UK politics

Recent UK politics articles and one about abuse in Florida.

“I want to use this election to raise awareness of the imminent danger posed to the NHS by the EU/US trade agreement which will allow American companies to carve up the NHS and make the privatisation process irreversible.

“I also want to alert the public to the gravity of the threat to the NHS from this government with its programme of cuts, hospital closures and privatisation and to send a powerful message to politicians in Westminster and Brussels that people will not stand by and let their NHS be destroyed.

“If elected, I will strive to ensure that EU regulations don’t adversely affect the NHS and are always in the best interests of the health of British people. The health of the nation spans all areas of policy from the environment to the economy”.



Continue ReadingUK politics

Commentary and analysis of recent political events

Number of homeless in England has risen for 3 years in a row, report says

Homelessness has increased for three consecutive years, partly because of housing shortages and cuts to benefits, with an estimated 185,000 people a year now affected in England, a report says.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Crisis found almost one in 10 people experience homelessness at some point in their life, with one in 50 experiencing it in the last five years.

Responding to the report, Emma Reynolds, the shadow housing minister, accused David Cameron of breaking his promises to tackle homelessness and get Britain building.

“Homelessness has risen every year under this government, the number of families with children living in bed and breakfasts is at a 10-year high and house-building is at its lowest in peacetime since the 1920s,” she said.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, urged the government to address a chronic lack of affordable housing and consider the impact of its cuts to housing benefit, such as the bedroom tax, welfare cap and shared accommodation rate.

Image of Accident and emergencyA&E Winter Crisis: Patients Wait 12 Hours

Hundreds of patients are being forced to wait more than four hours to be seen by accident and emergency departments as the winter crisis begins.

It is the first time since April that emergency departments have struggled to hit their four-hour targets as admissions to A&E hit the highest level since data started being collected in November 2010.

According to NHS England figures, 3,678 patients across the country were forced to wait between four and 12 hours for treatment.

Five patients were not seen for more than 12 hours last week – the busiest week of the year with 415,000 people visiting A&E departments.

Waiting times were worst in major A&E wards where just 92.2% of patients were seen within four hours.

Free-Market Ideology: The Destruction of Lives

The over-policing of America

BoJo the bozo: Cycling safety campaigners slam Boris Johnson over lack of helmet and hi-viz 

Idiot Johnson is not the only one setting a poor example. As a cyclist, I advise you to wear a helmet as I was advised by my GP (doctor). If you fall from a bike, you’re falling six feet or so possibly with your head impacting the ground. Even presidents can have a ‘bicycle accident’.

Continue ReadingCommentary and analysis of recent political events

Coalition cuts blamed for shortage of 20,000 NHS nurses

FOI requests reveal ‘hidden workforce crisis’ at odds with official statistics

Image reads Accident & Emergency, A & E

Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to dozens of NHS hospitals in England have exposed a “hidden workforce crisis” that has been missed by government statistics.

While official figures say that just 3,859 full-time nurse, midwife and health visitor posts have been lost since the Coalition came to power in May 2010, the RCN said that thousands more nursing vacancies have been created because hospitals have not been replacing staff that have retired or moved on due to reduced budgets.

Staffing shortages have been highlighted in a number of reports into NHS care. Robert Francis drew attention to understaffed wards at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust in his report into one of the worst care scandals in the health service’s history.

Howard Catton, the RCN’s head of policy, said that Government figures had not been “fully reflecting the shortages [that nurses] are experiencing at ward level”.

The report came as Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister is personally overseeing the NHS’s response to what A&E doctors have warned could be “our worst winter yet”. Many trusts missed their A&E targets last winter and there are fears that amid rising demand and reduced resources, the system may struggle to cope with expected spikes in admissions.

Thousands of patients wait 12 hours in A&E

New figures show 12,000 patients were left lying on trolleys for at least 12 hours in emergency departments last year

Around 12,000 patients spent at least 12 hours lying on trolleys after being admitted to A&E last year, according to new figures.

A further 250 people waited for treatment in casualty wards for 24 hours or more, a Freedom of Information request revealed.

One person was left for 71 hours and 34 minutes, nearly three days, at North West London trust, which runs Northwick Park and Central Middlesex A&E departments.

In another shocking case a patient waited 37 hours at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen A&E while a third was left for 33 hours at Ashford and St Peter’s in Chertsey, Surrey.

Health campaigners claimed the figures were more evidence of the growing crisis in hospitals’ emergency wards.

The figures came as the government received a warning that the closure of 50 out of 230 NHS walk-in centres in the last three years was putting extra strain on A&E units.

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.


Continue ReadingCoalition cuts blamed for shortage of 20,000 NHS nurses

Closure of 23% of NHS walk-in centres ‘will put more pressure on A&E’ regulator

Monitor says closures of 53 popular clinics could leave vulnerable people unable to access GP care

NHS sign

Despite huge popularity, nearly a quarter of NHS walk-in clinics offering seven-day care and evening opening have closed in the past three years, according to research by Monitor, the health service regulator.

It said there was a danger that closures could leave some patients unable to access GP care, particularly those unable to register with a surgery, as well as low-income working families and high-risk socially excluded groups such as homeless people, refugees and drug addicts.

More than 230 centres offering family doctor services were set up in England in the decade to 2010 under a Labour government initiative to improve access to care for patients who found it hard to register with their local GP or were unable to get a speedy appointment at a time that suited them.

Ironically, some of the closures appear to be the result of the centres being too successful. NHS commissioning authorities that have closed walk-in centres told Monitor that the clinics triggered “unwarranted” demand among “worried well” patients for often minor conditions. Some said they had closed centres to make savings as they could “no longer afford the convenience that walk-in centres offer”.

The closures are widely spread around England including in London, Plymouth, Southampton, Bristol, York, Manchester, Blackpool and Colchester. Six so-called “commuter” walk-in centres based at major railway stations in Manchester, London, Leeds and Newcastle, have closed in recent years after for failing to attract enough patients.

Monitor’s research found nearly two-thirds of patients who attended walk-in centres were already registered with a GP. Of these, just over a fifth said they had contacted their GP practice beforehand but were unable to get an appointment. A further 24% said they did not even bother to contact their GP because they anticipated there would be no convenient appointments available.

Continue ReadingClosure of 23% of NHS walk-in centres ‘will put more pressure on A&E’

Number of NHS ‘super managers’ earning up to £240,000 soars amid pay freeze fear

Figures undermine David Cameron’s claims that health service bureaucracy is being cut

NHS sign

The number of elite NHS “super-managers” being paid up to £240,000 a year to implement the government’s controversial health service reforms has soared to more than four times the level originally expected by ministers, the Observer can reveal.

The latest official figures – which show a total of 428 “very senior managers” (VSMs) working in the newly constituted NHS bureaucracy – undermine David Cameron’s repeated claims to be slashing management posts and costs at every level in the service.

The figures will also anger more than a million NHS employees at the other end of the pay scale, including nurses and non-medical staff, such as cleaners, who have been warned that their planned 1% increase for 2014 could be cancelled because there is not enough money to fund it.

In 2010, as the coalition embarked on its controversial reforms aimed at opening the service up to more private competition, ministers told the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) that by the time the changes were completed in April this year, there would be fewer than 100 very senior managers working in the top salary bracket of between £70,000 and £240,000 a year. But the Department of Health last night confirmed recent SSRB data which shows the number is now 428, including 211 super-managers at NHS England, the new body which oversees the budget and delivery of day-to-day services. The average pay of these managers is around £123,000 a year.

Pay review body documents also show that in May 2012, at the height of controversy over the changes, pioneered by the former health secretary, Andrew Lansley, there were 770 VSMs in post “during transition from old to new NHS structures”.

The figures do not include the 259 chief executives of NHS trusts whose pay is set by their own organisations’ remuneration committees and in some cases is more than £240,000 a year.

The revelations will pile more pressure on ministers after it emerged that some 2,200 NHS managers have been made redundant with large payoffs, only to be re-employed soon after.

Continue ReadingNumber of NHS ‘super managers’ earning up to £240,000 soars amid pay freeze fear

Fury at Bully Hunt’s NHS Pay Rise Snub

Health Secretary keen to axe 1 per cent increase

Image of Jeremy Hunt and David CameronUnions laid into Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday for wanting to ditch a miserly 1 per cent pay increase for hard-working NHS staff.

The GMB accused him of “berating and bullying staff” and said that his behaviour “will not be tolerated,” warning that industrial action was possible.

Unite called for the introduction of the living wage to benefit the NHS’s 17,000 lowest-paid workers.

Mr Hunt caused a huge furore when he said that the independent NHS pay review body should not implement a one per cent increase for 1.3 million NHS staff, or maintain performance-related increments.

Pointing out that the NHS pay review body was independent, GMB’s national NHS officer Rehana Azam said: “You only have to spend time with a paramedic, nurse, theatre porter or any other frontline NHS worker to see their number one priority is to deliver quality care and the best outcomes to patients they care for.”

“Why then does Jeremy Hunt want to berate and bully staff while they are trying to do a good job often under difficult circumstances?”

“This is just wrong and will not be tolerated.”

Continue ReadingFury at Bully Hunt’s NHS Pay Rise Snub

Number of NHS A&E units failing to meet targets triples in a year

Thirty-nine departments failed to see 95% of patients within four hours in England, up from 14 units for same period in 2012

Accident and emergency
Accident and emergency



The number of A&E units failing to meet the government’s four-hour target has almost trebled in a year.

A total of 39 departments failed to meet the target of seeing 95% of patients within four hours between July and September, according to NHS England data. This compares with 14 units during the same period last year.

The target covers all A&E types, including minor injury units and walk-in centres, and the number discharged, admitted or transferred within four hours of arrival.

The NHS as a whole across England is still hitting the target, with 96% of all patients seen within the time between July and September. But this is only because some units perform way above the target, with some consistently hitting 100%.

In August, David Cameron announced £500m of extra funding over the next two years to support A&E.

The cash is intended to help units through the winter, cutting delays and reducing the number of admissions.

The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, said: “David Cameron’s ill-judged re-organisation has placed the NHS in the danger zone. The government cannot continue to ignore the warnings. Until ministers face up to the fundamental causes – the collapse of social care and frontline job losses – the NHS will continue to struggle.

“This is further proof you can’t trust David Cameron with the NHS. We can’t have another year in the NHS like the last one – he needs to urgently get a grip.”


Continue ReadingNumber of NHS A&E units failing to meet targets triples in a year

NHS faces unexpected £500m cuts, say hospitals

Hospital trusts say frontline services are threatened by cuts on top of anticipated £1bn fall in funding

NHS sign

The NHS faces unexpected cuts of £500m that threaten frontline services, according to a body that represents hospital trusts.

Despite the government’s pledge to protect frontline services with real-terms increases in funding, Monitor, the NHS watchdog, has proposed that in 2014-15 hospitals should be paid 4% less for operations than they were the previous year.

While hospitals were braced for a cut of about £1bn in funding, the Foundation Trust Network, which represents all 160 hospital trusts in England, calculates that Monitor is now asking for another £500m in savings – roughly £3m from each trust.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network, said cuts to frontline services would be deeper than expected and questioned whether the NHS could invest in much needed changes to the way hospital services work, recommended by the Francis report into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

He warned that hospitals were facing a “quadruple whammy” of “implementing the Francis report’s recommendations on quality such as improving staff-to-patient ratios, putting seven-day working in place, coping with increasing demand and investing in much needed change”.

“The level of efficiency savings the NHS has delivered over the last three years is unprecedented, but this level of performance cannot be sustained year on year till 2021. We need a reality check here – in the end you get what you pay for, and trusts can’t perform miracles out of thin air.”

Officials at Monitor were unrepentant, saying the forcing of hospitals to charge less for operations would free more money for clinical commissioning groups – clumps of GPs who purchase care on behalf of patients – to spend on the public.

However, Labour said it was another example of how the coalition’s reforms were silently squeezing the NHS.



Continue ReadingNHS faces unexpected £500m cuts, say hospitals

Government forcing us to open NHS to competition, say commissioners

The government promised parliament that NHS competition would not be compulsory under their new laws. New evidence emerges today that these promises were false.

Local health bosses are saying they are legally obliged to put NHS services out to competition, despite repeated government promises to the contrary, it emerged today.

A survey in today’s Pulse magazine revealed that since April, Clinical Commissioning Groups have put 63% of contracts to provide NHS services out to tender, with a further 9% using the slightly different ‘Any Qualified Provider’ route. The contracts that have been opened up to private healthcare companies to take over include every aspect of NHS services and total billions of pounds.

And according to Pulse:

“When asked whether they had awarded contracts without putting it out to competition, many Clinical Commissioning Groups – including Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – answered: ‘This would be contrary to the section 75 regulations.’”

The revelation will re-open controversy about broken government promises on NHS privatisation.

The Section 75 regulations were made under the Health & Social Care Act in April this year. They appeared to force competition on the NHS in contravention of ministerial promises made during the stormy passage of the Act itself. At a critical juncture then health secretary Andrew Lansley wrote to the new local health bosses (Clinical Commissioning Groups) telling them that,

“I know many of you have read that you will be forced to fragment services, or put them out to tender. This is absolutely not the case. It is a fundamental principle of the Bill that you as commissioners, not the Secretary of State and not regulators – should decide when and how competition should be used to serve your patients interests.”

And he told the House of Commons,”There is absolutely nothing in the Bill that promotes or permits the transfer of NHS activities to the private sector”

Days later Tory health minister Earl Howe promised the Lords “Clinicians will be free to commission services in the way they consider best. We intend to make it clear that commissioners will have a full range of options and that they will be under no legal obligation to create new markets, particularly where competition would not be effective in driving high standards and value for patients. As I have already explained, this will be made absolutely clear through secondary legislation and supporting guidance as a result of the Bill.”

However when this secondary legislation emerged in February this year – the Section 75 regulations – it appeared to break these promises and give local health commissioners no choice but to put NHS services out to competition, as first highlighted on OurNHS openDemocracy and by Keep Our NHS Public.

A storm of protest errupted. Over 1000 health professionals wrote to the Telegraph urging for the regulations to be scrapped. Both the unions and the Royal Colleges – even those who had been muted in their opposition to the Act itself – and were up in arms at what the Association of Royal Colleges called ‘privatisation by stealth’. Over 300,000 38 Degrees members signed a petition for them to be dropped. Polly Toynbee called for the Lib Dems not to stand for any more lies on the NHS and many Lib Dem activists raised concerns.

Lib Dem health minister Norman Lamb told parliament “We are looking at this extremely seriously. Clear assurances were given in the other place during the passage of this legislation and it is important they are complied with in the regulations.”



Continue ReadingGovernment forcing us to open NHS to competition, say commissioners

Tory marginal MPs facing electoral axe because of NHS crises in their patch

by Racheal Maskell

New research from Unite union predicts that the fate of 11 Tory MPs at the 2015 election could be strongly influenced by the rising tide of public concern about the state of the NHS in their areas.

A chill electoral wind is gathering strength. Public anger and revulsion at what the Tories have done to the NHS with their pro-privatisation agenda could end the tenure of David Cameron in Downing Street.

Not one Tory MP voted against the pro-privatisation Health and Social Care Bill. Now, Unite says, the chickens are coming home to roost. Several Tory MPs could lose their marginal seats because of what is happening to the NHS in or near their constituencies.

These include George Eustice, David Cameron’s ex-spin doctor, who has a wafer-thin majority of just 66 in Cambourne and Redruth.

Public health minister Anna Soubry, who was on the committee that scrutinised the bill, is also clinging onto her Nottinghamshire seat of Broxtowe by 389 votes.

New research from Unite union, titled NHS critical in Tory marginals, has highlighted 11 tight marginal seats: Amber Valley, Brighton Kempton, Broxtowe, Cambourne & Redruth, Lancaster & Fleetwood, Lincoln, Morecambe & Lunesdale, North Warwickshire, Sherwood, Thurrock, and Truro & Falmouth.

But don’t just take the word of the country’s largest union.

Tory grandee Lord Ashcroft finances in-depth polling on behalf of the Conservative party.

His latest poll interviewed 12,809 people in the 40 most marginal Tory-held seats between 1 August and 5 September. Interviews were also conducted in seats where Labour and the Liberal Democrats were the runners up in 2010.

The polling revealed that the NHS is the second most important issue for voters after “jobs and the economy.” It’s even more important in the 40 key Tory marginals that Ed Miliband must take back to win a majority.

Labour is ranked twice as likely to improve the NHS as the Tories.

The fact that at least 55,000 people marched through Manchester on the Save our NHS rally at the start of the Conservative party conference on Sunday (29 September) is firm evidence of mounting public concern about the plight of the NHS.

It should not be forgotten that there was no mention of plans for the biggest overhaul of the NHS in the 2010 Tory manifesto. Or that within three months of government the then health secretary, Andrew Lansley, had come up with legislation that is now handing over great swathes of the NHS to the likes of Richard Branson and other private healthcare operators.

The electorate has never wanted to turn over Aneurin Bevan’s 1948 creation – promising universal free healthcare at the point of delivery to all those in need – to the aggressive and predatory instincts of the market.


Continue ReadingTory marginal MPs facing electoral axe because of NHS crises in their patch