Posts Tagged ‘Dbe’
One of my fellow chicken-breeders travelled to London yesterday. Jack was determined to take part in the sit-down protest against the so-called NHS reforms bill and reports today that Westminster Bridge was closed for over an hour in both directions. Thousands took part and there was a heavy police presence. The protest drew support from right across the country.
Janet Bennet, a pensioner from Liverpool was there and said; “The NHS is important to poeple and we need to stand up and protect it from this creeping privatisation”. Susan Secher, a human resources manager from London said; “Our greatest fear is that the NHS will end up as an insurance-based, two or three-tier service”. Margaret Greenwood, a therapy radiographer from London, said; “In two or three year’s time we may not have a recognisable NHS. It represents wholesale privatisation”. Our very own Jack Pilling said; We have to stand up and be counted on this. Lansley will destroy the NHS”.
The protest organisation ’38 Degrees’ organised a simultaneous flood of emails to members of the House of Lords who receive the bill this week. Lansley is offering further amendments, in fact the bill now scarcely resembles the one that he originally launched. But its central theme remains – the introduction of the private sector.
Whilst no one is opposing the idea of GPs having a greater role in the task of commissioning, it is the place of competition in the bill that is causing the biggest furore to greet any proposal since the poll tax. Of course competition is a good thing in many fields. If we don’t like the Tesco offers we can go down the road to Asda, and so on. But when applied to essential services the concept fails utterly.
The proposed model is very similar to the one that sold off the utilities. Does anyone seriously believe that water services have been enhanced by being in the hands of private companies? Or electricity, gas etc? What competition does in social areas is to create mega, monopoly suppliers. Where it has so far been introduced in health and social care fields it has created faceless, unaccountable, remote companies such as Southern Cross. When its minions fail to deliver proper care who picks up the bill? In their case the revelations of mistreatment exposed by Panorama forced the government to take over.
Throughout this saga Lansley has regularly cited the American example. What he hasn’t mentioned is that whilst NHS management costs run at not much more than 3%, those in the USA account for nearly 20%. Private health and health insurance generate enormous transaction costs. It’s an expensive business processing billing for healthcare, challenging what you are getting for money, litigating for wound infections etc – and paying clever underwriters to squirm out of paying patients or hospitals.
The very nature of private healthcare systems generating choice requires surplus capacity – empty beds – so that patients can exercise that choice. It requires the seperation of elective treatment from emergency. It requires more investment up front to serve the fewer patients better. It requires a two-tier service with a lower-cost administration for the second, and larger, tier. It requires higher standards for tier one, and lower standards for the rest.
All that apart the introduction of competition entails a massively expensive tendering system. The scope for legal challenges will be enormous, and who provides the services not bid for such as accident and emergency which defies any cost analysis leading to ‘prices’? And then there is the vast cost of the proposed “market testing” of every tender. This will involve specifications, extra staff to set budgets and even more to measure quality. And how does the commitment to public consultation on every change, and reviews of service access materialise?
At the heart of all this is the mistaken belief that you can take away from hospitals work that is attractive to the private sector and its shareholders. Yes, it can be done but the result will be wholesale hospital closures and an ever growing tendency for those with deep pockets or expensive insurance to go to private hospitals for all elective treatment.
This is not an argument about ideology. It is about practicalities. Partial privatisation simply will not work alongside the commitment to provide healthcare of equal quality to all. But Lansley continues to argue that it will. Since his track record for judgement is broadly similar to that of Liam Fox we believe him at our peril!
Which reminds us of the appalling record of both this and Blair’s government in regard to probity. How long will it be before the press exposes links between ministers and selected private giants?
The new bill is a bridge too far. If it proceeds it will be the biggest step-backwards in our recent history!
Having all pledged to boycott The Sun and The Times we allotmenteers were reduced to looking at their headlines when we popped in to the newsagent for our daily news fix this morning. Like Gaddafi, the bullying hen, they are now seen as horrendous. But Bob reported that The Sun is claiming that Gordon Brown told them of his son’s affliction, a story as likely as the Elvis on the moon one.
Perhaps surprisingly our general view on the Murdoch scandal now seems to be one of optimism. We share a general view that what has happened may well prove to be the best thing since sliced bread. For starters we have the unique spectacle of all three political parties uniting in demanding that the bid for SkyB be dropped. Yes, we realise that Cameron has been forced into supporting the Miliband proposal, having just three days ago stating that it was premature and ill considered. The reality is that given the defection of the Lib Dems, he could not stand out against it and survive. Doubtless he views the judge-led enquiry, which he has also been forced into setting up, with some apprehension given his intimate social links with Rebekah Brooks, Coulson and all. But for now he has saved his skin and has created a precedent that will be welcomed by all who are sick of the yahoo politics of Westminster. The news that Murdoch is pulling out is a reflection of people power for over 100,000 sent emails to MPs as part of the ’38 Degrees’ campaign, an effort which undoubtedly helped to persuade the chosen ones to stand up an dbe counted. Having done it once it is going to be much easier for MPs in future to come together in the national interest.
Doubtless Cameron has at last realised that holding high office whilst being entertained by shady, albeit powerful, friends is not a good idea. Indeed, sections of the Labour Party have doubtless absorbed the same lesson. Ironically the only party without the prospect of power, the Lib Dems, needed no lesson for they have openly attacked News Corp from the outset.
So therein lies one piece of a silver lining to the Murdoch cloud. Another concerns the police. Yesterday’s appearance before the home affairs select committee confirmed evryone’s worst fears, the police are not only in part corrupt, they are incompetent. As usual John Yates was given a toasting, after which he was told by the chairman, Keith Vaz, that his evidence was “unconvincing”. But the ultimate star of the long session was Andy Hayman, the top copper in charge of the first hacking enquiry that went nowhere. Hi s catchphrases proved to be “dunno”, “can’t remember”, can’t recall”, and “that was four or five years ago”. One of the MPs called him “a dodgy geezer”, another remarked that he wouldn’t let him sell me a cheap Rolex if I wanted to know the time. Clearly a number of top officers had no understanding that accepting hospitality from those they were supposedly investigating was unwise. But the greatest worry was that this bunch of nitwits are in charge of our security!
Hopefully the piece of silver lining here will involve a recognition that both the educational standards and intelligence of our top coppers must be improved. Promotion based on length of service and ‘buggin’s turn’ must end. And the police, like the prime minister, must maintain an arms length relationship with big business and the media.
The other reason for we old codgers seeing a possible happy ending to all this is the very real possibility that after all the blood-letting to come, integrity will return to our society. Maybe we are naive, but it seems to us that a very British form of revolution has taken place. It is impossible to find anyone who is not appalled at what has been done by the Murdoch organisation and condoned by some lapdog politicians.
As more and more appalling revelations pour forth more and more people will make clear that, even though he has admitted defeat, they want nothing to do with the Murdoch papers or any politician that lacks the guts to stand up to them. They may well take heart from the fact that the principal opponents that have brought about their exposure and inevitable downfall are the Guardian, an organ owned by a not-for-profit Trust, and Ed Miliband, a politician regularly abused by Cameron as being weak and cowardly. They have shown us all that taking on the arrogant, corrupt and mighty is possible.
We old ‘uns have pledged that the first one to buy a Murdoch paper must shave his head. We will keep an eye on Albert for that is no threat to him!
TODAY’S NEW PUB QUIZ; THE MEDIA; 1. Which BBC radio and TV service broadcasts abroad? 2. Which ex-newspaper editor Piers became a star presenter on American TV? 3. The Sporting Life devotes itself to which sport? 4. Which radio and TV listings magazine is published by the BBC? 5. Which independent radio station specialises in classical music? 6. Is “The Archers” on Radio 1 or Radio 4? 7. Where does Capital Radio broadcast to? 8. What was the Sunday equivalent to ‘Daily Sport’? 9. Which BBC Radio station has Live after its number? 10. In which England City is Granada TV based?