Tag Archives: mismanage

Are local doctors being wrongly blamed for the Tory NHS crisis?

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Accident and Emergency admissions, compared with the target for those to be seen within four hours. This target was reduced from 98 per cent when the Coalition Government came into office.

It’s too simplistic to blame GPs for the increased pressure on hospital Accident & Emergency departments, according to the British Medical Association’s deputy chairman.

Dr Khailash Chand says the crisis is just a symptom of much bigger problems facing the National Health Service due to “political mismanagement of healthcare”. That’s right – he blames the Coalition Government.

GPs aren’t to blame, he writes in GP Online, because they have been facing the same increasing workload as A&Es: “We are in a situation where the NHS is like a balloon, where every part is under pressure. If you poke one part of the system, it bulges out somewhere else.”

The reason for the problem, he reckons, is the “savaging of local government budgets in the past four years and hence the cuts to adult social care”. With less investment going into preventing people from needing primary health care, casualty departments are facing ever-increasing pressure and “exit blocking” (you might know it as bed-blocking, in which the elderly and frail in particular are unable to leave hospital because nobody is available to look after them) is on the rise.

That’s very interesting, from the perspective of a person living in Wales. We’re told that the Welsh Government prioritised social care over the NHS, at least in the early years of the Coalition Government, and that this has led to the problems being experienced in hospitals in south Wales. The response to the claim, used by this blog, is that it takes time to get the proper procedures in place and that positive results may come in the future, if nobody loses their nerve and reverses the policy. Meanwhile, more money has been found to fund the NHS in Wales, meaning it receives between 20-25 per cent more cash now than in 2010-11.

It seems Dr Chand agrees: “The failure to implement policies that promote the integration of health and social care is lamentable, and an opportunity lost. If we are to tackle the increasing demands of an ageing population, we need a considered, holistic solution that is backed by an unambiguous, integrated plan produced in consultation with patients, the NHS and local authorities.

“Attributing this major failure of policy to the NHS staff ignores the basic reasons that explain why the system is so strained.”

He writes: “The key is to ensure that there is properly resourced community care, both to provide better and more care to ailing patients in their own residences and also to facilitate early discharge from burdened hospitals.

“The government must develop long-term and short-term strategies to address the staff shortages across the NHS, and invest in systems and measures that direct patients to the service or setting that is right for them.

“The NHS reforms have categorically failed to address this issue, and indeed might have indirectly contributed to the rising tide of emergency admissions by reducing resources within the NHS.”

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Tory economic illiteracy STILL more popular than Labour policy. Why?

141208poll-economy

Labour has a five-point lead over the Conservative Party, according to the latest Opinium/Observer poll of voting intentions, but – even after George Osborne’s Autumn Statement revealed the extent of his party’s economic mismanagement, 14 per cent more voters said they trusted him to run the economy.

Why?

Perhaps it is because so few people believe any of them know what they’re doing.

Osborne has made it perfectly clear that he will fail in any stated intention that involves more strenuous mental activity than towel-folding:

  • He promised to pull the economy out of deficit and into surplus by the end of the current Parliament – he failed.
  • He promised to start reducing the national debt – he failed.
  • He promised to spread the impact of his spending cuts so that they impacted on rich and poor evenly – he lied (the poor have been hit much, much harder).
  • He promised austerity would be a temporary measure – now he is planning to return government spending to its 1930s levels (pre-NHS, pre-welfare state) and keep it there indefinitely.

And these are just a few of the cock-ups he has made as Chancellor. Here’s another – remember our Triple-A credit rating? He promised to defend it – of course we were downgraded.

Tellingly, 32 per cent of respondents said they wouldn’t trust the Tories, Labour or the Liberal Democrats with the economy. Add in the ‘don’t knows’ and almost half the respondents were against giving any of the main political parties another chance to dabble with the national finances.

This scepticism shows again in responses to questions about individual policies. Asked for opinions on Coalition plans to boost NHS spending by £2 billion, less than half those questioned believed it would happen. Spending plans for roads received a similarly lukewarm response (although in both cases, even fewer people believed it would not happen). Both these plans are unfunded – that is, the government has either failed to explain where the money will be found, or its explanation has fallen apart under analysis. Roads, in particular, suffer from optimistic funding promises that fail to materialise when the money runs out.

Asked about tax cuts, the polls respondents were on much firmer ground, with changes to stamp duty, the plan to further raise the personal tax allowance, and plans to raise the 40p tax threshold to 50p all regarded as believable by a clear majority of respondents.

In other words, they believe Conservatives will cut taxes, but they don’t believe they’ll fulfil their spending promises – possibly because of the very same tax cuts?

Perhaps the real perception problem isn’t that the Conservatives are better-able to run the British economy than anyone else – clearly they are not.

The real problem is that the national press is unwilling to admit that the public doesn’t trust any of our elected politicians with our finances.

It follow – inexorably – that the UK has a serious democratic – as well as financial – deficit.

We only vote these clowns into office because we are not allowed the ability to demand better.

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Michael Gove highlights his own lies; Tony Robinson is right

Left-wing propaganda piece? Sir Tony Robinson (right) with Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder Goes Forth.

Left-wing propaganda piece? Sir Tony Robinson (right) with Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder Goes Forth.

A new development has occurred in the story of Michael Gove’s attempt to rewrite the history of World War One as a glorious display of “patriotism, honour and courage”.

This blog took Gove to task after he attacked one of Britain’s best TV comedies, Blackadder Goes Forth, for perpetuating “myths” about the conflict.

Now Sir Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick in the much-loved series, has weighed in to warn Gove against attacking teachers.

He told Sky News: “It’s not that Blackadder teaches children the First World War.

“When imaginative teachers bring it in, it’s simply another teaching tool; they probably take them over to Flanders to have a look at the sights out there, have them marching around the playground, read the poems of Wilfred Owen to them. And one of the things that they’ll do is show them Blackadder.

“And I think to make this mistake, to categorise teachers who would introduce something like Blackadder as left-wing and introducing left-wing propaganda is very, very unhelpful. And I think it’s particularly unhelpful and irresponsible for a minister in charge of education.”

Sir Tony added that it was “just another example of slagging off teachers.” He said, “I don’t think that’s professional or appropriate.”

Gove appears not to have the wit to answer on his own behalf. Instead a spokesman plunged him even further in the mire with the following: “Tony Robinson is wrong. Michael wasn’t attacking teachers, he was attacking the myths perpetuated in Blackadder and elsewhere.

“Michael thinks it is important not to denigrate the patriotism, honour and courage demonstrated by ordinary British soldiers in the First World War.”

Oh really? It’s fortunate Gove’s own words are available to be examined then, isn’t it?

In his Daily Mail article on Thursday, he wrote the following: “The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh, What a Lovely War!, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite.

Here’s the juicy bit: “Even to this day there are left-wing academics” – in other words, teachers – “all too happy to feed those myths.”

Case proven. Gove is a liar, and he is trying to promote the teaching of lies to children.

Still, he has a vested interest in replacing history with propaganda. Imagine what his own entry in the history books will be. Something like: “In the wake of the financial crisis, the Conservative Party tried to win electoral victory by blaming the disaster on financial mismanagement by the then-ruling Labour Party. When this, and a pledge not to interfere with the National Health Service, failed to inspire the electorate, Tory leader David Cameron seized power in a backdoor deal with the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg – a man who was to become little more than a puppet in Cameron’s hands. Once installed in Number 10, the tyrant set his lieutenants to work: Andrew Lansley and Jeremy Hunt turned the health service over to private hands. Iain Duncan Smith made benefit claims impossible to sustain, driving thousands of claimants to destitution and death. And Michael Gove reduced the education system to a means of indoctrinating the nation’s young with pre-approved disinformation designed to make them compliant fodder for the new corporatist state.”

… and that doesn’t even begin to describe the Betrayal of Britain that started in 2010!

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Britain’s worst idlers – the MPs who wrote Britannia Unchained

I have been saddened to learn of two events that will take place in the near future: The death of The Dandy, and the publication of Britannia Unchained.

The first needs little introduction to British readers; it’s the UK’s longest-running children’s humour comic, which will cease publication (in print form) towards the end of this year, on its 75th anniversary. The second appears to be an odious political tract scribbled by a cabal of ambitious right-wing Tory MPs, desperate to make a name for themselves by tarring British workers as “among the worst idlers in the world”.

The connection? Even at the end of its life, there is better and more useful information in The Dandy than there will be in Britannia Unchained.

The book’s authors, Priti Patel, Elizabeth Truss, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore, and Kwasi Kwarteng, all members of the Free Enterprise Group of Tory MPs, argue that British workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”, that the UK “rewards laziness” and “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”.

They say the UK needs to reward a culture of “graft, risk and effort” and “stop bailing out the reckless, avoiding all risk and rewarding laziness”.

Strong words – undermined completely by the authors’ own record of attendance at their place of work.

Chris Skidmore’s Parliamentary attendance record is just 88.1 per cent – and he’s the most diligent of the five. Kwasi Kwarteng weighs in at 87.6 per cent; Elizabeth Truss at 85.3 per cent; and Priti Patel at 81.8 per cent. Dominic Raab is the laziest of the lot, with Parliamentary attendance of just 79.1 per cent.

To put that in perspective, if I took more than a week’s sick leave per year from my last workplace, I would have been hauled up before the boss and serious questions asked about my future at the company. That’s a 97.9 per cent minimum requirement. Who are these slackers to tell me, or anyone else who does real work, that we are lazy?

Some have already suggested that these evil-minded hypocrites are just taking cheap shots at others, to make themselves look good for promotion in an autumn reshuffle. Maybe this is true, although David Cameron would be very unwise to do anything but distance himself from them and their dangerous ideas.

I think this is an attempt to deflect attention away from the way the Tory-led government has mismanaged the economy, and from its murderous treatment of the sick and disabled. As one commentator put it: “They get a token Asian, a token African, a token Jew, mix in the middle class/grammar school rubbish propaganda, and suddenly they are just ordinary people? No they are not; they are stooges for the ruling elite.”

Britain doesn’t reward laziness among its working class. What it rewards is failure by managers, directors of industry, financiers. These people continually increase their salaries and other remuneration while their share prices fall, their dividend payments are lacklustre and shareholder value is destroyed. What have they given shareholders over the past 10 years? How many industrial or commercial leaders have walked off with millions, leaving behind companies that were struggling, if not collapsing? Does the criticism in Britannia Unchained apply to senior executives and bankers?

Our MPs are as much to blame as big business. They vote themselves generous pay, pensions and extended vacations (five months per year). They never start work before 11am, never work weekends (or most Fridays, when they are supposed to be in their constituencies, if I recall correctly). They enjoy fringe benefits including subsidised bars, restaurants and gyms. They take part-time directorships in large companies which take up time they should be using to serve the public. Only a few years ago we discovered that large numbers of them were cheating on their expense claims. They take more than £32,000 in “Resettlement Grant” if we kick them out after one term – which, in my opinion, means all five authors of Britannia Unchained should be applying for it in 2015.

These are the people who most strongly represent the ‘something-for-nothing’ sense of entitlement the book decries.

Have any of them ever worked in a factory or carried out manual labour? I’ll answer that for you: With the exception of Elizabeth Truss, who did a few years as a management accountant at Shell/Cable and Wireless, none of them have ever done anything that could be called real work.

In fact, the people they accuse work very long hours – especially the self-employed. When I ran my own news website, I was busy for 12-14 hours a day (much to the distress of my girlfriend). Employees also work long hours, get less annual leave, earn less and pay more – in prices for consumer goods, taxes and hidden taxes – than most of Europe. Average monthly pay rates have now dropped so low that they are failing to cover workers’ costs, leading to borrowing and debt.

Are British workers really among the laziest in the world? Accurate information is hard to find but it seems likely we’re around 24th on the world league table. On a planet with more than 200 sovereign nations (204 attended the London Olympics), that’s not too shabby at all.

Interestingly, the European workers clocking on for the fewest hours are German. Those lazy Teutons! How dare they work so little and still have the powerhouse economy of the continent?

If so many are reluctant to get up in the morning, why are the morning commuter trains standing room only? Or have the Britannia Unchained crowd never used this form of travel?

It seems to me that Britannia Unchained is just another attempt by the Tory right to make us work harder for less pay. The Coalition is currently cutting the public sector and benefits to the bone, while failing to introduce policies that create useful employment, and trying to boost private sector jobs. The private sector has cut wages and pensions. The result is higher unemployment and benefits that cannot sustain living costs, creating a working-age population desperate for any kind of employment at all (even at the too-low wages already discussed).

And let’s remember that Conservatives want to remove employment laws to make it easier to dismiss employees. In other words, they want a workforce that will toil for a pittance, under threat of swift dismissal and the loss of what little they have.

Why do they think this will improve the UK’s performance?

We already work longer hours and have less protective legislation than in Europe (such as the European Time Directive). But we are less productive in terms of GDP than their French and German counterparts, who work fewer hours and are protected by the likes of the ETD.

France is more unionised than we are, yet its production per employee is higher.

The problem is poor management and bad leadership. Poor productivity is almost always due to poor investment and poor training. Workers are abused when they should be treated as an investment. They lose motivation and when managers get their decisions wrong, they blame the workers.

Working class people are sick of grafting for low pay and in poor working conditions, to be exploited by the types of people represented by the authors of Britannia Unchained.

Is it any wonder we feel de-motivated?

I started this article by linking The Dandy to Britannia Unchained, noting that one was coming to the end of its life in print while the other was about to be published for the first time. I’ll end by pointing out a quality they have in common.

The Dandy is closing because it represents ideas that are now tired and out-of-date. Britannia Unchained should never see publication – for the same reason.