I’ve been an NHS nurse for 15 years. Here’s why I’m going on strike

NHS sign
NHS nurses have voted to go on strike for the first time in their history

Original article republished from OpenDemocracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence

OPINION: As nurses announce strikes in December, the Tories must start paying them fairly to save the NHS from collapse

Holly Turner

25 November 2022, 12.00am

The first-ever national strikes of NHS nurses will take place on 15 and 20 December, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced.

The RCN, whose members made history by voting for direct action across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has accused the government of “choosing strike action” by refusing to negotiate on pay.

Other health unions, meanwhile, continue to ballot their members across both England and Wales, while strike mandates have been achieved across Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Direct action will now take place in all corners of the NHS, including ambulance services. These ballot results are evidence that there has been a dramatic shift in mood among health workers over the last year.

In 2021, I wrote for openDemocracy about a general feeling of despair among colleagues. By contrast, everyone now appears angry and focused, a feeling that I think has been encouraged by the recent wave of strike and trade union activity across other industries.

We hear reports of the NHS in crisis, hospitals running at capacity and dangerously low staffing levels. But without working within these services, it’s impossible to truly understand what this looks like for staff, and the patients these staff are doing their best to care for.

What staff are witnessing first hand is a catastrophic breakdown of services that has left us with vacancies hitting 135,000 and patients in danger. We desperately need to focus on retention of staff: without addressing that, we have no chance of tackling the backlog of seven million patients. Sadly, neither the government or opposition ever bring retention into the conversation, because that would mean putting pay restoration on the agenda.

In a recent survey by the GMB union, one in three ambulance staff said they had been involved in a delay that had resulted in a person dying. This is a terrifying statistic, and just one of many that the government should be taking far more seriously.

Staff are not prepared to stand with their hands behind their backs while the NHS is ripped apart in front of our eyes

What we are now witnessing are increasingly extreme attacks from the right-wing press and commentators attempting to demonise us, and to guilt us into abandoning our fight for what we are owed.

However, as I commented to a colleague, nothing they can say about us will be as bad as what staff are witnessing day in, day out. Things cannot continue as they are, and staff are not prepared to stand with their hands behind their backs while the NHS is ripped apart in front of our eyes.

I have worked as an NHS nurse for 15 years. I love my job. But my pay, and that of my colleagues, has been deliberately eroded for over a decade, with some workers up to 29% worse off in real terms. What we are left with is a group of workers carrying the entire burden of keeping patients safe, while the government washes its hands of any responsibility or accountability for the state of the service within which they work.

These are the staff who find themselves skipping breaks, working overtime for free, selling back their annual leave to make ends meet, sleeping in their cars as they cannot afford fuel to and from work – and ultimately quitting, as the moral injury of delivering substandard care is not sustainable.

We should all be united in our outrage. While this is an industrial dispute about pay, the fight is about so much more. During the pandemic we witnessed the devastating impact of dramatically increased demand on an NHS that has been stripped to the bone. We cannot let this happen again.

This is why we are taking our fight to this government and standing up not only for ourselves, but for our families and communities, and for the future of the NHS. So when the time comes, and it will, please join NHS staff on the picket lines.

Without action now, there will be no NHS left to fight for.

Original article republished from OpenDemocracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence

Continue ReadingI’ve been an NHS nurse for 15 years. Here’s why I’m going on strike

Southmead Hospital, Bristol is crap

I suffered a heart attack at 3am on Monday. I initially thought that I had experienced a severe electric shock. I was left disorientated and confused and rang 111 instead of 999. 111 was crap and didn’t call an ambulance. Instead I got a call-back from a woman doctor at about 4.30am. She hadn’t bothered to wake up before calling me. I tired of her being crap and hung-up and blocked her. I tried to make my own way to A&E by bus but tired and went home.

I attended Southmead Hospital A & E at 10.30 on Tuesday. Southmead Hospital was crap and engaged in prejudice, discrimination, abuse and neglect.

Despite having a heart attack at 3am the previous day, Southmead Hospital A & E didn’t even take my pulse for over 3 hours.

I started having chest pains and was afraid that I was going to have another heart attack.

I told a technician in A & E that I was having chest pains. She told me to sit down.

I told a paramedic in A & E that I was having chest pains. She told me to sit down, I would be assessed soon.

I started phoning an ambulance to fetch me from the A & E section of Southmead Hospital when staff eventually started to pay attention to me after 3 hours.

I am very well thank you despite Southmead Hospital.

Continue ReadingSouthmead Hospital, Bristol is crap
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‘A real and present danger’: NHS cuts will put lives at risk, health leader warns

The lying EU bus promoting money for the NHS when all the anti-EU shites are anti-NHS Neo-Liberal shites.
The lying anti-EU bus promoting money for the NHS when all the anti-EU shites are anti-NHS Neo-Liberal shites.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/oct/23/a-real-and-present-danger-nhs-cuts-will-put-lives-at-risk-health-leader-warns

Raiding the NHS budget or scrapping plans to rebuild crumbling hospitals would plunge the health service into its deepest crisis in decades. This was the stark warning this weekend from Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, who said the government is “living in a fantasy land” if it believes it can cut funds to the NHS without endangering patients.

Jeremy Hunt promised spending cuts of “eye-watering difficulty” last week after becoming chancellor of the exchequer. Yet he also did not reverse his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng’s decision to scrap the £7bn health and social levy that had been earmarked for the NHS.

Taylor, whose organisation represents hospitals, ambulance trusts, mental health care, community care and GP services, said his members were issuing the “starkest warning” about “the huge and growing gulf between what the NHS is being asked to deliver and the funding and capacity it has available”.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/oct/23/a-real-and-present-danger-nhs-cuts-will-put-lives-at-risk-health-leader-warns

Apologies for bad news Sunday, this blog doesn’t do denial of reality.

Continue Reading‘A real and present danger’: NHS cuts will put lives at risk, health leader warns

Track, Trace and the Myth of Private Sector Efficiency

Track, Trace and the Myth of Private Sector Efficiency

The established system for contact tracing is operated through Public Health England (PHE) and run by local public health protection teams in the public sector. Its services had been badly eroded as a result of decades of cuts and closures.

Instead of rebuilding capacity the government decided to create a centralised, privatised system managed by outsourcing giant Serco and call centre company Sitel – which had no experience in contact tracing.

The 27,000 workers employed by Serco and Sitel have reached and advised an average of about two cases and two contacts per call handler over a twelve week period. That’s the equivalent of around £900 per person traced. Call handlers report having nothing to do and some have had no calls to make at all – with some even claiming that they have been paid to sit around and watch Netflix.

To make matters worse, test and trace data show in the twelve week period leading up to August 5th, the privatised national call centres and online service reached and asked to self-isolate only just over half of close contacts of those diagnosed with Covid-19, leaving local health protection teams and local councils to mop up the rest from their scarce resources.

Allyson M Pollock is Professor of public health at the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Newcastle University. Her latest book The End of the NHS is forthcoming from Verso.

Continue ReadingTrack, Trace and the Myth of Private Sector Efficiency

Clapping won’t save the NHS

https://player.vimeo.com/video/374691534

Led By Donkeys show how the IFT is trying to sell off the NHS from Clipping for the Many on Vimeo.

Time that I start posting again. The sleezy, corrupt Capitalist elite need to answer to the electorate instead of to their donors. It’s not enough to ask, we must make demands.

X

Continue ReadingClapping won’t save the NHS

Revealed: PPE stockpile was out-of-date when coronavirus hit UK

By Channel 4 News Investigations Team

Almost 80% of respirators in the national pandemic stockpile were out of date when coronavirus hit the UK.

Channel 4 News has obtained detailed stock lists that reveal exactly what was held, on the day coronavirus was declared an international emergency.

Around 200 million vital pieces of kit – including respirators, masks, syringes and needles – had all expired in the eight months before 30 January.

This included 20.9 million out-of-date respirators, from a total of 26.3 million. The tightly-fitting mouth masks are vital for filtering the air that NHS workers breathe.

The documents also reveal that more than half of the national stockpile of surgical facemasks had also expired.

In total, 45% of the 19,909 boxes holding PPE supplies had exceeded their use-by dates.

The documents suggest a failure by Public Health England and NHS Supply Chain’s management company, Supply Chain Coordination Limited, to maintain the stockpile in a state of readiness.

Expired stock is excluded from distribution, meaning millions of boxes of kit could have been delayed from being sent to hospitals and care homes – just as the virus began to spread.

Millions of expired respirators weren’t cleared for release until they were tested, between 10 March and 19 March. By this time, the UK was already suffering a desperate shortage of PPE.

Continue ReadingRevealed: PPE stockpile was out-of-date when coronavirus hit UK

Draft, subject to revision: If I was in charge in UK

This post is definitely subject to revision.

  1. I would not be concerned with repatriating people. States are not responsible for such reckless people. ed: The prime purpose is to prevent spread of the virus. Such reckless people can be detained in appropriate emergency conditions – put them in a cell and feed them. ed: Human Rights is my main concern. Very high on that is the right to life. These people who are far from home have disregarded that, they have been travelling without considering their potential threat to others. The few people who need repatriation now – it’s reasonable to assume that they have not been concerned with restricting infection.
  2. Self-isolation to be maintained. People however must have the opportunity to exercise providing distancing is respected.
  3. UK Government under Boris Johnson simply been lying. While Boris & Co just lied – they just lied, that’s what they did, they don’t know how to tell the truth, it’s that their class believes that what they say is the truth – they’re used to people sucking up to them soooo much. The point is that they believed whatever they said was the truth. Now of course – we have reality. I don’t have time now to work out posh cnut posh cnutness and I don’t have any time for it and of course their posh cnutness is theirs and nothing to do with me
  4. The reality is that we have an extremely serious situation. I suggest that you accept point 1 and that unnecessary movement has ended. I propose that these individuals have brought it on themselves. Since they are so reckless to not care for themselves and others, then they should be detained for their own and others welfare. I propose this only as a suggestion. A cell and food would appear appropriate.
  5. If I was in charge: I recognise that UK government has been BSitting terribly. They have lied about everything. We need ventilators and PPE urgently. UK govt has failed to provide and lied relentlessly. It appears that dead Boris’s UK government refused EU assistance.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson may already be dead. ed: evading scrutiny even in death ;)

00.30 Hear it hear [ed: here} first. BJ is dead. 1.30 You’re still hearing it here first. BJ is dead.

7/4/20 The trouble with a list like this is that it’s the very official and accepted as though people accept it, willing to accept the way things have been.

24/4/20 6. It should be accepted that since Covid-19 is new novel virus very little is known about it. It transpires that UK’s tests for active virus are unreliable, that there is are no reliable tests for antibodies and that the WHO warns that there should not be the assumption that prior infection protects against subsequent infection i.e. antibody tests may be totally irrelevant.

7. Considering point 6, demanding a timetable or schedule for the easing of restrictions is not appropriate. A more sensible approach would be to observe what happens elsewhere.

8. People flouting restrictions and being reckless e.g. surfers, should be given the opportunity, [ed: of} some time to reflect. I am a leisure sailor and fully appreciate that I can’t go sailing currently due to the small risk of making demands on emergency assistance.

9. Restrictions apply to all, rich people driving symbols of status too.

Not 10 but cyclists please take cake. Ignorant motorists are driving very inconsiderately and dangerously, putting your lives at risk.

29/4/20 I am concerned by reports of children developing atypical Kawasaki syndrome related to CV. There will be a medical term for this but the fear is that that their first infection disabled them so that the second infection is far more serious. Worst case scenario (EE) should be considered.

11/5/20 Undead, zombie PM Boris yesterday made some pronouncements on UK Coronavirus. The problem is that very little has changed since the lockdown was imposed – if anything, people are at greater risk of catching CV now since it is more widespread. The “Be alert” message is wrong. At least the promises of imminent vaccines and antibody tests have stopped.

22/5/20 Just changed passwords and restored this blog so some has been lost. Re: my “The problem is that very little has changed since the lockdown was imposed – if anything, people are at greater risk of catching CV now since it is more widespread.” above. Europe should brace for second wave, says EU coronavirus chief

The prospect of a second wave of coronavirus infection across Europe is no longer a distant theory, according to the director of the EU agency responsible for advising governments – including the UK – on disease control.

“The question is when and how big, that is the question in my view,” said Dr Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

And Ammon, a former adviser to the German government, speaks frankly in her first interview with a UK newspaper since the crisis began.

“Looking at the characteristics of the virus, looking at what now emerges from the different countries in terms of population immunity – which isn’t all that exciting, between 2% and 14%, that leaves still 85% to 90% of the population susceptible – the virus is around us, circulating much more than January and February … I don’t want to draw a doomsday picture but I think we have to be realistic. That it’s not the time now to completely relax.”

26/5/20 Draft, subject to revision

Coronavirus / Covid-19 is a global threatening issue. It is minor in comparison to the global threat of climate destruction.

… to be continued

Please pay attention to point 9 above.

28/5/20 UK suffers highest death rate from coronavirus

The UK has suffered the highest rate of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic among countries that produce comparable data, according to excess mortality figures.

The UK has registered 59,537 more deaths than usual since the week ending March 20, indicating that the virus has directly or indirectly killed 891 people per million.

At this stage of the pandemic, that is a higher rate of death than in any country for which high-quality data exist. The absolute number of excess deaths in the UK is also the highest in Europe, and second only to the US in global terms, according to data collected by the Financial Times.

The country fares no better on another measure: the percentage increase in deaths compared with normal levels, where the UK once again is the worst hit in Europe and behind only Peru internationally.

30/5/20 Thanks to George Monbiot’s Culpable Negligence for bringing this report to my attention. Privatised and Unprepared: The NHS Supply Chain investigates the UK’s absolute chaotic disaster of providing PPE. It’s because NHS’s supply chain has been privatised in a labyrinthine complex manner with the privateers providing an abysmally poor service. The solution is to nationalise the NHS.

Months after the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, huge numbers of UK health and care workers still lack adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). This is affecting many professions: doctors, nurses, hospital support staff, administrators, mental health workers in the community and primary care, and social care workers in a variety of roles. Nursing Notes reports that Covid-19 has killed 219 health and care workers in the UK as of the 14th of May 2020, and as Alex Bailin QC – an expert in corporate manslaughter law – says, many of these deaths were “avoidable with proper PPE”. This failure to protect health and care workers is a disaster in its own right, and it is contributing to Covid-19’s catastrophic death toll in this country.

The aim of this report is to expose the role that the privatisation of health and social care has played in this preventable catastrophe. Privatisation has created a system which is both chaotic and bureaucratic – both fragmented and sclerotic. There has been an outcry over PPE shortages in media coverage of the pandemic, but little has been said about privatisation. This is a serious oversight, which this report will address.

NHS Supply Chain – the organisation at the centre of this problem – was created in 2018, after years of outsourcing of NHS Logistics. NHS Supply Chain is technically a part of the NHS, headed by the Secretary of State. But this status is merely a fig-leaf for a needlessly complex web of contracts with private companies which answer to shareholders first. Immediately upon its formation NHS Supply Chain outsourced two major contracts for IT and logistics, and then broke up and outsourced the whole procurement system, by delegating eleven supply areas to various contractors. The parcel-delivery company DHL was put in charge of finding wholesalers to supply ward based consumables, including PPE kits. Unipart was given control over supply chain logistics, including the delivery of PPE. The stated rationale for this approach – an almost obsessive drive towards greater outsourcing and greater fragmentation – was “efficiency savings”.

In what follows we examine this heavily privatised, convoluted, and fundamentally dysfunctional system that NHS Supply Chain has created – one which puts layers of corporate red tape between doctors and nurses who need PPE in order to work safely, and the companies making these supplies. The government’s failure to react to Covid-19 shouldn’t be downplayed, nor should the inherent complications of procuring PPE during a pandemic. But in order to make sense of these factors we need to understand how NHS Supply Chain itself was supposed to work, why it hasn’t worked, and what must be done differently in future.

There are plenty of “bad apples” in this story – companies whose track record, philosophy, and priorities mean that they shouldn’t have been entrusted with the responsibilities they were given. But this isn’t just a story about bad apples. It is a story of a flawed system that has helped turn the pandemic into an utter disaster. This system offers few advantages over in-house NHS provision, and it creates a range of risks. It undermines coordination and accountability. It is a system in which a “just in time” ethos – devised by logistics companies in order to win contracts and enrich shareholders – takes priority over public health.

The Independent SAGE group has called for reform to this system. “There must be reform of the process of procurement of goods and services to ensure responsive and timely supply for primary and secondary care, and community infection control.” This is especially important, they argue, “in anticipation of a second wave of infection.” Our report echoes this call, and strengthens the case for it. We call on the government to simplify the NHS Supply Chain and bring it back into NHS control, as well as increasing overall NHS capacity, particularly locally, to deal with the virus. As soon as possible, the whole NHS should be reinstated as a fully public service and outsourced contracts across the board should be brought in house. That’s what NHS staff and health workers deserve after all they’ve done for us.

13/6/20 A better podcast. I recommend from 0.51.20 – stop when you’re bored? although Chumbawumba is worth hearing. [2.18am that ‘official’ Brexit podcast used to bore me senseless, at least you won’t fall asleep to this one )

(later: Ignore the shouty bloke? ;) later still: Even the shouty bloke talks some sense.

Continue ReadingDraft, subject to revision: If I was in charge in UK

Coming soon: Coronavirus UK

Coronavirus UK is a big issue so there will be a series of posts. I intend to explain in some detail why UK is pursuing it’s current course (essentially the NHS is totally overwhelmed so the purpose is to reduce infection as far as possible), how the Coronavirus crisis is also a crisis for Capitalism (and compare and contrast to the previous crisis of Capitalism 2008). Hopefully people are realising that good health and an adequately funded and otherwise properly resourced health system is of paramount importance.

One issue to note now: Official guidance to wash hands often is simplified. The reason behind it is that viruses spread through fomites – objects that are shared by people. The obvious ones I can think of are shared rails and handles on public transport, buttons on intercoms, elevators, entry or exit to blocks of flats, handles on supermarket baskets and trolleys. It is suggested that Coronavirus / Covid-19 can remain viable on metal and wood fomites for up to 48 hours.

Continue ReadingComing soon: Coronavirus UK

Trump’s Plan For The NHS

The reality appears to be that Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are lying about the NHS.

Trump’s Plan For The NHS: Channel 4 Dispatches

Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s assertion that the NHS is not on the table, Dispatches hears from sources with knowledge of the initial trade discussions between the two countries who question whether this is the whole story.

Reporter Antony Barnett discovers that “drug pricing” has been discussed in six initial meetings between trade officials from the two countries and learns of secret meetings between US drugs firms and British civil servants where medicine “price caps” have been talked about. 

  • Dispatches was also told that British trade officials have been warned that the subject is so sensitive that they must not mention “drug pricing” in emails but use the term “valuing innovation”.

US government and its powerful pharmaceutical industry want the NHS to pay more for their medicines which are much more expensive across the Atlantic. They want to remove the UK’s ability to block American drugs not deemed “value for money” and restrict our powers to allow cheaper alternatives to be prescribed to patients which save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

According to research carried out for the programme, the cost to the UK government could run into the billions, approximately £27 billion, wiping out the potential Brexit bonus for the NHS promised by Boris Johnson.

In an interview with the programme, one of Trump’s former top trade negotiators Stephen Vaughn said he doesn’t understand what Boris Johnson means when he says the “NHS is not on the table”

Asked what happens when one side in trade negotiations says the NHS is off the table, Vaughn said: “Well that that really goes to the question of what the UK government means when it says the NHS is off the table. I don’t know what they thought they meant when they said that.“

18.28 NHS drugs bill could soar if Johnson signs Trump trade deal – report

NHS bosses fear hospitals and patients will have to pay billions more for drugs as the price of Boris Johnson striking a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump.

A report by the NHS Confederation, which represents most hospital trusts in England, warns the NHS could be landed with a much larger bill for medication and denied the chance to use cheaper alternatives to expensive branded drugs.

Continue ReadingTrump’s Plan For The NHS

Dizzy Deep’s rough guide to factions in contemporary UK politics

A rough guide to factions in UK politics. Comments are welcome.

This is my own work looking at the influences behind various UK politicians. You are welcome to disagree with any point. It should be recognised and accepted that some politicians will not have any philosophical or ideological basis at all – many people simply unquestionably accept the politics and world-view of their parents. Some of them may also be mad or simply whores to power or financial gain.

Socialists are a diverse bunch often fighting injustice e.g. anti-racism, and campaign for human rights, universal healthcare, democracy, equality, workers’ rights, etc. There are more radical Socialists outside of parliamentary politics fragmented according to adherence to the different historical origins and aspects of Socialist Ideology. The Labour party catchphrase “For the many, not the few” catches the Socialist ethos perfectly. [17/1/22 This article is now dated and was written while Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the UK Labour Party. “For the many, not the few” was a slogan of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and the title of the 2017 Labour Party manifesto. This ethos has been abandoned by the current UK Labour Party under leader Keir Starmer which should be regarded as a return to Blairism i.e. Tories pretending to be Socialists and no mainstream political representation of Socialism in UK.]

Parliamentary Socialists are not that concerned with historical Socialist ideology. They will recognise and object to the vast inequalities in wealth and control of the media but that’s about it.

Neo-Liberals are Capitalists who believe that “the market will provide”. These are the ones who are keen on deregulation so that businesses are unhindered by “red tape” – actually laws and regulations that protect standards and ordinary people – and the privatisation of everything. Brexit is all to do with deregulation so Brexiteers are mostly Neo-Liberals.

Neo-Conservatives are Neo-Liberals with the added aspect that they are Zionists – supporters of the state of Israel. Theresa May and many of the Conservative party are Neo-Cons.

Rabid Zionists are extreme supporters of the state of Israel. These are the ones that make accusations of anti-Semitism within the Labour party. The Al Jazzera series ‘the Lobby’ shows that Israel is directing accusations of anti-Semitism and the Israeli embassy may deserve its own entry in this guide.

Appeasers to Zionism. Since Zionists are attempting to apply a veto on UK politicians there are those that appease them to gain advantage. Strangely, these are often found to be trombonists.

The DUP (Democratic Unionist Party). Theresa May’s minority government is supported by the DUP. In any abusive relationship, the party that needs the relationship least is in the position of power.

Simples

6/3/19 Apologies that I neglected the nationalists. I did intend to but was on a roll.

The Scottish Nationalist Party and Plaid Cymru (the party of Wales) are both opposed to Brexit since they recognise the damage that it will cause their communities. Assembly and Scottish Parliament in joint no-deal Brexit warning.

Sinn Fein campaigns for a united Ireland. They have 7 MPs which refuse to participate in the UK assembly at Westminster. Sinn Fein regard Brexit as an opportunity to achieve an united Ireland.

17/3/19 Revealed: How dark money split the Tories’ ruling elite by Adam Ramsay

17/1/22 This article is dated. Theresa May was replaced by haphazard alcoholic Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and UK Prime Minister.

Continue ReadingDizzy Deep’s rough guide to factions in contemporary UK politics