Tag Archives: medicine

The Tories have used the Coronavirus crisis to attack disabled women

Actor Rory Kinnear’s disabled sister Karina died of Covid-19 recently: writing about it, he tried not to criticise the government too harshly. Would many other women with disabilities agree with that choice?

How miserable, how underhanded can a country’s government be in attacking its most vulnerable citizens?

This Writer would suggest that the UK’s Conservative government is writing the book on how to betray the people who need state help the most.

Women have been disproportionately attacked by Tory cuts since they first slithered back into office in 2010, along with people who have disabilities. It doesn’t take genius to work out that women with disabilities are doubly endangered by a Conservative government.

But now we have the evidence, courtesy of gender equality charities the Fawcett Society and Women’s Budget Group. It shows that:

  • Six in 10 disabled women are struggling to buy necessities from the shop during lockdown. A third have run out of money altogether.
  • A fifth of disabled women said they had lost support from the government during lockdown, while almost half reported having lost help from other people.
  • Six in 10 disabled women are fearful of not being able to access medicine.
  • 38 per cent of disabled women who have children said they were finding it difficult to ensure their children have food to eat during the coronavirus emergency.
  • Disabled women were found to be suffering from social isolation and loneliness more than others — with a quarter saying they had not ventured out of the house once in the last week, in comparison to 17 per cent of all those polled.

But it seems worse is to come with the easing of lockdown, including problems with face coverings – who should wear them, the impossibility of lip-reading – to wider isolation, more cuts and restricted access to services.

And you know what the government spokesperson will do, if challenged? They’ll shrug.

Source: Disabled women in ‘very bleak’ situation as almost a third running out of money in lockdown, study finds | The Independent

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Boris Johnson’s big NHS meltdown

After their campaign on law and order dissolved into chaos, the Tories tried to take the moral high ground on health. It didn’t work.

Most particularly, it didn’t work for Boris Johnson, who was challenged on the subject by prime minister-in-waiting Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Corbyn was keen for Mr Johnson to explain why his government had held secret trade talks with US firms that would nearly triple the price of medicines bought by the NHS, creating serious pressure on the service at a time when it is already under enormous strain.

I discuss the issue here, or you can watch this video to have it in a nutshell:

Note also that “drug pricing” is now to be known as “valuing innovation”. And, as a TV comedian once said, from now on radiation will be known as “magic moonbeams”.

Here’s Mr Corbyn, opening his questioning in PMQs – and Mr Johnson’s answer:

Of course, Mr Corbyn was well aware of the situation regarding the cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi; it was his intervention that succeeded in getting it provided on the NHS, we’re told.

Mr Johnson’s claims about building 40 new hospitals fare less well in the fact-check. As Mr Corbyn put it: “As for the fabled 40 hospitals, that figure dropped to 20 and then finally dropped to six.” They’ll be down to none in the event of a Conservative election victory.

Mr Corbyn continued: “We learned this week that Government officials have met US pharmaceutical companies five times as part of the Prime Minister’s planned trade deal. The US has called for “full market access” to our NHS, which would mean prices of some of our most important medicines increasing by up to sevenfold. While the Government are having secret meetings with US corporations, it is patients here who continue to suffer.”

And he said: “Of course we need to import medicines from various places; I just want it to be done in an open and transparent way. I do not want secret talks between Government officials, on behalf of Ministers, and big pharma corporations in the USA.”

He slammed Tory privatisation of NHS services, which has skyrocketed with more than £10 billion being frittered away to private companies and their shareholders, rather than supporting the health of UK citizens.

He said: “What we do not want is private companies like Virgin Care suing our NHS for contracts that they did not get. Our NHS should be focused on making people better, not making the wealthy few richer.

“National health service A&E departments have just had their worst September on record. This morning, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said that this winter the NHS needs more than 4,000 extra beds.” But under Boris Johnson’s government, he said, the number of people in England waiting for an operation has now reached a record high of 4.4 million.

He continued as follows:

And he concluded: “Despite the Prime Minister’s denials, the NHS is up for grabs by US corporations in a Trump trade deal. Is it not the truth—the Government may not like this—that this Government are preparing to sell out our NHS? Our health service is in more danger than at any other time in its glorious history because of the Prime Minister’s Government, his attitudes and the trade deals that he wants to strike.”

It is indeed the truth.

Mr Johnson spluttered on for a while but the best he could do in his defence was quote a discredited CBI claim that Labour would spend nearly £200 billion on a privatisation programme; the CBI itself has admitted that the claim was based on questionable assumptions and withdrawn it.

He lied that Labour would tax corporations, people, pensions and businesses – in fact Labour will only increase taxes on the people earning the most, who are therefore most able to accommodate such a charge.

And he said Labour would condemn the UK to two more referendums – on Brexit and Scottish independence. He neglected to say that he would consign us all to even more Brexit uncertainty as he would try – yet again – to push through a departure on the worst possible terms for the majority of the nation.

Finally, he appears to have become tongue-tied in his predictions of the future, mixing the roles of his party and Mr Corbyn’s.

I’ll fix that for him now:

“That is the future for this country: drift and dither under the Conservative party, or taking Britain forward to a brighter future under Labour. That is the choice this country faces.”

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Shock revelation: Liar Boris Johnson has been secretly selling out the NHS

Boris Johnson has been selling out the National Health Service in negotiations on a trade deal that would allow US companies to set drug prices, it has been claimed.

The revelation about these secret talks could not come at a worse time for the Tory government, as it prepares to dissolve Parliament and launch a general election campaign.

This is electoral poison for the Conservatives as Boris Johnson, health secretary Matt Hancock and international trade secretary Liz Truss have all insisted that the NHS is “off the table” in talks with the US if the UK leaves the European Union.

The threat is that NHS finances would be put at risk by a trade deal with the US that would force the health service to buy more expensive drugs.

And there is evidence that it is an overarching Tory policy to lay the NHS open to exploitation by US pharmaceutical monopolies, as the talks began under Theresa May (who also lied about them) but have continued under Mr Johnson.

Who will vote for a government that is bad for our health – and deliberately lies about the harm it is doing?

Here’s the information from Channel 4’s Dispatches:

The Independent has reported that more than one-third of people surveyed in a recent poll said they were “very concerned” about the future impact of a deal with Washington on the NHS.

Meanwhile, Tories like Michael Gove have apparently been lying through their teeth (metaphorically, on Twitter)…

… and the public isn’t having any of it:

The message for the general election is clear:

Your NHS is not safe with Boris Johnson – or any of his Conservative liars.

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Has Johnson bullied his own mother into withdrawing from a campaign criticising him?

Charlotte Johnson Wahl (right) with Boris Johnson (left). In between is Rachel Johnson, her daughter and his sister.

Boris Johnson really is a despicable runt, isn’t he? It seems now he has been manipulating his own mother for political purposes.

Charlotte Johnson Wahl had signed a public letter, to be published in The Times, criticising the poor provision of treatment for Parkinson’s disease on the National Health Service.

The letter had been organised by the charity Parkinson’s UK as part of its “Get It On Time” campaign to ensure patients can have reliable access to drugs while they are in hospital.

This is a topical issue as the provision of some medications would be endangered after Brexit – particularly the “no deal” departure that Mr Johnson has supported so strongly.

The letter was due to appear in the newspaper this week – but was suddenly pulled from publication.

It has now been revealed that Ms Wahl had informed the charity that she no longer wished her name to be on the letter, after having been contacted by Downing Street.

According to The Guardian: “A Downing Street source suggested Johnson Wahl had not been fully aware that her decision to back the letter was going to result in it being published in a national newspaper.

“’When charities are speaking to members of the public they have a duty to be fully transparent about why they are asking for support, the campaigns they are running, and if the information shared with them is to be used in the public domain,’ the source said.”

This seem utter piffle to me.

For a start, Parkinson’s UK chief executive Steve Ford has made it clear that the organisation always ensures that those whose voices it uses know exactly what they are doing.

“Our priority will always be people affected by the condition, and their voices and views are integral and at the heart of everything we do. As such, we are always open and transparent about how their voices will be represented,” he said.

Furthermore, Ms Wahl is a longtime campaigner in association with Parkinson’s UK for better provision on the NHS for people with the condition, predating her son becoming prime minister, as The Guardian‘s article makes clear.

Diagnosed with the condition when she was 40, she has lived with it for nearly half her life (she is now 77).

Earlier this year, she took part in a protest organised by the charity against the decision to cut the provision of a specialist nurse in west London and has worked closely with Parkinson’s UK to put pressure on politicians.

That was in January, before Mr Johnson was prime minister, and there was no intervention to stop her then!

And the issue Mr Johnson appears to have acted to suppress is extremely serious.

Patients with Parkinson’s who fail to receive the appropriate medicine on time while in hospital, often while being treated for unrelated illnesses, can find themselves left unable to talk or walk.

It seems that Mr Johnson’s policies make such a fate increasingly likely for people living with Parkinson’s.

And now it seems he is denying his own mother a voice to protest against it.

What a vile excuse for a human being, let alone a son.

Source: Boris Johnson’s mother exits Parkinson’s campaign after No 10 intervention | Politics | The Guardian

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Disabled people’s groups warn of ‘grave concerns’ over no-deal Brexit

Disabled people would be disproportionately affected by any food shortages or price hikes associated with a ‘no deal’ Brexit because they are more likely to be living in poverty, organisations have said.

Any Brexit-related staffing shortage within health and social care would also disproportionately impact on disabled people.

And a no-deal Brexit could also have “serious implications” for disabled people’s access to medicines and medical technologies.

These and other concerns are laid out in the words of Inclusion Scotland, Disability Wales and Disability Action, among 85 organisations that have signed a joint letter to prime minister Boris Johnson about the risks of Britain leaving the European Union (EU) without an agreement.

Read the full story here: Trio of DPOs warn government of ‘grave concerns’ over no-deal Brexit – Disability News Service

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Britons hoard £4bn of food, drink and medicine in fear of no-deal Brexit

UK citizens distrust their government so much that they have stockpiled billions of pounds worth of food, drink and medicine, due to fear that the Tories are too inept to maintain an uninterrupted supply, post-Brexit.

And who can blame them?

We’ve heard nothing but a constant stream of woolly-headed optimism from Tory ministers, while the UK’s negotiating position with the EU has deteriorated beyond salvation.

Now, BoJob is talking about “no deal” as being the default expectation, meaning prices are likely to skyrocket.

He doesn’t care; his life has always been cushioned by extreme wealth.

But if you care about your future, you’ve probably got a room full of non-perishable foodstuffs and any medication you may need – and you’ll be backing an early vote of ‘no confidence’ in the clown at Number 10.

Britons have spent £4bn stockpiling goods in preparation for a possible no-deal Brexit, new research suggests.

One in five people are already hoarding food, drinks and medicine, spending an extra £380 each, according to a survey by the finance provider Premium Credit. The survey found that about 800,000 people have spent more than £1,000 building up stockpiles before the 31 October Brexit deadline.

If the UK leaves with no deal, businesses predict there will be short-term supply problems, which the government says it is mitigating.

Similar research in the weeks leading up to the original deadline for the UK to leave the EU found that about 17% of the population had spent some money building up supplies, with a total stockpile spend calculated at £4.6bn ahead of the 31 March deadline.

Source: Britons have spent £4bn stockpiling goods in case of no-deal Brexit | Politics | The Guardian

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Cannabis-based medicines to be prescribed in the UK from autumn

Legalised: Cannabis oil.

This is a welcome announcement.

Cannabis oil is said to help with cancer, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, gout, glaucoma, opioid dependence, alcohol abuse, epilepsy, psoriasis, anorexia, asthma, adrenal disease, inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia (Mrs Mike will be pleased), rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, multiple sclerosis and other conditions.

I hope someone keeps an eye on trends in the health service, and records the effect of releasing these medicines to the British public.

Doctors in the UK can prescribe cannabis-derived medicine after the government announced a relaxation of laws governing access to the substance.

Thousands of people with drug-resistant conditions will potentially be able to use cannabis-derived medicinal products for treatment after the home secretary, Sajid Javid, announced they should be placed in schedule 2 of the 2001 Misuse of Drugs Regulations, allowing clinicians to prescribe them by the autumn.

Source: Cannabis-based medicines get green light as UK eases rules | Society | The Guardian

Tory war on the sick: We are sending people to foodbanks so they can take medicine

Langworthy medical centre has referred 263 patients to Salford Foodbank since 2014 [Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images].

Recently This Writer was attacked for suggesting that the Conservative Government is committing covert genocide on people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

The claim was that it is entirely wrong to compare what my critic called “controlling benefit expenditure” with genocide.

But here’s the thing: It is precisely the control of benefit expenditure that makes it impossible for some people to take their medicine.

If they can’t take their medicine, they can’t control their illnesses.

If they can’t control their illnesses then, ultimately, they die.

The Tories and their cheerleaders will swear blind that any such death is nothing to do with them.

But who is depriving them of their ability to survive, if not the Tories?

The icy wind outside the Height medical practice in Salford is a clear sign to practice nurse Janice Hussey that she will be sending patients – stuck with the choice of eating or keeping warm – to the local food bank.

More than half of the practice’s 4,000 registered patients are classed by GPs as “very deprived”, with high rates of alcohol and drug problems, social isolation and homelessness. Increasingly, a referral to Salford Foodbank has become more crucial to their care than anything she can offer from her clinical training.

“It’s a life-and-death situation with some patients,” says Hussey. “Some can’t take their medication without food, so they are going without that too because they cannot afford to eat. It drives me up the wall.”

She refers to a man in his 50s who has type 1 diabetes and requires insulin three times a day with carbohydrates. Since he does not necessarily eat even once a day, neither does he take his medication. She is struggling to persuade him to go to the food bank. “For many people, it’s an admission of failure,” she says.

Source: ‘It’s a life or death situation’: why GPs are referring patients to food banks | Healthcare Professionals Network | The Guardian


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BBC whitewashes ‘government propaganda’ NHS story

131029bbcbias

 

Back at the end of September the BBC News website ran a story on 91-year-old Harry Smith’s speech to the Labour Party Conference, in which he detailed the miserable state of healthcare before the arrival of the NHS and stated his fears for the future of the service under the Conservative Party.

This was all fine. What a shame Auntie’s unnamed reporter had to spoil it by adding in two extra paragraphs that parroted – almost word-for-word – comments made by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that seemed to contradict what Mr Smith had said. Tom Pride, over at Pride’s Purge, put the statements into an image, allowing people to compare Mr Hunt’s statements with the BBC’s. That image is reproduced again here:

bbc-hunt-quotes1

The BBC report was clearly paraphrasing Mr Hunt’s words. No attempt was made to indicate that this was the government’s side of the issue; the offending paragraphs were stationed at the end – as statements of facts that contradict Mr Smith’s words.

That’s blatant government propaganda, in the view of this blog – especially as both statements are false.

That’s right – analyse the facts and Mr Hunt’s/the BBC’s assertions fall apart.

Did the government increase NHS spending in the UK? The BBC attitude was that it has, because the amount of money spent on the NHS – in England alone – has increased.

But Mr Smith wasn’t talking about England alone. Look at the BBC article (which has been revised since Vox Political complained) and you’ll see he refers to “the Britain of my youth”. The final paragraph (as it is now) does not separate England from the rest of the UK.

You may think that’s nit-picking. Try this instead: A “money-terms” increase in NHS spending is not what the Coalition government promised. The Coalition Agreement of 2010 promised a “real-terms” increase and that is what Jeremy Hunt said had happened in the comment from 2012. But spending on the NHS has fallen in real terms.

The BBC’s complaints director, Richard Hutt, in a letter of October 31, admitted as much: “My research suggests that spending on the NHS has increased marginally in terms of the amount of money spent… but as you are aware, if GDP deflators are applied a slight decrease is shown.”

But, following on from a previous BBC response in which we were told, “your blog talks about real-terms spending. Our original article did not, and had we wished to refer to real-terms spending, we would have said so,” he continued: “Nothing in the article indicated that the intention was to refer to “real-terms” spending and so I have difficulty in agreeing that this is how it would have been understood.”

Then what was the point of mentioning spending at all?

The promise was to increase “real-terms” spending, and “real-terms” spending has in fact decreased. Any reference to spending other than in “real-terms” is therefore irrelevant to the debate and can only confuse the issue in the minds of the public.

In the face of the facts, Mr Hutt – it seems – isn’t having this. Doesn’t that suggest that he has been told to whitewash the BBC – deny any wrong-doing, no matter what?

Let’s move on.

Does the Coalition support the founding value of the NHS that nobody, regardless of income, should be deprived of the best care? The easy answer to this is no, it doesn’t.

It was the work of a moment on a search engine to find a story demonstrating the opposite. It was this Daily Mail article, detailing the predicament of a gentleman who has been forced to pay £450 per month because his local Clinical Commissioning Group (brought into being by the Coalition government) would not provide him with a drug that is available free on the NHS elsewhere in England. Ironically, the cash-starved NHS in Wales is reported to have agreed to provide the drug.

In response, the BBC changed the wording of the last paragraph slightly, claiming that this changed the meaning. It didn’t.

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit has done nothing but whitewash its story.

Never mind; there was still one more bullet in our gun. An email has just been sent to Mr Hutt, pointing out the words of Tom Pride that kicked off the whole affair:

“These are not facts. They are the opinions of a government minister being reported as facts by the BBC.

“That’s not news. It’s propaganda.

“Mind you, I don’t know why the reporter who wrote the article is so keen to remain anonymous.

“I mean, we all know that the reporting of unattributed propaganda from government ministers is a sackable offence for professional journalists in reputable news organisations.”

It’s best not to expect a reasonable response.

It’s clear we aren’t dealing with a reputable news organisation at all.

Westminster Abbey protest: Police launch inquiry over treatment of protesters

Image: @TheSilentAnon

By John Pring, Disability News Service

The Metropolitan police have launched an inquiry into the policing of a five-hour protest outside Westminster Abbey, apparently following allegations that officers prevented disabled activists from receiving food, drink and medication.

It is just the latest inquiry to examine how the force has dealt with disabled people who have taken part in anti-austerity protests since the coalition came to power in 2010.

Saturday’s protest at Westminster Abbey was aimed at drawing attention to the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF), and included about 10 ILF-recipients, all disabled people with high support needs.

A heavy police presence arrived minutes after activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) began setting up a camp on private land belonging to the abbey, with the support of the mainstream grassroots groups UK Uncut and Occupy London.

Some of the activists were not able to enter the grounds because security staff – who appeared to have been warned about the protest in advance – had already locked some of the gates.

The police presence continued to grow until there were more than 200 officers surrounding a group of about 50 protesters, about half of whom were disabled people.

One of the protestors who had been unable to enter the grounds, Robert Punton, described later in a blog how a disabled activist inside the metal railings asked Punton’s personal assistant to pass him a bag, which contained his medication.

But a police officer pushed the bag back over the fence, even though he was told it contained vital medication.

Officers also refused to allow food and water to be passed over the fence.

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