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