Posts Tagged ‘Nhs Plan’
Easy access to the best available health care is important to we old codgers of the allotments. But our concerns at what Andrew Lansley is proposing to do to the NHS extends far beyond the needs of an ageing group, we all fear that, whatever he says, the underlying intention of his ‘reforms’ is a two tier service in which the rich fair well and everyone else suffers. For some time now most of us have been regular visitors to the ’38 Degrees’ website where the protest organisation has attracted almost one million signatures in support of its petition demanding changes to the proposals. In this ’38 Degrees’ has had backing from the British Medical Association.
A few weeks ago an appeal for funding for a legal study of the plans raised sufficient cash for ’38 Degrees’ to engage two top legal experts to examine the small print of the bill which goes befiore parliament shortly. Yesterday their findings were published and one can only conclude that it is as well we didn’t rely on the apparent safeguards provided by Nick Clegg who, under pressure from the Lib Dem conference, had promised to stop any potentially damaging aspects of Lansley’s bill. It seems that the promise was as reliable as the one Clegg gave on tuition fees!
The two barristers, Stephen Cragg QC and Rebecca Haynes QC, make clear that the bill could pave the way for a shift towards a USA-style health care system where private companies profit at the expense of patient care. They particularly stress the implications of Lansley’s plan to remove his duty to provide our healthcare. A new ‘hands-off clause’ removes the government’s power to oversee local commissioning consortia and to guarantee the same level of service wherever we live. The outcome, warn the Barristers, will be huge increases in ‘postcode lotteries’ and less ways for citizens to hold the government to account.
Even more worrying is their verdict on the clauses concerning competition. The NHS will be subject to UK and EU competition law, and the reach of procurement will extend across all NHS Commissioners. Private health care providers will be entitled to take NHS commissiong groups to court if they don’t win contracts. Scarce public money will be tied up in legal wrangles instead of hospital beds. The door will be open for the private (largely American) healthcare companies to challenge for every NHS service. They will only need to win the volume treatments to render every hospital insolvent.
The third point made by the Barristers is that every UK hospital will be free to increase the number of private beds to whatever level they wish. They will be encouraged to liaise with the private sector with a view to maximising profit. And the more private beds, the fewer public ones and the longer the waiting times to occupy them.
Like the rest of us MPs tend to skip the small print. Like us they have probably been reassured by Cameron and Clegg’s double act of deception. But it is now clear that if they pass this bill the NHS as we know it is finished. Lansley is obsessed with the American model. Yes, he is right to cliam that the private companies there provide excellent and comprehensive treatment, what he doesn’t mention is that for the majority of the population, who cannot afford private insurance or fees, the level of care is appalling.
The NHS has improved immeasurably in recent years. But that is beside the point which is that everyone is entitled to the same level of service and money allocated is not drained off to pay shareholders.
The final death sentence for the NHS now rests in the hands of MPs and hundreds of thousands of emails are winging their way thanks to the facility provided by ’38 Degrees’. If, despite the new legal warnings, they decide to back Cameron, Clegg and Lansley a new dark age will dawn in which your chance of recovery from illness rests entirely on the depth of your pocket or purse!
TEST YOUR GENERAL KNOWLEDGE WITH TODAY’S MIDWEEK QUIZ!
1. Mica Paris and who replaced Trinny & Susannah on “What Not to Wear”? 2. Which famous survey started in 1086? 3. From which musical does the song ”One” come? 4. Ronald Reagan was in which political party? 5. Which Stephen directed the movie “Billy Elliot”? 6. In the Bible, what was the prophet Elijah carried up to heaven in? 7. What nationality was Casanova? 8. What was Al Jolson’s most famous line? 9. If a substance is oleaginous what does it mainly contain? 10. Which General led the junta in the 1982 seizure of the Falklands?
Oh how we delight in the misfortunes of others! The hen runs were a sea of mud this morning but Albert had forgotten his wellies. Result was that his slip-on shoes stuck in the ooze and he stepped in his stockened feet into something resembling the quicksand portrayed in ‘Ice Cold in Alex’. He proceeded to fall and, such was his state, we had to don gloves before staging a rescue. The hens leapt into a frenzy of panic, we howled with laughter and my old pal headed for home. It all reminded me somewhat of the situation amongst those who supposedly run the country.
Today’s right-wing Telegraph leads with ‘Cameron retreats on four fronts’, a summary of the latest U-turns being forced on the government. It seems that Tory MPs are unhappy about all the concessions that he appears to have made to the Lib Dems, whilst his ministers are unhappy at his tendency to hang them out to dry. According to the Telegraph the latest retreats include the NHS plan, the capping of state welfare handouts, Councils’ refusal to bring back weekly bin collections and a reduction in the number of foreign students. And one can reasonably add in the proposed softer approach to sentences, although that is over a week old and the prime minister’s changes of direction are so great that analysts measure them in seven day cycles. All of which suggests that the opposition is out-performing the government.
But it isn’t. In fact the Labour Party right now is totally ineffective and the many changes of direction are down to campaigns like those of ’38 Degrees’ and the increasingly vociferous Cleggites.
So how can it be that an opposition can fail to make its mark at a time of severe cuts born of a dubious economic strategy and a host of ideological policies that are fiercely opposed by large sections of the electorate? Good question. The answer seems to be that Ed Miliband is no firebrand and firebrands within the shadow cabinet are devoting their time to fighting each other. Manipulation from the shadows seems to be coming from embittered allies of David Miliband and the Blair camp for which mischief and spin is second nature.
And the Murdoch press is working hard to further destabilise the opposition, a task that probably owes much to their cosy relationship with the Tory leadership and the impending approval of the BSkyB takeover. An example came this weekend. The Sunday Times published an article headed ‘Labour big beasts maul Ed Miliband’. In it Prescott is quoted as telling “friends” that “it is only early days, but it has not been a great start by our leader”. The paper has now published an apology admitting that Prescott said no such thing, the quote was due to a “production error”. Not surprisingly ‘two-Jags’ has refused to accept this “mealy-mouthed apology” which is “typical of a Murdoch newspaper”.
Another blow came with the serialisation in the Mail on Sunday of a biography of Ed Miliband by Mehdi Hasa and James Macintyre, whoever they may be. This provides a soap-opera like description of fall-outs within the Miliband family. It seems that the wives are fighting like ferrets in a sack, which may or may not be true but sounds rather like the situation in families up and down the land.
I suspect that the real problem is that Ed Miliband is too gentle a soul to compete with a smooth PR expert such as Cameron. He is also plainly that rare thing, an honest politician, a characteristic that is likely to hamper him more than somewhat. Particularly so since he tends to identify with what Blair called ‘ordinary people’. He is ideologically positioned in the heart of what once was the core of Labour’s support but that puts him at odds with the middle-classes whom Blair adored and who now hold the voting power.
All of which leads one to empathise with Ed Miliband but to fear the worst for him. Blair would be raising the roof about Cameron’s policies despite the fact that they are identical to his own. Cameron is in reality a born-again Blair but that wouldn’t have prevented the king of spin from pretending otherwise.
Certain it is the knives will soon be out for what seems a decent young man. If under the present circumstances an opposition cannot record a lead in the polls over an increasingly fraught government he or she is surely doomed.
Whatever our political allegiances we should wish him well for democracy needs a dynamic opposition. The sad thing is that when he falls he will undoubtedly be replaced by someone equally devious and smooth as the prime minister. That may prove beneficial for the task of opposition, but will be a terrible indictment of the society we have become.
David Cameron has described Ed Miliband as naive. Like John Smith, Jo Grimond , Michael Foot and others he is. There is no place for an honest man in today’s world of spin and half-lies.
TODAY’S NEW EGGHEADS QUIZ ; CLASSIC NO. ONES; 1. Who were the first Scottish group to have three No 1s? 2. Which 1955 American movie had ’Unchained Melody’ as theme tune? 3. Which No 1 was the first solo single by George Harrison? 4. Which Elvis hit made him the first artist with three consecutive British No 1s? 5. Which Rod Stewart hit was originally the B-side of “Reason to Believe”? 6. Who was on top of the charts the week Everest was first climbed? 7. Who featured on the first No 1 for Michael Andrews? 8. What was the first No 1 from the Beatles’ second film ‘Help’? 9. Who wrote Chicago’s No 1 classic ‘If You Leave Me Now’? 10. Which lyricist of Aznavour’s ‘She’ was a writer on ‘Les Mis’?