Tag Archives: deaths

Covid-19: it isn’t over, the news media are lying to you, and you are MORE likely to die

Lying: Boris Johnson has fed us a lot of diseased tripe about Covid-19 since February 2020 and the news media have been happy to help him. They’re still doing it now.

Feeling good about yourself because you’re double-vaccinated and the Tories have ended social distancing rules? How do you feel about this, then?

I know what some of you will say: it’s still better than everywhere else because Boris Johnson and his crooks have done such a good job with the vaccine. Right?

Wrong:

In a nutshell…

Here’s the reason:

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s someone who’s just back from abroad:

The death toll since Johnson’s so-called Freedom Day (July 19) is appalling – and families of the deceased are being urged to take action:

And nearly as many more people are expected to die before Christmas – who would live if Johnson only saw sense and re-imposed life-saving restrictions. Ah, but he’s on his holibobs, isn’t he?

Among the dead are NHS nurses like this one, meaning the number of people qualified to help fight Covid-19 is decreasing.

Meanwhile the media are feeding is misinformation. Consider the BBC’s claims that the vaccination programme is good reason to excuse the government for the tens of thousands of deaths it caused at the start of the pandemic crisis:

It is reckoned that 20,000 people died because of mistakes made in the first few weeks of the crisis. That’s as many as are expected to have died between July 19 and December 25, after Johnson’s Freedom Day stunt.

Oh, and then there’s this:

And this:

And still the Tory apologists leap forward to excuse them. Jolyon Rubinstein is (almost) right on the button with his comment below (one Tory has stepped forward to apologise – although he’s nobody important):

Along came Ryan (below) to let the Tories off the hook with a lot of twaddle.

If the blame game gets us nowhere, why is Health Secretary Sajid Javid preparing to blame GPs for failing to hold enough face-to-face appointments with patients, after creating a funding scheme that doesn’t help?

Not only that, but we know that the government didn’t pay attention to expert advice and take action accordingly.

Covid-19 is indeed (partially) a natural disaster, but it is one that has been made much worse by Boris Johnson and his cronies.

The situation is crystallised by the hypocrisy of the “He’s doing his best” narrative about Boris Johnson:

Yes, he’s “doing his best” by pretending to be Picasso in some paradise villa. Meanwhile:

Of course we know why Johnson took his holiday this week. It was to avoid having to answer the damning report on the government’s response to Covid-19 that became public this week.

He left that to his ministers, including a Health Secretary who hasn’t even bothered to read it…

… and a former Health Secretary who lied to us that one of the countries that has performed best in handling the pandemic is now doing worse than the UK. It isn’tNew Zealand is much, much healthier than we are:

Now get ready for the really bad news:

The situation in the UK is about to get much, much worse. And that will happen because your Tory government couldn’t be bothered to prevent it, and because its complacent, client news media couldn’t be bothered to warn you.

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Life expectancy falls, cancer deaths rise – and Johnson lies about wages

Did he say it? That hardly matters now – Boris Johnson’s own behaviour shows he agrees with the sentiment.

“Let the bodies pile high,” he said. And he meant it!

Boris Johnson has triggered a wave of outrage after he said he did not care about the increase in cancer deaths caused by his government’s failure to make the NHS capable of dealing with a pandemic like Covid.

NHS staff and resources had to be diverted from services like cancer care, meaning thousands more people have died who would not have if care had continued uninterrupted.

Not only that, but deaths attributed to Covid mean life expectancy for men has fallen. It’s being said that this is for the first time ever, although This Site has carried articles in the past that would dispute that.

And what did Johnson say? Well, see for yourself:

It is a false argument anyway.

Wage growth between April and June this year was recorded at 8.8 per cent by the Office for National Statistics – but those experts said the figure must be treated with “caution” – and for very good reason:

Annual growth in average employee pay is being affected by temporary factors that have inflated the increase in the headline growth rate; compositional effects where there has been a fall in the number and proportion of lower-paid employee jobs, therefore increasing average earnings; and base effects where the latest months are now compared with low base periods when earnings were first affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The base effect refers to the comparison of the latest months with the low base periods of April to June 2020, when earnings were affected by the coronavirus pandemic and negative pay growth rates were seen… The composition effect is where pay growth has been affected by a changing composition of employee jobs, which has increased average pay and needs to be considered when interpreting average pay growth.

In brief: there is no reason to celebrate huge wage rises because they only relate to last year’s huge wage fall.

Meanwhile, according to The Independent,

Life expectancy for men has fallen for the first time since records began, government figures revealed in September – as the higher deaths than usual caused by the pandemic begin to make an impact.

More than half a million cancer patients are missing out on vital healthcare support due to severe staff shortages across the NHS, new research from Macmillan Cancer Support revealed last month.

One in four of people who were diagnosed with cancer in the last two years have gone without proper support from a specialist nurse during that time, equating to roughly 630,000 patients, the charity said.

So Johnson’s comment was entirely backward.

The right thing to say would have been “Never mind the misleading wage rises; the important metrics are the falls in life expectancy and cancer outcomes.”

And we all know it. Ian Lavery certainly wasn’t the only one to pick up on the reversal:

And that is the line on which the Conservative Party goes into its national conference for 2021:

“Boris Johnson is a man with total contempt for human life.”

Source: Boris Johnson condemned for saying ‘never mind’ about cancer outcomes | The Independent

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There’s a really simple reason recorded Covid cases have fallen but deaths are up

It’s not over: the reason recorded Covid-19 infections are falling is that school pupils aren’t being tested; they’re on holiday.

News media like the BBC are all over the fact that the number of recorded Covid-19 infections has dropped for the seventh day running.

They’re practically ignoring the fact that the daily death total has leapt to 131 – the highest number since March.

Bit of a discrepancy, that.

The reason could be that fewer people have been tested over the last seven days.

The reason for that?

Most of the schools broke up for the summer nearly a week ago. Our kids aren’t being tested any more.

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Is aid cut a Tory bid to inflict avoidable megadeaths on foreigners?

RIP democracy: Boris Johnson cut aid to foreign countries without offering MPs a chance to vote on it. His claim that the law allows such a move is highly debatable. 

The message This Writer took from MPs’ failure to force a vote on reversing foreign aid cuts is that it means there will be hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths in affected countries.

That was said by Tory Andrew Mitchell, who seems to have come a long way since the “BikeGate” controversy.

And the really offensive part was that the decision to cut foreign aid from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of National Income (do they mean Gross Domestic Product?) was taken without allowing Parliament to vote on it.

It was an offence against democracy, because Boris Johnson’s Tory government believes in dictatorship instead.

And (obviously) it believes in finding ways to ensure that as many people as possible die.

Ministers have said it is possible to vary the amount spent without changing the 2015 law that makes the target binding.

But the decision to make the change unilaterally means there is no deadline for restoring that target – meaning the government could leave the cut in place indefinitely.

Isn’t there a more important question to be answered, about what’s being done with this aid money?

Isn’t it important that it should be used to ensure that the nations receiving the money need less and less of it in the future?

Has that been happening? How can we check?

There are many questions to be answered about foreign aid and This Writer hopes the debate on Tuesday (June 8) provides some of the answers.

The joy of it is that the Tory government has shot itself in the foot, whatever happens.

It has already garnered bad publicity over this in the week before the UK hosts the G7 summit.

It will receive more bad publicity with the debate.

And Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said he wants a substantive vote, which means if Boris Johnson refuses to grant it, he’ll have even more bad publicity.

Source: Foreign aid: Rebel Tories blocked in bid to reverse cuts – BBC News

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This unforgivable failure of judgement shows Priti Patel should not be a member of the government

Smug: Priti Patel seems to think she can say anything she likes about court cases and lawyers. Sadly, the failure of the authorities to punish her suggests that she is right. No wonder she often has that smug grin on her face.

An ill-advised tweet by Priti Patel – the UK’s Home Secretary, in charge of the country’s police service (but not, thankfully, justice) could have derailed a major criminal case, it has been revealed.

Four alleged people-smugglers have now been found guilty of manslaughter in the so-called Essex lorry deaths trial, after 39 people were found dead inside a lorry when it was inspected on its way into the UK from continental Europe.

On October 23, the anniversary of the tragedy, Priti Patel’s Twitter account posted: “One year ago today, 39 people lost their lives in horrific circumstances at the hands of ruthless criminals.

“My thoughts remain with everyone who was affected by that day, particularly the loved ones of the people who so tragically died.”

This public comment could have prejudiced the then-ongoing trial and for that reason was certainly in contempt of court.

Patel should have known this. In fact, This Writer finds it hard to believe that she didn’t.

Considering her other recent behaviour, it seems more likely that she thought she could get away with saying anything she liked – because she is a Conservative cabinet minister. Once again, it would be a case in which the Tories put themselves above the law.

According to The Mirror,

The post was retweeted and liked more than 300 times before it came to the attention of a defence lawyer and the trial was halted.

In the absence of the jury, Alisdair Williamson QC complained about the description of “ruthless criminals”, especially as she was a senior Government minister.

The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, did not authorise action against Patel but pointed out to jurors that many messages were likely to appear on the social media – and all should be ignored.

“It’s a fundamental principle of our criminal justice system that those on trial are presumed to be innocent until proven to be guilty and it is you and you alone who are going to decide whether they are guilty or not guilty.”

Quite right.

Patel had no right to suggest that anybody was a “ruthless criminal” until the jury came to a decision supporting such a claim.

But then, considering her other ill-advised tweets about “activist lawyers”, which led to at least one attack on a firm of solicitors, it seems clear that she believes herself to be above the rules that affect the rest of us.

Sadly, Mr Justice Sweeney’s lack of action against her, along with the failure of the police to act over the other matter, tends to prove her right.

Source: Priti Patel caused legal storm during Essex lorry migrant trial with ‘ill-advised’ tweet – Mirror Online

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Campaigner who embarrassed DWP was forced into 15-month benefit battle – with DWP

The worst aspect of this is that there probably isn’t a connection.

Gail Ward caused serious embarrassment to the Department for Work and Pensions in 2018 when in response to a Freedom of Information request, the government department had to admit 111,000 people had died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance.

Then Ms Ward, 63, was told by the same organisation that she didn’t qualify for Personal Independence Payments.

For clarity, she has Prinzmetal’s angina, a rare form of angina where attacks can occur even when resting. The rare heart condition means she can collapse at any moment.

It can cause arteries in the heart to spasm during times of stress or cold weather, which severely limits a person’s independence and can also be life-threatening.

She also has arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Ms Ward had been claiming Disability Living Allowance but, after she was ordered to attend a mandatory reassessment for PIP, she was told that her benefits would stop because she failed to meet the qualifying criteria.

How many times have we heard that before?

Look at her condition again. Of course she met the qualifying criteria. The DWP just wanted to cause her a bit of additional stress, and see if it aggravates her condition enough to kill her.

And if that happened, the people responsible would probably have had the nerve to say, at least she won’t be added to the death figures she uncovered, because she was claiming PIP, not ESA.

The cancellation of her benefit payments meant Ms Ward was unable to pay her bills and ended up in debt.

She was also stripped of her mobility car – which is common behaviour for the DWP.

It took her 15 months to get an appeal to the tribunal stage.

Now here’s the payoff: despite being unable to attend on the day, having been taken ill that morning, the tribunal still found in Ms Ward’s favour and awarded her the full amount of PIP.

Now she has criticised the assessment process and demanded answers about the way decisions are made.

Of course, we all know why the DWP’s assessors do what they do.

But with her record, Gail Ward might just be able to force them to confess it.

Source: Woman who can collapse at any moment due to a rare heart condition is denied benefits and Northumberland woman with rare heart condition that causes her to collapse denied benefits by DWP

If it’s fear-mongering to say people will die because of Brexit, why is the government stockpiling body-bags?

A body-bag: No, it isn’t being modelled by Mr Rees-Mogg.

The Minister for the 18th Century, Jacob Rees-Mogg, caused a bit of a stir this week when he attacked a doctor who advised the government on “no deal” Brexit – in flagrant contradiction of the evidence.

Consultant neurologist Dr David Nicholl helped draft the Project Yellowhammer document that predicted shortages of medicines, food and fuel if “no deal” Brexit happens.

Dr Nicholl asked Mr Rees-Mogg, now Leader of the House of Commons, in an exchange on LBC radio, “What level of mortality rate are you willing to accept in the light of a no-deal Brexit?”

The cabinet member bit back hard: “I’m surprised that a doctor in your position would be fear-mongering in this way on public radio. I think it’s deeply irresponsible, Dr Nicholl, of you to call in and try to spread fear across the country. It’s typical of Remainer campaigners to try and you should be quite ashamed.”

Oh, really?

Then why has the National Health Service been stockpiling body-bags?

We knew this was happening back in February, when a letter from then-health minister Stephen Hammond identified body-bags as an important consumable being protected by health service bosses.

But now we know why.

This Independent article quotes Dr Paul Williams, a Labour supporter of the anti-Brexit Best for Britain group, said: “This exchange shows how little regard the government has for those who rely on access to medicines. Their reckless pursuit of a no-deal Brexit is putting lives at risk.”

And it reported a revelation by The Sunday Times “that doctors had warned the NHS to brace itself for the “biggest threat it has ever faced” if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

“Confidential files seen by the newspaper revealed lists of drugs it has been impossible to stockpile, putting patients at potential risk.”

Dr Nicholl was reported to have used the exchange with Mr Rees-Mogg to argue that people would die because of problems with access to drugs and radioisotopes.

And all the cabinet minister could do was moan that the Yellowhammer report had been written by “Remoaners”.

Who do you believe? The cabinet minister – or the expert with a doctorate?

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Jeremy Hunt has talked himself into a hole – and is digging for all he’s worth

Here’s what “most doctors” think of Jeremy Hunt, I reckon [Image: Sean Hansford/MEN].

Everybody reading this will be familiar with the expression, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” If only Jeremy Hunt would take that advice!

In the latest round of his ongoing dispute with Professor Stephen Hawking, Mr Hunt has tried to defend his claims about NHS spending – and failed.

He has also tried to defend his claims about falling numbers of people taking out private medical insurance – and failed.

Worst of all, he has tried to say he has not cherry-picked evidence in order to make a false claim about weekend deaths – by devising a new definition of cherry-picking.

Take a look at his words, taken from his own latest Guardian article:

He does not deny that it has record funding or record numbers of doctors and nurses, but describes these as a “distraction”. Such figures surely are crucial evidence if he is arguing, as he did last weekend in a speech at the Royal Society of Medicine, that the direction of the NHS is heading towards a US-style insurance system. Such systems – which he seems to now concede are not government policy – rely on individuals, and not the state, paying for their healthcare. If that was the direction of travel, the state would be spending less, not more, on the NHS.

But Professor Hawking has already stated that “record funding is not the same thing as adequate funding”.

We are all aware of Noam Chomsky’s description of the standard technique of privatisation, aren’t we? “Defund” – meaning, fail to provide enough funding – “make sure things don’t work” – and Mr Hunt has admitted he does not “think everything is working well in the NHS” – “people get angry” – like Professor Hawking – “you hand it over to private capital”.

How much of that “record” funding is going towards private companies? Some of that money will be handed out to shareholders as profit, meaning it serves no useful purpose in the provision of care. But it all counts as privatisation of health care.

So: Mr Hunt’s “record” funding isn’t enough, especially as a large proportion of it is funding the profits of private health – and the service is suffering, which means it is well on the way to privatisation according to Mr Chomsky’s pattern.

Likewise, more individuals would be taking out private medical insurance – again, the opposite is the case. Although there was indeed a small rise last year, overall there has been a dramatic drop in private medical insurance since 2009.

If there was a rise in the number of individuals taking out private medical insurance last year, then Professor Hawking is right to say that more individuals are taking out private medical insurance. Anybody can make figures say what they want by choosing an arbitrary starting date. Why not say, “There has been a rise in private health insurance since 2015”?

I do not accept his comments about the misuse of statistics, although inevitably in the heat of an industrial relations dispute there will be many such accusations hurled from both sides. To decide that one piece of research is the most credible is not “cherrypicking”, as Hawking suggested – it is doing what you have to do when researchers disagree.

If researchers disagree, then the evidence is not conclusive and no decision can be made. “To decide that one piece of research is the most credible” is exactly “cherrypicking” – it is citing one study but suppressing others in order to support a political policy, as Professor Hawking stated in his original Guardian article.

Finally, we have this:

But regardless of which research you back, none of us can bury our heads in the sand on the issues surrounding weekend care in hospitals. Most doctors in their hearts would rather a loved one was admitted mid-week than at the weekend.

And who said Jeremy Hunt could speak for “most doctors”?

The last time This Writer checked, “most doctors” had spent most of a year holding industrial action against Mr Hunt because of his attempts to speak for them on the subject of their pay and conditions of work.

And what research has Mr Hunt carried out? Since we’re discussing scientific evidence, with how many doctors did he discuss this matter?

Or, returning to the fact that he has dug himself into a hole, is Mr Hunt pulling his claim from another hole that he happens to have on his person?


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After Hunt attacked over NHS privatisation, we all knew Hawking wouldn’t let it lie

[Image: @Rachael_Swindon on Twitter.]

Picture the scene if you can: Professor Stephen Hawking reading Jeremy Hunt’s smear piece against his concerns about the NHS and then, in calm, voice-synthesized tones, uttering: “So he wants to play hardball, does he? Fine.”

Professor Hawking has written a response in The Guardian, expanding on his original points:

That Mr Hunt misrepresented scientific research in order to claim that poorer hospital care and staffing at weekends cause excess deaths.

That Mr Hunt’s claim of record NHS funding is a distraction as it does not show that funding is adequate.

And that all the evidence shows a move towards a US-style, privatised, health insurance system, whether the minority Conservative government wants it or not.

It seems unlikely that Mr Hunt will back down. It also seems likely that he will face renewed calls to defend his claims, in person, on the floor of the House of Commons.

That will be comedy gold – although, considering the state of disrepair into which he has allowed the NHS to fall, it will be gallows humour.

Hunt doesn’t deny that he dismissed research contradicting his claim of excess deaths due to poorer hospital care and staffing at the weekend. He admits he relied on one paper by Professor Nick Freemantle and colleagues. But even if one accepts its disputed findings, the authors explicitly warn that “to assume these excess deaths are avoidable would be rash and misleading”. The editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal, Fiona Godlee, wrote to Hunt to reprimand him for publicly misrepresenting the Freemantle et al paper. As a patient who has spent a lot of time in hospital, I would welcome improved services at the weekend. For this, we need a scientific assessment of the benefits of a seven-day service and of the resources required, not misrepresentation of research.

Hunt’s statement that funding and the number of doctors and nurses are at an all-time high is a distraction. Record funding is not the same thing as adequate funding. There is overwhelming evidence that NHS funding and the numbers of doctors and nurses are inadequate, and it is getting worse.

Hunt misquoted me, saying that I claimed the government wants a US-style insurance system. What I said was that the direction is towards a US-style insurance system, run by private companies. The increasing involvement of private health companies in the NHS is evidence for this. Hunt chose to highlight – dare I say, cherry-pick – the fact that private companies’ share of NHS contracts rose 0.1% over the last year. This is an anomaly among the data since 2006. The NHS private providers’ share was 2.8% in 2006-7 and rose steadily to 7.6% in 2015/16. The amount of private health insurance has fallen since 2009 as Hunt said, but that is because of the financial crash. We can conclude nothing about health policy from this and in any case, it is now increasing again. As waiting times increase, private companies report an increase in self-pay where patients pay directly for care such as hip and knee replacements.

Further evidence that the direction is towards a US-style system is that the NHS in England is undergoing a complete reorganisation into 44 regions with the aim of each being run as an “accountable care organisation” (Aco). An Aco is a variant of a type of US system called a health maintenance organisation in which all services are provided in a network of hospitals and clinics all run by the HMO company. It is reasonable to expect the powerful US HMO companies such as Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealth will be bidding for the huge contracts to run these ACOs when they go out to international tender. Hunt referenced Kaiser Permanente as a model for the future budgetary arrangements in the NHS at the Commons health select committee in May 2016.

Source: Jeremy Hunt can attack me all he wants – but he is wrong to say the NHS is working | Stephen Hawking | Opinion | The Guardian


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Jeremy Hunt challenged to take part in TV debate with Stephen Hawking over the NHS

Will Jeremy Hunt go into hiding to avoid appearing in a TV debate with Professor Hawking – as he once hid behind a tree to avoid being seen going to a meeting with Rupert Murdoch?

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been challenged to appear in a televised debate on NHS statistics and the future of the service.

He would be opposed by Professor Stephen Hawking, whose claims about the Conservative minority government’s plans for the NHS were attacked by Mr Hunt on Twitter over the weekend.

Here’s the challenge:

This Writer is particularly pleased that doctors are taking this step. As I stated in my article on the subject, on Saturday (August 19):

“Let’s see the Health Secretary prove his claims against the kind of forensic examination that the world’s greatest living physicist can provide.

“And let’s have it televised. How about it, BBC?”

Well? How about it, Mr Hunt?

Of course we don’t believe him! Jeremy Hunt is a liar – and a fool, if he thinks anybody else is stupid enough to be persuaded by his lies.

His “weekend effect” argument is particularly weak because – as has already been proved, he really did cherry-pick his evidence, as Stephen Hawking stated in his Guardian article.

Professor Hawking, who has Motor Neurone Disease and has, therefore, enjoyed considerable experience of the NHS since 1962, makes the point that it is unscientific to base an argument for anything on only part of the evidence that is available; science demands a solution that encompasses all the evidence.

Mr Hunt’s response was to make an evidenceless claim about the 2015 Fremantle study.

Source: Hunt v Hawking on the future of the NHS: Who do you believe? | Vox Political


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