Month: July 2019
Paralympians have spoken of their shock at learning that 50 of the poorest nations could have to withdraw from next month’s Paralympic Games in Rio because of financial problems facing Brazil’s organising committee.Thousands of athletes from countries that were relying on travel grants from the Rio 2016 organising committee may not now be able to take part in the games the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said this week.The grants should have been paid by the organising committee to individual countries more than two weeks ago, although it has now promised to do so by the end of the month, only days before the opening ceremony on 7 September.Sir Philip Craven (pictured), the British president of the IPC, and himself a retired Paralympian, said: “Failure to do so could result in a number of countries being unable to attend the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games event they have been planning and preparing for for a number of years.”Reports this week suggested that the financial crisis had been partly caused by the Rio Olympic organising committee dipping into funds set aside for the Paralympic games in order to deal with its own financial problems.An IPC official later told BBC World News that 10 countries were “really in jeopardy” of not being able to attend, but that the number forced to pull out could be as high as one in three of the 165 countries due to take part.One British Paralympian has told Disability News Service (DNS) that losing so many countries, if it happened, would be a huge backwards step for the Paralympic movement.Keryn Seal, a member of the British blind football team that competed at London 2012, said the reports of financial problems were “shocking” and suggested “tragic mismanagement”.He told Disability News Service (DNS) that suggestions that 50 of the poorest countries might not be able to attend Rio 2016 because of money taken out of the Paralympic pot by organisers of the Olympic Games were “very sad”, and he questioned what message that would send out about how the comparative importance of the two events was viewed.He said the potential loss of so many countries risked devaluing the event and damaging the reputation of the Paralympics.He said: “It would take it backwards massively. At the moment you get Paralympic finals where there are only four or five people in them.“What’s going to happen if you lose 50 countries? The credibility of it could take a big dip.”Another member of the blind football team, Robin Williams, said on Twitter that the “potential disaster” was an “utter disgrace if true”, and later added: “What’s also a disgrace is that you have to go to the disability section of the BBC sport website to read about it.”Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson, who won 11 Paralympic gold medals, told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight that the scale of countries potentially affected was “shocking” and could see nearly half of the competitors not being able to take part.She said: “No athlete wants to win a medal because there are several countries who haven’t been able to make it purely for financial reasons.”And she said that budget cuts to areas such as adapting accommodation and providing transport would set “a really negative tone for the games”.Jonnie Peacock, one of the stars of the British athletics team, who will compete in the T44 100 metres in Rio, also expressed concern.He told DNS: “I don’t know enough about the situation to be honest. If it is true then it’s very sad and I sincerely hope that something is done as it’s my dream to compete in Rio and it would hurt if that dream was taken away from me.“For me and my race, it won’t affect me because I know my main rivals will be there whatever happens, and that’s what I’ve got to focus on now.”Sir Philip said the situation was “pretty precarious”, but rumours that the games might not go ahead at all or that some sports could be cut from the programme were “totally unfounded” and “not true”.He said that the mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, had pledged to meet the full costs of the Paralympics by providing a further £36 million, but there was currently an injunction on any further public funding on Rio 2016 unless the organising committee released “full financial spending details”.Sir Philip said: “Clearly, the simplest and easiest way round this is for the Rio 2016 organising committee to be open and transparent with its financial records in order to allow this additional funding to come in.”If the funding crisis is not resolved, Sir Philip warned that there would have to be “further cuts” on top of those made by the IPC, the International Olympic Committee and the Rio Olympics.He said that this could “impact on the services offered to the athletes who have dedicated years of their lives to reach and compete at these games. This is the last thing that we want to do.”This could mean reducing the frequency of buses laid on for athletes to reach venues, or cutbacks to the food available in the athletes’ village.This morning (18 August), the IPC was tweeting that the injunction on spending any more money on Rio 2016 had been lifted by the Brazilian courts so “money can now be injected into the Rio 2016 @Paralympics” which it said was “a step in the right direction”.But in a further blow for the Rio games, the organisers have announced that they have so far sold only 12 per cent of available tickets for Paralympic events.Peacock told DNS earlier this week that television pictures of empty seats at the Olympics were “a disappointment”.Asked whether he had concerns about Paralympic ticket sales, he said: “It’s a lot of seats to sell out and London did immensely well.“We got into the spirit of the games over here and everybody wanted to buy a ticket.“For me, I still believe it’s going to be a good crowd there. I’m going out there to try and focus on my race and try and do what I can to win it.”Peacock said he believed that the Paralympics would still be “huge” in Britain, even if there were disappointing ticket sales in Rio, and he praised the work of Paralympic broadcaster Channel 4 and his sponsors BT in promoting the Paralympics.The British Paralympic Association had not commented on the funding crisis by 11am today (18 August).
Nearly 5,000 adult social care services – nearly one in five – have not had an inspection by the care regulator in the last two years, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) have revealed.The CareQuality Commission (CQC) figures have raised fresh doubts as to whether theregulator is fit for purpose, while Labour’s shadow social care minister hassaid they are “highly concerning”.The figures werereleased to Disability News Service days after the latest revelationsconcerning a care home run by the National Autistic Society, where autisticpeople were taunted, abused and ill-treated by staff.MendipHouse, in Somerset, had itself not been inspected by CQC for more than twoyears when whistleblowers came forward and exposed the abusive regime in 2016 (see separate story).The new FoIAfigures show that 4,859 adult social care services have not been inspected byCQC in more than two years, out of 25,590 services in total (19 per cent).Many of the25,590 are new services that are still awaiting a first CQC rating, so theproportion of services that have been open for at least two years and have notbeen inspected for at least two years will be even higher than 19 per cent.But thefigures also reveal other concerns about the commission and its work.They show strikingfalls in the number of inspections carried out by the watchdog over the lastcouple of years; a significant increase in the number of inspections cancelledor rescheduled; and a sizeable drop over the last three years in the number ofadult social care inspectors working for CQC.A CQCspokesperson said that some of this was due to a new method of regulation,adopted in 2014, which was based on “ratings and risk”.She claimed thecommission was now “even better at identifying risk, meaning that we canprioritise our activity to where the need is greatest”.The FoIAresponse showed the number of CQC’s “full-time equivalent” adult social careinspectors fell from 881 in December 2015 to 812 in December 2018.The numberof adult social care inspections that were cancelled or rescheduled rose from 6,498in 2017 to 8,296 in 2018.And thenumber of adult social care inspections carried out by CQC fell from 15,271 in2016 to 13,106 in 2017, and again to 11,618 in 2018.Statisticsprovided by the regulator to its latest public board meeting (PDF) in February raise further concerns.They showthat only three-fifths of planned inspections of adult social care servicesthat had been branded “inadequate” or “requiring improvement” were carried outon time.Barbara Keeley (pictured), Labour’s shadow minister for social care, said: “It is highly concerning that nearly one in five social care establishments have not been inspected for over two years.“We saw inthe recent Mendip House case how quickly a care home can deteriorate – often ina matter of months. “As governmentcuts to social care budgets force providers to cut corners, infrequentinspections are putting disabled and older people at risk.“We cannotallow providers to provide poor quality care due to a lack of oversight: thatis why Labour’s plans for ethical commissioning would require local authoritiesand the CQC to better monitor care providers.”CQC saidthat its decision to inspect services seen as good or outstanding only every 30months helped explain a “significant” number of re-scheduled inspections, and manyof the services that had not been inspected in more than two years.By February2017, it said, it had finished inspecting all adult social care servicesregistered with CQC in October 2014 and had then moved to the next phase of itsnew ratings- and risk-based model of regulation, with “increased focus on usinginformation and intelligence to form a better picture of what is happening inthe delivery of people’s care to assess and prioritise risk”.It also said it had introduced new roles to “complement the inspection workforce”,such as assistant inspectors.CQC has sofar failed to say if it believes the figures show it is a failing organisation;whether it needs an injection of funding; and whether it is putting the safetyof disabled and older people at risk and is therefore likely to be exposingthem to serious breaches of their human rights.It has alsofailed to say whether the Mendip House abuse scandal showed that its risk-basedsystem was putting the safety of disabled people at risk, and that it thereforeneeded to introduce annual, unannounced inspections of all adult social careservices.But it didsay: “CQC has a healthy budget, a strong and hardworking workforce and wecontinually review all of the resources at our disposal in order to be asefficient as possible in ensuring care providers are living up to their legalresponsibilities.”Debbie Westhead, CQC’s interim chief inspector for adult social care,said in a statement: “In2014 we completely overhauled the way we regulate adult social care, moving toa ratings and risk based model. “We are noweven better at identifying risk, meaning that we can prioritise our activity towhere the need is greatest. “We knowfrom our latest State of Care report that most people are getting good care;over four-fifths of adult social care services are rated as good oroutstanding, a testimony to the hard work of thousands of frontline staff. “In 2018 wemoved the frequency of inspections for good and outstanding services to 30months. “However, ifduring this time we get any information of concern we will prioritise ouractivity to ensure that we are protecting people from risk. “We are now taking more enforcement actionthan ever before because we are using the information and analysis at ourdisposal more effectively in order to target our inspection activities to thoseservices where there is the greatest risk to the quality and safety of people’scare. “Since April 2017 to January 2019 we’ve taken around 2,000 enforcement actions against all adult social care providers and we will continue to take action wherever necessary to make sure that all people are getting the good, quality care they need.”A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
MATTY Ashurst has been recalled to the 19-man squad for this Friday’s Engage Super League clash with Wigan Warriors.The second-rower was rested last weekend alongside teammate Shaun Magennis (pictured).The squad is:1. Paul Wellens, 3. Michael Shenton, 4. Sia Soliola, 5. Francis Meli, 7. Kyle Eastmond, 8. Josh Perry, 9. James Roby, 10. James Graham, 11. Tony Puletua, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Chris Flannery, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 18. Matty Ashurst, 19. Andrew Dixon, 20. Jonny Lomax, 21. Shaun Magennis, 22. Jamie Foster, 25. Lee Gaskell, 28. Thomas Makinson.Michael Maguire, Wigan’s Head Coach, will choose from:1. Sam Tomkins, 2. Darrell Goulding, 4. George Carmont, 5. Pat Richards, 6. Paul Deacon, 7. Thomas Leuluai, 9. Michael McIlorum, 10. Andy Coley, 11. Harrison Hansen, 12. Joel Tomkins, 13. Sean O’Loughlin, 14. Paul Prescott, 15. Jeff Lima, 16. Ryan Hoffman, 17. Brett Finch, 21. Lee Mossop, 22. Liam Farrell, 23. Chris Tuson, 25. Josh Charnley.The match kicks off at 8pm and the referee is Thierry Alibert.If you can’t make the match, it will be covered extensively in the Match Centre as well as on Saints’ Official Twitter and Facebook sites.Tickets for the match are still on sale at the Saints Superstore in St Helens Town Centre, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on to www.saintssuperstore.comStats:Last ten meetings:Wigan 28 St Helens 24 (SLR11, 22/4/11)St Helens 16 Wigan 16 (SLR1, 12/2/11)(at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff)St Helens 10 Wigan 22 (SLGF, 2/10/10)(at Old Trafford, Manchester)Wigan 24 St Helens 26 (SLR18, 20/6/10)St Helens 10 Wigan 18 (SLR9, 2/4/10)St Helens 14 Wigan 10 (SLQSF, 3/10/09)St Helens 10 Wigan 6 (SLR23, 31/7/09)St Helens 18 Wigan 38 (SLR13, 2/5/09)(at Murrayfield, Edinburgh)Wigan 12 St Helens 19 (SLR9, 9/4/09)St Helens 16 Wigan 16 (SLR27, 5/9/08)Super League Summary:St Helens won 24 (includes win in 2000 Grand Final & wins in 2000, 2002 and 2009 play-offs)Wigan won 26 (includes win in 2010 Grand Final & wins in 2001, 2003 and 2004 play-offs)4 drawsSt Helens highest score: 57-16 (MM, 2008) (also widest margin)Wigan highest score: 65-12 (A, 1997) (also widest margin)Streaks:ST HELENS have the longest undefeated streak in Engage Super League, with a draw and three wins. Their last defeat was 40-18 away to Huddersfield Giants on 14 May.