Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the category “NHS”

Compensation Culture & the NHS

Unfortunately the UK is well down the road to becoming a litigious society suing whenever the opportunity arises in order to achieve cash compensation for what in most cases is a genuine accident or an unintentional error on someone’s part. Probably the worst example must the NHS where something like £800million is paid out each year from a now cash strapped yet still brilliant service.

Apart from the rare as hen’s teeth rogue nurse or doctor, I think we can agree that no one in the health service actually wants to do any harm to a patient and indeed, positively wants a good outcome. In any organisation, particularly one as big as the NHS, from time to time things will go wrong, mistakes will happen and only a fool would believe that perfection is possible, although, of course, that is what should be the aim as that way lies continuing improvement.

What to do when things do go wrong? Obviously the patient must have the best possible treatment to put right, wherever possible, any damage. Where serious injury has been caused requiring long term care or even adaptations to the home or mobility needs then these are already covered by our health and social security systems at no cost to the individual. In parallel an investigation into the cause(s) of the error should be carried out with no threat of financial penalties to the establishment concerned followed by full and public disclosure of the report including what measures have been taken to improve the system.

No amount of money will take away pain or discomfort or, in extremis, loss of a limb and as stated, the State will provide all that is necessary to cope with the future. Therefore Government should pass a law making it impossible to sue the NHS for monetary reward and thereby freeing up some £800million each year to improve the health service including accident prevention.

On a final note it may seem that the NHS must be absolutely appalling if it pays out that much compensation annually. In reality it pays out in many cases ‘without admitting liability’ rather than face huge costs and time fighting in the courts defending actions brought hoards of unscrupulous lawyers only too happy to scrounge off society.

What Do They Expect?

Figures just out report unemployment has risen to the end of November by 49,000 to 2.5million. The number of 16-24 year olds out of work is at the highest level since records began. These figures are just the beginning with the effects of the VAT rise and public sector redundancies yet to come to fruition along with reductions in benefits and pensions.

The current bunch of boys playing at government with their half baked, half thought out ideas appear at first glance to just be idiots but I’m beginning to wonder. The Torys have always liked to have high unemployment as it tends to keep wages at low levels thus creating more wealth for their business compatriots. Changes planned for the Health Service will eventually cost far more than the suggested £3bn but will virtually privatise the NHS with vast profits going to you know who. Education will be similar.

Of course, paying off the necessary debt that the country has, at such a reckless rate will undoubtedly mean that come the next election, in about four years time, there will be quite a bit of cash sloshing around in the nation’s coffers so that ‘the boys’ will feel happy to bribe the electorate with gifts from on high. The expectation being that voters will reward them with re-election. As the public so quickly forgot the eleven out of thirteen years under Labour, of vast improvement in public services and exceptional improvement in living standards it wouldn’t surprise me if the ruse worked.

 

More of the Family Silver Being Flogged

Remember Thatcher flogging the family silver? Water, electricity, gas, British Rail and more? Now Cameron and his renegade side kick Clegg have wasted no time in picking up the handbag and are now about to sell off our Postal service.

Using the same con trick of Thatcher the employees will be offered the carrot of getting some of the shares but inevitably they will be forced by the hardships about to descend on us to sell them off. The shares of course ending up with the rich and multi national corporations. What will be next on their agenda of party political theft? I suggest keeping a close eye on our National Health Service, not in one go of course but little by little by stealth.

Our only hope is the collapse of this disastrous coalition and another election to correct our mistake of last May.

Manifesto You Wont See (Mine)

DEFENCE: We believe that threatening the annihilation of millions of fellow humans is wrong so we are getting rid of all nuclear weapons. This will make us less of a threat and so reduce our risk of attack. We will also save billions of Pounds.

We will have a review of the past few hundred years to see just why we have rampaged around the globe engaging in acts of aggression and stop doing it. Our military services will have only defensive weapons and therefore we will finally pose no threat to any other nation thereby further reducing our risks to near zero.

HOUSING: No further second homes will be allowed and existing ones will pay treble Council Tax until there are no more homeless or sub standard housing. All private property will become State owned on the demise of the current owners. (This will reduce house prices enormously and make them affordable places to live in and not investments for profit)

ENERGY: Rail, Electricity supply, Gas and Water will be re-nationalised.

WAGES & BENEFITS: All State benefits (except unemployment) will be cancelled and in their place the national minimum wage will be raised to a level fit to live on, along with pensions. There will be no unemployment benefit on leaving education until at least two years of employment have been completed. Benefit will be earnt by community service to prevent drifting into benefit dependency. No one will be allowed to earn more than ten times the minimum wage and bonuses will be outlawed. A fair days pay for a fair days work will be the norm.

TRANSPORT: Cities and urban areas with good public transport will be subject to an extra vehicle tax similar to the London congestion charge. Money raised will offset fuel reductions to those in rural areas where personal transport is essential.

DEMOCRACY: A good idea which will be adopted starting with an elected Head of State rather than an unelected monarchy. The second chamber shall also only have elected members. A fair voting system will be adopted where no vote is a wasted vote.

All connections between religion and the State shall be severed and all tax advantages currently applied to churches, mosques etc will end.

CRIME: All drugs will be de-criminalised and available on prescription thereby cutting up to 70% of crime. This will have the added benefit of slashing the prison population which doesn’t work anyway and saving huge sums of money.

The creation of a more fair and equal society would of itself reduce the incidence of crime. The current method of sentencing is ineffective, there being no point in a fixed time inside, therefore custodial terms will be opened ended. That is to say when it is considered the offender is ready to take his/her proper productive place back in society then they are released with adequate support and not before.

EDUCATION: Management costs will be no more than 1% of the budget and teachers will revert to running the schools and colleges. Choice of school will be abolished and all schools will be of an approved standard in all areas. University fees will be abolished but a small lifetime increase in income tax will enable graduates the satisfaction of repaying society for the privilege.

Private education establishments will be abolished by ever increasing taxation.

HEALTH: Management costs as for education. Medical staff taking more responsibility for running hospitals and clinics etc. A State pharmaceutical research facility will be set up and tight controls put on those in the private sector. Drugs which are highly expensive and merely prolong life by months will not be available.

Private health care will be abolished by progressively rising taxes.

LAND: All land will be nationalised without compensation and a rent paid for all private property upon it.

Afghanistan Casualties

It was bad enough before but the ever rising number of our troops seriously injured in Afghanistan has now reached such a horrendous pitch that our hospitals are under great pressure to cope.

The rising number of soldiers killed, three this week so far, is terrible enough and rightly deserve the, albeit somewhat muted, publicity but we hear very little about the mutilated and crippled, the blinded and the brain damaged. Not surprising that injury statistics are shrouded in mystery otherwise perhaps, just perhaps, the nation as whole might re-discover it’s spine and demand an end to this horror.

This invasion is unwinnable, will make no difference to our security and the cost in financial terms runs into tens of millions of Pounds that we cannot afford.

Your Choice

The NHS is facing a serious shortfall in funding from 2011 onwards. This is due to our quite rightly, rising expectations and the cost of new innovative drugs. The estimated shortfall is £8bn – £10bn for the three years from 2011.

It’s not a party political matter, although doubtless it will become so but a simple matter of finance which will have to be addressed by who ever is in power. It is down to us, all of us, to make a choice and to insist on our wishes to be carried out. If like me, you believe the tens of billions of pounds about to be spent on huge, fancy aircraft carriers and on Trident nuclear missiles, which will de facto, be under the control of the US could be far better spent on our NHS then say so. Make the demand so insistent, so powerful, that no Party can deny you.

It’s our choice; better health for us all or weapons that in all probablility will never be used and if they were, would in all probablilty bring about the end of civilisation as we know it. It’s your choice, you can sit back and do nothing, or you can write your first letter to your MP or to the local paper, just do something.

What Now for New Labour?

It’s anyone’s guess at the moment whether Gordon Brown will be able to survive the current political crisis although I suspect that he may hang on until the bitter end next year and the end will indeed be bitter.

When New Labour with Tony Blair were elected in 1997 the electorate would have given power to anyone rather than the Tory’s and at that point a golden opportunity was lost. With a huge majority Blair, with Brown as Chancellor, could have transformed the UK into a far better nation. Together they wasted the first two years by sticking with the economic plans put in place by the previous administration and then proceeded to expand the ‘free market economy’ and embraced and encouraged the money grubbing, me first culture of  profit before people. They increased the gap between the rich and the poor by deviously cutting the taxes of the wealthy and increasing the taxes on the less well off. They believed their own spin that the City of London could go on creating money from thin air and that house prices would increase exponentially for ever. They took us into an illegal war costing billions of Pounds and tens of thousands of lives and into another futile and expensive escapade in Afghanistan from which we have yet to be extradited. They have progressively introduced draconian state control of our citizens by way of surveillance, police powers and data linkage. Yes, they have done some good things and improvements to the NHS and Education spring to mind but even they are tarnished by the Public/Private Finance Initiative which will result in a huge outpouring of money into the private sector over many, many, years.

So what now for Gordon Brown and New Labour? The next election is lost so with nothing to lose why not make some real change in the time that is left. The MP’s expenses must of course be sorted out and pushing through some form of PR in time for the General Election would be mostly popular and have the advantage of limiting Labour’s losses. Abandon the ridiculous and unpopular ID Card Scheme along with Trident replacement and huge aircraft carriers, thus saving tens of billions of pounds. Recognise that killing Afghan tribesmen and devastating villages is an unwinnable war and in any case will do nothing to protect us from terrorist attacks here and in fact will make such attacks more likely. Some of the cash saved could be used to increase pensions towards the poverty line (£165) per week as pensioners are more likely to spend it and so help in the recovery of  industry and employment.

All of this could be done prior to the General Election and may go some way to ensuring a wiser Labour re-election in maybe five years rather than our nation suffering once again under a Tory government for ten or fifteen or more years.

Underage & Binge Drinking

The Scottish Parliament is to consider setting a minimum price for alcoholic drinks in an attempt to decrease underage drinking. Well meaning yes but surely doomed to failure.

An increase in price high enough to have any effect will at the same time make buying booze in low price England and bringing it into Scotland an attractive proposition for many and a thriving black market will soon develop. Amongst the young some bright spark will quickly catch on to buying a bottle of Vodka and selling it on at an affordable £3 per nip and either end up being stabbed for his profits or become the next Sir Fred Goodwin.

Public Houses, particularly in rural areas, are social centres and an important part of our heritage and yet are closing down at an alarming rate. A good pub landlord will quickly spot an under age customer or someone who has ‘had enough’ and not serve them, providing a degree of gentle but effective control. The Government could introduce a two tier taxation system on alcohol whereby supermarkets and off licences had a very high tax rate and pubs a much lower one. This way young people are financially discouraged, adults are not penalised and the pubs have their survival chances greatly enhanced.

All that said, the real question is ‘why’ is there such an increase in drinking particularly among the young? Affordability is certainly a factor, the price of alcohol is quite cheap and in fact in some supermarkets cider is cheaper than bottled water.

Consider for a moment though, if you are brought up in a system where you are regularly tested on your ability to conform to narrowly defined educational achievements. You live your life watched by unseen eyes through CCTV cameras and you are judged by society not by who you are or what you can do but by what material possessions that you have. You see your parents working longer and harder just to keep abreast of the mortgage repayments or exorbitant rents and are too tired to engage you in a proper family life and can see this as your future too. On top of all this the media constantly gives the impression that your life is in imminent danger of being lost by stabbing or shooting and rarely highlights anything good happening. Wouldn’t you be tempted to escape into an alcoholic haze? I know I probably would but I was lucky, very lucky, as I grew up when the people of Britain were working together rebuilding the nation after WW2, when the NHS came into being and relieved the fear of accident or illness. A period of time when there was less inequality and trying to improve the quality of life had yet to turn into greed.

More Health Privatisation

Here we go again, more privatisation of the NHS on the way. This time it’s the Ambulance service, with plans to put the non emergency sector out to tender. This means for example collecting infirm patients from their homes and taking them to hospital for treatment or to see a specialist.

British AmbulanceThe usual argument is put up of getting value for money. Yes, at least in the first instance, a private company will offer to do the job more cheaply but does this mean value for money? I think not. All drivers and co-drivers currently doing the job are trained ambulance people with experience and a huge fund of knowledge to draw upon from their colleagues in case of a problem. Let’s not forget that a lot of the people requiring this service have complicated medical problems even though they can live at home.

Ambulance drivers and paramedics are an integral part of the NHS, a service which up until recently at least, existed purely for the benefit of society as a whole and not for the benefit of the shareholders of private companies. Privatising (= selling off) this important part of the ambulance service puts at risk the comradeship and shared knowledge of the teams and destroy the sense of purpose and caring that currently exists. Some things you just can’t value in monetary terms.

Our NHS Under Attack

I have spoken of this before but now there is confirmation that the attack by the private health companies is intensifying. At worst we will have no National Health Service left or at best a two tier service with those who can afford it having private treatment with the latest technologies and drugs and for the rest of our citizens only basic health care in a deteriorating service.

Not only will this division in health be immoral and a negation of the principles laid down when the NHS was founded but will inevitably lead to social unrest on an unprecedented scale. This in turn leading to even more central control, surveillance and repression. The systems are in place already and they just need implementing in full and then it will be too late to save our society from total disintegration.

It may not be too late if we act now and act together. We can protest to our Members of Parliament, we can write blogs and write to the papers, we can demand to know who benefits from any treatment that we may need and above all we can refuse to have any treatment carried out by these private companies. We insist on only full NHS care. It can be done as I pointed out a while back. Please don’t shrug your shoulders at yet another blog, this is the biggest threat facing us, do something, anything.

Post Navigation