Hinterland - Friday, 26 January, 2018

This week in Hinterland: golf courses swept away by storms, NHS recruitment statistics, neither good nor bad economic forecasts for Brexit, a new air service into the Lakes, prescription drugs dependencies – and a walk on part for Thomas Hardy (or his legacy at least).

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The first flights to the Lake District for 25 years are starting in June
Here is a very exciting story about a key new plank in the economic development of the Lake District. It makes me think of the impact Newquay airport has on Cornwall. In addition to making the Lakes more accessible it will give those living and working there greater access to external markets. I think it will also be good news for our friends in South West Scotland. This story tells us:

Hikers, cyclists and lovers of the great outdoors will be able to fly direct to the Lake District this summer when scheduled passenger flights to the national park resume after a 25-year hiatus.

Services to Carlisle Lake District Airport have been on the cards for several years but today it announced that commercial and business flights will restart on June 4.

Full details of airlines and routes are yet to be revealed but the airport, owned by the Stobart Group since 2009, has identified London, Belfast and Dublin as key connections. It is believed flights will be operated in the first instance by Stobart Air, which runs scheduled services under the brands Aer Lingus Regional and Flybe.

The nearest operational airport to the Unesco World Heritage site is currently Manchester, around a 90-minute drive to the south.

“Carlisle Lake District Airport will have a huge impact on Cumbria’s visiting economy and is also a key strategic business asset for the county,” said Graham Haywood, executive director of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, which has invested £4.95m in the development of the airport.

‘Growing problem’ of addiction to prescription drugs probed

The heavy use of prescription drugs featured in this article is very prevalent in some rural flavoured professions. Our recent profiling of the lives of fishermen has indicated it is a major issue. More widely this article tells us:

Public Health England is launching a review into the “growing problem” of prescription drug addiction.

NHS data suggest one in every 11 patients in England is being prescribed medication that could be addictive, or difficult to come off.

This includes sedatives, painkillers and antidepressants.

PHE wants to avoid a situation like the one in the US, where there’s been a massive increase in addiction to opioids.

The review, which will take a year, will cover:

  • sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs known as benzodiazepines and z-drugs (zolpidem and zopiclone)
  • painkillers called opioids, pregabalin and gabapentin (the latter two are also used to treat epilepsy)
  • antidepressants

While antidepressants are not addictive, some patients experience difficulties when they try to stop taking them.

Prescribing of “addictive medicines” – sedatives and painkillers – has increased 3% over five years, GP data for England suggests.

Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “We know this is a huge problem in other countries like the United States – and we must absolutely make sure it doesn’t become one here.

“While we are world-leading in offering free treatment for addiction, we cannot be complacent.”

Director of drugs, alcohol and tobacco at PHE, Rosanna O’Connor, said: “It is of real concern that so many people find themselves dependent on or suffering withdrawal symptoms from prescribed medicines. Many will have sought help for a health problem only to find later on they have a further obstacle to overcome.”

Parts of NHS England only able to fill one in 400 nursing vacancies

Recruitment and Retention is a huge issue in rural areas in terms of the NHS and this story helps illustrate how big. It tells us:

The number of nursing vacancies has jumped by 2,626 (8.3%) over the past year from 31,634 to 34,260, according to NHS Digital’s analysis of posts advertised on NHS Jobs, the health service’s main recruitment website. However NHS Digital stressed that trusts can also employ nurses using other means.

The figures confirm other recent evidence that the health service is now seeing more nurses leave than join for the first time in its history. Last week the NHS’s statistical arm disclosed that one in 10 of all nurses now quits each year. Statistics it released then showed that during 2016-17, just under 33,500 nurses left the service – 3,000 more than joined and 20% higher than the number who quit in 2012-13.

Hospitals in Surrey – where health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt is an MP – and Kent and Sussex are also failing to recruit enough nurses and midwives.

Between April and June, NHS bodies managed to recruit just 303 of the 3,225 nurses and midwives they needed – a success rate of 9.4%. The West Midlands had the highest success rate (42.4%) with such staff, closely followed by the north-east (39.4%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (27.4%).

The overall number of vacancies for all types of staff – including doctors, scientific, therapists, administrative and clerical personnel – which hospitals across England advertised to fill in July to September hit 87,964.

That was also the highest number since NHS Digital began collecting vacancy data in April 2105 and publishing it quarterly. The figures show that NHS bodies were also short of 10,498 doctors and dentists in that quarter.

UK economy is ‘weak and stable’ with 50% chance of another recession in five years, says Office for Budget Responsibility

Notwithstanding the dire warnings about the impact of Brexit perhaps there is some cause for mild optimism in this judgement. This story tells us

The UK economy has slowed down in 2017 as higher inflation has hit disposable incomes and many firms have cut back on investment due to Brexit-related uncertainty.

By contrast, growth in the rest of the advanced world has picked up strongly.

In November the OBR dramatically slashed its UK productivity growth forecast over the next five years, prompting deep cuts in forecast for tax revenues too.

Productivity actually bounced back in the most recent figures, expanding by 0.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2017.

But Mr Chote (of the OBR) urged caution about calling an end to the UK’s post-financial crisis productivity malaise.

Planning row over country manor house that inspired Thomas Hardy as council wants 120 houses built next door
Local authorities have a real impact on our cultural history. Last week we ran a story about concerns over the future of the John Clare archive in Northamptonshire, this week Thomas Hardy hoves into view….

Country manor house that inspired Thomas Hardy is at the centre of a planning row as the local council recommended 120 houses be built next door.

The development near Dorchester in Dorset would “ruin the environs” of Elizabethan Grade I listed Wolfeton House which the great novelist frequently visited, according to the Hardy Society.

It was owned for 400 years by the Trenchard family whose name provided the inspiration the main character in Hardy’s classic 1886 novel The Mayor of Casterbridge.

The writer also used the house in the short story The Lady Penelope, in which he described it as “an ivied manor-house, flanked by battlemented towers”.

Despite the of opposition against the housing estate planners at West Dorset District Council have recommended it be built. A committee meeting to decide the matter will be held in three weeks time.

Wolfeton House is currently owned by Captain Nigel Thimbleby, a retired army officer and relative of the Trenchards, and his wife Katharine.

Capt Thimbleby, 82, said: “The parish council had voted unanimously against this development and we all thought it was unlikely to proceed. It was only recently that we realised we were being taken for a ride.

“We have got three weeks to sharpen our pencils and do battle and oppose these plans with vigour.

England’s oldest golf course ‘abandoned to the ocean’ after Storm Eleanor prompts cliff collapse
Bad news for golfers!

It is the harsh and unpredictable seaside conditions that has traditionally made links golf such an enticing endeavour.

But for England’s oldest course, at least, they are proving too much of a challenge.

The Royal North Devon Golf Club has accused the Government of “abandoning us to the ocean” after Storm Eleanor prompted the collapse of part of its eighth tee and high tides expected next week threaten the demise of the seventh.

Designed by the famous Victorian golfer “Old” Tom Morris, the course at the mouth of the Taw-Torridge Estuary is renown as the “St Andrew’s of the South” and one of the UK’s toughest.

The historic lay-out now faces permanent disfigurement, however, due to the brutal coastal erosion.

More than 50 yards of the championship course has been lost as a result of the “preventable” collapse, with boulders strewn across one of the fairways.


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