More on fragmented public service delivery in and around Cambridge

Surely we can do better than this collectively?

By now many of you will be bored of the diagram above. But it’s still there. And as you know it doesn’t include our underfunded health services. I wrote about the weak institutional links between the local NHS and local councils earlier here. Furthermore I wrote about underfunded local public services here. I explored how local councils could work more closely with local doctors’/GP surgeries here.

But none of it will go anywhere without more people getting involved – and that won’t happen if we continue with the structures, systems, and processes that we’ve been using ever since I started chasing local councils just over a decade ago.

One of our local councillors in north Cambridge posted online how she was frustrated that more people were not getting involved in the recent North Area Committee (28 Feb 2022) even though it was online.

“Fewer formal agenda items, more group conversations between residents and councillors.”

Cambridge Town Owl 06 March 2021

…was what I wrote nearly a year ago in this blogpost about overhauling area committees.

“Are the accountable people being invited to, and turning up to the public meetings?”

When it comes to primary healthcare, they may turn up to their own meetings that no one knows about, but they don’t get invited to these local council area committee meetings that also no one knows about.

“At the end of the meeting, if time permits, the Chair may invite members of the public to ask a question or briefly address the board.”

Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust – Board pages.

My first reaction to the above was:

“OMG! That rule is like soooooooooooooo last millenniuuuuuuummmmmmm!”

In the grand scheme of things, the CCS NHS Trust needs to overhaul its website anyway. The Patient Liaison Advice Service (PALS – which they mention here on ‘Have Your Say’) was replaced by Local Involvement Networks (LINks) in the mid/late 2000s which were themselves replaced by county-level Healthwatches. The one for Cambridgeshire is Healthwatch Cambridgeshire – and you can get involved here.

So…you can go to meetings of the CCS NHS Trust. Or you can go to the CP NHS FT. Or both!

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust – of which you can become a member here (don’t tempt me!) is responsible for funding primary care across the county. They also have their own charity, which I found out about… ….around 30 seconds ago.

“Head to Toe is the Charity for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT). Our aim is to provide help and support that goes above and beyond what the increasingly limited NHS budgets can provide, bridging the gap between healthcare and our local community.”

CPFT NHS Charity “Head to Toe”

Above – Head to Toe – who are on Twitter at

And that’s on top of the much more familiar Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust, and the Royal Papworth Charity

…noting the founding principles of the NHS involve ministers and MPs ensuring the NHS is properly funded. Something they have utterly failed in over the past decade.

Above – from the Socialist Health Association whose predecessors were influential in winning the argument in the inter-war era of the 20th Century (see this account here) for free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare funded by the taxpayer and provided for by the state.

On the staff shortages…

I came up with a series of actions that outside organisations need to undertake in the short, medium, and long term to support large hospitals like Addenbrooke’s and Papworth in this blogpost.

Furthermore, we have a lifelong learning issue in Cambridgeshire.

“Greater Cambridge does not have the institutional structures on adult and lifelong education to deliver what our society needs”

Cambridge Town Owl 13 Feb 2022

I’m not convinced that all of the pieces are lined up to require developers to contribute towards a new lifelong learning centre that can help train up the much-needed staff – further inhibited by the need to secure ministerial approval for such new institutions, along with minimal course funding from ministers to the Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.

“We know our political system is broken not just in Westminster but locally. Local election debates must address this so national parties can include solutions in future manifestos”

Cambridge Town Owl 13 Jan 2022

The local elections are in early May if anyone is interested in standing.

Use supermarket and convenience store notice boards!

Here’s one at Tesco in Fulbourn, South Cambridgeshire. (It’s just on the eastern side of the boundary with Cherry Hinton, Cambridge

It surely cannot be beyond the organisation of local council and healthcare communications teams to print out and have routinely delivered notices sent to the food shops across the county to ensure that at least the most local of meetings are advertised. And not just “There’s a local meeting with your councillors here” sort of notice, but perhaps one that highlights some of the subject areas being discussed:

  • like policing
  • like the state of parks and playgrounds
  • like bids for council funding by community groups.

…or even inviting a guest speaker who has a proposal that they want to put to the community – such as a new weekly community activity/gathering to raising money for some new facilities.

Food for thought?

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

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