Posts Tagged ‘Pensioner’
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!
Not quite so warm today as we cleaned out the chicken coops but everyone seemed in high spirits. ‘Calamity’ Clegg does much to raise spirits here as his clangers follow in quick succession. Yesterday saw yet another. When challenged about the cuts to pensioner’s fuel allowances he replied that it was just another scare story dreamed up by Ed Balls. Clearly Kenneth Clarke was not the only coalition minister asleep during the Chancellors oration! But it has to said in the Lib Dem leader’s defence that he makes us laugh and we should perhaps be grateful for small mercies.
Laughter is becoming a rare feature of our community where the cuts are beginning to bite. Some of our libraries face the axe, the number of beat bobbies is to be halved, a number of centres for the severely disabled are to close. In fact no part of our daily lives will be untouched by the severest cuts ever experienced. No doubt the politicians will reply that times are hard and every penny counts. And they would be lying through their teeth!
Hidden away in the Budget are statistics capable of sending even the mildest amongst us into a rage. Our annual contribution to the European Union is set to soar to £9 billion by 2015 and we face an almost immediate rise of 17 per cent. In the past year our contribution rose from £4.7 billion to £7.6 billion and it is planned to rise again sharply this year. And that is far from the total bill, the near certainty is that we will have to follow up our massive payments to bail-out Ireland with bail-out contributions to Greece and Portugal.
Tory bankbencher Bill Cash yesterday said that the expenditure is “totally unnecessary” and added “I’m utterly opposed to the EU enlargement process”. Fellow Tory MP Douglas Carswell described the figures, and the latest news of payments for pros[ective new members Croatia, as “absolutely shocking”. He went on to complain that “this week we are cutting public services in my constituency while planning a huge payout to Croatia”. This shows, Mr Carswell said, that it is high time we had an ‘in or out’ referendum on EU membership. ” The EU project is a debt union and whatever the politicians promise, Britian seems to keep on paying”, he added.
Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, was also in a rage. He described our contributions as ” extrememly worrying”. He added; “A combination of the grandiouse ambitions of European politicians and the needs of new member states are set to make EU membership a worse and worse deal for British taxpayers. If Eurocrats won’t embrace the austerity measures that people here have had to, the government should refuse to finance that and not just accept Brussels’ demands for more and more money”.
It really is extraordinary that at a time when so many are facing extreme hardship in this country we are still pouring money in to the EU. Slowly but surely we are being bled dry by the Brussels machine. Bailout follows bailout, subscriptions continue to rocket, regulation after regulation encircles us. To say all this is not be be anti-European but simply to recognise that the more we pay out the greater the domestic cuts will have to be.
In fairness to David Cameron it was the concessions made by the Blair government that landed us in this horrific situation, and it is his need to placate Calamity Clegg that prevents him even considering a referendum. The irony is that we are to have a pointless one about a tweak to our voting system but are not prepared to consult the public on a far more important issue.
In defiance of the views of member-states the EU parliamentarians have just voted themselves another huge increase and hardly a day passes but we read of chauffered limos, massives expenses for which no receipts are required, and perks the like of which would have our Westminster crowd on the front page of every newspaper. It surely has to stop and if it doesn’t we should be heading for the exit.
Despite what the right-wing press says this morning not everyone marching in London is a left-wing militant. Coachloads of people who have never demonstrated before are on the road. They are demanding that the rate of cuts be slowed down. They should also be demanding that our ever escalating payments to the money-grabbing Brussels empire-builders be cut too!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; SPORT “I never comment on referees and I’m not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat”…..Ron Atkinson “The entiure contents of the Manchester City trophy room have been stolen. The police are looking for a man carrying a light blue carpet ” …….Bernard Manning “If that had gone in it would have been a goal”….David Coleman “You’d think if any country could put up a decent wall, it would be China”….Terry Venables “The first time I went skiing I wasn’t very good, and broke a leg. Luckily, it wasn’t one of mine”…..Michael Green “The manager has a fresh pair of legs up his sleeve”……John Creig “Games are the last resort of those who do not know how to be idle”….Robert Lynd “The English football team – brilliant on paper, shit on grass”…..Arthur Smith ” The Premier League is a multi-million industry with the aroma of a blocked toilet and the principles of a knocking shop”……Michael Parkinson “I never make predictions and I never will”….Paul Gascoigne “I went to a fight the other night and an ice hockey game broke out”……Rodney Dangerfield “For me the worst part of playing golf has always been hitting the ball”…..Dave Barry
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. A rocket 2. They died durinbg the return to Earth when the cabin pressure failed
TODAY’S QUESTIONS 1. How many pennies made up a shilling in Britain’s pre-decimal currency? 2. What was a shilling worth in new pence after decimalisation?