Category Archives: NHS

UK On Fast Track to Third World Status Says US Commentator.

not interested      He’s not interested in …

_69113648_69113647  the living conditions of people living here…

He caused them but he doesn’t have to put up with them.  

Read what an American observer thinks of Breadline Britain… 

 

 

Force-Fed UK Austerity

By Stephen Lendman
4-11-13

Since 2008, America, Britain and other European nations force-fed austerity harshness. Neoliberal and imperial priorities take precedence.

Bankers, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and privileged elites alone benefit. Ordinary people lose out entirely. Public needs go begging. Human misery grows. Things go from bad to worse. Nothing ahead looks promising.

Britain made things harder. Parliament imposed the largest welfare cuts in modern times. More on them below.

They come when Prime Minister David Cameron wants UK nuclear defenses upgraded. He wants billions of pounds spent doing so. He claims Britain faces threats that don’t exist. An “ultimate weapon” is needed, he says.

His Daily Telegraph op-ed headlined “We need a nuclear deterrent more than ever,” saying:

(A)s prime minister, with ultimate responsibility for the nation’s security, I profoundly disagree with” naysayers. The “nuclear threat has not gone away.”

“My judgment is that it would be foolish to leave Britain defenceless against a continuing, and growing, nuclear threat.”

Saying so defies reason. Wanting billions of pounds spent on what’s not needed reflects deception writ large. Britain’s FY 2014 budget allocates 44.7 billion pounds for defense.

Billions go for nuclear deterrence. Cameron wants billions more. It’s worth the cost, he says. No cheaper options exist, he claims.

He wants Brits to think wasteful spending will protect Britain from nuclear attacks. Estimates run up to 20 billion pounds. It reflects multi-year spending.

At the same time, he supports massive welfare cuts. They come when Queen Elizabeth got a five million pound pay increase. In FY 2013-14, she’ll receive 36.1 million pounds (around $54 million). It’s up from 31 million last year.

She gets regular pay increases. They come from the Crown Estate. Its properties are worth eight billion pounds.

She’ll now receive 15% of their profits. In 2011-12, they earned 240.2 million pounds.

The Queen claims she needs the money. Royal priorities aren’t cheap. Annual expenses keep rising. She’s having a hard time making ends meet.

She’s dismissive about ordinary people’s suffering. It’s their problem, not hers. Let ’em eat cake doesn’t wash. A former monarch learned the hard way.

Tough times keep getting tougher. Ordinary Brits struggle to get by. Britain’s coalition government made things harder. On April 3, Russia Today headlined “UK govt imposes avalanche of cuts,” saying:

Low-income and financially vulnerable families will be hit hardest. Opposition Labour MPs called new cuts announced “the beginning of ‘Black April.’ ” It’s hard imagining why. They’re as neoliberal as Tories.

From June 2007 – May 2010, Gordon Brown was prime minister. Austerity began on his watch. Budget cuts hit ordinary Brits hardest. Brown said “Labour will cut costs, cut inefficiencies, cut unnecessary programmes, and cut lower priority budgets.”

He targeted public sector worker wages, pensions and other benefits. At the same time, Britain spent 94% of its GDP on bank bailouts. It amounted to taxing every Brit about 30,000 pounds.

Labour and Tories conspire against ordinary people. Austerity is policy. So are harsh welfare cuts. Imposed them inflicts enormous hardships. Earlier amounts totaled tens of billions of pounds. In January, another 14.2 billion were announced.

New ones are toughest of all. Britain’s Baptist Union called them “unjust (forcing) the most vulnerable (to) pay a disproportionate price.”

Methodist Church Public Issues Policy Adviser Paul Morrison said they “make April fools of us all.”

“We are witnessing what happens when we create a culture that blames poor people for their poverty.”

“It is a lie to say that most people on benefits are lazy, that they have an easy life or that they are responsible for the nation’s financial deficit.”

“When people are willing to believe those lies, poor families pay the highest price.”

At the same time, wealthy elites got a tax cut. In late March, Britain slashed its 50% top rate to 40%. Corporations got a 1% cut.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s “granny tax” left around five million middle-class pensioners up to 323 pounds worse off. It’s when they most need help. They face other harsh budget cutting measures.

Welfare benefits will be cut another 10 billion pounds by 2016. On average, around 18 million Brits will lose 500 pounds annually. Billions more welfare cuts were announced earlier. Where this ends who knows.

Cameron wants public spending cut 5.3%. Expect more cuts to follow. Since financial crisis conditions erupted in 2008, one in 10 Brits lost their jobs.

The latest measures are worst of all. They include a new “bedroom” tax. It’s on local council and housing association tenants. They get housing benefits.

Recipients claimed to have a “spare” bedroom face cuts totaling 14%. Those with two “spare” ones lose 25%. Britain calls the measure an “under-occupancy penalty.”

Imposing it seeks to encourage more efficient social housing use. It inflicts enormous harm on vulnerable households. Expect more ahead hitting them harder. It’s coming in waves. One measure leads to others. Like America, Britain’s heading for third world status.

Hundreds of thousands of people are affected. Many will become homeless. Britain’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said the new bedroom tax will “end up costing more than it saves as tenants are forced to go homeless or move into the expensive private renter sector.”

Around 90,000 households are affected. Less than 4,000 smaller homes can accommodate them. In April, “personal independence  payments (PIPs)” replace disability living allowances.

Private consulting and information technology services firm ATOS will assess whether benefit claimants can work. It’ll be paid up to one billion pounds to do so. In the past, it claimed stroke victims were fit to work.

ATOS aims to remove another 500,000 claimants from benefit rolls. Doing so will throw many of them in the street. They’ll risk losing out entirely.

New Health and Social Care Act legislation affects them. Enactment reverses 1946 free, universal National Health Service care. Government no longer has a legal duty to provide it.

Newly created Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) now have a “duty to arrange” what used to be mandated. Doing so shifts costs on the backs of vulnerable Brits least able to afford them. Commercializing healthcare lets predatory private profiteers take full advantage.

Combining austerity with welfare cuts heads Britain for third world status. Poverty and unemployment will rise further. So will public anger. On March 30, protesters targeted London’s Trafalgar Square.

Unionists joined anti-poverty campaigners, the disabled, homemakers and others.

Simultaneous gatherings were held in cities and towns nationwide. Thousands turned out in Glasgow. “Axe the bedroom tax,” signs read. One protestor spoke for others, saying:

“We won’t forget what they are doing to working class people.”

Another said:

“They have just shut the soup kitchen in Waltham Forest despite having a real problem with homelessness. I’m a working single parent. Now I’ve a tiny boxroom, and I’m faced with the choice between food, heat or paying the ‘bedroom tax.’ ”

At issue are numerous other cuts. Expect new ones to follow those announced. More recent ones began last October. Dozens of imposed changes were made. They include:

 

cutting support for mortgage interest from 6.08% – 3.63%;

 

scrapping the Child Trust Fund;

 

reducing the Council Tax benefit;

 

ending the Health in Pregnancy grant;

 

abolishing the Disability Living Allowance;

 

cutting legal aid;

 

freezing the Child Benefit and Working Tax Credit for low-income workers; and

 

much more implemented from October 10 through mid-April.

Making ordinary Brits bear burdens they can’t afford is policy. Expect new imposed hardships ahead. Tories and Labour are in lockstep. It bears repeating. Britain’s heading toward third world status. It’s on a fast track toward getting there.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

What Jeremy Hunt isn’t telling us:ONE MILLION ONE HUNDRED AND TEN THOUSAND good news NHS stories!

STG-65-Birthday-A3-Poster1                          images (8)

An outside observer of some of the right wing media coverage of the NHS over recent months could be forgiven for thinking that our 65 year old system of publicly funded healthcare was failing badly. The hyped up propaganda has painted a hysterical universal picture of NHS hospitals as places where painful death creeps through wards and corridors grimly reaping as it goes; places where nurses and doctors are slipshod, uncaring or downright callous and cruel and patients are constructed as their helpless victims. You can almost hear the melodramatic silent movie music and mad cackling laughter.

NHS1   Nothing could be further from the truth. When I was born in 1950 the NHS and the welfare state were barely two years old and because it existed my mother was attended by trained midwives and as I grew she could take me to a weekly clinic where my weight was monitored and she had access to free baby milk, orange juice and vitamins to help me thrive. Prior to the NHS most working class folk like us couldn’t afford what we now think of as basic healthcare. Our babies were delivered at home by untrained women often in unhygienic conditions. Maternal deaths were high. If a mother was unable to breastfeed, cow’s milk had to suffice. There was little knowledge of the need to sterilise bottles etc and little money for, or knowledge of a healthy diet. I had an aunt whose legs were bent out of shape by rickets and an uncle who died aged 50 from a treatable heart condition because he couldn’t afford to pay for either the doctor or the medicine that would have saved him.

There is no doubt that the NHS has transformed the health of the working class and saved many, many lives.

images   In three short years the Coalition government, with its crazed programme of benefit cuts and its unbelievably savage attack on people with disabilities, has catapulted the working class back to those pre NHS days of my infancy. And it seems determined to finish the job by destroying a system that ensured everyone had access to a level of healthcare previously only available to the well off.

And they’re doing this by trying to turn us against it with the sly tactic of the self fulling prophesy . Because by starving hospitals of cash and staff they aim to create the chaos that they hope will justify privatisation.

images (1)     So now its high time for the GOOD NEWS stories to be told about the NHS to put things back into proportion. Like every organisation under the sun, the NHS doesn’t get it right all the time. But it does get it right an awful lot more times than the government would have us believe and it does it every hour of every day of every year all over the UK.  A simple Google search for the term “the NHS saved my life” yielded ONE MILLION ONE HUNDRED AND TEN THOUSAND hits and I’ve listed some of the links below so people can read something positive about our health service for a change. I’m not claiming that every single one of those hits was a good news story but the vast majority of them certainly were – and they were all stories of how NHS staff from ambulance crews to doctors and nurses and even a dietician had helped to save a life. There’s even one from a Tory MP!

opperman    MP for Hexham, Guy Opperman invited the neurosurgeon who saved his life to Westminster to present him with a cheque from the proceeds of a book he’d written, as a thank  you for the great care he received from the NHS. He seems unusual for a Tory since he’s also campaigned against low wages and first got interested in national politics after giving up his time as a barrister for free to lead a campaign to fight the closure of Savernake NHS Hospital, which he credited with saving his mother’s life from cancer.

   So here are the good news stories that I hope will help heal the NHS reputation (not ‘cure’ it like a side of bacon!).

images (9)

http://guyopperman.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/giving-book-proceeds-to-nhs-as-thank-you.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/06/nhs-just-saved-my-life

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1361044/Andrew-Lansleys-NHS-reform-It-saved-life-wasnt-liberated-then.html

http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/examiner-plus/2012/05/09/the-nhs-saved-my-life-now-we-need-to-save-the-nhs-huddersfield-author-gives-his-verdict-after-six-months-in-hospital-86081-30926518/

http://dave-howells.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/how-nhs-saved-my-life-in-aid-of.html

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/120874/Obama-s-stepmother-The-NHS-saved-my-life

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/yoursay/letterstotheeditor/9181453.To_NHS_knockers__it_saved_my_life/

http://www.cumbriapartnership.nhs.uk/news/royal-recognition-for-simple-act-of-kindness.htm

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/yoursay/opinion/yourletters/8090504.NHS_saved_my_life/

images (2)

http://www.ambulance.wales.nhs.uk/Default.aspx?pageId=153&lan=en&sid=151

http://www.scoop.it/t/brighton-and-sussex-university-hospitals-nhs-trust/p/4000847988/hurstwood-park-saved-my-life-says-jess-county-news-west-sussex-gazette

http://www.justgiving.com/Kevin-Rutherford1

http://www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/ourorganisation/newsandpublications/pressreleases/Pages/RoutineNHSscanwasalife-saver,saysgrandfatherAnthony.aspx

http://www.nhsforthvalley.com/news/2013/bowel-screening-saves-lives

download                                                   http://www.midstaffs.nhs.uk/Our-Services/Have-Your-Say.aspx

http://www.wmsc.nhs.uk/news/grace-says-thank-you-for-saving-my-life-as-west-midlands-trauma-care-system-goes-live

http://www.derbyhospitals.nhs.uk/patients/inpatients/inpatient-experiences/sharon-norton/

http://www.scotsman.com/scotland-on-sunday/opinion/comment/scottish-independence-fears-over-cross-border-nhs-1-2818976

https://www.nhslocal.nhs.uk/story/features/how-air-ambulance-saved-my-life

http://www.nhsggc.org.uk/content/default.asp?page=s1192_3&newsid=8839&back=home

http://www.sthk.nhs.uk/pages/News.aspx?iNewsItemId=571

http://www.southcentralambulance.nhs.uk/foundation-trust/membersstories/apatientsstory.ashx

http://www.enherts-tr.nhs.uk/blog/1985/press-releases/%E2%80%98new-heart-attack-treatment-saved-my-life%E2%80%99/

http://www.channel5.com/shows/brain-hospital-saving-lives/articles/about-the-show

http://www.buckinghamshire.nhs.uk/legacy/2010/04/bowel-cancer-screening-saved-my-life-says-local-woman/

http://www.rbht.nhs.uk/patients/why-us/patients-stories/cancer-testimony/

http://www.bradfordhospitals.nhs.uk/about-us/patient-testimonials

http://www.cht.nhs.uk/news/news-item/browse/20/article/early-diagnosis-saved-my-life/?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=14&cHash=6c9cb0f5e6daaa997fc680fef258ea80

http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/save-our-nhs.html

NHS-thank-you3

Impending Chaos at Private Hospitals? A First Glimpse of One Possible Effect of Monitor’s Regulation’s

Jeremy-Hunt

This is a story of my recent experience of how a private hospital is coping with a sudden influx of NHS patients, due to the recent changes to healthcare in England. The personal account comes towards the end so please bear with me…

 We’re all too nauseatingly familiar by now with Jeremy Hunt’s ‘NHS is a disaster’ discourse with its characterisation of the whole service as one on the edge of collapse. According to this story A&E departments are in chaos, GP’s are lazy, hospitals are dirty, inefficient and badly managed. Waiting rooms are overflowing with people having to wait ages to be seen and nursing staff are dismissive of their needs. And the food’s terrible.

In contrast to this picture of medical Armageddon he paints a picture of private hospitals as clean, comfortable, well maintained places where patients are treated efficiently and with extraordinary care and attention; medical care is exemplary and they don’t have to wait around for ages to be seen. Oh, and the food is top quality.

images (2)  On 1st April this year, as we know, new regulations came into effect as a result of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Under this new regulatory regime NHS foundation trusts must comply with the terms of the provider licence. The licence replaces the terms of authorisation under which trusts were previously granted foundation trust status. The Act  gives Monitor concurrent powers with the Office of Fair Trading to apply competition law in the health care sector in England and the terms of the new licences require health care providers to abide by a number of stringent regulations that are designed to ensure they don’t engage in ‘anti-competitive’ behaviour.

0_0_393_http-__offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk_News_PG_89708F60-BFC9-851D-3EF48E898E5E2E69    The government sees these licence conditions as powerful incentives for improving the quality of care provided to patients. This is an important point to note since running throughout Jeremy Hunt’s discourse on the NHS is his concept of care quality and how its NOT being achieved across the NHS with the implication that its the delivery system that’s ultimately at fault, with the corresponding implication that a different service delivery system – private healthcare – would produce better results.

email-front-cover_0         When you read the licence conditions it becomes clear that the ONLY definition of ‘improving quality for patients’ that can be found within this document is ‘encouraging competition between providers’. Even when it talks of integrated care which demands different providers working together to provide a complete care package for patients, the need for these co-operating entities to maintain competition between themselves is still a licence requirement. This is clearly contradictory. The guidelines say this,

“With careful design therefore, many models for the delivery of integrated care can be implemented in a way that does not reduce competition between providers.”

And

“The licensee shall not:

a) enter into or maintain any agreement or other arrangement which has the object or which has (or would be likely to have) the effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the provision of health care services for the purposes of the NHS, or

b) engage in any other conduct which has (or would be likely to have) the effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the provision of health care services for the purposes of the NHS,”

It seems to me that it’s likely to need a hell of a lot of ‘careful design’ if different providers wanting to integrate their services by entering into co-operative contracts are going to avoid being in breach of their licence and thus at risk of the sanctions that Monitor can impose for such a breach – loss of that licence being one of them.

nhspatients       I now want to turn to another section of the licence conditions known as ‘Choice and Competition: Condition C1: The right of patients to make choices’. This is what it says,

“Choice and Competition – Condition C1: The right of patients to make choices This condition protects patients’ right to choose between providers by obliging licensees to make information available, to ensure that any information or advice provided is not misleading and to act in a fair way where patients have a choice of provider. This condition applies wherever patients have a choice under the NHS Constitution or a choice that has been conferred locally by commissioners. It also prohibits licensees from receiving or offering inducements to refer patients or commission services.

This condition prevents a licensee from entering into or maintaining agreements that have the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition to the extent that it is against the interests of health care users. It also prohibits the licensee from engaging in other conduct which has (or is likely to have) the effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition to the extent that it is against the interests of health care users.”

Again it can be seen how the regulations once more conflate the interests of patients with the existence of competition between providers. In a fully public NHS you could imagine an element of competition based on quality of service and as a patient would want the ability to choose the best. However, in a climate of privatisation  competition takes on a different hue. Providers are by definition businesses making profit and patients come with money. The whole ethos changes, the whole identity of ‘patient’ changes – we become customers and the whole raison d’etre of providers is to attract our custom. The government argues that this will both push up quality AND push down cost but that’s a rather naive and simplistic view.

article-2107897-11F68D4C000005DC-425_468x249                  We all know that real quality costs money. We all equally know the tricks retailers use to attract us into their shops and tempt us to spend more and more. We know the amount of money they spend on slick advertising and fancy packaging of goods that turn out to be the same old thing. And we’ve seen how this tends to increase prices, not bring them down. When the bottom line is profit not patients then its likely patients will be exploited to achieve that profit.  And in this kind of competition it has always been the sharks and the big fish who win. 

The  Monitor regulations go on to stipulate,

“Clause 1 of the licence condition requires the licensee to notify and make information available to patients wherever a patient has a choice of provider under the NHS Constitution or a choice that has been conferred locally by a commissioner…The NHS Constitution also gives patients the right to access services within maximum waiting times, or, where this is not possible, the NHS must take all reasonable steps to offer patients a range of alternative providers.” 

Now we’re getting to the whole point of this blog.

Despite blatantly false claims from the Prime Minister and Jeremy Hunt that they are pouring extra money into the NHS*, doctors have confirmed this week at their annual BMA Conference that the NHS is being cut back ‘beyond the bone’ including on the front line – something we were faithfully promised when the Health Bill first raised its ugly head would never happen. In fact, so certain were doctors of this fact that they unanimously gave Hunt a vote of no confidence.

* See (http://skwalker1964.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/smith-shapps-now-cameron-lies-to-parliament-on-nhs-stats/)

c_71_article_1433663_image_list_image_list_item_0_image-2   Derelict Ancoats Hospital  

As hospitals are starved of cash they begin to miss targets and find themselves in breach of their licence (Monitor are already investigating three NHS hospitals for this)* and risk closure. As their waiting times for treatment get longer, if they want to avoid breaches for missing targets. and in order to comply with the Condition C1 shown above. they are sending their patients to private hospitals for their procedures and paying for this from their already stretched budgets. This is a zero sum game because by paying for more and more private treatment to avoid sanctions over targets NHS hospitals will eventually drain their budgets and be sanctioned anyway for going over budget – Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is currently being investigated by Monitor for doing just that.

*Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. Source: Monitor.

beaumont  Beaumont BMI Hospital

Yesterday I saw for myself the way the new Monitor regulations are beginning to bite in my own NHS Foundation Trust. My partner, Neil, was on the waiting list for a minor surgical procedure and last week he received an unexpected letter from a nearby private hospital, The Beaumont BMI Hospital in Bolton. It informed him that he had an appointment with them for his surgical procedure at 12 pm on 25th June. It also reassured him that the treatment would be paid for by the Royal Bolton NHS Foundation Trust Hospital (RBH), and a family member would need to accompany him to take him home after the procedure.

So  yesterday we duly arrived in time for his appointment. The hospital is an impressive old building set in its own large grounds and from the outside looks well maintained. The waiting room and reception area was small and comfortable, but not ostentatiously furnished. We sat down to wait for Neil to be called in for his appointment….And waited…and waited…

I read all four of the glossy magazines, Neil read the only newspaper provided, the Daily Mail, from cover to cover. During this time several more patients had turned up. I overheard one of them say loudly to the receptionist she couldn’t understand why RBH had sent her there. It transpired that the rapidly growing number of people filling up the small waiting area  were all NHS patients. The receptionist was beginning to look flustered.

download (1)      After we’d been been waiting for around 45 minutes an orderly approached the receptionist and began reading names from a list and telling her which rooms were being allocated to which patient. We heard him mention that Neil was down for room 19. He disappeared and returned ten minutes later and spoke to the receptionist again. This time he had Neil down for room 30. Meanwhile in the waiting area people were getting restless. A bored child was running around and this was obviously not making the receptionist happy. The orderly returned looking harassed and informed the receptionist of yet more room changes. This time Neil was allocated room 32 and finally we were asked to go with him up to the treatment floor.

Because I have difficulty with stairs due to a disability we asked to use the lift. He said this was fine but warned us the lift ‘played up, sometimes’ and needed some maintenance that never seemed to happen. Thankfully, it worked OK that time. We arrived at room 32 and the orderly opened the door to find it was still occupied by a patient. He apologised and said he’d find a nurse and see which room he should us in.

images (4)        A nurse came along just then and the embarrassed orderly stopped her and asked where he should put us. Without even glancing at us she told him  a tad tetchily that she had no idea and hurried off. The poor orderly apologised again and began opening the doors to other rooms until he found one empty. He went in search of someone else to check if he could put us in there and eventually it was sorted out.

By this time the orderly, who was actually a decent man trying to do his best for us, was visibly fed up and confided that they were finding it hard to cope with the influx of NHS work. As he explained the facilities in the room he also made a point of saying “I shouldn’t tell you this but be aware if you use the phone in here they put a massive charge on it and bill you for it when you leave”, the implication being that his employers were not averse to exploiting their customers.

It was now 1.15 pm. Last time Neil had this procedure done at RBH it was done within half an hour of his appointment time. He was looking a bit mithered because he always gets nervous on these occasions and all the waiting was obviously getting to him.

A few minutes later a woman from the kitchen came in with a menu. Neil apparently wouldn’t be discharged until he’d had something to eat and drink so he had to choose something from the menu. This was included in the treatment cost. The menu choice wasn’t spectacular but comparable to that I remember from a stay in the RBH a few years ago. Neil ordered a sandwich and coffee.

download (2)                   Two nurses came to do the paperwork and record Neil’s blood pressure etc. He asked them how long he’d be waiting for the procedure. They couldn’t tell him because the consultant doing the procedure hadn’t arrived at the hospital yet. He was still over at RBH finishing his list there. In the end it was 3.30 pm before Neil finally had his procedure. When I returned to pick him up he was eating his sandwich. It was a bog standard ham sandwich with the crusts cut off and with a few bits of salad leaves surrounding it. The only difference to an NHS ham sandwich was it was served on a posh plate. I also noticed that the cotton gown he was wearing was exactly the same as those used in the NHS everywhere. Ah well, there goes another myth exploded!

images  Royal Bolton NHS Hospital

The consultant came to talk to us afterwards to explain his findings and answer any questions. During the course of the conversation the consultant expressed his concerns about the NHS reforms saying that already doctors were finding the fragmented system was causing them huge problems with the continuity of patients’ records. He wants to see Neil again in six weeks and said he would insist this happened at RBH where he was able to conduct his clinic more efficiently.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions from this story. Its clear that some potentially disruptive changes are already afoot and private hospitals like the Beaumont are possibly going to see an increase in NHS patients coming through their doors. It was obvious even from this short glimpse that good as these hospitals may be, they are not equipped for large numbers of patients. This is one reason why they have been able to maintain standards. One potential positive outcome from this, given what I witnessed, may be that the Secretary of State will be forced to admit that the public sector model is not at the heart of our problems, since the private sector also struggles to cope with a sudden high demand.

A properly staffed  and well integrated NHS with real investment behind it and years of collective experience CAN give us the quality healthcare everyone in this country deserves. I’m more convinced of that now than I’ve ever been.

The All New Privatisation-Friendly CQC Board Members

download (4)    While all the furore has been going on concerning the report by Grant Thornton into events at Furness General Hospital and the alleged cover-up of a CQC report I wonder if anyone’s noticed that the CQC Board of Directors has been quietly evolving into a more privatisation-friendly animal.

Following the tide of resignations of red-faced Jo Williams, Cynthia Bower, Jill Finney and Anna Jefferson, all women who left proclaiming their innocence, comes a much more blue coloured tide of new appointees courtesy of Jeremy Hunt who, as Secretary of State for Health,  is responsible for such appointments.

CQC-David-Prior   David Prior,  one-time Chairman of the Conservative Party, is the new CEO.  Although he doesn’t include it in his Declaration of Interests, he was once non-executive chairman of the private healthcare company Chancellor Care which owned Cawston Park, a private mental hospital, and was arrested, along with other board members, on allegations of defrauding the NHS out of £2.3 million. He was later cleared of the charge and Chancellor Care was bought out by the Jeesal Group who provide private mental health care.

Camilla_Cavendish___160605a   Another key addition to the Board is Camilla Cavendish, who was at Oxford with David Cameron where, like him, she graduated in PPE. She once worked for McKinsey and Co. who in 2009 produced a  government commissioned report entitled ‘Achieving World Class Productivity in the NHS’ which recommended the adoption of a US style private insurance based health system.

0          But perhaps her biggest claim to fame is as Deputy Editor of the Sunday Times, the Murdoch owned newspaper, in which she’s written many pro business articles and more importantly has written extensively about the NHS in a way that chimes remarkably with Jeremy Hunt’s outpourings. One her headlines, “The GP’s cushy deal means we’re all left to suffer in casualty” kind of says it all.

   cav         During the Leveson enquiry it was revealed that she was one of the many influential  News International journalists who had been granted the ear of David Cameron.  

jeremy-hunt       Before it was announced that Ms Cavendish was to join the CQC, the Department of Health announced that she had been asked by Jeremy Hunt to conduct an ‘important’ study of healthcare assistants to ensure they have the necessary training standards. Commenting on this the SoS said,

“Camilla Cavendish has a long-standing and strong interest in the quality of care and compassion in health and social care. She will provide a fresh perspective on the key issues of valuing and supporting the staff who provide that care.”

Given her journalistic track record on health issues I think the subtext of that comment is “she’ll provide a Conservative perspective” as she no doubt will on the CQC Board.

jennifer-summit-2010-cutout-resized      Jennifer Dixon  is CEO of Nuffield Trust which is an independent charity specialising in research and policy advice in health and social care.The Nuffield Trust was established as the Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust in 1940 by Viscount Nuffield (William Morris), the founder of Morris Motors. Dr Dixon was the project leader responsible for a series of reports commissioned by the government looking at a number of aspects of the Health and Social Care Act. Most recently she has been asked by Jeremy Hunt to look into the viability of an Ofsted-type ratings system for health services.The project she led also looked at competition issues and a statement on the Nuffield Trust website gives an indication of their approach,

“Competition is one of the most controversial tools with which successive governments have tried to boost efficiency and quality in the NHS. Our research examines how well market mechanisms in the NHS are working and whether their application could be made more effective.”

hospital_price-promise_300x150_module     The Nuffield group has many arms, one of which is Nuffield Health, a charity which runs 31 private hospitals in the UK. On their website they boast that they are,

“offering a wider range of health services than anyone else in the UK”

and claim that

“In May 2013, Nuffield Health launched a retail bond to support investment in health care services in the UK.”

download (7)     Another right leaning/business friendly CQC Board member is Michael Mire who is currently a Director at McKinsey and Company. Mr Mire is also an Oxford graduate and has experience in retail, finance and something referred to as ‘transformation’.

images (5)    On the new Healthwatch and Public Involvement website they make the following comment about the newly appointed Board members,

“These appointments reflect CQC’s commitment to strengthening its board, widening the skills and experience available to help govern and lead the organisation and to make it more independent”.

More independent? From what? The NHS maybe… but certainly not the private sector.

0_0_393_http-__offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk_News_PG_89708F60-BFC9-851D-3EF48E898E5E2E69        Don’t forget that the Health and Social Care Act has changed the role of the Secretary of State radically with its “hands-off clause”  that will severely curtail his ability to influence the delivery of NHS care in the future. That is now the job of the unelected national quango, Monitor. In a previous post here http://wp.me/p3mYc5-5J I showed how Monitor’s CEO, David Bennett was found to be sympathetic towards the interests of private healthcare providers. A major part of Monitor’s role is to oversee competition issues in the health service and rout out ‘anti-competitive’ practices through its system of licensing and policing compliance with the terms of those licenses.

If the CQC were to join forces with Monitor, as has been mooted, what kind of beast will then be the guardian of our NHS? 

Cameron: The Man Who Sold The World… Our NHS. How could this happen?

cam obam

The best thing about blogging for me is the feedback I get from readers’ comments and it was one such comment that inspired me to write this post. A few days ago I received an informative comment from aussieh in response to a post about the Grant Thornton Report (http://wp.me/p3mYc5-5J ) which made my blood run cold. In this comment aussieh drew my attention to this

The US/EU Free Trade Agreement, which David Cameron identified as a priority in his chairing of the G8 this year, was given the go-ahead by US President Obama and EU President Barroso in January. One of the key aims of this Free Trade Agreement is to give international corporations legal rights to access governments’ public services budgets…

This framework means that publicly funded English health services will be obliged to tender out contracts. Large transnational corporations will have a competitive advantage in the bidding process…

images (11)    Legal rights to access our public services budgets? What does that mean? And why would our Prime Minister if, as he’s endlessly claiming, he always stands up for ‘the national interest’,  want to make it a priority to open up our public services to multinational corporations who have NO interest in how we organise our affairs other  than how they can ruthlessly exploit it to maximise their share price. We know that and unless he’s totally brain dead, he must know that too. Its not as if they don’t have loads of form for it. We all saw what happened to that sweatshop in Bangladesh recently. Who exactly is calling the shots here? And just how did it happen to get this way in the first place?

I definitely needed to find out more about this…

MultiNationalCorps       While searching on Google Scholar I found an academic article by Upendra D Acharya from Gonzaga University School of Law in Washington. The article, published in the Boston College Law Review on 23rd May this year, told me everything I needed to know to understand why our public services are in danger of being eaten up by multinational sharks. Its title is “Globalization and Hegemony Shift: Are States Merely Agents of Corporate Capitalism?” and is freely accessible through Law Journals at Digital Commons. I’ll summarise it below but if you want to read it for yourself the link is here,

http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3312&context=bclr&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.com%2Fscholar%3Fstart%3D50%26q%3Dsecret%2BWTO%2Bplans%2Bfor%2Bprivatisation%2Bin%2B%2Buk%2B2013%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%2C5#search=%22secret%20WTO%20plans%20privatisation%20uk%202013%22

 Acharya sums up the state of affairs as it now stands today by saying,

“corporate capitalism has converted globalization into a profit-making venture. All states…have begun to behave as agents of corporate capitalism. We are now in a new world order of hegemony shift from states to corporate capitalism. In this new world order, states are functioning as a conduit for corporate capitalism. The theory of global governance has been based on market and technology, particularly since the 1990s. Due to corporate capitalism-induced, market-driven globalization, we are beginning to enter an era of post-human society with a decline or an absence of aspirational and emotional human elements. States have become soft power and corporate capitalism has become hard power in the system of international law and order. The notion of peace and the conduct of war have become the primary business of corporations while states facilitate and sacrifice their resources and citizens for the interests of corporate capitalism.” 

‘Sacrifice their resources and citizens for the interests of global capitalism’? Well, Cameron certainly seems to be doing that. But how did we get into this mess?

peaceofwestphaliamap   In order to explain how we ended up with a globalised world under the thumb of powerful corporations Acharya takes us way back to 1648 and what’s known as The Peace of Westphalia.

According to Wikipedia, the “Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the independence of the Dutch Republic.” This was the beginning of a new political era in Europe because it was then that the idea of the sovereign or nation state was born.

It was hoped that by establishing clear borders between the different countries, each with their own ruler and forbidding interference into another nation’s affairs that the almost constant wars that had been fought over territory prior to these agreements would end.

In effect this was the first international law.

capitalism  As technology advanced in Britain and Europe and along with it industry and trade, these powerful states were able to impose their values on weaker countries disrupting their value systems so they could exploit their natural resources. Colonial rule was imposed bringing Western law with it, but denying these colonised countries the equal right to sovereignty enjoyed by their colonisers. Business benefited from this massive looting – the Dutch East India Company, for instance, made a huge fortune from the spice trade for two centuries, setting up ports as trading bases and taking over surrounding land.

All this was considered to be legal by the looters because they made the laws that worked in their favour and imposed them on the weak states, by force if necessary.

250px-Berlin_.Gendarmenmarkt_.Deutscher_Dom_010 According to Acharya the next big landmark in the development of international law  was the Congress of Vienna. Wikipedia tells us that the “Congress of Vienna  was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815. This objective resulted in the redrawing of the continent’s political map, establishing the boundaries of France, the Duchy of Warsaw, the Netherlands, the states of theRhine, the German Kingdom of Saxony, and various Italian territories, and the creation of spheres of influence through which AustriaBritain, France and Russia brokered local and regional problems.”

Once again, this conference for the powerful came after a long period of wars notably the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. Obviously, the Peace of Westphalia hadn’t stopped those with power from fighting over territory and when all the killing stopped they had to sit down yet again and talk to come to some agreement about borders and lay down a few more rules.  Can you see a pattern emerging here?

Kongokonferenz 1884 / Franz.Karikatur - Congo Conference 1884/ French caricature - Seventy years later in 1885 the glorious leaders of Europe were at it again at the Berlin Conference, aka the Congo Conference. This time they were dividing up Africa between them, like a bunch of elite schoolboys arguing over a stolen cake. Once again they were laying down the rule of law to regulate the colonisation of a continent rich in natural resources with not a single African citizen present!  As Wikipedia puts it the conference was  “called for by Portugal and organized by Otto von Bismarck, first Chancellor of Germany, its outcome, the General Act of the Berlin Conference, can be seen as the formalization of the Scramble for Africa. The conference ushered in a period of heightened colonial activity by European powers, while simultaneously eliminating most existing forms of African autonomy and self-governance.”   Unbelievable!

Now we know where racism comes from. It makes me ashamed to be white.

League of Nations   Following the First World War the powers that be set up the League of Nations. This arose out of the Paris Peace Conference that put an end to the war and was a forerunner to the United Nations. Wikipedia says that  ” Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing wars through collective security and disarmament, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration.Other issues in this and related treaties included labour conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, human and drug trafficking, arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe. At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members.”

9-russian-revolution-1917-granger         So here we can see the further globalisation of international law and its interesting that issues like labour conditions, health and just treatment of ‘natives’ were included. Had our great leaders suddenly become philanthropic? Or was their collective elitist mind concentrating on the recent Russian Revolution and the greater tendency to protest by the unwashed masses under their thumb?

As far as the colonies were concerned these were to become sovereign states in their own right – eventually – after a long drawn out process of first becoming Mandates which effectively meant they were still made to accept theirs master’s laws. Sometimes called ‘moral colonialism’ the mandate system was built on the arrogant assumption that there was a natural hierarchy of nations and the self-styled superior ones such as Britain and France and the USA had a moral duty to guide the ‘backward’ states in becoming independent. Unsurprisingly, there was no mention by this bunch of thieving warlords of returning looted goods to their rightful owners.

UN_flags_access_copy1 After a mere 20 years the masters of war were at it again after Hitler invaded Poland and all hell broke loose, this time with the greater destructive force of new technologies of killing beyond the wildest dreams of the princes who made the fragile Peace of Westphalia. The shock of not one, but two atom bombs dropped on Japan causing horrific destruction at the mere flick of a switch ended the madness and gave birth to the United Nations.

images (2)  According to Wikipedia the UN “has six principal organs: the General Assembly,  the Security Council (for deciding certain resolutions for peace and security); the Economic and Social Council (for assisting in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development); the Secretariat (for providing studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN); the International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ); and the United Nations Trusteeship Council (which is currently inactive). Other prominent UN System agencies include the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).”

You can imagine how much more complicated international law must have got by now from its humble origins in 1685. And you can add to this a few other international legal players such as the IMF and the World Bank and the one at the very heart of the Free Trade Agreement that David Cameron tells us is so very important for our economic survival, the World Trade Organisation.

polyp_cartoon_WTO  Again I turn to Wikipedia for an description of what the WTO is and does,

“The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948. The organization deals with regulation of trade between participating countries; it provides a framework for negotiating and formalizing trade agreements, and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants’ adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments and ratified by their parliaments. Most of the issues that the WTO focuses on derive from previous trade negotiations, especially from the Uruguay Round (1986–1994).”

22340_600  There isn’t enough time or space to go into the convoluted regulations and rules imposed internationally by the WTO but the bit that matters to the NHS is the one that opens up nations’ public services to so-called free trade agreements, the GATS.  The basic WTO principle of ‘most favoured nation’ (MFN) applies to GATS as well.  Its a bit like the ‘ any qualified provider’ rule in the Health Bill and regulates who should be given contracts. And with the recent news that US health giant HSA have got in on the NHS act we can see already the kind of puppet masters pulling the Coalition’s strings. The members of the WTO agree to accord MFN status to each other and MFN is one of the cornerstones of WTO trade law.

However, UN Members may introduce temporary exemptions to this rule. The overall goal of GATS is to remove barriers to trade but members are free to choose which sectors are to be progressively “liberalised”, i.e. marketised and privatised, which mode of supply would apply to a particular sector, and to what extent liberalisation will occur over a given period of time.

6a00d83452507269e20120a6017845970b-800wi     But once they decide which service to include, Members’ commitments are governed by a “ratchet effect”, meaning that commitments are one-way and are not to be wound back once entered into. The reason for this rule is supposed to be to create a stable trading climate. However, Article XXI does allow Members to withdraw commitments, and so far two members have exercised this option (USA and EU). In November 2008, Bolivia notified that it will withdraw its health services commitments.

So. if Bolivia can do it why can’t we?!!!

bushiftheamericanpeople  Acharya mentioned that globalisation and the rise of corporate capitalism really took after at the end of the Cold War when George Bush senior announced the dawn of a New World Order. In reality he was announcing the fact that multinational corporations and their private vested interests were taking over through the immense lobbying power they have to influence national governments. Democracy was given a death sentence.

images (4) Since Thatcher and Reagan neoliberal governments have danced to the privatise -everything – that – moves tune of these corporate giants. We, the people, have fought against it all over the world and lost more and more ground as many of our so-called representatives are bought off in return for keeping us uninformed, docile and poor enough to accept ever lower wages to work for these leviathans who pay as little tax as possible in return.

8789  These giants want to make profit from everything we need for our basic survival from water supplies to crops and will also profit from the sickness they create by taking over our health services. They engineer wars and sell arms to both sides then profit from the destruction through rebuilding contracts. They are the Masters of War since many armies are now private. You must have noticed how all through history the evolution of this world domination has depended on war.

How much longer are we going to take this?

         

Massive protest against NHS privatisation planned for Conservative’s September Party Conference in Manchester

images

Unions who represent millions of people in the UK are planning to confront the Tories over privatisation of the NHS at this year’s Conservative Party Conference to be held in Manchester on September 29th.

The three biggest unions in the country – Unite, Unison and the GMB – have announced that they will be at the forefront of  community protests to highlight the public’s increasing concern at the piecemeal dismantlement of the NHS for the benefit of companies, such as Virgin Care and big US private health provider HCA.

download (1)They want to make it clear to the public that this year’s Conference is being bankrolled by the very private healthcare companies that stand to benefit from Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill 2012 and will be demanding an immediate halt to the handing out of contracts to these companies who put shareholders before patients.

In a joint statement calling for the mass rally, the Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis and GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said,

download (2)               “The people of this country do not want a health service run by the same global boardrooms that have brought misery to every other public service, such as the energy industry, that they have got their hands on. 
  
  Unite Logo          “We pay for this NHS to be different; to serve the public, and to ward off the twin fears of illness and poverty.  There is simply no place in our health service for business to profit from the misfortunes of others. This is the message that will ring around Manchester on 29 September. 
  
 GMB_logo                   “We will be demanding that a future Labour government repeals the act as a top priority – and this should be a warning to potential private companies not to bid for contracts. 
This issue will haunt this government all the way to the ballot box in 2015  when voters will see through the false promise that David Cameron made in 2010 that the NHS would be ‘safe’ in Tory hands.”

The unions say that they will work with the Trades Union Congress and its affiliates to ensure the full weight of the trade union movement stands squarely behind this landmark event.

images (1)     Neither the Tories nor their Liberal-Democrat co-conspirators declared their intention to privatise the NHS in their 2010 general election manifestos a fact that has angered millions who see it as an attack on democracy.

We’ve been promised a referendum on EU membership should any significant treaty changes occur yet NO opportunity whatsoever to vote on the fundamental changes happening to the most important public organisation in Britain, the NHS, on which every man,woman and child in this country relies for their health and well-being. 

images (3)   The Labour-affiliated unions also advised leader Ed Miliband that he must put reversing the so-called “reform” programme high up his party’s agenda,

“We will be demanding that a future Labour government repeals the Act as a top priority – and this should be a warning to potential private companies not to bid for contracts. It’s equally important that Labour isn’t let off the hook either. Much of the demolition programme for the health service started under the last government and has been seized on by the Con-Dems.”

Geoff Martin Pro-NHS campaign Health Emergency chairman also  warned Labour to take the issue seriously and not simply resort to playing political games,

“Grandstanding on the back of public outrage at the attack on the NHS would be pure political opportunism” he said.

download              So it looks like Cameron and his Demolition crew can expect a very loud and angry reception when they set foot up North in Manchester in September.

Lets make it one he’ll never forget!

Source: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/134466