The National Citizen Service in North East Hertfordshire

December 15, 2015

I have been a supporter of the National Citizen Service since it was first piloted in 2011. It is aimed at training the community leaders of the future, by teaching young people aged 16 and 17 the value of volunteering, personal resilience, life skills, social skills, and outdoor skills, and I am glad that it has achieved such cross-party support in Parliament.


A couple of particularly enjoyable NCS moments stand out for me. The first was a couple of years ago, when I visited Hormead School to see the work that a group of teenagers had been doing to create a garden area, as part of the programme. Fifteen young people gave up several weekends to clear an overgrown area in the school playground, moving quantities of earth, levelling the surface, pegging down weed-proof lining, and spreading enormous amounts of gravel. The garden was later planted with flowers and vegetables.


The second was last year, when I met one of my constituents, George Napier, who was selected to be one of the NCS’s Leaders for 2014/15, at an NCS Parliamentary reception. It was encouraging to see young people from North East Hertfordshire achieving so much in their local communities.


An impressive 817 young people took part in the NCS in North East Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas last year, and I am keen to see these numbers keep rising.


In reply to a Written Parliamentary Question that I sent to the Cabinet Office on the subject of the NCS, the Minister told me that the Chancellor had announced the Government’s ambition that 300,000 young people should “participate in NCS every year by 2019/20 so that they can learn new skills and give back to their communities”. This is excellent news, and I look forward to the NCS going from strength to strength in the years to come.

East and North Hertfordshire CCG becomes NHS ‘vanguard’ site

December 3, 2015

It is exciting to see that East and North Hertfordshire CCG has become one of the first NHS vanguard’ sites in the UK.

Earlier this year, the NHS invited individual organisations and partnerships to apply to become ‘vanguard’ sites to help develop new care models, representing one of the first steps towards delivering the Five Year Forward View and supporting improvement and integration of services.

The Hertfordshire Vanguard is made up of Hertfordshire County Council, East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Hertfordshire Care Providers Association, and aims to find new ways of improving the service offered to the area’s 3,000 care home residents.

The ‘vanguard’ status means that the group involved is able to draw on expert help and a share of a national £200m fund. The project aims to support frail elderly patients and those with multiple, complex, and long-term conditions in the community in a planned, proactive, and preventative way. The vanguard will also focus on enhancing the skills and confidence of care home staff through a package of education and training.

The programme will create dedicated multi-disciplinary teams for care homes which will include GPs, community psychiatric nurses, district nurses, and geriatricians. They will work with homes to support residents pro-actively, as well as if a resident’s condition deteriorates. They will develop a rapid response service so that care homes have access to services in two localities with a combination of community nurses, matrons, therapists, and home carers who can be deployed within 90 minutes if required.

This means that care home patients will be supported in the home by staff that are accredited, because they have undertaken a package of education and training. In addition, patients will know that should their condition deteriorate, a team of experts is ready to respond to their needs before making an assessment as to whether they need to go to hospital.

A number of improvements are already under way:

  • Care home staff and managers in eleven homes are undertaking intensive specialist training in a range of skills, from wound management to dementia care,
  • Two community pharmacists have been employed to give advice on medicines management to care home staff (care home patients take, on average, eight prescribed medicines a day, and medication errors frequently lead to hospital admissions),
  • A further ten care homes have signed up to take part in the next phase of the scheme.

This is an important project, and we all hope that it will make great strides in improving care home services, both in Hertfordshire and nationally. I wish all involved good luck in their task, and will be keeping a close eye on developments.