Friday, 16 March 2012

The Future of the NHS: A Tale of Two Headlines...

Just take a minute to review these two headlines running at the moment about health care in the UK.

Firstly on the BBC website

"Home care for elderly branded 'shocking and disgraceful'"

link here;

then this one from the Guardian website

"Devon NHS children's services set for privatisation"

link here;

Now to the first headline - the fact is that Elderly Home Care has been continually outsourced (privatised) from Local Authority control for about 20 years or so - and this is the headline we have and the evidence before us in 2012.

Despite this, the Coalition Government are pursuing the same failed prescription in Children's care today.

Quite frankly it is ludicrous, dangerous and morally, economically, politically and socially wrong on every level.

Is it any wonder I can't sleep at night!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Cameron's Weakness is All Too Plain to See - Political Cowardice

You wouldn't have thought it from a Tory Old Etonian, but our 'Establishment' Prime Minister is starting to show a very unexpected sign of weakness - political cowardice. The evidence is starting to build that when the going gets tough, the PM hardly gets going - except by his strenuous efforts to avoid his opponents.
I first picked this up when there were reports that Cameron was arranging Parliamentary recesses and foreign visits seemingly to avoid PMQ's (reported by Dr Eoin Clarke over at . Then we have Cameron's NHS summit to come on Monday 20th February where the invitations have only been sent to those in the health service that are more compliant towards the heavily criticised NHS and Social Care Bill - no invites for those from the Royal Colleges who have dared to demand that the Bill be dropped. On top of this we have the breaking news that Cameron actually shut journalists away when he recently visited the RVI Hospital in Newcastle, presumably so they could neither witness nor comment on the apparent rough ride he was given by some NHS staff. Contrast this to the way Blair and Brown undertook such visits - the contact with the staff and the public (and indeed confrontation on occasions) Blair and Brown both had were witnessed by a breathless media.
One wonders whether this is just an adept PR professional - which Cameron undoubtedly is - managing his appearance for the electorate or whether it is a sign of something deeper within the man himself - or could it be both perhaps?
If you witness how Cameron reacts to criticism, either in the HOC or elsewher, he either gets very short-tempered as the testy exchanges with the Leader of the Opposition would indicate, or he seems to simply sulk and avoid eye contact, as he was when dealing with a frosty Sarkozy straight after his EU veto that never was. An interesting aside on this is that many Conservatives consider Cameron's use of the veto was from a position of weakness and not strength despite the tub-thumping response it got from the Right.
Are the spin doctors worried about how Cameron appears under pressure and if so are they managing him so as to avoid anticipated pressure points? If this is the case then the Coalition needs to be worried. Should Cameron continue to be closetted in such a way and continually surrounded by people who don't disagree with him then there will only be one result - bad advice, bad policies and electoral disaster. Whilst one could accuse me of hoping for the latter, I would rather not have the former.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Complaint to BBC

Below is a copy of a complaint just sent to the BBC

On the BBC Six O'Clock News broadcast on 17th January 2012 Nick Robinson, Political Editor, was covering a news story about Ed Miliband's response to UNITE criticism about his policies on the Coalition Government's spending cuts . In the item Mr Robinson stated that "Labour Controlled" Doncaster Council, Ed Milband's own Council in his constituency, was cutting staff salaries by 4%. I believe Mr Robinson intended viewers to believe that this was a local Labour Party decision when actually Doncaster Council has an elected Mayor who is from the English Democrats Party. Mr Robinson either has no idea of the decision-making of local authorities who have an elected Mayor or he intentionally sought to mislead viewers in order to show a Labour Council supporting salary cuts to public sector staff. Therefore, either Mr Robinson is extremely ill-informed, which I doubt, or he made the statement in order to intentionally mislead viewers. I would want the BBC to correct the statement on a future news programme and an apology for what was at best poor, and at worst, biased journalism.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Letter to the Guardian


I am writing to complain about a worrying trend in the Guardian and that is the articles that are opened up for reader's comments and those which are not. It is noticeable that when there is a critical story about the coalition or more pointedly David Cameron or Nick Clegg in person, invariably the article is not open for reader's comments. However, critical coverage of the Leader of the Opposition (of which there seems to be more of late) is almost always open to reader's comments. The most recent example being a comparison between the two articles surrounding Ed Miliband's twitter typo ("Blackbusters") and the Prime Minister's apology for his Tourettes jibe at Ed Balls. Both the articles about Miliband are open to comment the single article about Cameron isn't. Perhaps you could explain why this is the case - and more worryingly, why this is the case most of the time?


Andrew Freeman

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Bully-boy Tactics in Plymouth

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, today called on Plymouth City Council to drop the macho politics and get back round the table. The call comes following the councils decision to withdraw recognition from the union, close its office and refuse further talks, in the wake of a disagreement over discriminatory cuts to council workers pay and conditions.

Dave Prentis, said:

"Plymouth City Council should drop the macho politics and get back round the negotiating table, for the good of their workforce and the people of Plymouth. Derecognising the union is an aggressive and disproportionate response to UNISON's honest efforts to protect our members jobs, pay and conditions and protect vital services for local people.

"We are taking legal advice, and we will not be pressured into signing an agreement that discriminates against some groups of staff.

"We have support from Unite and GMB who have both written to the council to withdraw their signatures from the agreement. There is only one way back now, and that is for the council to talk to the union and come to a fair and reasonable agreement."

The local UNISON branch has been overwhelmed with messages of support from around the UK and across the globe. There has been numerous messages from people in Plymouth, many of whom are not even union members but believe firmly that UNISON is doing the right thing.

The unions have been in talks for months over the Council's decision to cut jobs and the pay and conditions of its staff. The union has been given legal advice that the proposed agreement may have a disproportionate impact on certain groups of low paid workers, making it discriminatory. The cuts will particularly hit those providing home care, emergency social services, street cleaners and parks workers.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Coalition NHS Policies result in Ward Closures at Sheffield Hospitals


The proposed closure of Ward Q1 “is the thin end of a very large wedge” which will herald more ward closures and service contraction across the city as Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust seek to achieve the £40 million savings needed in 2011/12. So says Andy Freeman, UNISON Regional Organiser.

Consultation about the closure of Ward Q1 at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital ends on Tuesday 26th July and is part of the 1st Phase of the Reconfiguration of Medical Beds across the Trust.

Andy says “The consultation outlines the intention to close 4 wards so this is just the start and the impact on patients, particularly the elderly, will be immediate. The Trust is faced with some very difficult decisions in order to save £40 million this financial year so this proposal is the thin end of a very large wedge.”

Andy went on; “We already know that on top of this there are going to be reconfigurations in Theatres as funding for surgery from Commissioners has been drastically reduced. With regard to planned surgery like hip replacements and hernia operations UNISON representatives in a consultation meeting this year were stunned to hear a senior Trust Executive say “people will need to be in more pain before we can treat them””

This is the impact of the Coalition Government Policies which will “strangle the NHS as we know it” according to Regional Head of Health, Pam Johnson.

Pam says “Government plans for the NHS are directly responsible for these proposals in Sheffield. Quite clearly there is much worse to come, you can’t save these sorts of figures without more service reduction. What, I ask, is the Deputy Prime Minister, doing about this? Mr Clegg, a Sheffield MP, is sitting by while his Government’s policies strangle the NHS as we know it.”

Pam went on “I am pleased that people in Sheffield are waking up to this as UNISON members, in a very short space of time, got hundreds of people to sign a petition against these closures. The impact of ward closures like this are always keenly felt by patients and their families and we are deeply concerned about the impact of these changes will have.”

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Definition of a Scab by Jack London

After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab.

A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the Devil shuts the gates of Hell to keep him out.

No man has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas Iscariot sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British Army. The modern strikebreaker sells his birthright, his country, his wife, his children and his fellow men for an unfulfilled promise from his employer, trust or corporation.

Esau was a traitor to himself: Judas Iscariot was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a strikebreaker is a traitor to his God, his country, his wife, his family and his class.