Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

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Archive for the tag “NHS”

Open Letter to Older Voters

As an ‘older voter’ myself I feel qualified to write this open letter to my contemporaries many of whom, it seems, tend to become more right wing and vote Tory in elections. Why this should be is somewhat puzzling and the purpose of this missive.

Older people it is generally recognised tend to be more set in their ways but political leanings fly in the face of this generalisation. Could it be that as life expectancy diminishes resistance to change increases along with a desire for security as represented by continuity, money and assets? If so and I can think of no other reason, this is illusory.

People of my generation, those born in the 40’s 50’s and early 60’s were indeed very fortunate in that during their early and middle years they had security of housing, they bought houses or were more or less assured of a Council house for life. They had good ongoing health care from the newly formed NHS, good and free education up to and beyond a university degree and perhaps most importantly, employment was all but guaranteed as soon as ceasing formal education. For those who trod the craft or trade route apprenticeships were long, meaningful, detailed and effective training with a long experienced time served craftsman leading to a worthwhile and life long well paid career.

In the early 1980s under Tory Prime Minister Thatcher, the big con trick of the Right to Buy Scheme was started, not because she thought it would be ‘nice’ but because of the ideology that people with a mortgage are de facto in debt, heavily in debt and that means over a 25 plus year period they will be handing over a huge amount of their earnings to Tory friends, the bankers. In addition people whose home may be at risk if they fail to make the repayments become servile and compliant and unless pushed to the limit will not go on strike for better pay or conditions; in fact will even accept a cut in income without much dissent. As more and more of the social housing was sold off, much of it incidentally ending up in the hands of Tory landlords, an obvious shortage of homes was created leading to ever increasing house prices that is unabated to this day.

Much has been written about housing, including some of my blogs here, so I wont go deeper into it except that the dash for home ownership resulted in and was encouraged by not only the Tories but also the Blair government, a slight feeling of superiority by owners over renters. It was interesting at the time to see some of my friends who had voted Labour all their life until getting a mortgage, almost overnight becoming Tories. Little did they know that they would be working harder, longer, for less and that it would eventually require two of them to work to pay the one debt. Mortgages today can now stretch beyond a lifetime into the next generation; the transfer of wealth from ordinary people to the rich elite gathers pace.

No one likes to be proved wrong or admit to being duped and so it is natural for most to close their minds to even that possibility, to cling to that superior feeling that brings comfort which by default means a resistance to change. This is how older voters come to be more right wing and how they come to vote for a Tory government and their ‘austerity’ that only applies to the working and middle classes but not them.

Wait a minute though my older voting friends! Most of you will have children and grandchildren perhaps even great grandchildren, what of them?  Perhaps you are thinking you can leave them your house albeit split between however many offspring you have, less tax and fees etc. so they’ll still need a mortgage and a big one with prices increasing way above inflation. The same people that made you pay roughly twice the sale price for your home will happily do the same for your descendants. These same people also want the destruction of our NHS for their profit, do you want your descendants to have to pay for private health care or go without and do you want them to be denied the education they would like on the grounds of cost? Of course you don’t but to ensure their safety you have to admit to yourself, no one else, that you were duped and make the changes necessary in the polling booth.

 

 

 

 

 

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Only 10% Cut So Far and still in Recession

It’s not good is it? Officially back into the recession that we’ve barely left for two years, despite the Con?Dems austerity program. A program I might add that has so far only implemented just 10% of their planned cuts to expenditure.

This government, with no real mandate from the people is the most vicious I can ever recall, yes, worse even than Margaret Thatcher and particularly bad because they are utterly incompetent, arrogant, out of touch with reality and unable to listen. They were warned, not just by me and assorted other bloggers, but by many financial experts, that their plans pointed towards disaster. Not of course, disaster for them personally as most are millionaires well cushioned with their tax havens and trust funds but disaster for countless citizens of our lands.

Unemployment and fear thereof in the millions and rising including huge numbers of our young people who now may never get a job, hospital waiting lists getting longer, home repossessions on the increase and poorer tenants being compulsory moved from London and South East to the North, leading towards a North/South divide like never before. Thatcher left little public assets untouched but now even the jewel in the crown, our NHS, is being sold off for private profit along with our schools. It didn’t take a genius to predict all this would happen so it has to be assumed that these are deliberate policies conjured up for the sole benefit of those who have manipulated themselves into power.

The current situation tends to lead the electorate into a depressed condition whereby apathy takes over along with a feeling of individual isolation which in turn leads to a sense of powerlessness. We are not though powerless if we collectively recognise that the power is ours and we can take it back from those to whom we unwittingly lent it. We can demand change and change we will get but only if we work together for the benefit of us all. We must remind those who say they can’t be bothered with politics that politics is health, employment, education, social services, the cost of fuel, pensions or whether your sons or daughters are going to war.

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.

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.

Swine ‘Flu

Do we like to be frightened in this country now, or is it that fear sells newspapers? Whatever happened to the British ‘stiff upper lip’ the, oh well, just get on with it and see what happens attitude that has served us so well for so long?

There are just 12 confirmed cases of death from swine ‘flu in Mexico with around another 160 ‘suspected cases’. Here in the UK there are just 8 confirmed cases and all are recovering ok. Doubtless there will be more cases but we are well prepared with the appropriate drugs and despite another fear that’s frequently peddled, our health service is one of the best in the world.

Around 3000 people die on the roads each year along with thousands of others from hospital acquired infections (despite best efforts of staff) and from ‘ordinary’ ‘flu, pneumonia and so on. Let’s keep things in perspective.

Going by the media and government spokesmen you would think that we are about to face a viral armmageddon but of course it does help to take our mind off the recession, global warming, government gaffs…….. or am I suffering from a case of terminal cynicism?

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.

NHS Privatisation

freethinkeruk recently made a hospital booking for a minor medical procedure at my local community hospital. I used the new on-line book it yourself system which seemed OK until I received the inevitable paper confirmation in the post subject to me returning a paper form and the hospital’s receipt of my GP’s written confirmation. What on Earth is the point of a computerised system that requires paper confirmation every step of the way? What a waste of money! By the way GPs do have a choice whether to use the new system or not but they do get an inducement of around 70p per booking if they do. What!

Anyway, to my main point. When I got the paperwork I discovered not just the NHS logo on the header but also one of ‘Ramsey Health Care’ which on investigation turns out to be an Australian Private hospital group that has been given a contract with the NHS to carry out 95,000 procedures. It’s a ‘no brainer’ to realise that ‘Private + Contract = Profit = money lost from the NHS’. Obviously this loss makes it all the harder for NHS hospitals to improve their service and hence the easier it for politicians to say we need more private involvement. Over time this in turn will lead to the demise of our beloved NHS, the service that came in after the war despite fierce opposition and has been improving our lives ever since. We can shrug our shoulders saying ‘what can we do?’ or stand up and fight every inch of the way to keep, maintain and improve this precious resource that still, just, belongs to each and every one of us.

By the way, in case you wonder what freethinkeruk did, he cancelled the appointment and is demanding treatment in a genuine NHS hospital rather than letting the cost associated with his treatment fall into private hands. A small protest yes, but if we all did it?…………….

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