performance ratings

IN the performance ratings issued today by the Government, Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust has been awarded 1 star out of a possible 3. This is a drop of 1 star on last year's performance.

The star ratings, published by the Healthcare Commission, judge the performance of the Trust against set targets in 4 main areas; Key Targets, Clinical Focus, Patient Focus and Capacity & Capability. 
Unfortunately this year the trust only achieved 6 out of 8 Key Targets on:-

* All emergency admission via A&E within 12 hours
* All suspected cancer patients seen within 2 weeks
* No outpatients waiting longer than the standard for an appointment
* Total time in A&E of 4 hours or less
* No patient waiting longer than the standard for an elective (inpatient and day case) admission
* Hospital Cleanliness
* The 2 areas where the Trust fell short of our own expectations were in:
* Outpatient and elective booking
* Financial Management

However, the Trust came in the top band nationally for Clinical focus and Patient focus performance.

Commenting on the star ratings, the Trust's Chief Executive, Jonathan Parry, said:- "The Trust is disappointed to have lost a star and it is a great shame that as far as the public are concerned this will detract from the high performance in the areas of Clinical and Patient focus. I want to take this opportunity to praise the staff and say that despite the announcement today I am very proud of the hard work, dedication and commitment shown by all Trust Staff.

To some extent we are victims of our own success. We are getting more and more patients being referred to us from outside of our normal catchment area, which has meant that we have not been as successful on the target for outpatient and elective bookings as we would want. Although we did hit the target by the end of the year, we had not managed to do so during the year.

This, however is linked to the other area where we have not achieved success, and which has led to us loosing a star; financial management. As I have said, we have had a lot of referrals from areas outside of Southport & Formby and West Lancashire. Normally, the Primary Care Trust where the patient lives is responsible for paying for the patient's care and treatment when they are in hospital. Unfortunately this has not always happened and as a result, we have ended the year with an unplanned expenditure of £1.2million. Clearly we are going to have to look at ways of recouping this and we are already looking at how we can improve the efficiency of the Trust." 

Over the coming months the emphasis will be put on improvements to planned services with more day case surgery. It is also planned to work towards shorter lengths of stay with admissions on the day of the operation rather than the night before as pre-operation assessment clinics are introduced.

This is the final year that performance ratings will be produced in their current format known as the star ratings. The Healthcare Commission has developed a new system for assessment following an extensive consultation with patients, clinicians, NHS managers and the public. 

Next year will see the introduction of the new NHS annual health check - with a new system of assessing and rating healthcare bodies which will not only highlight performance in relation to targets but much more about what is actually going on inside the health service. 

The new approach will be risk-based, targeted and proportionate. The new results will provide patients and the public with a very clear but also much richer picture of the performance of our health services while ensuring inspection resources go where we will have most impact. 

There will also be fewer national and more local targets and an assessment of how trusts are performing in areas such as patient safety, leadership, and public health, incorporating information from other regulators, levels of unresolved complaints and Healthcare Commission investigations.

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