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Thursday 5th August 2004

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Zero rated health trust
backs its leaders

by David Skentelbery
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THE board of Warrington Primary Care Trust – the health body downgraded to a “zero” rate in the NHS league table last month – has given a vote of confidence to its leadership.
Members voted unanimously to back chairman Robin Brown, chief executive Jonathan Smith and professional executive committee chairman Mike Dennis.
They also recorded their continuing appreciation of the “high quality care” provided by the frontline staff across Warrington.
Warrington PCT – which was awarded two stars last year – was downgraded to a zero star status – by the Healthcare Commission.
It was the only NHS organisation in Cheshire and Merseyside to fail to achieve any stars.
Zero rating represent the poorest level of performance and is the lowest a trust can achieve.
Despite the vote of confidence, the board did express deep concern about the star ratings.
Members noted, however, that performance in those key indicators where the PCT had significantly underachieved had improved since the period covered by the star ratings (April 2003 – March 2004). Members also stated their determination that performance must get better.
The PCT’s executive team is now working on a plan to ensure there is a firmer focus on this year’s (2004/05) eight key indicators to increase the rating.
Mr Smith said: “An approach is being drafted which will focus on the key targets without letting other areas of work suffer.”
The PCT has started meeting Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority (SHA) to form an action plan. The SHA will also scrutinise the PCT’s progress monthly.
PCT chairman Robin Brown said: “We take our responsibility to improve the health services for the people of Warrington very seriously. We welcome the support of the Strategic Health Authority, which will help us make real progress this year.”
He added: “Thanks are due to our staff and independent contractors for their hard work on our behalf and for the quality of that work. The loss of rating should in no way reflect on these efforts.”
The PCT achieved five of the nine key targets. Failing on four meant that the PCT was automatically zero-rated – regardless of performance in the other areas.
Of the total of 42 indicators, the PCT came out at the national average or above on 34 (more than 80 per cent).
The ratings look at continuous improvement. The reason the PCT lost both its stars is because it had not improved fast enough in a few areas, according to the trust.
The areas of underachievement were not related to clinical performance.
The PCT is responsible for GPs, dentists, pharmacists, health visitors, district nurses, etc.

Council names new
chief executive

by David Skentelbery
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DAVID Whitehead, the man who has steered Warrington Borough Council through some stormy waters since it lost its chief executive and deputy chief executive in rapid succession, is to be the authority?s new chief.
Mr Whitehead, (pictured) who became interim chief executive after former chief Steven Broomhead and his deputy, Bernice Law, left to join the North West Development Agency, was former Social Services Director.
A statement released by the council reveals that following an interview by the chief officers? employment committee and subject to ratification by full council on August 23, Mr Whitehead would take over as chief.
He has already been offered and has accepted the post of chief executive on a fixed term contract.
The terms of the fixed term contract will be agreed between the all-party chief officers? employment committee and Mr Whitehead, with a view to the appointment taking effect from August 24.
Speaking after the appointment Coun John Joyce, leader of the council said: “We are extremely pleased David has accepted the post of chief executive.
“Over the last few months, as interim chief executive, he has begun the process of both modernising and strengthening the council. We are delighted he will now be continuing that work and taking the council through to the next stage of its development”.
Mr Whitehead was at the helm at Warrington during the May council elections and during the controversial de-selection of former council leader Mike Hughes and other senior Labour councillors.

Lib Dems set up
“shadow” group

by John Hendon
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THE Liberal Democrat opposition group on Warrington Borough Council has set up teams to shadow the proposed management structure of the authority, rather than mirror the present executive board structure.
Leader Coun Ian Marks (pictured)said: “The proposed management structure is based on four ‘blocks’ – Environment, Children, Community and Corporate, with a separate Chief Executive’s Unit.
“We have combined Corporate and Chief Executive’s Unit together for the purpose of setting up our teams.”
The main responsibilities of each of the ‘blocks’ is shown below.
Environment: Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration, Transport, Highways, Street Lighting, Street Scene, Waste, Town Centre.
Children: Education, Youth service, Young Persons Social Services, Sure Start.
Community: Older Persons Social Services, Housing, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Leisure & Sport, Culture, Community Centres.
Corporate: Finance, Human Resources, IT, Estates, Licensing, Legal Services, Democratic Services.
Chief Executive’s Unit: Policy co-ordination, Performance Management co-ordination, Local Strategic Partnership, Communications, Overview & Scrutiny.
Leaders of the Liberal Democrat teams are as follows: Environment: Coun Brian Axcell; Children: Coun Celia Jordan; Community Coun Roy Smith; Corporate/Chief Exec’s Unit: Coun Peter Walker.

More than 100 children
enter Wolves skill day

by staff reporter

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MORE than 100 children entered the Warrington Wolves Den for the Powergen Skills Day.
TV cameras turned up to capture the event which was jammed with activities from testing children’s rugby skills to making fruit kebabs.
The local Brickfield Park saw the children play a game of tag rugby and test their skills on the Rugby League Skill Zone inflatable.
At lunchtime the youngsters were given the opportunity to put into practice some healthy eating by make their own fruit kebabs.
The Primrose and Blues Brothers gave an exciting insight into the running of the Halliwell Jones Stadium – and youngsters were given a tour of the stadium, including the hospitality lounges and the players’ changing room.
Mascot Wolfie was on hand and proved a big hit with the children.
Players signed authographs and answered questions.
A Wolves’ spokeswoman said: “We managed to light up some of the children’s faces and hopefully they will now stay fans for life.”

Improvement scheme
for town’s market

by Lesley Wilkinson
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MAJOR improvements to Warrington Market coincide with a series of special events during the summer.
One of the major events is a grand charity auction on August 28.
From August 8 Warrington Borough Council will carry out improvements to the outside of the market. Work to build a fixed canopy on the front of the market facing Time Square, is expected to take 10 weeks.
Stephen Pickering, market manager, said: “This is an exciting time for the market. The council has already carried out many improvements inside the building and now its time for the outside to get a facelift.”
Traders and the council are working on plans to improve the market for customers. During the building work, the market will be open as usual.

Safety work to
start on M62

by Lesley Wilkinson
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WORK to improve safety and reduce the chance of skidding will take place on the M62 westbound carriageway at Junction 11, Risley, near Warrington.
The resurfacing work will be carried out in the evenings and at weekends, to minimise disruption.
Junction 11 west bound exit will be closed at the weekends. Drivers will use the hard-shoulder for a 1.1Km stretch.
Diversions will be signposted. Drivers should continue along M62 westbound and exit at Junction 9, Winwick and rejoin M62 eastbound.
The work will be carried out from 9pm Friday August 6 until 6.30am on Sunday August 9, and from 9pm Friday August 13 until 6.30am Sunday August 15.
The resurfacing, being carried out by the Highways Agency, is expected to improve skid resistance and safety.

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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