Through the Key Hole

After completing the entire oral question paper this week, the Keys written questions lack the usual punch of answers delivered as a return serve ahead of a rally of back and forths, but it is by no means a quiet list.

Covid in Schools

Since January 1, there have been 321 school age cases of Covid on the island. Chief Minister Howard Quayle was asked by Onchan MHK Julie Edge for the figure and also how many cases have been recorded per school.

Mr Quayle said ‘it has not always been recorded which school they attend as often they haven’t been to school in the period of interest investigated by the contact tracing team’. As such the most common answer is unknown. 

Of the schools which were known, Bemahague (SNHS Lower School) scores the highest with 52 followed by Ballakermeen with 22, QEII with 15 and St Ninian’s upper school, Castle Rushen and King Bill’s with eight each.  Ramsar Grammar School had five confirmed cases. In the primary schools only Onchan (six) and Willaston (five) had more than four cases. 

Treasury Workers

There are 176 Treasury officers working from home, with the number going into the office being 164. Treasury Minister Alf Cannan was asked for the figures by Douglas South MHK Claire Christian who also asked what measures have been considered to enable all staff to work from home should this be required?

Mr Cannan said: ‘Officers who can undertake their full duties at home are doing so, however, there are some functions and processes that cannot be undertaken at home, in order for Treasury to continue to provide its core services. To ensure these services continue, some areas are operating a rota system, enabling part of the team to come into the office when required and to work at home the remainder of the time. Other areas have adopted a shift pattern method of working to ensure that the number of staff in the office at any one time is at a sufficiently low level to ensure a safe working environment and adherence to current social distancing requirements.

‘Given that the requirement to undertake work within the office can fluctuate at any given point, the figures stated are indicative of the position during the current lockdown. Although it is not possible for all staff to work continually at home, where home working is possible, the facilities and access required to do so have been made available.’

Prom Waste

Waste materials (asphalt and concrete from road construction, paving units, concrete kerbs and concrete pipes) from the prom scheme are being recycled at Stoney Mountain Quarry.

Douglas East MHK Clare Barber requested the figures from DoI Minister Tim Baker. 

He said that the total amount of material taken to Stoney Mountain for recycling is 96,524 tonnes. About 56,000 tonnes of this has been reprocessed so far. Since the scheme began, 38,000 tonnes has gone back into the prom for use as sub-base material with the remaining 18,000 tonnes being used on other projects such as the paths in Stoney Mountain Plantation and on the Heritage Trails. A further 7,100 tonnes of the excavated material has subsequently been removed from Stoney Mountain Quarry to Turkeylands Quarry as there has been more material excavated from the prom than originally envisaged.’

Steam Packet Vaccinations

A total of 115 people who work for IOM to UK transport providers, including the IOM Steam Packet, along with 269 patients have been vaccinated ahead of going to the UK for medical treatment.

Onchan MHK Julie Edge asked DHSC Minister David Ashford how many people have received their vaccination and vaccination registration letter, before their JCVI priority group, broken down by (i) JCVI group ii) age and iii) GP practice.

Mr Ashford said: ‘It is not possible to provide the data in the format requested by the Honourable Member as the department has no access to GP systems or GP patient records.’

However his department was able to break down those figures as they were exceptions made to the regular process.

Crisis Team

‘The data capture mechanisms applied to the existing electronic patient care record currently lack the sophistication to explicitly demonstrate the volume of patients whose initial referral to the Crisis Response Home Treatment Team (CRHTT) resulted in the provision of home based treatment.’

That is the unfortunate response from DHSC Minister David Ashford following a question by Douglas South MHK Clare Christian. Mrs Christian has sought info on how many patients who called the crisis team received a) home treatment and b) hospital admission in (i) 2018, (ii) 2019, and (iii) 2020?

Mr Ashford said: ‘The fundamental role of the CRHTT is to offer urgent assessment to individuals presenting in mental health crisis and ensure timely access to the appropriate care pathway, where appropriate this may include home based treatment as an alternative to psychiatric admission. The methodology applied in table 1 therefore, is founded on the assumption that referrals to the CRHTT open for a period exceeding 2 days were in receipt of home based treatment.’

He added: ‘Table 2 demonstrates the volume of referrals from the CRHTT to the Psychiatric Inpatient Service at Manannan Court. It should be noted however, that home based treatment must be considered for all patients prior to psychiatric admission. This is crucial in respect of those individuals where formal detention under the MHA 1998 is being considered given the ‘duty’ of the Approved Social Worker to consider the ‘least restrictive’ alternative’

Bus Vannin

Office of Fair Trading chairman Martyn Perkins also faced questioning relating to the ongoing investigations into Bus Vannin.

Douglas East MHK Clare Barber asked: ‘What correspondence the Office of Fair Trading has had with relevant stakeholders and what evidence has been submitted in the Office of Fair Trading enquiry into Bus Vannin’s Connect Mann service, from commencement of enquiry to date, broken down by date of request, and date of receipt and issue?’

Mr Perkins said that if it appears to the OFT that any person ‘has been or is pursuing a course of conduct which may amount to an anti-competitive practice, it may investigate and report the question whether that person has been or is pursuing a course of conduct which does amount to such practice’.

He added: ‘On the conclusion of the investigation, a report is made to the Council of Ministers. That report is published as provided by paragraph 4 of Schedule 3, namely it is laid before Tynwald and the Chief Secretary takes the prescribed steps to enable the public to have access to it.

‘During the course of the investigation, it would be inappropriate for the OFT to engage in any public comment on any matter relating to the conduct of it. To do so risks undermining the integrity of the investigative process and would mean that the OFT would be stepping outside of the statutory procedures. This being the case, I am sorry that I am not in a position to be able to provide the information requested by the Hon. Member for Douglas East as it appertains to the OFT’s ongoing investigation into whether Bus Vannin, in the provision of demand responsive services, has been or is pursuing a course of conduct which amounts to an anti-competitive practice.’

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