Several of my allotment pals have enjoyed my problems with the great new communications highway. Admittedly the ones saying ‘we told you so’ are those who still use two cocoa tins with string rather than mobile phones, but as one disaster has followed another I must confess that my sense of wonder at the new age instant messaging has become somewhat dulled. But we seem to be up and running today even if the facility for exchanging comments has yet to resurface.
But everyone seems agreed an one thing. The rolling over of the government on its proposal to sell off our forests is great news for democracy. Thanks to organisations such as ’38 Degrees’ over one hundred emails were sent to MPs and over 530,000 members of the public signed a petition. Caroline Spelman was forced to apologise and admit that “we misread the public reaction”. Pity they didn’t seek it before blundering in!
Ed Miliband has predicted that an even greater storm is building on the Lansley plans to privatise the NHS, and he could be right. This time around the coaltion faces massive opposition from the British Medical Association and General Practitioners who believe that the plan to allow private companies to ‘cherry pick’ easy-to-run services will damage our hospitals and lower the standards of clinical care.
Having experience of NHS hospitals I am quite clear that what is proposed will do enormous damage. But as at today I am even more worried about the immediate affect of the massive cuts in funding. Yes, cuts. When ministers claim to be protecting NHS funding they are lying. All hospitals face huge ‘efficiency targets’, cuts by any other name. Andrew Lansley talks about cutting administration, and in regard to Primary Care Trusts he is right. But hospitals are already down to the bone and such admin staff as now remains is largely involved in key tasks such as medical records and appointment setting. So the cuts will have to come from front line doctors and nurses.
The fatal action is already underway. Yesterday 986 redundancies were announced at two London hospitals, St Georges and Kingston, and doctors leaders warned that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Peter Carter of the Royal College of Nursing is hoerified and warned that “there is no way that the loss of almost 100 staff will not affect care for patients”. He added that the rhetoric “of protecting the frontline and what is actually happening on hospotal wards is widening by the day”. At the two hospitals in question those losing their jobs include consultants, doctors and nurses and the number of beds is being reduced.
Across the country there have already been cuts in numbers of medical staff totalling 3,400, and the number is growing by the day. The government has waived waiting time targets and the chances are that the queues will begin to lengthen over the next few weeks. The number of older folk is growing and the demand for services with it. Our hospitals are beseiged and are heading for collapse. A good example is to be found in Southend where the Foundation Trust is having to axe 400 jobs and close six wards and in Croydon, where twelve elective surgery beds are being closed. Even the most famous hospotals are tottering, Barts is shedding 630 staff includng 250 nurses.
Add to all this the potential chaos of the widely disputed Lansley plans and you have the assurance of meltdown. Trust me, I know what I’m doing, says Lansley. Exactly the words Spelman used when fighting for the Forest sales!
The government is right to look for highly paid non-jobs such as many which exist in local councils. But they don’t exist in our hard-pressed hospitals. Has Andrew Lansley ever used an Accident and Emergency department?
’38 Degrees’ is gearing up for a campaign to save the NHS. Everyone should pray that it repeats its success over the Forests. If it doesn’t, this will not be a good country in which to become ill!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY “ I’m not against half-naked girls. Not as often as I would like to be”….Woody Allen “People think I hate sex. I don’t. I just don’t like things that stop you watching television”…Victoria Wood ” A sexagenarian? At his age? That’s disgusting”….Gracie Allen “I asked this girl out and she said, ‘You got a friend?’ I said yes, she said ‘Then go out with him”….Dom Irrera “I was dating a transvestite. My mother said ‘Marry him. You’ll double your wardrobe”…..Joan Rivers “The nice thing about stalkers = they’re always there for you”…Jenny Abrams “I asked my accountant if anything could get me out of the mess I am in now. He thought for a long time….’Yes’ he said. ‘Death would help’ “……Robert Morley “What is it about people that repair shoes that makes them so good at cutting keys?”….Harry Hill “I used to sell hearing aids door to door. It wasn’t easy, because your best prospects never answered”…Bob Monkhouse “Wanted: curate for country parish, slow left arm bowler preferred”..Advert in Times “Did you ever hear of a kid, while playing, pretend to be an accountant, even if he wanted to be one? “…..Jackie Mason “Of course prostitutes have babies. Where do you think traffic wardens come from? “…Dave Dutton ”Living on earth may be expensive but it includes a free trip around the sun”….Ashleigh Brilliant “If the universe is expanding, why can’t I find a parking space? “….Woody Allen “A computer is like an Old Testament God – lots of rules and no mercy”….Joseph Campbell “We live in an age where the pizza arrives at your house before the police do”….Jeff Marder “LA; any town that has an all-night, drive-in taxidermist has got to be weird”…Billy Connolly. ” If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it!”….Ken Livingstone.
ANSWERS TO THE LAST QUIZ; 1. Presbyterians and Congregationalists 2. Princess Anne
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1 In what year was Jimmy Carter elected president of the USA? 2. Which member of the British royal family was killed in a flying accident in 1971?