Tag Archives: NHS

Our NHS: Death by 1000 Cuts!

Since 21st July, with the announcement that student nurses will now be charged fees for their education, my anger has simply escalated. I have said for a long time that Parliament is no longer fit for purpose and I just wonder how many nails it will take to bury it? New Premier ‘More of the same’ May is following in the steps of her predecessors, despite what she says and our country can only fall to ever lower levels of Social inequality.

On the last day of government, before the MP’s took off with their buckets and spades (more popularly known as ‘Take out the Trash Day’), her government smugly dumped 300 documents and 30 written statements (usually between 2 and 10 a day), in the form of bad news which they hope will be forgotten about by the time they return in September.

This political connivance is one of many insults to an electorate who are not stupid. Delaying the bad news, with a view to sneaking it in later, when we have all forgotten about it, is yet another betrayal of the trust people place in those they elect to power and lacks any professionalism whatsoever. That it is done so regularly is doubly insulting, as demonstrated in recent talks with Brussels where ‘Mos’ May is negotiating delaying allowing immigrants into our country for 7 years.

Above all else, it is the fees announcement that incenses me. At a time when our country has just broken loose (supposedly) from one authoritarian state, we are now finding our own is just as uncaring. The previous Chancellor declared that scrapping nursing bursaries would pay for 10,000 new training places. What a valueless statement, (with figures probably coming out of thin air), as the introduction of training fees will decimate the number of people attracted to entering this vital profession.

It is suggested that, like university students, their nursing counterparts will be saddled with at least £51,600 of debt. The truly insidious aspect of this is that, like all political connivance, a precedent has been created, with the introduction of these fees, that will see them regularly rise as government needs to replace falling tax revenues. I say this at a time when university fees have just been increased to £9,250 a year from next year, a figure that is projected to further increase to £11,697 by 2025.

Let’s be under no illusion here, this vogue for charging ‘fees’ is taxation by any other name and a most odious form of taxation at that. No matter which educational channel has inflicted them, these debts hang around the necks of our young people into their 40’s and 50’s, reducing their chances of achieving sufficient financial support to buy their own homes, something the government seems equally non-plussed about.

What adds insult to injury is that the income from these fees will not be re-invested back into the NHS, as far as I am aware. The costs of recruiting nurses from overseas, currently £20.19 million for 3,365, is set to increase to a staggering £178.5 million for 29,755 by 2020. Surely this not only demotivates our own people but helps fuel the political call to render our NHS as only fit for privatisation.

Nursing and any care work is a vocation, a word not used by politicians or the media these days. It is a perfect description of the dedication these special people feel towards our community and their scant concern for massive financial reward, something that is a complete anathema to Neoliberalism.

In my total of 14 days in hospital last year, what was abundantly clear to me was the glaring gap between the dedication and incomes of the full time staff to that of the agency staff. That may offend some but it was my experience and saw one such person walk away from a patient who had fallen out of bed one night, which then led to a serious enquiry the following day.

The whole concept of agency staff is beyond me. If my experiences are anything to go by we should be paying the full time staff the extra cost of agency people as a reward for their commitment and dedication. Adequate reward for the support they provide to Society would be a sign of that Society and its government’s respect for this dedication and its true worth.

We should be investing in all of our young, with comprehensive education and training that will motivate them to become positive contributors to our future Society. After all . . . they are our future Society and the mind-set we shape now will be the mind-set that shapes that Society, its values and how it behaves. At present many of them train and then go abroad to try and escape the fee burden, something neither they nor Society should be proud of.

One cut at a time this Tory government is causing the death of our NHS to meet the demands of its corporate lords and masters for its privatisation. Is it any wonder ‘Mos’ May did not seek an election after her appointment by the party? She would not have got back into No 10 and she knows it.

As a tax paying electorate we are being robbed at every level, from the financial to the democratic and it has to stop if we are to receive value for taxes paid, preserve our dignity and quality of life and give our children any sort of future.

Again I cry . . . We need new leaders, with caring values and a new vision . . . NOW!

Until the next time


Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

NHS Is Not A Business QED!

As my regular readers will know I benefitted from the wonderful services of the NHS last year and Guys hospital in particular. Having never been in hospital in my 69 years it was a whole new experience. One that made a huge impact upon all of my senses.

The incredible man who operated on me was one of this country’s leading surgeons and only in conversations with his registrars later did I find out that to become a surgeon requires 15 years of study and application . . . Yes 15 years!! I had previously respected lawyers and accountants who took 5 to 7 years to qualify but this type of work elevates surgeons into a whole different professional category.

During both of my stays I came to recognise that I was in a world removed from the ‘dog eat dog’ outside world. It was a world in which people (the staff), put other people (the patients) first and genuinely cared about their welfare. Nothing was ever too much trouble and relief from pain and anxiety was paramount.

I did, however, experience something unpleasant and that had to do with money, not care. One night a fellow patient fell out of bed trying to reach his water jug. The ‘agency’ nurse came and looked through the curtains, turned and walked away! The duty nurse was as shocked as I was and screamed at the offending nurse, whilst immediately going to the assistance of the struggling and bemused patient.

This was an ‘in my face’ example of how our NHS cannot be turned into a business. This was not the only example I saw during my time at Guys, which demonstrated the quintessential uniqueness of our NHS. That the employed staff cared and the non-vocational staff cared less. This caring is not confined to the nursing staff but is apparent right up to the top echelons of medical practice, as the following makes clear.

Three years ago my doctor sent me for investigation and after scans a consultant confirmed I would need a replacement hip “but could I hold on for another three years until I was 70?” I was told I was better off anyway, with my own hip and I took this advice at face value.

What a fool! Three years on and now I will also need a knee replacement, as that extra time suggested by the consultant has resulted in additional damage beyond my hip.

With the benefit of hindsight, I am now convinced his advice, on delaying the surgery, meant a saving on his budget for that year and has resulted in greater expense now. Short termism is not just a practice of the financial and political markets!

My wonderful surgeon at Guys (who is ‘observing’ my recovery over the next 2 years), has had hip surgery and so knows what I am going through. Quite out of the blue at our last meeting, when he learned I had now been recommended for hip surgery, volunteered to have my bones scanned to identify the extent of the deterioration.

By doing this he could reduce the time taken to actually get me into surgery when my case came up for action. ‘Care’ was the overriding factor that prompted him to get involved.

Our world beating NHS is only as good as the people who are a part of it. Those people are irreplaceable and not interested in turning this service into a business. Profit and bonuses, or any other form of financial incentive, would not in any way improve the deep caring attitude of the staff who come to this type of vocational work, no matter what level they practice at.

Vocational work has never been associated with profit . . . to everyone, except politicians and corporations that is a given. It is an attitude of mind that sends people into Care and Education that contrasts dramatically with neoliberal thinking and the lust for profit.

However, it is now becoming obvious that our current breed of politician is incapable of such thinking. The cult of neoliberalism is endemic within our Tory party in particular, as increasing privatisation is evidence to. Are they not proud of what successive governments have achieved and as a result, how revered our health service is across the globe?!!

As with the EU, I am fast coming to the conclusion that there is little point in fighting the political establishment for change. They lack ethics and integrity, having now become servants of neoliberal beliefs and will simply not listen.

Indeed, they are now applying odious political tactics to the NHS, to undermine its credibility and further their corporate masters aim of pimping profits from this venerable service, destroying it and its essential caring ethos in the process.

Applying democratic principles of demonstration and protest to a political body that no longer operates such principles can only mean one thing. If we are to bring Society back from the brink of neoliberal catastrophe we must also focus on regime change. And we have to start planning now.

Until the next time


Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes

NHS: Privatisation Will Destroy It!

My tribute to Mr Tim O’Brien, one of this country’s leading surgeons, his colleagues and staff at the Urological Centre, Guys and St Thomas’s NHS Trust London and ALL members of the NHS. In sharing my recent experiences here I am NOT seeking sympathy, although I know it is there, but use it to demonstrate how Privatisation of the NHS can only destroy it and Society as well. J T Coombes

Last May I was diagnosed with three cysts on my kidneys. Not unusual as 4 out of 10 people have them but one of mine had burst and another was the size of a small melon, with dark shading.

The senior consultant at my local NHS Trust told me this was out of their league and referred me to Mr O’Brien. At our first meeting he told me the picture was not good as mine were the worst set of scans he had seen in a long time, immediately countering this by then saying “But that is what we do”. This was the first meeting at which the word ‘cancer’ had been used and his words and manner reassured me I was in the best hands.

At the next meeting, following more tests and clearer scans, the atmosphere changed dramatically and the view was I had a better than average chance of staying off a dialysis machine and given my level of fitness, 5 hours of surgery could resolve the problem.

Sadly there were complications and it took 8 hours of surgery to remove the large tumour, leaving a smaller one to be dealt with later. 10 days later I returned home and the operation was judged a success in spite of its complex nature. (Mr O’Brien confided that he had carried out 1100 operations and this was in the top 20 for complexity. He was not boasting and talked with a humble pride and enthusiasm for the work he had carried out.)

It was then that I realised this man, his colleagues and staff are only motivated by a passionate desire to heal people like me. At our second meeting, when he realised we had a chance of success, his excitement at the challenge was obvious from his body language and words.

In my time at Guys I found I had left my world of fighting, through my writing, the neoliberal world of bankers and politicians, whose shallow values are bringing Society to its knees and entered a world of Professionalism, Integrity, Dedication and Care of the highest order.

I came to realise that ‘Privatising’ this work can add NOTHING to what these amazing people do. Indeed the thought that there are people out there who would like to make a profit out of the challenges I and many others face fills me with deep repugnance.

Will profit improve our surgeon’s abilities and work ethic? Will profit make the processes of our healthcare service more efficient? Will privatisation broaden our healthcare service? A service that cares for Society will be impregnated by cold ‘uncaring’ business ethics.

Decisions will be reached by cost considerations not care. Costs to the users will become more expensive to provide the necessary profits, alienating those who really need support because they can’t afford it. Health CARE will become a Health COMPANY seeking profit from the challenges we face.

Just suppose I could only afford a healthcare policy that funded 5 hours of major surgery in anyone year. What would have happened when the surgeon went in and discovered it would take 8 hours? Would the decision be made to simply remove both kidneys and put me on dialysis for the remainder of my life because I had inadequate insurance? Would the 3 staff to 1 patient in the Critical Care Unit I attended directly after surgery be reduced to 1 to save on overheads?

In this seamy world profit will dictate who gets care, who does not and the level of care will be constantly under scrutiny. Nowhere within the values of the Hippocratic Oath is there any mention of profit and people do not enter the profession for this purpose.

It takes 15 years to qualify as a consultant surgeon, making them a special breed of people with dedication and high moral sense and genuine care for their fellow men and women, something our politicians and corporations are now seeking to ‘pimp’ a profit from.

And what happens as the need for profit growth continues? Would the quality of medicines and equipment be compromised for the sake of profit and would surgeons and staff be expected to work longer hours, with the subsequent raising of tiredness levels that could put patients at risk?

I believe that the manner in which Society looks after it’s infirm and those struggling with life is a measure of that Society’s self-esteem. Currently our NHS is a glowing example of just how high that self-esteem is.

The efforts of our politicians to destroy that self-esteem, by callously manipulating budgets to turn that care and compassion into a profit centre, will pull down and eventually destroy our Society. Unregulated Capitalism is eroding the very bedrock of morality inherent in any Society and must be brought back under control by a strong and reinvigorated democracy, something that seems to be birthing now in Greece, Spain, the UK and other countries.


Until the next time


P.S. Latest blood test show the repaired kidney is functioning near normal and so the dialysis machine has been kicked over the cliff!  I am getting stronger each day and the need to prepare for more surgery in November means future posts will be erratic until early next year.

. . . But it’s lovely to be back!!

The NHS is Society’s Responsibility

Nigel Farage tells us the “NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance” which means there is no political salvation from this lunacy, even from the new kid on the block. Westminster truly has lost the plot in avoiding its responsibilities to the people.

Let’s get right back to basics and remember that this is a SUPPORT SERVICE to Society. It is a non-profit insurance scheme which is paid for by that Society in the sure knowledge that, like any good insurance policy, it will look after ALL of its members in times of hardship without fear of fault or favour.

We have an aging population that all parties have been aware of for a very long time and which they have systematically and irresponsibly buck passed on to the next incumbent, ensuring we arrive at the mess we are now in. Healthcare is a moral issue, not political or financial and demonstrates the level of care Society has towards its sick, old and infirm. Currently that caring is being torn apart by the profit and greed of unregulated Capitalism!

This has been made abundantly clear from the experience in America in particular, where the very people who need the support cannot get it because they cannot afford it, or are not acceptable to insurance companies. Profit is ‘Playing God’ (often by tick boxes!) in discriminating who it can make money from and who it will allow to suffer, or die!

We are being dragged, kicking and screaming, towards the US experience by a Parliament who is obligated by one of the many conditions of the ‘Austerity Measures’ imposed when taking on an ever growing mountain of debt we have not authorised. We are in the grip of career politicians who care little about this country and its people, in their desperate attempts to remain in power at any cost.

What is so repugnant to me is there is no respect for people in any of what we are now experiencing. This Unregulated Capitalism not only makes profits from employees and consumers but also now looks to make profits from them when they are sick.

After a lifetime of working for one, or a number of companies, those same companies seek to shrug off the responsibility they have to repay their workers with a secure retirement they have earned from contributing to those companies’ profits as those very same consumers and employees.

I would suggest, that we should be coming at this problem from a totally different direction than a parliament that increasingly cow-tows to their corporate masters. By looking at our current financial systems and recognising that money is no longer our servant, we can see that it is being encouraged to become our master, focussing entirely upon subduing and controlling us through debt – Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy are perfect examples.

By following the example of strong leadership in Peru and other Latin American countries we need to confront the very core of the problem first and foremost. Once we take control of printing our own money, instead of borrowing it from banks at a horrendous cost in interest and debt obligations, of which the NHS is but one such abuse, we are in a position to become masters of our own destiny. The interest alone we are paying would go a long way to funding a health service the rest of the world would be envious of.

In this, an election year, I am dumb founded that our political parties are pussyfooting around the perimeter of this problem by pursuing ‘business models’ as the solution to the care profession.

Such is this irresponsibility that patients are dying unnecessarily and the morale of our conscientious doctors and nurses is on the floor, driving many of them to emigrate to a more supportive environment. Not one of our leaders seems embarrassed by this national disgrace, given what we have invested in training these wonderful people, only now to abuse and lose them.

Fighting and arguing about the many individual abuses within the health service will only allow politicians to counter-argue that privatisation is the solution. It has to be attacked from the fundamental core issue of debt ladened obligation that is making our governments increasingly more secretive and ‘economical with the truth’ on the direction they are forcing us to follow.

Left and Right can offer no way out because they have created the problem by systematically ignoring it. People must demand their power back this May by supporting the party that will introduce People Driven Referendums on any and everything there is sufficient interest in.

I bet the NHS would be the subject commanding the number 1 position . . . and then something could be done by the people for the people!


Until the next time


Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It!  By J T Coombes

NHS and the Obscenity of Capitalism

Madness is badness of spirit, when one seeks profit from all sources. Aristotle

I know someone whose mother was the youngest of 11 kids and, in the latter years, watched as each of her brothers and sisters died from cancer, in one form or another. She then watched her husband die from it. He was a temperate man who took to whisky in the latter months to get 4 hours reprieve a night from the “wire brush that was continually at work in his anus”. His brother also went from it, and his youngest son from a radiation leak in the nuclear submarine that was his work. This incredibly stoic lady also eventually succumbed to this evil disease.

I knew the family well and am confident that if I could call her back to day and tell her that there are now companies that seek to make profits from the suffering of others she would look at me with total incomprehension. To her our health was a responsibility of the state, as the only body within Society capable of providing the truly vocational service with the essential care and compassion needed for our sick and ill at health.

Over the recent decades Capitalism has had a good run for its money, as it ravages the Planet and abuses the inhabitants by relegating humanity to ‘consumers’ of its increasingly shoddy products and services. Not only are the products and services shoddy but so too is the treatment of the people it employs, and without whom it could not function. Having brought the Planet and its healthy inhabitants to their knees it is now turning its toxic attention to the unhealthy within Society, as the last remaining and untouched source from which to continue its abject addiction to limitless economic growth.

In a healthy Society it would be the job of government to restrain this mad rush to self-destruction, as it looked to the best interests of that Society as a whole. Sadly we are in an era of career politicos. Clever young men who attain high office and vast powers without the necessary years behind them to provide the essential wisdom that fuels the integrity needed to wield such power.

Society is therefore cast aside by them as they are seduced by, and bend to, the will of global corporations who have now set their greedy eyes upon the sick. Modern government is bereft of mature and visionary leadership, something we are made increasingly aware of within the corridors of power, from abuse of taxpayer money to abuse of the young and old alike. It is reminiscent of the latter days of the Roman Empire and no doubt will meet a similar fate as history repeats itself with monotonous regularity.

Or, we could wake up to the reality of what is happening and seek people who have a proven track record of standing up to multinationals and are in no short supply within the charitable sector. They have the requisite mind-set that focusses upon the sustainable management of this Planet, and a care and compassion for its inhabitants. Putting this thinking and values into parliament would instantly transform the frightening reality we currently face. We could do a lot worse!

Until the next time.

Thinking that is taken from his book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes