There used to be a word for it – what people did when, on top of their main job, they took on another that might be ‘sketchy’ by nature: Moonlighting.
It seems our new health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been moonlighting – and in a very lucrative way – pocketing £366,000 from his Hotcourses publishing firm, and a further £3,000 for lessons in Mandarin Chinese.
That’s more than 12 times the salary of the average nurse, at a time when millions of healthcare professionals are seeing their pay cut in real terms.
Let me make myself clear: I’m not opposed to people having secondary or tertiary streams of income. In these straitened times, I think many people need the extra money just to make ends meet.
Jeremy Hunt does not fall into that category.
He is now a senior government minister, who takes home an extremely large taxpayer-funded salary for that job. Anyone in his position should be devoting all of their working time to public service, and none of it to their own personal concerns.
Hotcourses tells us that Mr Hunt’s earnings with it are entirely from shares and from taking back and then renting out a building previously owned by the company. In other words, for no work at all.
I don’t care. This is still business that must take his attention away from the Department of Health. He should have left it behind.
It is obscene that a Cabinet minister is banking so much money when the people his department employs – people who work long hours under extremely difficult conditions – are taking a real-terms pay cut.
And it illustrates the contrast between pay for the highest-earning in society and the lowest. Recently we all learned that, if the minimum wage had increased in line with that of company directors, it would be nearly £19 by now.
I wonder how much a nurse’s pay would have increased, if it had been allowed to do so at the same rate?
A newly-promoted health minister has claimed that terminally ill people, who seek help to die, should be allowed to get that help in the UK.
Tory Anna Soubry said UK citizens should not have to go abroad if they really want to end their lives.
The Departments of Health and Justice were quick to pronounce the new minister’s opinions as her own, not indicative of government thinking, and to state that the government has no plans to change the law.
This is a valid issue for discussion; I certainly don’t think it’s right that health professionals should work to keep a person alive when their own body would have given up if left on its own, and they actually want to be released. To my way of thinking, that’s a little too close to torture. I’m sure some readers of this blog will be aware of other circumstances that could justify switching off healthcare.
But I have a doubt about this. Maybe my thoughts would be different if I did not know that, between January and August last year, there were 5,300 deaths in the support group of ESA claimants. This is the group that receives full support for as long as necessary – the rest of members’ natural lives.
Terminal conditions are common in this group, so I have to ask: Is this just another grubby bid to save more benefit money by killing off the claimants a little earlier than they would normally have died?
The Tory propoganda machine has been at it again – hushing up dissent to the, by now, pretty much universally-hated Health and Social Care Bill.
It seems Health Minister Andrew Lansley and his departmental colleagues have been on the blower to members of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. One presumes from the outcome that this was to assure them that releasing a statement opposing the Bill in its current form would be bad for their health.
The statement read as follows: “The medical royal colleges and faculties of the academy continue to have significant concerns over a number of aspects of the health bill and are disappointed that more progress has not been made in directly addressing the issues we have raised.
“The academy and medical royal colleges are not able to support the bill as it currently stands.
“Unless the proposals are modified the academy believes the bill may widen rather than lessen health inequalities and that unnecessary competition will undermine the provision of high quality integrated care to patients.”
The provisional plan had been to publish the statement late on Wednesday morning, ahead of Prime Minister’s questions.
But ministers led by Mr Lansley, along with senior officials, telephoned the presidents of the colleges ahead of its release, asking them to reconsider. We’re told the statement could have had a potentially devastating effect on the government’s plans.
Now it lies unused – another example of the methods Mr Lansley uses to stifle opposition to his unreasonable plan to privatise parts of the National Health Service and put taxpayers’ money into private operators’ offshore tax-haven bank accounts (as has been previously proved).
Remember the ‘risk report’ on the potential harm that would be caused to the health service if the Health and Social Care Bill becomes law? No? That’s because Mr Lansley still hasn’t published it, months after he was ordered to do so by the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.
The Commissioner found the department twice broke the law by refusing to accede to two separate requests under the Freedom of Information Act to see the assessment. The Department of Health has appealed against these rulings; if the appeal falls, then its officials, and Mr Lansley, are criminals.
One person, claiming to be a member of one of the colleges, stated that they voted on Wednesday, at an extraordinary general meeting, to come out in direct opposition to the Bill. The colleges’ leaders, by preventing them from doing so and not accepting that vote, were playing political games, in that person’s opinion.
Another commenter told us a decision against the Bill could still be made. It seems their daughter, a trainee public health consultant, was unable to attend the meeting at which the statement was discussed. She has been informed that her faculty is balloting all its members by post, according to its constitution and, if this is true, the results of the vote will not be known for another fortnight.
A third stated that the royal colleges had been intending to speak up to protect patients, from a position of specialist knowledge and understanding, but had been swayed from protecting patients and the NHS to protecting the government after Mr Lansley and/or his colleagues contacted them.
Back we go to the famous comment by Albert Einstein: “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
Like many others, I think the public needs to know what was said in those last-minute phone calls.
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