Tag Archives: midwives

The Tory attack on the people who put them in power has never been more vicious

The Tory vulture crouches over the symbol of the NHS in a revealing scene from a demonstration against the Conservatives in 2017.

Don’t be fooled by distractions like Brexit; the Conservative government’s main project – to deprive the UK’s ordinary citizens of the services we have come to expect in a civilised country, and to drive the poorest and most vulnerable into destitution and death – is now at its deadliest.

Theresa May will deny this with lies. She is currently lying in a big way about the National Health Service, which she is starving of cash in order to make us think it is incompetent and deserves the privatisation she and her forerunner David Cameron have forced on it.

Peter Stefanovic lays this lie bare in his recent video clip, which also provides a few more uncomfortable facts about her policies.

Let’s examine some of the policies that are hammering the people.

Universal Credit, the new (ha ha – it’s been in the works since the Conservatives slithered back into office in 2010) benefit, demands that claims are made online. This assumes that claimants are equipped to honour that demand – that they are computer literate, and that they have access to an Internet-enabled computer that they can use. This is not true for millions of claimants now – and will be untrue for millions more by 2023, when rollout is expected to be complete.

Many are resorting to the public library service for help. Libraries are traditionally considered places where information may be accessed by anyone, and the Department for Work and Pensions promotes them as ports of call for claimants.

That’s pretty rich, considering last year alone the Conservative government closed 127 public libraries, ensuring that 712 full-time employees lost their jobs (and became eligible to claim Universal Credit?). Over the last six years, the Tories have cut more than £200 million in funding. Will the service cope with the two million people expected to need help with UC this year alone? “There aren’t enough computers and there aren’t enough staff hours to help people,” according to an expert.

Read the facts here:

This serious contradiction in the way a so-called public service is provided hasn’t stopped DWP employees from pocketing £44 million in performance-related bonuses.

“According to the figures, 240 senior DWP officials pocketed a total £760,000 in bonuses, while a further 88,300 junior staff were each handed an extra £1,750 in their pay packets,” says this report by Welfare Weekly.

Considering the serious problems with Universal Credit, one has to ask why these people have received any extra money at all? Or is it because of the serious problems with Universal Credit and the harm it has caused to people who are only trying to survive.

Stephen Smith was only trying to survive when he claimed Universal Credit, after being thrown of Employment and Support Allowance under the pretence of being fit for work. He wasn’t; he failed to meet the DWP’s requirements; he was sanctioned. If you’ve seen I, Daniel Blake you may be familiar with the pattern. Over an 18-month period he starved almost to death. When he was rescued by employment law advisor Terry Craven this 64-year-old man weighed just six stone, had pneumonia, and was close to death. I wrote about him here.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, in a TV interview, was asked if she would be able to ensure that this would never happen to anybody else under the Conservative government’s system – and she refused to say that it would not. See for yourself:

Construction worker Marco Simoes, a Portuguese national, probably knows how Mr Smith felt. He had been receiving benefits as a joint carer for his son Tiago, who was severely disabled, until the youngster died at the age of four. He was told to switch to Universal Credit immediately – but was denied the benefit on residency grounds – despite having lived in the UK for 11 years, much of it working – and paying tax – to remove asbestos from buildings.

He, partner Sabrina McCarl and their remaining son Ruben are trying to survive on Ms McCarl’s Universal Credit payments, which amount to £20 or £30 per week once bills have been paid. He describes his experience of UC below:

But the couple, and Mr Smith, are the lucky ones.

Twin brothers Neil and Paul Micklewright took their own lives after their benefits – the report does not mention which – were cut due to them having received an inheritance. The amount was substantial but neither had more than a few pounds in their bank accounts at the time of their deaths. They were found by a dog walker, hanging from the same tree in Greater Manchester in July last year.

There’s no comment from the DWP in the report but the department always deflects responsibility for suicides, claiming that they are complicated and should not be pinned down to just one reason. The coroner said the twins’ suicide notes – found “neatly laid out” on a table – did not explain their reasons for taking their own lives, beyond stating that they had “had enough”.

Do you think the DWP is blameless in this case?

Another man – Brian Bailey – took his own life after the DWP used its “deflection script” to force him to claim Universal Credit online. He was not able to cope with the system and committed suicide instead. The DWP denied the existence of the “deflection script” but the following Sky News report shows that it is real – and that the DWP lied about it.

With so many people either dead or starving to death, you might think the only people to benefit from Universal Credit were the DWP workers who have been receiving millions in bonuses for putting their claimants into such conditions – but you’d be wrong. At least one DWP worker apparently tried to divert £3,000 into his own bank account by crooked means.

Enock Kimbowa abused his position as an administration officer at the DWP to divert and attempt to divert payments to two separate bank accounts, Bolton Crown Court heard. The report of the case did not provide any reason for his crime.

Another man to turned to crime because of the benefits system was Kenneth Bright. He raided stores in Paisley so he could sell his loot to buy food as his Universal Credit claim had been delayed for reasons that are not provided in this report. With no income, and therefore no means of sustaining himself, he turned to crime.

I seem to recall suggesting that people would be forced into crime by the Tory benefit system, years ago. This means that the Conservatives’ attack on benefit claimants is putting greater pressure on the police service – a service that has itself been starved – of 21,000 police officers since 2010. Forces across the UK are now incapable of handling the rising tide of crime caused by Conservative penny-pinching, meaning that reports of serious crimes have skyrocketed.

And the police service is not alone in being starved of valuable resources. What about the NHS? Theresa May claimed it is to receive its biggest cash boost ever, despite the fact that the current Conservative government is responsible for the lowest increases in health service funding since records began and the new cash is supposed to come from a so-called “Brexit dividend” that we all know will never happen. It must be enjoying a boost in staffing and performance, right?

Wrong. Record numbers of midwives – for example – have quit over the pressure of work, leaving those who are left to struggle with an even greater workload as the cash-starved service is failing to attract new employees.

According to the Daily Mirror‘s report (see the link below), “1,649 midwives said lack of time away from work was the reason for leaving their jobs over the past five years. They are among almost 3,000 to quit the health service every year, although some continue working in the profession. The RCM [Royal College of Midwives] estimates a current shortfall of around 3,500 midwives in the NHS.”

And Theresa May’s ambitious plans for the NHS? She unveiled a 10-year plan for it last month “but hospital leaders immediately branded it ‘undeliverable’ unless staffing gaps are plugged.”

Finally, let us consider our schools, which are being starved of teachers because salaries have fallen by 10 per cent since 2003. In real terms, teachers have become £4,000 a year worse-off since the Conservatives took office in 2010.

These are the facts of the Tory attack on the people of the United Kingdom – an attack that has seen the education service starved of teachers, the health service starved of nurses, crime spiralling out of control and its victims starved of justice, and benefit claimants starved to death.


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Bad news for Brexiteers as another study predicts gloom

Pro-EU demonstrators march towards Parliament Square in Central London [Image: REX/Shutterstock].

Tories will be thrilled about this. After a Home Office report was leaked, we now know the minority Conservative government expects the UK to lack 60,000 badly-needed nurses and midwives after Brexit.

Tories don’t care – they hate the NHS.

But it will harm the health of the nation – and that will harm our economy.

Perhaps the stupids will understand when it hits them in the wallet – but I doubt it.

Brexit will leave Britain short of 60,000 nurses and midvives, MPs and medical erxperts [have warned].

The Government’s plans for a hard … Brexit and a crackdown on immigration will worsen Britain’s shortage of nurses and midwives, with the already record shortfall set to increase by 20,000 by the year 2020, MPs and medical experts warn.

New figures from the Open Britain campaign … warn that Brexit could “leave our NHS in intensive care” by making Britain a much less attractive place to work for nurses and midwives from the EU.

And experts say that the figures are especially worrying as they come after a Home Office report, which critics describe as advocating a “draconian” fall in immigration, was leaked.

Read more: Brexit will see Britain short of 60,000 nurses and midwives because of crackdown on immigration


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Three words for the Coalition: Mathematics, mathematics, mathematics!

Mr Osborne probably couldn't help him. It's possible the Coalition's maths problems have been caused by the fact that a towel-folder is in charge of the economy.

Mr Osborne probably couldn’t help him. It’s possible the Coalition’s maths problems have been caused by the fact that a towel-folder is in charge of the economy.

Back in 2010, when he still thought he could win an election fairly, David Cameron mocked Tony Blair’s famous “Education, education, education” speech by saying he could sum up his priorities in three letters: “N-H-S.”

He was, as we have discovered with Mr Cameron, completely wrong. He did need three words after all.

Mr Cameron’s priorities should have been: “Mathematics, mathematics, mathematics.”

Here’s why:

Sticking with the medical theme, it turns out that the government’s figures on the number of new midwives entering the NHS are inaccurate.

Before the general election, according to the BBC website, Mr Cameron promised to increase the number of midwives by 3,000. Despite creating 5,000 training places, however, this has not been translated into jobs and figures from the Royal College of Midwives show the number of midwives in employment has increased by just 145.

Challenged by this on his weekly radio show, Nick Clegg said the government had not deceived anyone but was putting more money into ensuring there are more midwives who are properly qualified to work in the NHS.

Anyone can see that this is not what Mr Cameron promised. Was the government deceiving us? Or was it incompetent and simply got its sums wrong?

Let’s look at another example: The government’s so-called ‘troubled families tsar’, Louise Casey, has admitted its claim that there are 120,000 such families in the UK is inaccurate. “The number came from Labour research on disadvantaged families with multiple and complex needs, rather than families that caused problems,” according to an interview in The Guardian.

In fact, her initiative has been working with 23,000 families and has succeeded with 1,675 – whose children are now attending school regularly and not committing crime, while the adults have found work, triggering a £4,000 bonus for local councils dealing with each of these families.

More disturbing was the claim that, “if we take that 120,000 figure, give it to local authorities, give them the criteria behind troubled families, and they can populate it, which they have done, with real names, real addresses, real people – then I am getting on with the job”.

Hang on! Is she saying that she’ll shoehorn families into her definition of ‘troubled’, whether they qualify or not, just to make up the numbers?

Finally, the BBC revealed today that the Benefit Cap, limiting the amount of state benefit available for British households to £500 per week, will affect far fewer households than originally estimated.

The government said 56,000 households would have their benefits reduced – by an average of £93 per week. This would save £275 million per year. In fact, it now expects only 40,000 to be affected. That’s a drop of nearly 29 per cent – not 25 per cent, as the BBC article, itself, inaccurately states. Perhaps reporter Ross Hawkins got his figures from the government.

This means the saving goes down to around £196,500,000.

The Department for Work and Pensions says the change is because more people are seeking help to get into work, but this won’t wash. If they’re seeking help, they haven’t actually found work.

Could this be another situation like we had recently, when Grant Shapps claimed the number of people claiming ESA had dropped by 878,000 since new assessment criteria came in, only for it to be revealed that this was perfectly normal with such claims, and the people who had dropped off had either got better or found work they could do despite their disability (in other words, they had complied with the terms of the benefit and found a way not to have to claim it), or they had died?

Number-crunchers will be watching these figures carefully.

If we are to draw any conclusion from this, it is that this Coalition government is extremely cavalier about the figures it uses to support its policies.

To summarise: The Coalition cannot be trusted to do its sums properly.

Mathematics, mathematics, mathematics, Mr Cameron. We all guessed you wouldn’t understand its importance when you appointed class dunce Michael Gove as Education Secretary.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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