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Issue Date:- 26 May 2008

Permission for Helipad sought

THE Trust is seeking planning permission for the construction of a helipad on site at Southport & Formby District General Hospital opposite the entrance to the Accident & Emergency Department.

Currently, if there is a need for a patient to be brought by helicopter to the Accident & Emergency Department or the North West Regional Spinal Injuries Centre the nearest available landing area is on the playing fields by KGV College on Scarisbrick New Road. This then necessitates the helicopter to be met by an ambulance and the patient to be transferred to the hospital by road. This is not entirely satisfactory because it involves what the ambulance service call 'double handling' which has potential problems for the patients and adds to the time to get them to A&E. Because the occasions the helicopter is used are very few, this has not been an issue, but with the future development of KGV there is a need to review the current arrangements.

A site opposite the entrance to A&E has been identified as ideal because the patients will be able to be taken straight from the helicopter to A&E or the Spinal Injuries Centre without having to transfer to another trolley or vehicle.

The plan is for a circular helipad on top of a 1.8m high mound with a spiral slope to ground level. While it involves the removal of a number of trees, the intention is to replace these along the front of the site on Town Lane.

Sir Ron Watson, Chairman, said:- "This facility is important for the hospital as it will enable patients to get to the emergency treatment they need as soon as possible. We are clearly talking about major trauma cases and emergencies where speed of treatment at our hospital is absolutely critical and I am sure that this proposed development will meet with considerable public approval."

EU funding for tobacco

THE European Parliament voted to maintain EU tobacco production subsidies, contrary to appeals from the Conservative Party. Conservatives MEPs are vehemently opposed to tobacco subsidies in the EU, which cost taxpayers millions of pounds.

More than £200 million (293 million euros) has been set aside to pay tobacco premiums in the 2008 EU budget, and an additional £10 million (14,250,000 euros) has been earmarked for the Community Tobacco Fund. Direct payments to tobacco farmers, which were due to expire in 2009, will run until 2012 as result of amendments passed last month in the European Parliament's Agricultural Committee.

Sir Robert Atkins MEP, said:- "It beggars belief that whilst food prices are going through the roof, we are still directly funding tobacco farms around Europe. On the one hand the EU talks about cutting dependency on tobacco, then on the other it sanctions an extra three years of direct tobacco subsidies, whilst virtually all other sectors have moved to an area based payment.  We spend £200 million on funding tobacco, yet only £30 million in the UK on tobacco awareness schemes. The CAP should be supporting healthy products, not something like tobacco. We end up not only having to pay to support its cultivation, but also the huge costs in treating its effects. I am amazed that the Parliament has missed its last opportunity to put a stop to this ludicrous system.".


HIGH street chain stores could be losing out on millions of pounds worth of business by making it impossible for deaf and hard of hearing customers in Merseyside to check availability of stock over the phone.  Staff at the national telephone relay service RNID typetalk, have been swamped with calls from irate customers complaining that they are unable to call many big name stores to ask about goods and services.

RNID typetalk is a telephone relay service that allows people with communication difficulties to use the telephone. Users type text on a keyboard while a Typetalk Relay Assistant relays the call to a hearing person.  But it seems that many people in the retail industry have no idea how to use the service despite Typetalk offering free training to anyone who needs it.

Typetalk director, Lorna Stephenson, said:- “This is a growing concern as we have been inundated with calls from customers who are unable to check store opening times or whether a particular item of clothing or model of appliance is in stock. Some retailers are even refusing to take Typetalk calls or simply do not understand how it works.

We are calling on retailers to understand their legal and public responsibilities to enhance their service to those with communication difficulties.  With an estimated 9 million people in the UK who have hearing difficulties it makes commercial/financial sense that businesses are able to handle and access calls from anyone who suffers with hearing problems.”

Typetalk revealed that in a recent short survey of large high street shops, John Lewis was the most helpful retailer when it came to providing services for textphone users and knowledge of the Typetalk service.

Barry Matheson, Head of Selling Development at John Lewis, said:- "To be recognised in this way is a wonderful testament to the efforts of our Partners who work hard to provide the best possible service to all of our customers. At John Lewis, we have made significant changes to our call centre operations to improve access for deaf or hearing impaired people."

While most companies have made changes such as improving access to buildings and providing large type and Braille literature, a large number are still failing to make adequate provision for deaf and hard of hearing people who rely on the use of textphones for access to phone based services.

For example, most retail websites require users to input their telephone details before allowing a transaction to be completed. But it seems a large proportion do not realise deaf telephone users use a five digit prefix to access Typetalk and often do not have space to include it.

RNID Typetalk is encouraging anyone who has encountered similar difficulties to let them know so they can contact the retailer direct and offer free training to call centre staff.

The number to contact is voice phone 0800 7311 888, textphone 18001 0800 500 888 or email

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