Posts Tagged ‘One Million’
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?
The sun was out this morning as we tended the squabbling hens. Most conversation centered around the amazing Arsenal comeback against Barcelona last night, but there was also time to sing the praises of ’38 Degrees’, the protest organisation that has obtained 531,000 signatures to its petition condemning the government’ plan to sell off the state owned Forestry Commission and the forests and woodlands it oversees. Most newspapers credit ’38′ with a major part in breaking the nerve of the privatisers.
The first indication that David Cameron was backing out of the battle he originally saw as an easy one came during yesterday’s prime minister’s Question Time. After his routine attack about Ed Miliband’s lack of business experience, which always infers that Cameron himself was something more than a public relations wheeler-dealer - the prime minister was asked if he was impressed with the forest-sales proposal. He simply answered no. In one word he disowned Caroline Spelman, and his own and the cabinet’s previous endorsements. Clearly the petition and advertising by ’38′, plus the mass protests held by middle-England, had done the trick. Just hours later it became clear that the proposla is dead despite the endorsement voted through last week by coalition MPs.
I find what Attorney General Dominic Grieve called a “spontaneous combustion of public anger” very encouraging and not merely because the idea of selling off our heritage was outrageous. It is perhaps the first sign that protest groups are beginning to win widespread support for campaigns against that which the public abhors. Had there not been such a massive petition the politicians would have held so called consultations and proclaimed majority backing. Faced with a petition likely to hit one million soon, plus a commissioned survey showing 80 per cent of the public opposed, that is a tricky argument to make! Now that the usually passive Brits have seen just what can be done one hopes that other mad ideas will receive a similar fate. Had we been asked in this way to vote on the proposal to reduce coastguard rescue services from 18 to 8, they too might have been saved (as it is a police investigation into allegd malpractice in the bidding process is at least delaying some aspects).
So we can at least draw comfort from the saving of our forests. But if you are a member of the Countryside Alliance you may wish to ask why it was the one relevant organisation to refuse to join the opposition. In fact its head of policy, Sara Lee, was quoted as believing that there was “significant revenue potential through the sell-off” and refused to sign the public letter which included everyone from the Archbishop of Canterbury through to Tracy Elmin of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Clearly we have some way to go with our new appetite for protest when the very organisation that supposedly exists to act for us sees itself as part of the establishment. If I had a membership card it would now be in the bin.
LITTLE ENGLANDER? I PLEAD GUILTY!
I was listening to Radio 4 yesterday when a spokesman for the EU took centre stage. She was banging on about waste management and chose to warn the UK that if they fail to comply with the latest Brussels edicts – which sounded incomprehensible to me – we will be severely punished in the form of massive fines. No ifs or buts, just do as we tell you.
This came on the same day that I read of the latest ruling about paedophiles and votes for prisoners and I began to wonder why we still have a parliament at all.
Cameron says that we can’t consider leaving the EU or the European Court of Human Rights. Why can’t we? But my self understanding tells me that I’m beginning to sound like a ‘Little Englander’. Perhaps most people like being bossed about by unelected officials from Lithuania?
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; “No man ever stuck his hand up your dress looking for a library ticket”….Joan Rivers “The evening he left was hell. His absence wasn’t the problem but he had taken the corkscrew”…..Wendy Cope “Ill-conceived love is like a Christmas cracker – one massive bang and the novelty soon wears off”….Edmund Blackadder “Never marry for money. Divorce for money”….Wendy Liebman “There’s a way of transferring money that’s even faster than electronic banking. It’s called marriage”…..Ronnie Shakes “Yes, my husband is younger than me, but it’s not a problem. If he dies, he dies”…..Joan Collins “I wouldn’t be caught dead marrying a woman old enough to be my wife”….Tony Curtis “Getting married for sex is like buying a 747 for the free peanuts”….Jeff Foxworthy “The first part of our marriage was very happy. Then, on the way back from the ceremony….”….Henny Youngman “When I looked up my family tree I found that I was the sap”….Rodney Dangerfield ” I took the wife’s family out for tea and biscuits. They weren’t too happy about having to give blood though”…Les Dawson “Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath”…..Arnold Glasgow
TODAY’S QUIZ QUESTIONS; 1. Which two churches formed the United Reform Church? 2 Which member of the Royal Family celebrated a 21st birthday in 1971?