Welcome to my blog!

I am one of the three Tamworth Borough Councillors for the Mercian Ward, first elected in May 2011.  Do you have an issue I or any of my colleagues on Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council can help with?

Contact me by phone, e-mail or post

mobile: 07958 155 863
e-mail: Andrew-James@tamworth.gov.uk
post: c/o T.C.A., 23 Albert Road, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B79 7JS

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Dementia Risk Now Included as Part of NHS Health Check

Adding the dementia element to the NHS Health Check programme will enable healthcare professionals to talk to their patients about how they can reduce their dementia risk, such as by maintaining their social life, keeping mentally and physically active and stopping smoking.

It is estimated that over 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK with little public understanding of how it’s possible to reduce the risk.  While much of the NHS Health Check focuses on reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, the advice for preventing CVD is much the same as for dementia: ‘what’s good for the heart is good for the brain’.

Data published today shows the last 5-year performance of the NHS Health Check:

  • over 14 million people (91% of the 5-year eligible population) have been offered an NHS Health Check
  • almost 7 million (48.7% of those offered) have had a health check

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, said, “The NHS Health Check is one of the largest public health prevention programmes in the world with almost 7 million in the last 5 years having benefited from a check, and it’s reaching the people where it’s most needed with the greatest numbers in the most disadvantaged areas.  This success is down to local councils delivering and they should be proud of this achievement.

“It’s free and fast, and effective – just 15 minutes that could add years to your life.”

Minister for Public Health Steve Brine said, “Early detection and prevention are vital to the health of our nation and our programmes in this area are among the most ambitious in the world.

“Our aim is to keep everyone as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, which is why we are introducing advice on dementia prevention as part of our free health checks.”

As much as 85% of CVD is preventable.  The NHS Health Check helps to identify and support people who would benefit from clinical and lifestyle treatment and services for the top 7 risk factors driving the burden of non-communicable disease, such as all cancers, diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases.

Being a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet, not smoking, drinking in moderation, keeping active and ensuring you know your numbers (blood pressure and cholesterol) can all help reduce the risks of CVD, dementia and many other long-term conditions.

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Walking to Work Could Cut Risk of Dying from Heart Disease

Leaving the car at home and walking to work could cut the risk of dying from heart disease and stroke by almost a third, according to new research from Cambridge University.

A study by academics from Cambridge University found workers who walk, cycle or use public transport to get to work have an 11% lower risk of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke than commuters who only use the car.

The results of the study, which used data from more than 350,000 adults aged 37 to 73, also show walking, cycling or using public transport leads to a 30% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

Researchers found the association was “even stronger” when they examined both commuting and everyday travel.

Nearly half the people studied for the research were either retired, unemployed or worked from home.

According to the study, even among these people, active travel patterns could lead to an 8% lower relative risk of death.

Writing for Cambridge University website The Conversation, the MRC Epidemiology Unit’s Oliver Mytton and Jenna Panter said, “More active patterns of travel, compared with exclusive car use, were associated with reduced risk of heart disease and death.

“Our research builds on what is already known about the health benefits of physical activity. Some people may choose to use cars less when they understand the impacts on health.

“But may people may not have a choice. Others may just do what is convenient, comfortable and normal.

“While decisions about transport infrastructure may be made for a variety of non-health reasons, our study provides further evidence that health needs to be integrated into decisions that are made about transport.”

The study – ‘Using alternatives to the car and risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality’ – was published in the British Cardiovascular Society’s Heart journal.

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Tesco Fined £1.6m After Pedestrian Crushed Against Loading Bay

Supermarket chain Tesco has been fined £1.6m following a prosecution brought by Ealing Council.

The supermarket chain pleaded guilty to two health and safety offences, dating from August 2014 when a Tesco driver reversed into a member of the public at the Tesco Metro store on Greenford Road loading bay.

The victim suffered multiple serious and life-changing injuries after becoming wedged between the vehicle and loading bay.

After an investigation, the council found Tesco had failed to assess the risk of vehicles and pedestrians using the premises’ car park and failed to stop the driver performing an unassisted reverse.

Performing an unassisted reverse is against Tesco’s internal procedures, but the company has now made changes to Greenford Road car park which will ensure better public safety.

A judge at Isleworth Crown Court ordered Tesco to pay fines of £800,000 for both offences.  Tesco also agreed to pay the council’s costs of £50,000.

Cllr Julian Bell, Leader of the Council, said, “This is a great result for the council.  I am very pleased that the court has recognised the seriousness of these offences and imposed a fine reflecting this.

“We will always the prioritise the safety of local people and this investigation has secured changes to the layout of the car park in question which will hopefully reduce the chances of another tragic incident such as this occurring.”

Since the investigation, Tesco says it has made improvements to the car park layout, which includes installing barriers to prevent access to the area by private vehicles and pedestrians when delivery vehicles are manoeuvring.

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Survey Says Mental Health Conditions and Stress on the Up

Reported levels of “presenteeism” – or turning up for work while unwell or injured – have more than tripled since 2010, according to a survey of more than 1000 employers carried out by the CIPD and health insurance group Simplyhealth.

The results of the Health and Wellbeing at Work survey, formerly known as the Absence Management survey, show that 88% of organisations had seen evidence of presenteeism in the past 12 months.  This compares to 72% in 2016 and just 26% in 2010.

But action on the issue is in decline.  Just a quarter of respondents that have experienced presenteeism (25%) say their organisation has taken steps to discourage it over the last year, a figure that has almost halved since 2016 (48%).

The survey also identified the growing problem of “leaveism,” reported by 69% of respondents in their organisation over the last year: either because employees worked outside contracted hours to get work done, or because they used allocated time off to work.

This year, more respondents (55%) have reported an increase in common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, among employees in the last 12 months, compared with 2016 (41%).

Over a fifth of employers now report that mental ill-health is the primary cause of long-term absence, at 22% of the sample compared to 13% in 2016.

However, only half of respondents agreed that their organisation encourages openness about mental health, and is effective at supporting people with mental ill-health.

Stress appears to be more endemic in the public sector, where it ranks top among organisations’ principle causes of long-term absence, identified by 71% compared with 45% of private sector businesses and 33% of manufacturing and production firms.

Workload/volume of work remains the most common cause of stress in the public sector (66% include it as a top three cause), followed by management style (40%), organisational change/ restructuring (34%), non-work relationships/family (26%) and work relationships (24%).

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DHL Fined £2m Over Worker’s Death

Logistics company DHL has been fined £2 million over the death of a worker at one of its depots.

Krzysztof Sontowski, 36, died after he was crushed by a reversing lorry at the site in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, in February 2015.

Aylesbury Crown Court heard Mr Sontowski became trapped between the lorry and the loading bay.

DHL Supply Chain admitted two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act last year.

Judge Francis Sheridan described Mr Sontowski’s death as a “dreadful and avoidable accident.”

The court had heard Mr Sontowski, who was originally from Poland but lived in Milton Keynes, helped unload large goods lorries at the depot.

On the day he died, he was at the rear of a vehicle and appeared to be trying to get the driver’s attention in the wing mirror.  The court was told he looked round and his head and torso became trapped between the lorry and the loading bay.

Judge Sheridan said Mr Sontowski’s death was as a result of a wheel-locking mechanism failing on equipment used to load and unload goods from lorries.

He referred to a similar failing in 2012 that was reported to managers but they “failed to take the responsibility to deal with it.”  The judge said at that point “alarm bells really, really should have been raised.”

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Happy St George’s Day

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Currency Stolen from Tamworth Business

Over £3,000 in British and foreign currency has been stolen from a scaffolding business in Tamworth.

The commercial burglary happened at Haki Scaffolding in Magnus at around 5.45pm on Friday 16 February.  Two men gained access to the premises and stole the money from a cash tin.  The amount included Polish Zloty, Czech Koruna and Hungarian Forint, along with other European currencies and British pounds.

The two men left the building around twenty minutes later, and were seen wearing dark clothing, hats and facemasks.

Any witnesses or anyone with any information is asked to contact Staffordshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 762 of 16 February.

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