Ginormous (I know that’s not a real word) news round up

Lots and lots of news and linky-poos for everyone today. Hat-tip to the indefatigable Paul Johnson for a lot of it, to our NSUN colleagues (the region-wide user and carer network, next meeting 9th Feb, 2pm at Shakespeare Hall, central Durham,NEt serves as the regional NSUN sounding board) and Fran Singer (joint NSUN/NMHDU worker). Please send any or all of this news-fest on, but hey,do us a favour and acknowledge your sources…
Hokey-cokey,left leg in, left leg out, let’s get our gnashers into the smorgasbord of info:

  • First up, out today is the Govt’s new,shiny Mental Health strategy. Worryingly presaged by coalition figures, including Nick Clegg bandying about the term “cure”, which is both inappropriate and about half a century out of date, all of the documentation can be accessed here. I’ve attached the chief document, which from a quick skim demonstrates that the Govt just doesn’t ‘get’ mental health service user and carer involvement at all. The preamble makes mention of the strategy having had some input from users and carers, but I’m crying foul on that: nobody I know who operates at a national level has had any input, nor do they know of just who was (allegedly involved). Looks like your local HealthWatch is the only route. Not knocking them, as they don’t exist just yet, but they’ll be very different creatures to LINks, will have precarious finances, will sit uneasily half-in,half-out of CQC. Oh, and they have to cover all of health and all of social care too, so it’s back to MH possibly being on the shoogly stool at the bottom of the table..More detailed and less gobby analysis will follow, once someone has found the substance in the documentation, which reads like wing and a prayer wishful thinking and a trust in the magic pixies of the Big Society.
  • Next up, something more tangible. As distributed before, there’s the MHRN (Mental Health Research Network) service user and carer forum/event.


Friday 04th March

10.00 – 3.30pm

The Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne

(Registration is free and travel costs for Service Users and Carers within the MHRN North East hub area can be reimbursed)

Places are filling fast so don’t miss your opportunity to attend.

Please email to register

  • Third on the menu is a mental health carers workshop, April first,to be held in Durham flyer attached.Thanks,Sheena!


  • Fourth comes a letter from David Behan about early implementers of health and wellbeing boards. Bit policy-wonkish, and David Behan lacks the literary elan of Brendan Behan. There again, he’s almost certainly going to live longer than the Borstal Boy author.


  • Numero cinque is the bulletin from our lovely pals at MHNE . Give it a gander,eh?


  • Sixthly, and meaning that I’ve moved on to my other hand for counting purposes, is some information about the Government’s ideas and legislation relating to localism.can’t help but think that with budgetary cuts being rather unevenly spread, thic will all play better in leafy Surrey and the North East. Ho,hum.

The Localism Bill was presented to Parliament in December and is now being scrutinised and debated by House of Commons committees. The Bill will provide the legislative foundation for the government decentralisation agenda – a shift of power from the state to communities. There are links to relevant information at the bottom of the page, but here’s a snapshot………

Local Government

§ A General Power of Competence to give local authorities freedom to do anything as long as it doesn’t break other laws. Public bodies currently work within the confines of what legislation says they can do. This change is intended to give councils more freedom to work with others, innovate and drive down costs.

§ Repeal of the Duty to Promote Local Democracy and the Petitions Duty (requires councils to have a mechanism in place for local people to submit petitions). These duties are seen as a burden on local councils and removal could save costs with little impact on frontline services.


§ The Community Right to Challenge will give voluntary and community groups the right to express an interest in taking over the running of a local service if they think they can innovate or improve the service.

§ The Community Right to Bid will require local authorities to keep a list of assets of community value. Communities will also be able to nominate assets they think are important. When assets on the list come up for disposal (freehold or long leasehold) a moratorium will come into effect to give community groups time to develop a bid and raise the money to buy the asset.

The planning system

§ Neighbourhood planning. The Bill will introduce a new right for communities to draw up a ‘neighbourhood development plan’. Communities will be able to grant full or outline planning permission for developments that they want. Local authorities will be required to support neighbourhood planning through giving advice and technical support. In a recent speech Greg Clarke (Minister for Decentralisation) stated that government will be providing support to local authorities to make neighbourhood planning a success. In addition voluntary and community sector groups will be able to make bids on a fund to support communities in the planning process.

§ The Community Right to Build will allow groups of local people to take forward new development in their area with a minimum of red tape. Proposals would need the agreement of local people through a community referendum. Benefits from the development would be retained for the community and managed by a corporate body formed by community members.

§ There will be a requirement to consult communities before submitting very large planning applications. This is intended to give people a chance to comment and genuine scope to make changes to proposals.


§ Social housing tenure reform will allow social landlords to grant fixed length tenancies from a minimum of two years. Those who currently have lifetime tenancies will be able to keep them and councils will still be able to offer lifetime tenancies if they wish.

§ Reform of homelessness legislation will let local authorities meet their homelessness duty by providing private rented homes. People owed the homelessness duty would no longer be able to refuse suitable offers in the private sector and be temporarily housed until social housing becomes available. This is intended to stop people who may only have an acute short-term housing need acquiring a social home for life.

You can find the Plain English Guide to the Localism Bill along with the impact assessments on the different reforms here (scroll to bottom of page for the document list and links).

To look at the Localism Bill’s progress through parliament and explanation about the process click  here


  • Seventh heaven comes in form of a hugely entertaining commentary on the Government’s plans for the NHS. Boy oh boy is it good,being both a (bit) sweary, and has a good grasp of the issues, plus it contains some very handy links to hard evidence from the likes of the Picker Institute,the King’s Fund etc. By the way if you like that, you may also like this site.


  • Eighth course of this feast (and no, we’re not going down the wafer-thin mint route here) comes in the delightful shape of jobs. No your eyes do not deceive you, and we’re talking more than one…there are attached the description and details should you wish to apply to become the new CEO of Streetwise and also the information for four (count ’em, four) different positions at Tyneside Women’s Health (open only to women obviously,like). Note the deadline for TWH, so get cracking with your applications.

Enough of the demotic and dubious from this quarter, and we move to the coffee stage, so I’m offski  for my caffeine fix (research picture attached too).

2011 MH strategy.pdf
Flyer V0.8.pdf
April 1 carers workshop.doc
invite letter for early implementer for health and wellbeing boards.pdf
MHNE Bulletin January 28th 2011.doc

TWH Jobs Advert February 2011.doc

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