Posts Tagged ‘Worcestershire’

Somerset Council Near Bankruptcy, Axes Children’s Services Due to Cuts

May 22, 2018

On Saturday Mike also posted a story reporting that Somerset County council, run by Tories, is cutting children’s social services, including closing two-thirds of the Sure Start centres. The council has been unable to make the necessary savings it had set itself, had overspent on children’s services, while government funding had been reduced. That meant that its finances are precarious, and the council is at risk of going bankrupt. The council has therefore called on the government to ‘fix the broken system of council funding’.

Mike makes the point that if it does go bust, it certainly won’t be the first. That was Northamptonshire. Which was then followed by Worcestershire. Mike states that it is sickening that the council is trying to solve its financial problems by cutting services to the poor and vulnerable. He asks

Is that because they are the least likely to complain – or the least able to make a complaint stick?

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/19/yet-another-tory-council-is-facing-bankruptcy-so-it-attacks-the-poor/

I think it’s the latter. The poor don’t have as much power as the rich, and so services for the poor can be cut, because they don’t have the power to wreck the economy by taking their business elsewhere, or stop donating to party funds. Besides, Tory policy is, and always has been, to attack the poor as a drain on everyone’s else’s wealth. Mike and the commenters on his blog have compared it with the Nazis’ description of the disabled as ‘useless eaters’, and it is very much the same attitude. Of course, the cuts and benefit sanctions are dressed up with the language of help – they are incentivising people to find work, encouraging self-reliance, ending the ‘nanny state’s’ domineering control of people, and so forth – all that Thatcherite guff about ‘self-help’, but basically, it’s about cutting services for those at the bottom of the society, so that there’s more for those at the top. Like the nice, juicy tax cuts the rich have enjoyed.

It isn’t just children’s services that Somerset council is axing. A few weeks ago the BBC’s local news programme, Points West, reported that they were considering dissolving the local authorities within Somerset and taking over their functions. This was opposed by the local councils, who were afraid that it would be a blow against local democracy at their level, and that they would also lose services for their towns and communities.

It’s also ironic that it should be a Tory-run council facing these financial problems. Tory rhetoric presents them as the party of sound fiscal management and prudence against ‘high-spending’ Labour. And I wonder how many of the Tory faithful in Somerset voted for the government and its austerity programme, thinking that it would only affect Labour controlled areas. But this shows how the cuts effect everybody. A year or so ago, The Young Turks found that the poorest county in America was a community in Kentucky or somewhere, that was almost completely White. Yet these people consistently voted Republican. The Turks argued that it was because the Republicans played on their racial prejudices. They associated welfare spending with urban Blacks, and so the White inhabitants of the county voted for cuts, believing that this would only affect Black peeps and not them. And as a result, they were hit by the same cuts and poverty created by the Republicans.

I think something similar is going on in Britain’s Tory councils. The cuts are presented as being necessary, and high spending is associated with the large urban centres, held by Labour. And so they deceive some of their electorate into voting Tory in the belief that it won’t affect them, or if it does, it will only be slight. It plays on their prejudices about the urban poor, and the stories about the insane policies of the ‘loony left’.

But the Tories despise the poor and determined to deprive them of services wherever they are in the country. Even Tory-voting rural areas.

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Vox Political: Red Cross Called in Because of Lethal Tory NHS Cuts

January 7, 2017

Mike today put up a post commenting on the report in today’s Guardian that the Red Cross has been called in to help the NHS manage the crisis in care this winter. As a result of the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS and their deliberate starvation of the Service of funds, 50 hospitals have said they cannot cope, and two people have died needless at a hospital in Worcestershire. Mike states

It is no coincidence that the money handed over to private healthcare – to part-fund their shareholders’ profits – along with the administration costs that go with the part-privatised system add up to around £22 billion.

So the Conservative Government – Jeremy Hunt, Theresa May, the current cabinet, and previous ministers including David Cameron and former health secretary Andrew Lansley – have engineered this crisis and would rather pay public money, your money, into the bank accounts of shareholders in Virgin Health (for example) than use it to save people who are dying on hospital trolleys as you read these words.

His article also includes a long list of tweets from people, who recognise this artificial crisis for what it is. As well as rightly blaming Jeremy Hunt and the Tories, they also make it clear that this crisis was also caused by the Lib Dems, and in particular Shirley Williams, supported Andrew Lansley’s bill. To be fair, one of the chief opponents of the bill has been David Owen, who is trying to have it reversed and has written his own book on the attempts of the politicians of New Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories to privatise it. Owen is a medical doctor, and clearly sees the danger to British healthcare, which the others don’t.

But this crisis, and the Tories’ continued demands that the NHS budget should be cut, also show how mendacious the Tories have been in their promises made in the run-up to the 2010 election. Cameron and his team claimed that they were the defenders of the NHS against the cuts inflicted by Tony Blair. They campaigned against the closures of A&E and maternity departments, and claimed they would reverse the cuts once in office. Of course, once Cameron was safely in No. 10 and Lansley head of the health department, they completely jettisoned this promise, and were back to closing everything they could and announcing that the NHS needed to be reviewed.

Of course, recently the Tories have also claimed that they’re going to give extra funding to the NHS. But these claims need to be read with care. The article in the I which reported this, several weeks ago, then followed it by stating that the Tories still intended to cut the NHS budget by so much. So what the Tories were in fact saying was that they intended to cut the NHS, only not by as much as they originally intended. If you believe them – and there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t. But by placing the news of extra funding first, it gives the impression that they really are going to give more money to the NHS. And so skewed reporting and clever press statements help the Tories cover up their continuing dismemberment of the NHS.

Doctor’s Letter Attack Farage and Defending NHS in Today’s Telegraph

March 18, 2015

After Farage’s comments yesterday attacking the NHS and promoting private health, one doctor, John Lamport was so incensed that he had a letter describing his experience of excellent treatment for testicular cancer and defending the NHS. The doctor stated that his experience of NHS care had the opposite effect on his and convinced him to become a doctor. He was also unimpressed with Farage’s complaints about the NHS, when he personally had treated some of the courageous men and women, who had suffered horrific injuries and mutilation serving in the Middle East. Compared to their lost limbs, Farage’s own lost testicle was much less damaging.

He concluded his letter by stating that the NHS must remain for people, who suffer genuine tragedies. It should thus be well-funded, nationalised and free at the point of use.

Here’s the letter:

Lamport NHS Let

If you can’t read it, the letter says

Sir – When I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, I went from GP to operating theatre in four days. Unlike Nigel Farage, I endured nine months of chemotherapy, and I find it distasteful that his consultant referred to his regular blood tests as ‘more cruel than chemo’. The UK Independence Party leader’s experience shaped his belief that private medicine is best and immigrant doctors incompetent; my experience led me to become a doctor.

Reading Mr Farage’s whinge, I recalled caring for brave lads coming back from Afghanistan. If a 20-year old whose legs have been blown away can sit on my desks for weeks and show nothing but dignity, it puts the loss of a testicle into perspective.

Some people suffer genuine tragedies and it is for these people that the NHS is so crucial. It must remain well-funded, nationalised and free at the point of use.

Dr John Lamport,
National Health Action Party,
Kidderminster, Worcestershire

The National Health Action Party has been campaigning against the privatisation of the NHS since the 1990s. It was formed when Bliar was busy trying privatise the NHS, and wanted to close down one of the local hospitals in Kidderminster, despite massive local opposition.

Ed Miliband, on the other hand, has said that he will reverse Cameron’s privatisation of the NHS.

Private Eye in 2006 on the Closure of Health Services due to Privatisation in Redditch

September 23, 2013

Mike in the last post I’ve reblogged from his site has commented that the real problem behind Labour’s welfare policy is Unum. It is this criminal US insurance company that is sponsoring Anne Maguire’s invitation-only conference on welfare policy. The company has already sponsored similar events by Labour’s rivals, the Libdems and Conservatives. The fact that the Labour party is offering a platform to them indicates that its welfare policies differ little from those of the Coalition, despite its promises to sack Atos.

The privatisation of the NHS began under the Conservatives, but was continued and expanded under New Labour as part of Blair’s ‘Third Way’. In their issue for the 9th to 22nd June 2006, Private Eye reported how the costs of the Private Finance Initiative was forcing the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch to consider closing its maternity, paediatric and gynaecology units. Furthermore, there was evidence to suggest that the Primary Care Trust was referring orthopaedic patients not to the Alexandra Hospital, but to a private hospital in Kidderminster. The article runs

‘how NHS Privatisation Works

Double Whammy

Question: Why can’t the Alexandra hospital in Redditch do aaything to prevent the threatened closure of its maternity, paediatric and gynaecology units?

Answer: Because it is caught between a rock and a hard place in New Labour’s privatisation of the NHS and is powerless to act.

One of eight hospitals in the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, the Alex receives payments from its local Primary Care Trust (PCT) for treating the patients the PCT refers to it. However, the two trusts on which they Alex depends are both having to pay such a high price for privatisation initiatives elsewhere that through no fault of its own, deep cuts are now threatened at the NHS hospital.

The first problem for the Alex is that the Worcestershire Acute Hospital Trust is saddled with a £30 m deficit which, campaigners claim, is largely due to the crazy sums it has had to pay for a PFI hospital in Worcester (See Eyes passim). Given the 30 m black hole, and the fact that hospital managers cannot cut their payments to their PFI contractors in Worcester (Catalyst Healthcare: a consortium of Bovis, Sodexho and Bank of Scotland), they are looking for savings elsewhere in the NHS and considering a plan to cut 720 jobs, which includes closing maternity and related services at the Alex.

Ironically, these NHS cuts at the Alex in Redditch might actually mean more money being paid to the PFI contractors in Worcester. For under the PFI deal, if more than 90 per cent of the beds at the Worcester hospital are occupied at any one time, the hospital trust must make extra payments to the consortium. So, if Redditch women continue to have babies after their local maternity unit is closed, and if they then travel to Worcester to give birth, they will fill beds at the PFI hospital and trigger extra payments to the private sector. Brilliant!

Meanwhile the Eye has seen documents suggesting that managers at the Alex believe their local Primary Care Trust is diverting orthopaedic patients away from the Alex to a private unit in Kidderminster. The PCT, it turns out, has a block contract with a private Independent Sector Treatment Centre (ISTC) run by Canadian firm Inter Health; and it has to pay for a certain number of operations at the ISTC each year whether the private firm carries out the work or not.

Last year the PCT tried to negotiate away a £193,000 overspend with Inter Health because of “under utilisation”; and the trust’s latest Financial Risk Plan warns that up to £1m could be lost this year unless it restricts NHS activity while “maximising use of ISTC capacity”. So yet more money will be diverted away from hospitals like the Alex.

The internal document from senior staff at the Alex claims: “the local PCT are advising a lot of patients that the waiting time is longer than it actually is at the Alex and therefore would they like to travel to the Independent Treatment Centre at Kidderminster.”

The PCT denied to the Eye that it was trying to force patients to go private in Kidderminster, claiming that patients and doctors made their own decisions based on “informed choice”. Yeah, right.

A local campaign to “Save the Alex” has been launched, but New Labour ministers remain committed to both the PFI and ISTC schemes. Rather than provoke cuts, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt claimed they would”build capacity” in the NHS. Some mistake, surely?’

This story more or less illustrates everything that’s wrong with the Private Finance Initiatives and the gradual privatisation of the NHS by successive Right-wing administrations. It shows how the NHS is being starved of money, and forced to make further cuts in order to finance inefficient private health companies, which include multinational corporations seeking to make a profit over here. It shows how local health care is frequently closed down and sacrificed for the profit of these private companies elsewhere. This does not just include hospitals. I’ve already blogged a piece from a previous Private Eye about the closure of three GP’s surgeries in London after their clinic was taken over by a private health care company. In contrast to the rhetoric put out by the American and Tory supporters of private health care, it clearly is not more efficient. Indeed, it is much less so, especially as it needs to be supported by the state to gain funding.

The Tories in the run-up to last year’s election suggested that they would end the PFI. They haven’t, and won’t. That was another broken election promise from a party whose members, such as Iain Duncan Smith, have consistently lied and dissembled about the detrimental effects their policies have to the poor. It is not just New Labour that uses lies and spin. The corruption and indifference to the needs of patients extends even to the commissioning authorities. At the moment, the only local authorities, which commission health care, who have written into their constitution that private firms may only be used when this is of benefit to the patient is Bristol and one of the London boroughs. This will continue as long as there exists the revolving door by which ministers and civil servants join private companies as directors once they retire or leave government. For these people, it really is a case of ‘trebles all round’, in the words of Private Eye. And hang the ordinary patients.