Thursday, 14 October 2010

If you care about the NHS, you must read this....

It's easy, as a Labour supporter to lose sight of what really matters in politics. It's so easy to just react, to judge, to dismiss without really thinking about what is good for the country, rather than what is good for my Party.

Last year, I embarked on a little journey. I started to post on a politics site that insists on non-partisan views. I wanted to see just what made my opponents tick and to try, with as much balance as I could muster, to see the vision of the UK that a Conservative government might offer.

Had they really changed? Was it possible to be a "Compassionate Conservative"? Would they look after people like me, protect the most vulnerable in society and hold dear the things British people value and rely on the most?

If you know me outside of cyber-space (or even in it) you will be speechless to learn that I managed 9 months of reasoned and reasonable debate. Well, mainly ;)

Did I learn anything? Well, it's a ludicrously clever site, crammed with intelligent expert posters. (I think they took to me because I was funny, because intelligence wise, I often felt like an amoeba.) I learnt about everything, free from Murdoch bias - the Economy, Higher Education, Northern Ireland, Scottish Nationalism, Syzygys (?) String theory - but I can truly say that the Blues did nothing but confirm my long held convictions.

If anything won David Cameron the election, (or rather, didn't lose him the election) it was his promise to protect the NHS. The "Nasty Party" needed a big commitment from Dave, and even then, then didn't fully dare put the NHS in his hands. Despite the weakest opposition for decades, an unrivalled economic crisis and the terrible black cloud of zealous wars hanging over the Labour Party, Dave and Gideon failed to win a mandate for the kind of changes they now want to make. Whatever else we forget over the next 4 and a half years we must never forget that.

Since May 11th, though the NHS is "ringfenced" the coalition have demanded £25 Billion in "efficiency savings". Nurses have already lost their jobs, A&Es and Maternity units have already closed, Cancer targets have been scrapped, Minimum wait guarantees have been scrapped, hostel support has been cut and on and on and on. If anyone tries to tell you these "efficiency savings" have not led to front-line cuts, quite simply, they are lying.

The above article explains WHY the "re-organisation" of the NHS is an absolute betrayal of the promises made by both the Conservatives and the LibDems before the election. Not only was it not in either manifesto, but it totally challenges the concept of an NHS that is run as a public service. The "re-organisation" alone will cost an estimated 3 Billion, at a time when we are endlessly told we need every penny we can get.

This is not a proposal to be careful about, to tiptoe around, to support parts of to look constructive. It is dishonest, ill thought out and shows a total lack of understanding about the role the NHS plays in millions of vulnerable lives.

My GP is quite kind, fairly distant and totally ineffective. He knows little about my condition and less about the symptoms and treatments. That's why I have a Consultant. I wonder just how he's going to feel when he hears my various treatments will cost his surgery well over £100,000 a year and some years, very much more. I wonder how long it will be before he starts to weigh the cost of my care against the care of 1,000 other, healthier patients? Before he tries to find cheaper alternatives to my care or tries to persuade me that I don't need to go to a specialist centre? Before surgeries decide they can only take a quota of people like me? Or that they can't take me as a patient at all? What if I need surgery just before the start of a new financial year? Will I have to wait?

Please, read the above article, and really try to understand what these proposals mean (if you don't already). Then, if you are as appalled as I am, the BMA, GPs, Patient groups and Nurses are -  all around the country - then tell your friends and explain it to them.

I'm way too "Red" to be seen as non-partisan on this, but other non-geeks who don't spend every waking moment poring over White Papers and analysing economic data, can make this an issue they stand up over. Not a political issue, because the NHS transcends politics - or ought to. It is our health service, our greatest achievement and Cameron underestimates the people of this country if he thinks he can sneak reform like this under the radar and we won't realise he is cheating.

Don't let him cheat - show him the NHS is something we simply won't give up.


  1. Sue

    Good to hear from you.

    Nothing to do with me (as you'll know!) but I find this proposal for the English NHS quite inexplicable, from any set of politicians who have any comprehension of health care. Ah! That explains it then. :-)

  2. Hi sue,

    I am very very proud and happy to see that you have done this. It has made my day in fact. You were an amazing poster on UKPR and we all miss you. :)

    If I promise to post here at least once every day, will you promise to strongly consider a PhD? I drive a hard bargain so that is my final offer :)

  3. Great post Sue.

    I am truly baffled how this will work. One layer of Management will go, so GPs can run their own budgets. However, as they don't like Bureaucracy, they will probably employ some Managers....

    To run a modern Health practice you need medical skills,recruitment skills, be a Business Manager, procurement skills, the list goes on. My own GP is basically quite poor on anything other than colds and sneezes. Would I trust him run a large budget? No. Could he spend a budget in planned and strategic way? No.

    I fear the work currently done by our strategic health authorities will be done by the private sector. This is a good business opportunity, so it will be done by an array of Companies. There will no consistency, resulting in an even worse post code lottery than we have now.

    It will the new privatised railway.

  4. Sue,

    Oh and one other thing! I bet you a ten pound note that Tories will post much quicker than you think :) They have hearts too ya know ;) But I do think that OldNat and I have set the trend for a Celtic serenade first :)

  5. Mr K

    "It will the new privatised railway."

    But, with any luck, it's opening will replicate the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and result in the (political) death of a Cabinet Minister.

  6. TeeHee!! As you know I reserve teehees for my very best moments ;)
    I'm so glad you've posted. It was a bit boring talking to myself all the time.
    I can't believe the response so far.
    It's terribly exciting trying to work out who you are (well actually easy, but exciting anyway)
    A bit weird, but I'll try to get on with it.

    eclarke04 (how funny!) You completely have to post every day! Can I get an exclusivity agreement on your predictions please ;) Kudos for the Con 43, then the 41/40, but maybe three days out on the Lib 10??

    Oldnat - Great to have Scotland covered, I'll try to always remember the many points you made about what were and weren't Scottish issues/British issues/English issues, but sadly, I probably won't manage it!

  7. Sue,

    If we a little partisan, will tell us off like Mr Wells does? ;-)

  8. Great post Sue, will keep a regular eye on your blog, have read the report and am not at all surprised. Interesting how any comments about privatizing and cuts to the NHS as anticipated on UKPR are met with moderation.

    It is a friendly site, though as ever I cannot keep quiet at some of the comments.
    Regarding GPs being in charge of huge budgets. Isn't my GP supposed to be looking after ME, not bank accounts?
    keep up the good work !
    Pam Field

  9. Sue,

    They are a stubborn lot the old Libs. I am beginning to wonder if we will ever see a 10%?

    eclarke04 is my email address- whatever blog system operates here, they did not give me a choice. I odnt have any of those network thingys- I am a technophobe believe it or not. I actually had to create a google account just to post here

  10. Sue

    I wouldn't expect you to!

    Remember that the MSM successfully conflates all these issues, even in reports published here. I'm sure that you are seldom exposed to these variations. Naturally, I'll keep an eye on you, and provide correction as required. :-)

  11. Hi Sue, I used to post on UKPR until AW consigned me to the naughty step on what appears to be a permanent basis, can't think why.
    Anyway, you and I had some fun debating on a relatively light-hearted level and I always enjoyed your obvious integrity and sense of here I am...come to bother you on here. I'll try to be sensible, when I can. :-)

  12. KEN!!!!!!!!!!! I'll lobby for you on UKPR You should be a permanent feature :) I miss your humour (a Lot)

  13. KEN!! That's incredible! You and Roland were my favourite Blues!!

    As for moderation, I always thought politeness and respect were the important factors. We were all partisan, otherwise I wouldn't know Oldnat was a Scottish Nationalist, Pam and Gary and Eoin and I Reds, Richard in Norway and Howard Libs, etc.

    As long as everyone plays nice, I for one feel immensely liberated from the agony of trying to find something nice to say about Cameroonian posts.

    Eoin - I've often thought about that thread where Colin suggested "Food as a class indicator" as a PHD

    What's more Ken, the champagne bit is definitely true. God help me if the cyber-police every do start to read ;) )

  14. hi sue

    UKPR is just not the same without you

    i'm very chaffed now cos i got to the first to post "test" on your blog

    it was like your catchphrase

  15. Well of course it didn't take me long. As you know Sue, though other readers may not, I work in the NHS as a "bureaucrat" and I can't wait for the reforms. I worked all my life in private industry so I can see the tremendous inefficiencies of the NHS. Seen from the outside, I like many others, thought of it as a monolithic organisation. This has never been true. Opticians, pharmacists, dentists and GPs and even some hgospitals are all private businesses to a greater or lesser extent. Labour brought in more private companies to run services.
    The reason that they are getting rid of PCTs in my opinion is so that the new GP organisation can re-employ some but not all of the existing staff. This will be easier than sacking staff in an industry that is so heavily unionised.
    Our Chief exec said that her main priority in these times was 'preserving jobs' - not you will note, preserving services. That says it all.

  16. Oh and Pam - fill your boots my dear. Your posts are intelligent and from the heart, just the way I like 'em

  17. Sorry, didn't have a choice of name. This is Pete B from the other place. I hope non-reds are allowed.

  18. blackburne - It's good to hear from someone who supports the reforms. Many of my friends who work in the NHS don't, but if some can see a benefit then maybe there's hope.

  19. Pete B - Yipppeee. Now my favourite Blues are all here. Play nice, but be as partisan as you like, it was always brilliantly refreshing. Like a cold Tory shower, lol

  20. @Sue and Eclarke04..........You warm the cockles of me heart ! :-)

  21. Sue,
    Just a small point. Just because I am not red does not make me a blue. I prefer to think of me as independent. I have lent my vote to the Blues on occasion, but also to Natural Law, UKIP, Monster Raving looney and others.
    Any, looking forward to being partisan on here, though still polite I hope.

  22. Pete - Even better! lol

    Garry, A Consultant friend called it "passing the hot-potato of budget" the other day. When I asked if the reforms would be better or worse for patients, he snorted "Better? Government? Make something better for patients?" He actually laughed out loud.

  23. Sue,

    I read UKPR a lot but have only posted a couple of times. Nonetheless I am glad you have followed up on your suggestion to set up a blog. Like UKPR, I will read but may not post a lot - but rest assured I am still here!

    All the best.

  24. That's amazing. I often wondered how many people read UKPR but didn't post.
    Delighted to hear from you.

  25. Hi Sue,
    Hurray, I can be partisan.
    Tories (most of them anyway) aren't as against public services as they like to think they are.
    When it comes to defence, they are redder than Bob Crowe at the thought of cuts.
    Come on you blues. Extend the same logic you apply to health and education to defence.
    The Macdonalds Parachute Regiment.
    What would Roland think of that I wonder?

  26. Julian - Lol. Nice isn't it? I thought of a great one liner when I read UKPR the other day but I've forgotten it now. I thought of you though :)

  27. Julian,
    OK I'll bite. The difference is, defence is the one thing that you actually need a government for. Everything else could be privatised. Also, Defence has already suffered massive cuts while we are fighting wars started by Labour.

  28. Can any of you BELIEVE I managed not to comment all through the shadow cabinet elections?

  29. Ha, Pete B, have a sticker! First bite on my comment thread!

  30. pete B

    there is no reason why defence can't be privitized, there is no shortage of people prepared to kill for money

  31. Hmm, Richard in Norway, Mercenaries? Have you suggested this to the coalition? Will you mobilise the Vikings? ;)

  32. Richard in Norway.
    It's blindingly obvious. If the state has no army of its own there would be nothing to stop the mercenaries taking power. Another reason for having a state army is that now and again strikers need to be shot.
    G'night all.

  33. I'm exhausted, but very glad you all came.
    Night and thanks so much.
    See you all tomorrow, and check out the article from Ken of Clarke that I just posted.
    Good old Ken.

  34. Blackburne
    In your opinion defence is the only thing you need government for.
    I would add education, health and policing to that list.
    IMO, private companies should not be let near those things.
    If privatising things means for better efficiency as we are constantly told by the right, then why is it not the same for Defence?
    The Americans used private companies for a lot of their defence needs in Iraq. At least they're consistent.
    The thought of a Blackwater style company being in charge of policing a city, or running a hospital or school makes my blood run cold.

  35. Just logging off when I saw this on defence Pete B and Richard in Norway. Night ;)

  36. sue

    yep that the houmor that ive been missing

    i have to say that the vikings of today make the Womens Institue? look very boisterous

  37. Michael V here.

    Great to see you posting again Sue, albeit in a different arena!

    I look forward to being more partisan!

    The abolition of PCT's reeks of written-on-the-back-of-an-envelope policy-making. GPs serve a useful purpose as gatekeepers to the NHS and it's many services, it doesn't mean they should be running the damned thing.

  38. Sue, can you sort out the clock out on here, it is most confusing!

  39. Pam - I'll try, but I'm not very techy, it's a miracle I got this far! There are several things I want to do but don't know how, so if any of you are google experts....

    Michael V - great to see you. You describe GPs as "gatekeepers" and it's an apt but depressing title. I lived in Italy for a few years, and they don't have that system at all. You just go to the hospital and see a consultant if you get ill. Rather than fobbing you off several times before they run any tests, in Italy they run them straight away. One of my blogs will definitely be about the whole system of health care in the UK, and why GPs actually cost the NHS millions every year in unnecessary "fobbing"

  40. Well done on your Blog Sue.

    Good luck & best wishes.

  41. Thanks very much Colin. I'd love it if you posted here sometimes.

    Of all the Blues, you're the only one I've ever known articulate a clear vision of what it is to be a Conservative

    I learned loads from you.

  42. Thanks Sue

    If I ever think of anything worth saying -I will !

    May I also say-Well who's a Bonny Lass then ?

  43. Replying to Julian from yesterday
    "In your opinion defence is the only thing you need government for.
    I would add education, health and policing to that list.
    IMO, private companies should not be let near those things."
    Well of course, everything on here is someone's opinion. private companies run the public schools, and whatever you think of the rights and wrongs, they do provide high quality education.I mentioned earlier about private opticians, pharmacists, dentists and GPs and private hospitals. These all exist, indeed almost all opticians and pharmacists are private companies.
    Private security companies are on the increase too. You might not like these things, but they are all facts.

  44. This is my attempt to use this thing Sue and I see that Colin mastered it so I am not going to be beaten at anything by him. ;-)

    I hope you stick more to the benefits area although I realise that health is a huge concern where that subject of welfare is concerned.

    I just got my aunt the full attendance allowance after months of form filling and letter writing. She is in a care home, is barely able to walk, has glaucoma and has lost the sight in one eye, is profoundly deaf.............
    I think the clincher for the Blackpool office in the end was that she is 95 so they won't be saddled with the increased benefit for too long (they think). I hope she does a Queen Mum on them.

  45. Well done you Howard!
    I think it will be a mish-mash, but I'll certainly be talking about assessments, form filling and benefit caps a lot!
    Thanks for joining me, don't forget to correct my grammar (gramar? grammer?) lol

  46. Yep-it's that quirky English humour Eoin.

    Sue's posts are full of it :-)

  47. Protecting jobs is wrong. To avoid damaging staff morale, you need to maintain job security. That's nearly, but not quite the same thing. A collapse in staff morale will kill patients.

    I retired 20 years ago. From 1974 I was the CFO of a small health authority. We had no HR department. Like IBM who have a data call centre in Hungary which provides statistical information our 3 payroll staff did that for about 700 including leavers and short term locums who might come back. Payroll is now outsourced, so it's the work of the remaining 6 that is compared.

    So comments please.
    Then Now
    Population 31,000 21,000
    Hospitals 5 old 3 new with fewer beds
    Finance Staff 9 (-3) 18
    HR 0 25