NHS To Unveil New 111 Service

NHS 111 Service

Since new cuts for the NHS emergency services were announced at the beginning of the year, there has been a strain on the ability to treat patients fast enough. With some people waiting hours for an available bed, and many Accident & Emergency rooms closing this year, it’s not hard to see how much the NHS is struggling to stay on its feet presently.

A recent outcry by activists has urged parliament to reconsider their stance on the NHS and how it can be reformed to work the way it was meant to. From this has come the news that they are to “revamp” the 111 service offered by the NHS in order to help people when both A&E departments and their GP offices are full, and to help people who may not need to visit the hospital.

The 111 service was created in 2011 and is considered a lesser alternative to calling 999 when you have an issue. If you are concerned for your health but are unsure whether your issue is with your local GP, the Emergency Room, or whether you can treat yourself at home, then 111 is the service you need to call. Trained advisors are on call 24/7 to help you with any issues you may have. If you are concerned and do not wish to wait to see a medical professional, the trained staff at 111 can offer peace of mind when you need it the most.

Despite the original idea to perfect and better the NHS Direct service, 111 has been criticised for using fewer nurses that its former did. It’s thought this new overhaul will see the introduction of more trained nurses into the service, alongside their trained staff.

The rebuilding of the service is a great idea for preventing members of the public crowding A&E services around the country. Roughly 40% of patients who call 111 are helped there and then and have no need to head to the hospital, or even their local GP. The idea is great for those who have an illness they are unsure about, as staff can identify issues almost immediately. If they believe you need to see your GP or go to the hospital, they will tell you to do so, in extreme cases they can also send an ambulance to your location.

The reform is set to see much more 111 call centres dotted around the UK, which means more staff will be needed and trained to help callers each and every day. The reform will also be an effort to link 111 to more integrated NHS services such as the Fire Service and GP Offices. The current National Medical Advisor, Dr Helen Thomass, had this to say about the overhaul of the 111 service:

“We will make it possible for up to 30% of NHS 111 callers to have a telephone consultation with a clinician who can access their medical records and be able to book them into an appointment if necessary.”

Full disclosure of the plans for 111 will be announced later this month.

Could this be the end of the DWP?

The DWP have come under fire in recent months, mainly because of the austerity that has been introduced by the Tory government. Welfare cuts have swept the nation, and have arguably targeted the most vulnerable in our society causing homelessness and poverty, and unsurprisingly, there are calls for it to end. Pronto. Theresa May’s new government have wasted no time setting about to take action on some of the issues that have upset the nation, and this includes taking down the DWP and replacing it with a fairer system. Labour Party Politician Owen Smith has argued that the DWP now brings nothing but insecurity and as a result should be replaced with something more stable, like a work ministry. He continued to say that if he became labour leader (he is currently in the running with jeremy Corbyn, both who;s fate will be decided in September), this would be the case. Will Theresa May succeed in reducing cuts to help those most vulnerable, as well as protecting the country’s economy after a shock Brexit?Money from the DWP

Universal Credit Failures

The DWP incompetence has recently come to light with the delays to Universal Credit getting longer and longer, leaving them to come under fire from ministers who are saying that the delays could have been avoided, and that the whole thing has not been managed correctly. Many people that are in recipient of Universal Credit have spoken of their anguish in trying to obtain their payments, with many comparing getting the money you’re entitled to as like getting blood from a stone. Universal Credit is not yet available to everyone in the UK , but some areas of the country are classed as ‘trial areas’, which means that if you are in need of unemployment benefits, your claim will be registered as Universal Credit. News has emerged that it will take until 2022 for the new system to be fully ruled out, which shows somewhat of a mass incompetence on the DWP’s part. Complicated new computer systems are being seen as one of the main reasons to blame for its ever growing delays. The situation has now become severe and the reason for this is that it is causing a large increase in poverty, with a huge amount of respondents to several surveys admitting they have to cut down on food in order to survive. It is about time the new prime minister realises that the country’s current social security system is not working for vulnerable people in our society.An element of irony also clouds the whole claims process that definitely needs to be addressed. Because the process is so lengthy and inconvenient, claimants are having to take time out of applying for work and finding a new job, to attend several universal credit interviews, to see whether they are even eligible. The other half of the country is still receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance amongst other benefits and have no idea when they will be switched over to Universal Credit, which will definitely see a cut to the payments that they receive.

Socialist Revolution

Owen Smith has voiced his wishes to shift power back to employees. He has not only insinuated that the DWP is incompetent, but has also called them cruel. Those that are new to claiming and claim for Universal Credit because they have found themselves suddenly out of work, will (eventually) be able to have a claim submitted, after form after form and an interview, only to be told that although the claim has been processed, payment will not begin until September. The sad fact is that you can no longer rely on the inefficient DWP for financial security should you find yourself out of work, and , of course, this is a reflection on the government, which is probably why Smith is determined to change this should he come into power. On top of dealing with the DWP, Owen Smith has expressed a need to return the country to a 50p top tax rate, as well as setting a new rate to the richest 1%, cancelling ex-minister George Osbourne’s cuts to corporation. This may be met with some hostility as this was to encourage trade with EU countries, despite a Brexit. However, the money they gain back from this will help towards the 4% spending rise by the NHS, which could arguably suggest he has better priorities. It seems Smith is determined to target the rich, by introducing a 15% tax levy on income that was not earned, but rather invested. This aims to target those with £150, 000 or higher income. This is to be known as the wealth tax. Owen Smith ultimately, enthusiastically calls for a socialist revolution in which to ‘build a better Britain.’

Could Owen Smith’s ideas of totally scrapping the DWP and replacing it with a ministry of labour and a department for social security mean that those who are most vulnerable, out of work and relying on the government, get the help they actually need, instead of being told they will have to wait due to a ‘backlog of claims’ or an ‘inbuilt delay’. Is this a true take from the rich and give to the poor scenario, and will there really be a ‘socialist revolution’?





‘Carry on Registering to Vote’, says Cameron

We reported earlier in the week about how many 18-24 year old’s may fail to register to vote in the EU referendum due to the process requiring a National Insurance number, which many considered too difficult to obtain. Well it seems many young people managed to muster up the effort and typically many people were registering in their thousands right at the last minute, just before the midnight deadline on the 7th June. As a result of the increased activity, the registration website crashed, meaning that many people with the intentions to register, missed out. As a result of the technical difficulty, Prime minister David Cameron has called for the deadline to be extended. www.hmrctalk.co.uk

According to David Cameron, the Government have been in urgent talks to try and have the registration deadline moved, they want to ensure that the fault of the website did not prevent tens of thousands of people from registering to vote, and thus not being able to have their say on referendum day, 23rd June. The website collapsed for the final two hours of the deadline, quite a long amount of time and so affected many. The elections Watchdog called for the Government to intervene after it was clear that some people were going to miss out on registering. This morning, a statement was made by David Cameron in the House of Commons that said people should still register today. His statement comes after the Electoral Commission urged the Government to consider the factors that would effectively extend the deadline. From 10.40pm on Tuesday night the Cabinet Office website would not allow users to register their details as it appeared too many people were attempting to register at the same time. Opposition leaders, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had called for action when the website ceased to work. The technical hitch could be a serious once as it means potentially tens of thousands of voters failed to register.

Blind Panic

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has expressed his surprise at the lack of back up plan in such an instance. He notes that given the history of IT errors with the Government he would have thought something would be in place to prevent the chaos and blind panic that ensued by 11pm last night. With deciding whether to remain or leave the EU a major decision, it is important that as much of the UK vote as possible. Farron calls for the Government to enable the decision to extend the deadline for a further 24 hours. With the belief that it was many younger people who have failed to register, Remain campaigners such as Farron express particular concern for the website’s failure because it is thought that many younger voters are pro-Europe, meaning that the website’s collapse could potentially lose Remain a fair few votes. However, it seems that the deadline extension is a fair all round view as UKIP leader Nigel Farage also called for it to be moved. If you were affected yesterday and unable to register, register today as it is likely that the deadline will be altered.


Asylum Seeker Escapes Jail, Despite Benefit Fraud

The case of benefit fraudster Linda Okungbowa is a complicated one, but thankfully one with a happy ending. Lisa arrived in the UK in 2004 after she was brought over by traffickers, hoping to start work in the UK as a nurse. The traffickers demandedpayment for helping her begin a new life in the UK and so Lisa had no choice but to falsely claim benefits under a fake name to give them the money they demanded. Although jailed for 8 months in 2011 for claiming over £70, 000 worth of benefits illegally, whilst working under a fake name, Linda has been spared jail for a second time in an ‘amazing act of mercy.’ The 36-year-old mother of three came to Britain innocently thinking she would be given the opportunity to train as a doctor, with every intention of making an honest living. Instead, she became trapped in a cycle of debt that she owed to criminals, and turned to desperate measures for a way out. www.hmrctalk.co.uk

Sick criminals continued to increase the amount that Okungbowa owed to them for getting her over to the UK, and even began to threaten her family back in Nigeria, so benefit fraud seemed like her only option. The judge took this into consideration when deciding to waiver her prison sentence, and was also pleased to note that there was little chance of her falling back into further crime due to finding the support of Sheffield churchgoers. The Sheffield community have offered Linda the support she needs to get onto the straight and narrow and avoid the people that once took advantage of her position. Despite working many jobs to try and afford the ever increasing re-payments she owed, the family became more and more destitute, with her and her children having to walk the 12 mile trip to school due to not being able to afford bus fare. The normal prison sentence for such severe benefit fraud was suspended, as the judge heard of Linda’s circumstances. Amongst the benefits, Okungbowa had falsely claimed £26, 201. 56 in working and child tax credits to see her family through.

Linda knew that several jobs were her only way of paying what she owed, and worked in different care jobs. She took on the identity of a female friend in London and asked if the money could be paid into her bank account, who then transferred her wages to Linda, she told the company she could not provide her own bank details due to being in a significant amount of debt and she needed to survive on her wages. As a result the DWP were unaware of her employment. With the support from the local community, Linda Okungbowa now has the trust of the court that she is not going to re-offend and instead is going to turn her life around. She was influenced badly by people she came into contact with, but now she has the right kind of support to get on track. Linda’s sentence has been suspended and she will be tried again in court.

MPs Warn Job Centre Staff Need to be Trained for Universal Credit

MP’s have been warned that in order to make Universal Credit work, job centres must ensure the correct training of their staff. For those that don’t know, Universal Credit is designed to replace regular benefit and will eventually be given to all of those entitled to benefits. The new payment methods mean recipients will be paid monthly instead of weekly , and because the whole system is new, there will undoubtedly be a lot of questions to go with it. Staff need to be able to answer all of these questions to help people understand everything about their new benefit payments. Several benefit payments will be rolled into one, which in the long run will be less complicated, but in the first instance a lot to deal will as recipients will want to know how much they’re getting and when. www.hmrctalk.co.uk


As an aid during the transition, job centre staff will be required to provide one to one coaching even after the individual has found work. There is a bigger element of the job being personal now as staff the individual and unique needs of each claimant. Rather than moving people from unemployed to employed, there will now be a lot more to it. Westminster’s Work and Pension Select committees fear that at the moment not enough is being done to educate staff.

There have been continuous reports warning that the new Universal Credit system is seriously flawed, which will leave over 1 million families thousands of pounds worse off each year. there is also no evidence to suggest that 100,000 disabled children receiving support through Disability Living Allowance will have their benefits halved, leaving people to criticise the ongoing acts from the Tory Government.

This isn’t the first time the Government has called for alterations to the role of a job centre worker. In a plan that has now been dropped due to condemnation from poverty campaigners, Iain Duncan Smith called for job centre advisers to work at food banks, meaning that people who are seeking packages from the food bank can seek advice on where to find work. Charity Child Action Poverty bluntly responded saying that they already have advisers in their food banks – they are needed to deal with the misery caused by the DWP in the first place. The need for food banks is increasingly on the rise in Britain and many are blaming the Tory Government for this anyway, arguing that instead of working within food banks, they should be working on the need to eradicate them entirely.