Archive for February, 2013

http://skwalker1964.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/an-evening-with-andy-burnham-and-hope-for-the-nhs/comment-page-1/#comment-6962

February 22, 2013

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I am concerned about the phrase “a firm, unambiguous commitment to repeal the 2012 Act as a priority once Labour is back in government, and to restore the lead on the commissioning of health services to local government” It means that private companies would still be able to tender. Whether by straight dealing, or by other means, this would continue the privatisation of the NHS. The mention of possible damage incurred is not placed alongside any mention of obtaining recompense and restoration. I would also have liked mention of care home financing.

this was 43 mins ago.

I’ll have another look tomorrow

Published with a partial response

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@Daily_Express @Daily_politics. Pay graduates dole+, whilst doing self-elected, unpaid internships

February 20, 2013

I initially began writing this letter to the Daily Express because of the disproportionate and biased attack on a pleb, who had satisfied a judge that the Gov’t work placement scheme was unfair.

She (Cait Reilly) had used Human Rights legislation, on the basis of the scheme involving “forced labour” or “slavery”.

I doubt that she thought the scheme to be slavery but, when you live in a Society, where life is made very difficult for those relying on benefits but not at the bottom of the social ladder, it’s certainly  coerced labour.

I ended up with an idea, which, to me, offers hope for graduate’s and an incentive for Gov’t. The only misgiving I have is that this Gov’t and privateer’s would see it as a means of getting rid of experienced older staff and replacing them with “free” white collar labour.

I console myself with the thought that this process is already, inexorably, underway but in a more brutish fashion.

I also live in the hope that even the privateer’s greed won’t override the common sense approach of keeping a pool of experienced and wiser older staff; managing, by motivating such people with honey, not vinegar

I agree with Ann Widdecombe in regards to her belief in the value of working at  what she calls menial work, having worked at part-time jobs, throughout my school career for my pocket money.
Apart from my degree course, which itself included three lots of six month periods of work placement, I have only totalled about 18 months of relying on the Dole.
I understand the value of the work ethic, which is why I have some sympathy with Cait Reilly.
Her story, as I recall, was that she was trying to gain work experience at her local Museum, in support of finding employment utilising the Geology degree that she worked for and achieved.
The Government has actively encouraged people to stay in Education to make them more employable, whilst incurring a large debt and keeping unemployment figures down.
The case for Cait seems to have been that Government now wished to use her to appear to be helping people into employment for two weeks.
Her CV would have been enhanced by a marginal extent. It’s certain that Poundland wouldn’t be employing her permanently, whilst they had a continuous feed of labour to stack their shelves.
Certainly people of Ann’s background would see dole as pocket money and would be able, through contacts, possibly, secure unpaid internships to gain valuable experience related to their chosen career’s.
Instead of defending the Gov’t’s scheme, through vilifying the likes of Cait, perhaps Gov’t could arrange benefit supported internship’s for those with graduate qualifications.
The present scheme leaves a slight smell, with suspicions that there might be a bit more to the selection of participating organisations.
A scheme for graduate internships, in related employment, would achieve Gov’t’s avowed aims, whilst improving profitability of professional organisations, including those run by the State itself.
Such a scheme would effectively make these people State employee’s but on slightly better than benefit pay (to cover expenses and and act as a small incentive).
Such extra assistance could help spare Council’s from unwanted cuts in services, supplementing present staff, and at a minimal cost.
These organisation’s would further benefit by reducing the cost of advertising, interviewing and appointing unsuitable new recruits based on a CV containing a college recommendation and a few weeks worth of work experience at Poundland.
Government would benefit by making useable degree courses more attractive and producing a generation of potentially higher rate taxpayer’s

PUBLISHED VERSION

Ann’s right to point out the value of ‘menial’ work

I AGREE with Ann Widdecombe (February 20) about the value of doing what she calls menial work, having worked at part-time jobs throughout my school years.

I understand the value of the work ethic, which is why I have some sympathy with Cait Reilly, who went to court to challenge the Government’s workfare schemes.

The Government has actively encouraged people to stay on in education, while incurring debt and keeping unemployment down.

Instead of defending the Government’s scheme, through vilifying the likes of Reilly, perhaps the Government could arrange benefit-supported internships for those with graduate qualifications.

Such extra assistance could help spare councils from unwanted cuts in services, supplementing present staff at minimal cost.

Government would benefit by making degree courses more attractive and producing more potential higher-rate taxpayers.

what happens if one country devalues its currency?

February 19, 2013

I got this from Bloomberg, via Fullermoney.

G-20 Advocates Market-Set Currencies as Japan Defends Policy – This is an interesting and certainly topical article from Bloomberg. Here is the opening:

Group of 20 finance chiefs are planning to disavow competitive devaluations in a statement to be released after talks end in Moscow tomorrow, according to an official from a G-20 nation.

The latest draft of the group’s communique doesn’t repeat this week’s pledge by the Group of Seven to avoid using exchange rates as a goal of policy, said the official, who asked not to be identified because the document isn’t public. It will instead echo language adopted by the G-20 in November, which urges currencies to be set by financial markets.

The G-20’s finance ministers and central bankers are trying to find common ground after the G-7 this week sought to avoid a so-called currency war by uniting around a commitment not to target exchange rates — only to then divide over whether the statement signaled irritation with Japan.

“All members of the G-20 need to deliver on the commitment to move towards market-determined exchange rates,” U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Lael Brainard said at a conference in Moscow today. “G-20 members will have to bring their exchange frameworks into alignment so that we grow together and avoid a downward spiral of beggar thy neighbor policies.”

Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa today defended his nation’s economic strategy, arguing it is aimed at beating 15 years of deflation and not at driving down the yen.

My view – While we have yet to see G-20’s final statement on currency devaluations, which is scheduled for release tomorrow, the preliminary discussions suggest that it will be somewhat opaque and therefore subject to interpretation. If so, it would offer enough wiggle room to avoid condemnation of devaluations seen within G-20 in recent years.

I’m reading this as they’ve all been buying each other’s debt (the banks taking a cut at each sale) and providing an excuse to demand austerity measures, thus justifying the sale of state assets and pauperising the plebs. If one devalues, it will immediately leave their creditors without the means of paying their own creditor’s. So they’re all a little nervous, like participants in a game of musical chairs.

I don’t think other countries have need to worry. I don’t kno who’s likely to break ranks first (my money is on Greece, after returning to the Drachma). I suspect that Britain will be the last to duck out and the Etonians will leave us in the mire.

It’s OK. I’m probably way off beam and just being overly paranoid.

 

 

Are Doctor assistant’s the next stage? #NHS

February 18, 2013

Nearly a decade ago, as part of the process for preparing to privatise education, Teacher Assistant’s were introduced.

This was, ostensibly, to enable teacher’s to cope with the influx of children with Special needs from the schools that Blunkett was shutting down, at a furious rate.  A process which not only cut costs but freed up valuable redevelopment land.

The introduction of these personnel (many glorified child minder’s, at ridiculous rates of pay).

At this point, teacher’s were instructed to begin writing schemes of work and detailed lesson plans, essentially in attempt to de-skill the job and enable teacher assistant’s to initially hold down a class, whilst a fully qualified teacher ran around two or three classrooms, ensuring the process worked.

This was doomed to failure, being on a par with asking a stand-up comedian to run comedian-assistants in a multi-stage theatre.

However it had to work, or appear to do so.

Teacher’s were made to develop more complex lesson plans to cope with differing mixes of pupils in mind (think of the comedian running his stooges in a Glasgow W.M.C. and the London Palladium on the same night.).

To ensure that the teacher’s were complying properly, their senior teacher’s were made to oversee lessons and Appraise teacher performance to see if they applied their own lesson plans and to try and refine them to a point where a teacher assistant could take over, without supervision.

When this became unwieldy, peer appraisal was introduced, whilst reserving the appraisal by Senior teacher’s for the purpose of grading teacher’s and assisting in the process of judging appropriate scales of pay (only recently implemented by Gove). Even Headteacher’s were included in this process, using Headteacher’s, from other school’s within the same corps. (Anyone see why this was asinine?).

I don’t know how effectively this scheme is proceeding, having left teaching some time ago. I suspect it isn’t working and they’re having to use more able people to do the job in the new Academies, whilst keeping appraisal’s as a management tool for reducing labour costs.

I’ve run through this, because I was irritated by another announcement from The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges demanding a tax on fizzy drinks.

Doctor’s are there to heal the sick not to issue edicts about how people should conform to the expectations of prodnose’s.  Then again are these people proper doctor’s?  Is The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges really just another one of those politically constructed organisations set up, or modified, to enable the manipulation of groups of the more articulate plebs?

In teaching we have The G.T.C. to control teacher’s. It is manned by Politicians, Civil Servants, politically correct teacher’s (got themselves promoted out of the classroom to more cushy berth’s) and representatives from castrated teacher unions.

There appears to be a similar set-up in the Police, where all the Top jobs seem to be manned by Politically appointed wallies,

In the event, I Googled  The Academy of Medical Royal College and found that they were heavily into re-validating doctor’s.

Apparently this is a process akin to the classroom observations and appraisals of teacher’s.

I assume that, as with teacher’s, the process of re-validation will be about “ensuring that doctor’s undertake a continual advancement in their own professional development” , that it will “give Doctor’s an opportunity to have their skill’s honed through assessment by their peers”, render them “an opportunity for self assessment” and other very worthy stated aims.

The appraisals will generate portfolio’s (or some other jargon synonym) and the process, once it is bedded in, will also enable management, armed with these portfolio’s (remember these are subjective evaluation’s of a “suitable mentor” ) to “discuss” with doctor’s how well they are performing.

This process is not new to those who work in Banks and may be familiar to Nurses etc.

It has been used since the 1980’s to demean employee’s and encourage them to reduce their expectations of a suitable reward for their efforts. It’s simply a process that started at the bottom, has worked its way up to doctor’s and will probably continue upward through the ranks of the employed, until all the plebs have been thoroughly enchained and put in their place.

Next stop Journalist’s, Solicitor’s, Barrister’s, Member’s of Parliament, Generals,Whitehall Mandarins?

As each level is reached, the reins of power will pass further up the lines of command, until the oligarchs fight to see who’s going to be Emperor.

All of this may be fanciful but when the signs say “to the Front” and you hear loud booming sounds, you don’t expect to be led to a picnic.

Tiger’s are noble, foxes are vermin!

February 17, 2013

I’ve never really understood the angst arising from possible species extinction’s.

Apart from anything else, we wouldn’t be here if 90% of all species hadn’t gone extinct at one point in time.

Nearer to the present day we have had Mammoths, Giant sloths and Moa’s driven to extinction by early man.

Giant Tortoises and Dodo’s were killed off by our more recent ancestor’s, who found them delicious and thus deprived us of the opportunity of seeing if that opinion was justified.

Of course some species are useful (eg crested newts) in opposing planning decisions but there are others, which I am glad to know are no longer with us. E.g.  Wolves, in Britain, were killed off a century, or so, ago, although some freaks want to see them re-introduced.

Protect newts, re-introduce the Great bustard but why get dewy-eyed over Polar bears and tigers.

There are adverts for a charity to protect the Svalbard Polar bears. The same animals, one of which killed a young Brit last year and one of which chased down and killed a woman hiker a few years earlier. Why protect them and in what way? Does this charity propitiate them by feeding them elk?

Tigers are a weird one, Apparently there are more of them in The USA than in Asia. I daresay many Indian villagers would be happy if they were all in The USA.

Tiger attacks in the Sundarbans, in India and Bangladesh are estimated to kill from 50-250 people per year. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_attacks_in_the_Sundarbans ). These animals are not pussycats. Even trained Tigers can unexpectedly turn on owners who confidently assert the opposite of this. (Burmese tigers are 3metres long, tip to tip)

” Tigers must be preserved because they are noble, magnificent wild beasts  —  but not in my backyard”

It’s apparently okay that Indian peasants pay the price for this addition to India’s tourist revenue but the recent rare attack of a fox on a British baby marks these top predators as vermin, which should be eradicated.

Naturally, when they are close to the point of extinction, we can expect a charity to burst forth, urging us to stop the senseless slaughter.

I’m not saying we should exterminate all species that are of no use to us. What I am saying is let’s stop fighting the inevitable. Build reserves, if you must. Keep some in Zoo’s, if you’re desperate but don’t try using emotional blackmail on those of us, who don’t see a 5 metre long Siberian tiger ( taller and longer than a Range Rover), or a hungry pack of hyena’s, or a species of leech, as something that will be an unbearable loss to humanity should it cease to exist.

 

P.M. for sale to NHS privateers. What are the chances of the NHS being saved?

February 17, 2013

Great piece in the Sunday Express, by Sonia Poulton, which encapsulated the whole sorry affair of the privatisation of the NHS.

The most damning items were the figures on politicians benefitting from this rape of the public purse.

Remember we paid for these Hospitals, not the politicians.

We paid for them with our taxes and our National Insurance stamps.

According to “Social Investigations”, 52 Tories, 9 Labour and 3 Lib Dem MP’s are financially linked to the firms buying our NHS. They also claim that there are 142 Lords with links.

These are the ones discovered. How many more?

It’s not all brown envelopes. These are their legal equivalence

The most notable and disgusting example is a donation of   Three Quarters of a  Million Pounds to Good old Dave, Our Tory Prime Minister.

Is there any real chance of rescuing the NHS from their greedy clutches, especially with so many indoctrinated acolytes actually believing that the process is about improving the NHS and  therefore arguing for it.

(MBA degree’s being the main vehicle for disseminating Friedman’s philosophy that State Assets should be Given to private companies).

As she (Sonia Poulton) said in her article, the process has been on-going since the Health and Social Care Act (2012) was conceived during Margaret Thatcher’s tenure.

The process was slow but progressed throughout the decades, with the re-evaluation of nursing pay scales and many nurse being downgraded.

http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/36141/1/WRAP_THESIS_Thornley_1993.pdf  is an interesting read.

The process continued under Blair’s New Labour ( his dictum, repeated by Lord Howe, is that  it doesn’t matter who provides care, so long as it is free to the patient. This is patent shallow thinking but one of those good sound bites, for which Blair was noted)

As can be seen here, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/8795717/Cherie-Blair-stands-to-gain-from-NHS-privatisation.html, Tony Blair was a believer in the personal benefits of privatising the NHS.

We have so many people in power, whose fortunes are riding on this rape, that it seems unlikely that we will be able to prevent it, especially as it is being managed by Jeremy hunt, whose career is based on his (co-authored, 2005) book calling for the NHS to be privatised.

If State services can be handled better through Privatisation then scrap Parliament and give us shares in UK Plc.

February 17, 2013

The Government have mooted the idea of  distributing shares in RBS, presumably in order to make a killing, as Maggie did with the privatisation of Gas etc. But with some thought it could be made democratising. I wrote this into the Daily Express letters page (I know it’s right wing but I find Broadsheets too highbrow and the red banners too lowbrow)

 

I think the distribution of RBS shares could be beneficial to the Nation but under one condition:

The shares can not be re-sold. In the event of death they can be bequeathed to children, or returned tothe Gov’t.

The benefit’s would be:-

The Government would not have to worry about having sold off the shares, at a loss.

Any Banker bonuses would have to be approved by the shareholders – mainly us.

This also absolves the Gov’t of responsibility of “doing something” about them)

We could vote the RBS executive into being customer-friendly, in terms of charges, call centres, ATM’s etc.

The dividends would be ours and could be used to defray welfare benefit expenses, at the same time, teaching the public to balance demands on the Bank’s behaviour with its own need for income.

In fact, if the Government’s, of all parties, persist with the notion of privatisation, why not extend this principle.

There would be a shedding of political responsibility and a means of increasing democracy, if Government insisted on all future privatisations being majority owned by voter’s. (to be defined as, born in this country and resident here).

No company would allowed to bid for any part of the NHS, unless it sold a majority shareholding into this Voter’s ownership scheme. This would deter those who intended to carpet-bag or asset strip State Assets.

There would have to be some element of choice here, so that customer base and share-holder base over-lapped, and this would be complex but not unresolveable

 

As train franchises came up for tender, the same would apply, so that this new HS2 service, paid for by public money, for the benefit of the political elite and the business classes, would benefit those paying for it.

 

People would be less likely to despoil premises, which had to be cleaned at their expense, such as railway carriages and Stations.. The Public would become more Socially responsible and would actively police the anti-social elements.

 

Thinking on it, the same logic could be applied to Government.

If I was a shareholder in my local Council, perhaps I’d have some say in its management.

I wouldn’t have Council Officer’s on obscene salaries.

I wouldn’t have my City Centre being killed off by traffic congestion caused by Bus Lanes, or by parking charges.

I’d have cleaned and policed streets.

I”d have weekly bin collections.

And! in twenty years time, when we have emerged from the PFI debts, which we have been saddled with, we could demand more responsible financial control and vastly reduced council charges.

 

In the extreme, we could do away with the farce of Parliament and Parliamentary Democracy, replacing the Cabinet with a Board of Minister’s, with qualification’s and experience from working in industries, related to their function.  An end to artificial qualifiications such as PPE’s and MBA’s.

#NHS 38 degrees want your MP to sign an early day motion to make privateer’s pay tax

February 15, 2013

This is an e-mail, which I received asking me to email my MP asking her to sign an Early day motion on protecting the NHS.

Unfortunately my MP says that, as a member of the Labour front bench, she can not vote (and I assume sign) early day motions (No! I don’t see why either).

I post it here in case others want to join in.

Right now, Jeremy Hunt is making some big decisions about competition in the NHS. He’ll be relying on advice from the health regulator, Monitor. But behind closed doors, private healthcare companies have been pushing for new tax dodges to help increase their profits. [1]

38 Degrees members have already persuaded Monitor to rule out allowing private companies in the NHS off paying their corporation tax a few weeks ago. But other tax breaks could still happen. [2] Now, Tim Farron, a senior Lib Dem MP, has tabled a motion in parliament which tells the government that private companies profiting from the NHS “must be expected to pay taxes on that profit in full like any other company”. [3]

The more MPs who sign the motion, the more pressure Jeremy Hunt will be feeling when Monitor’s recommendations land on his desk. Can you ask your MP now to sign up to making sure private healthcare providers pay their tax?
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-Monitor-email-your-MP

Of course, it’s taxes that pay for the NHS. So it might seem strange that companies making a profit from delivering NHS services would be trying to wriggle out of paying their fair share. But nonetheless, that’s what could be about to happen – and it’s up to Jeremy Hunt to put a stop to it.

The government doesn’t want another huge showdown over the NHS. A parliamentary Early Day Motion signed by dozens of MPs can act as an early warning to government that they could be about to have a big fight on their hands. If Hunt sees lots of MPs signing up, he’ll realise exactly how embarrassing this issue could become.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt will make his decision soon. So now’s the perfect time to turn up the pressure. Click here to email your MP asking them to sign the early day motion now:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-Monitor-email-your-MP

Thanks for being involved,

James, Ian, Hannah and the 38 Degrees team

why we should all read the the financial pages, especially when about to deal with money men.

February 9, 2013

This piece is from the FullerMoney Newsletter and is a report of a George Soros statement on CNBC.

Soros makes his money from manipulating and reading how Governments will act in financial matters.

For most of us, such info is irrelevant as regards what is essentially gambling. However, if one person (Soros) is making money, then someone else is losing it.

No doubt our millionaire politicians will see it as an opportunity to make money, rather than as a warning to put some protective measures in place to shield the public. The public needs to try and protect itself. It’d be nice if newspaper financial pages could advise us. I’m not clued up on these issues but if, at the simplest level, I was thinking of taking out a mortgage and thought that the US economy was on the up, I’d rush to a fixed rate one, sooner.

There will be a dramatic rise in interest rates as soon as there are clear signs the U.S. economy is picking up, billionaire financier George Soros told CNBC.

Soros said that the U.S. needs to reestablish growth to help shrink its debt pile and that the Federal Reserve’s policy of buying U.S. debt, is the right one since it doesn’t add to the net amount of debt outstanding. “It’s about as close to a free lunch as you can get,” he said.

But there is a risk, Soros warned, “Once the economy gets going, then interest rates are going to take a big leap.”

He called it a “delicate two-phase maneuver,” where first the Fed throws more money at the economy and then as the economy picks up the money needs to be taken back out. But as money comes out of the economy, it could arrest the recovery.

Soros expects interest rates to jump this year as soon as there are clear signs the economy is on the mend.

“It may already have begun,” Soros said of the move in rates. “I think it’s most likely to happen this year. Once you’re past the uncertainty about the budget and investment decisions are made I think you’ll see it.”

Yvonne Fovargue. now a Labour whip. can’t vote on Early Day motions! #NHS

February 1, 2013

I emailed a question (via theyworkforyou.com) to Yvonne Fovargue, on Early day motion 773.

I usually post her other replies, so I’ll post this, which gave a positive response.

I’ve now learned that frontbencher’s can’t vote on early day motions i.e. they can not speak for their constituents in certain instances.

I find this surprising and suggest that it’s time to re-examine Parliamentary procedures (unless it’s to be abolished by the EU). I can think of no reason, apart from an “us and them” attitude amongst peers.

Thank you for contacting me recently concerning the Government’s Health and Social Care Act and the related Early Day Motion 773.

I share your disappointment that this ill-conceived Act has now completed its passage through Parliament and will become law. Many local people, health professionals, staff and patients have also expressed their concern about the Government’s re-organisation of the NHS in recent months and I agree that this Act is unnecessary and that it risks breaking-up the NHS as a national public service. That is why I voted against the Health and Social Care Act and why would like to see it repealed as soon as possible.

I am particularly concerned that the Government’s plans will set up the NHS as a full-scale market, that competition could be put before patient care, that it could weaken national standards, increase health inequalities and lead to a `postcode lottery’ emerging with widespread variation in local NHS treatments.

I also fear that the Government’s reforms could lead to longer waiting times by watering down NHS guarantees and allowing hospitals to treat more private patients. Indeed, as the Government’s own impact assessment states, there is a risk that private patients may be prioritised above NHS patients, resulting in a growth in waiting times for NHS patients’. One of our most cherished public services could therefore be broken up and made more bureaucratic and less accountable to the patients who rely on it.

For a re-organisation of this sort to be successful, there needs to be a professional and public consensus in favour of these reforms. However, it is abundantly clear that the Government did not achieve this and the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, the British Medical Association, Unison and a range of health professionals and staff all opposed the Bill. It is also unacceptable that the Government failed to comply with the ruling by the independent Information Commissioner to release the transition risk register, which shows the Department of Health’s assessment of the likely impact of these reforms.

I therefore voted against the Bill throughout its passage through Parliament and supported Opposition amendments that would have included important protections against the expansion of the private sector in the NHS and to prevent competition compromising patient care.

I also voted to press the Government to release the transition risk register in time for it to inform Parliamentary debate.

Unfortunately the Government failed to listen to these widespread concerns and the Act has now received Royal Assent.      

Although, as a member of the Shadow Front Bench Team, I am unable to sign Early Day Motions, I can assure you that I will continue to urge the Government to mitigate the worst effects of this legislation and that I will support efforts to repeal the Health and Social Care Act as soon as possible.

 

Thank you once again for writing to me on this important issue.

Yours sincerely,       Yvonne Fovargue,           Labour Member for Makerfield