Plans are being floated by Gateshead Council to close all but five of its facilities as it attempts to slash £46m from its budget over the next two years.
The dramatic proposal forms part of a public consultation which will run until November 15 on the future of Gateshead’s £3.2m service.
Previous budget cuts have already seen the council handing over five libraries to volunteer run organisations.
Among the seven options presented to the public in its latest consultation is a plan to keep open only Gateshead Central Library, Blaydon, Birtley, Leam Lane and Whickham libraries with support from the Readers at Home Service and Mobile Library.
This would save the council £400,000 a year and scrap the equivalent of 13 full time jobs.
Another idea is for the council to run the same five libraries with the option of adding a number of ‘prioritised’ local libraries to its network.
Local libraries they could chose to save include those at Chopwell, Crawcrook, Dunston, Felling, Pelaw, Rowlands Gill and Wrekenton, which each cost the council £60,353 a year to run.
This plan would also be supported by the Mobile Library service, however another option suggests scrapping this facility entirely, as well as the Readers at Home and the Audio Visual service saving the council £178,000 a year with the loss of up to seven full-time equivalent posts.
Gateshead Council’s Service Director, Culture Communities and Volunteering, Lindsay Murray, said:
“The Council is undertaking a review of its library service to ensure that it is fit for the future and meets the changing needs of Gateshead residents and changes in technology.
“Gateshead Council has a funding gap of £46 million over the next two years – this review aims to help us design a service that can withstand future financial pressures.
“A series of options have been developed to help us best meet the needs of local communities and the changes in how residents are accessing the library service.
“We want to know what people think about the proposed options and we would like to encourage as many people as possible to give us their views.”
Option 3 presented by the council outlines the potential to expand its volunteer run library network, which currently includes those at Ryton, Winlaton, Sunderland Road, Low Fell and Lobley Hill libraries, which were established in July 2013.
To have your say on proposals visit Gateshead Central Library on Monday November 3 between 4pm – 6pm and Wednesday November 5 between 10am – 12 noon.
Sessions are also being held in all other council run libraries and the five volunteer run facilities up until November 10. For more details visit the ‘Consultations’ page on Gateshead Council’s website.
Source – Newcastle Evening Gazette, 28 Oct 2014
Fears have been raised that the region’s ambulance service is struggling following incidents where patients have been left for hours.
In recent weeks issues have arisen where elderly patients have been left waiting for paramedics from the North East Ambulance Service to arrive.
Frances Logan, 94, of Hetton-le-Hole, suffered a fall in her apartment and was left lying on the floor for three hours until an ambulance finally turned up.
In another incident this Monday, an elderly woman who fell at Beaconsfield Avenue, Low Fell, Gateshead, was left lying on the pavement for more than two-and-a-half hours until emergency services arrived.
Meanwhile, this Wednesday a Health and Care Professions Council hearing will look into the conduct of former North East paramedic, Mark P Lakinski, who is alleged to have failed to transport a patient directly to hospital as his shift was due to end and he handed the patient over to another paramedic so he could be relieved from duty. The patient later died at hospital.
Union officials and a leading North MP have now warned that crews are being spread too thinly as the face increasing pressures.
Joel Byers, Unison branch secretary for the North East Ambulance Service said: “Paramedics are working very hard, but there is a lack of resources and a lack of paramedics. It is down to cuts that ambulance services are facing. The cuts were not supposed to affect patient care or the frontline, but they have.
“Paramedics are under increasing pressure and some are leaving the profession to pursue different careers or are moving abroad. Pressures are such that staff can’t get finished on time and they can’t get their meal breaks.”
Newcastle East MP Nick Brown said he was concerned that the strain on the ambulance service was “now intolerable” and more investment was required to tackle the problems the service is facing.
He said: “We can’t go on like this. The ambulance service cannot be the only point of contact with healthcare. The strain on the service is now intolerable. Nor is it fair to put further pressure on hospital’s A&E departments. In many cases this amounts to the same thing.
“The North East Ambulance Service is regarded as one of the best in the country but it is being overwhelmed by increased demand. The answer is further investment in the service itself and in the work of General Practice. There is also a strong case for clamping down on hoax calls and misuse of the service.”
Health chiefs at the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said both the elderly women’s falls were correctly categorised by as Green 3, the lowest priority available.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 06 July 2014