We had several events last weekend. The North Devon Street Food Festival ran for three days, Friday to Sunday. I went on the first two days and managed to try a bacon and cheese toastie from Tom’s Toasties, a cheese bratwurst with sauerkraut, a steak and chorizo tortilla wrap and a pink elderflower drink. I enjoyed them all, although I found the drink a little too sweet for my taste. But then, I’ve got whatever is the opposite of a sweet tooth – an unsweet tooth? We have had a number of food festivals in the region over the last few years. From my point of view, this was one of the best. There was an enormous range of foods available and, because it was outside, there was plenty of room to move around and sit down. Congratulations to the organisers.
Last week, the Western Morning News had a headline “West hospitals under fire for bed-blocking”. This is based on a report by the Public Accounts committee (a committee of MPs) which says that hospitals in Devon and Cornwall are among the worst in the country for transferring patient care to other organisations. South West hospitals together lost the equivalent of 53,000 bed days last year. Royal Devon & Exeter lost 20,127, Royal Cornwall lost 17,507, and Northern Devon lost 4,520. Of course, the Northern Devon NHS Healthcare Trust is much smaller than the other two mentioned, so we would expect their figure to be lower. And, before they start congratulating themselves, consider this. The mean length of stay in an NHS hospital was (according to the Nuffield Trust) 5 days in 2011/12. Since the mean has declined from 8 days 10 years previously, it might well be less now. However, assuming 5 days, that means around 900 people have been prevented from getting into hospital because of bed-blocking.
Not much fun if you are one of those 900!
My friend, Frank Pearson made a very good comment on my last blog: “I dislike Gove but am of the opinion too many parents undervalue education and damage their children's future prospects by devaluing its importance. Also not all parents are nicey nicey”. I completely agree. I know Frank is not all that keen on Peter Heaton-Jones, our MP, but Peter dealt with exactly this point in what I think was a very good speech, see http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/e487aaf6-6065-4c01-93f8-faffaa2fa33d?in=16:56:45&out=17:18:00. His solution was that both parents and teachers have to be involved and should have a lot more freedom to use their own discretion.
There have been two bits of local news recently which I don’t know whether to label “good” or “bad”.
The first is the news that Devon County Council (DCC) have short-listed two options for up-grading the North Devon Link Road: either to improve certain junctions (cost £35million) or up-grade those junctions and, in addition, provide more 3-lane overtaking opportunities. They have concluded that doing nothing is not an option. That is the good news.