Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cameron’s Election Liability - Kent’s PR Health Watch snow job

As many of my readers will be aware from time to time, here at Bignews Margate we like to spotlight some of Kent Tories more er superfluous money wasting schemes, one such is KCC’s Health Watch which has hit all the buttons as far as Tory members and officers are concerned.

Most will agree its pointless, little known, incredibly expensive, overlaps professional run services, has no popular public backing and of course just like the recently debunked and now thankfully defunct Kent TV is rarely known of outside of KCC’s establishment.

By a snow job I mean of coarse, the way KCC press bods package info, here is a perfect example, I asked Kent council’s press wallahs first by phone and then emailed “I wonder if you could please either get me information or point me in the right direction as to how Kent council can a spend a budget of £300,000 pounds to process around 500 calls made to its Healthwatch help line. (excuse the typo I’m sure they knew what I meant).

Anyway a week rolled away and a few more reminders, then I got sent this bit of PR or maybe waffle, that didn’t answer the question how did they spend (or even waste the money) 300 grand on the Health Watch scheme.

KCC Cabinet Member for Public Health Alan Marsh said: "Kent Health Watch is our safety net and was set up to cost 1p per family per week and we have worked well within the allocated budget.
"I believe it is a small price to pay for the reassurance that any time of the day or night, every day of the year you can call and speak to a real person about any worries you have about health or social care.
"Kent Health Watch was set up after the c.difficile outbreak in Maidstone Hospital to stop tragic headlines like that appearing in our county again.
"Is there an equivalent to Kent Health Watch and are they open 24/7, 365 days of the year? There is no other scheme like it and that is why we've attracted national recognition. In its entirety, Kent Health Watch has been adopted by the shadow minister for health as the Conservative Party will roll out the scheme country-wide should they win the election.
"The battle to improve patient care for the people of Kent is what drives us and Kent Health Watch is a powerful weapon in our armoury. "

(Nice reference to Conservative party just what you like to see on publically funded press releases)

Kent Council spends millions of pounds on pointless PR, advertising and for little while longer “TV” lets hope David Cameron sorts out this ego massaging waste.


  1. Its not just waffle, its ignorant waffle. There is a scheme in Kent to look after the health and wealfare and it was set up before this expensive phone line.

    It called The KentLink. www.thekentline.co.uk

    Why would a phone line that is called about 10 times per week need to be open 24/7 365 days? Anybody with a medical emergency can call 999, contact NHS direct, phone their out of hours doctor or even visit A&E. I have news for cllr Marsh, those people with complaints about the NHS dont need to do this outside of normal daytime hours.

    Once again KCC is been secretive about this service. Maybe they can tell us what time of day/week these calls are made?, how many of the 500 call required no action?, What services the rest were directed to? Only when this info is released can the public judge whether $600 per call has been good value.

  2. Does this mean we are each paying £1 week for telephonists to be available 24 / 7 to answer on average 1 call a day? No wonder it is working well within the allocated budget! But £300,000 is not a small price to pay for a duplicate and little used service.

    Is there an equivalent to Kent Health Watch and are they open 24/7, 365 days of the year? Perhaps unlike Mr Marsh other Kent citizens know of and are using NHS Direct. The national scheme which has trained medical staff available 24/7 online and on the telephone. The scheme which had 850,000 people access its telephone and online services over the festive period (19 December to 3 January 2010 alone - that's 53,125 calls each day.