Tag Archives: performance

Dire NHS performance shows Labour’s plan for huge health service expansion is desperately needed

Wow. The NHS in England is performing worse than ever after nine years of Tory mismanagement.

Figures provided by NHS England itself are the worst since targets were introduced more than a decade ago. None of the three key hospital targets have been met for more than three years, and the target to start cancer treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral is also being missed.

Suddenly NHS Wales – much lambasted by Tory prime ministers – is looking far more efficient, isn’t it?

The figures show:

  • 83.6% of A&E patients were admitted or transferred in four hours – below the 95% target
  • 76.9% of cancer patients started treatment in 62 days in September – below the 85% target
  • 84.8% of patients on the waiting list for hospital treatment waiting under 18 weeks – below the 92% target

Labour announced a £26 billion plan to restore the health service to the high point it had reached in 2010, when the Tories took over and started wrecking it.

Here it is in a nutshell:

A great indication of what needs to be done – and who’s best placed to do it – is in this tweet from Labour candidate Joyce Still, who is herself a nurse:

Bizarrely, Conservative health secretary Matt Hancock has said the figures – that show a disastrous decline under his own stewardship of the health service and that of his forerunners including Andrew Lansley and Jeremy Hunt – indicate that Labour is to blame and must be kept out of government.

Is that so his party can finish the job and ruin our health service forever?

That’s what I get from this train-crash interview by Boris Johnson:

He’s desperate to bring in a fully-privatised, profit-making corporate health system, modelled on the US system that bankrupts more people than it cures.

The message – from the figures and the campaign rhetoric – is clear:

If you want a healthy future, you want to vote Labour.

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NHS bosses ordered trusts: Lie to the public about scale of winter crisis – claim

[Image: Science Photo Library.]

It seems we have all been deceived, and the scale of the crisis facing emergency medicine may be greater than first thought.

Emails from NHS Improvement told Trusts to boost their treatment figures by including data from walk-in centres, in conflict with guidance issued by NHS England in 2015.

It means trusts’ performance since last October, when the first email was sent, may have been artificially inflated.

The UK Statistics Authority has demanded an explanation.

Crucially, This Writer wants to know who ordered the changes – and why.

NHS hospital trusts in England may have to recalculate A&E performance figures from last October onwards.

The UK Statistics Authority has told NHS England to explain changes to the recording of A&E data.

It says the changes – highlighted by BBC News – could have left people reaching “misleading conclusions”.

They raise questions over some trusts’ performance on the highest profile NHS performance target – that patients in A&E are seen within four hours.

The official target requires 95% of patients to be treated, assessed or discharged within four hours, a figure the NHS has failed to meet since July 2015.

A hospital trust’s performance figures include the main accident and emergency department (known as Type 1) and minor injuries or care centres (known as Type 3).

These centres tend to see and treat patients a lot more quickly than those needing emergency care.

Data in these clinics tends to pull up the overall performance of a trust. This is confirmed by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The BBC has seen emails sent by NHS Improvement, the body responsible for overseeing trusts, in October last year.

The implication is that including these centres would help improve overall performance.

This, and another email sent later in October by NHS Improvement, was seen by trusts as a request to add in data from walk-in centres not run by them and not on hospital grounds.

This is in direct conflict with clear guidance issued in November 2015 by NHS England, which says walk-in centre data can be included only if the trust has clinical responsibility for the service or if it co-located on the trust’s grounds.

Source: A&E stats may have to be recalculated


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Fabian doomsayer’s analysis of Labour is twaddle, designed to demoralise new members

The Independent‘s caption for this picture reads: “A little over half of Labour’s 2015 voters say they now support the party led by Jeremy Corbyn”. Gosh. And how many people who didn’t vote Labour now support the party? How many who didn’t vote at all, because the couldn’t support any of the right-wing parties (including Labour at the time) that were on the ballot paper? [Image: Getty].

Why has nobody seen through Andrew Harrop’s transparent and flimsy attempt to trash Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party?

His ‘research’ (if you can call it that) is riddled with false assumptions. In opposition, allow me to offer you this:

Get the picture now?

If you read his piece on the Fabian website, you can drive a truck through the holes in Mr Harrop’s logic.

“The Corbynite left has won the big internal battles but it seems to have no roadmap for winning back lost voters.” And which “lost voters” are these? The Liberal Democrat or Tory voters who had been temporarily won by the silly ‘triangulation’ policies of Blair, Brown and, to an extent, Miliband, that forced nearly five million voters from Labour’s natural constituency out the door? They were never truly Labour voters.

“On Brexit, the greatest political question for two generations, the party’s position is muffled and inconsistent.” Isn’t that because, with a “muffled and inconsistent” position from the Conservatives, there is nothing for Her Majesty’s Opposition to, you know, oppose?

Seriously, Labour did set out a consistent position. Unfortunately, right-wing Labour MPs with their own agenda seem to have taken delight in trying to confuse the electorate about the party’s attitude – with the help of a salivating press that relishes any opportunity to put Labour out of reckoning, especially when the Conservatives are in such poor shape. Keir Starmer has done the party no good at all by speaking out in public without having discussed matters in private.

“Labour remains strong in urban pockets but is faring very badly in by-elections.” This is a flat lie. Labour has been recording double-figure increases in voter percentages at by-elections. Sure, there have been some losses; that’s democracy – you don’t win every seat.

“If the opinion polls are any guide, it could soon cease to be a nationally competitive political force.” The opinion polls aren’t any guide, though. They’ve been consistently wrong for nearly two years.

“In Scotland there is no sign of recovery.” Scottish Labour has a right-winger – Kezia Dugdale – as leader. She is a huge liability, an obstacle to a left-wing Labour resurgence.

“The real threat in marginal seats is that former Labour supporters will scatter in all directions, while the Tories reach out to everyone who voted Leave.” It is misleading to refer only to “former Labour supporters”. If they are “former” supporters because they don’t like the party now, then they were never really Labour supporters at all. And what about people who didn’t support Labour in the last few elections but have returned to the party now? What about those who haven’t been voting at all, because they couldn’t support any of the right-wing parties (including Labour at the time) who were on the ballot paper? Is Mr Harrop ignoring them because they’ll mess up his propaganda piece?

As for Tories chasing “everyone who voted Leave”, perhaps Mr Harrop hasn’t noticed, but far fewer people would vote Leave again if the referendum was re-run, because they have realised that the Leave campaign fed the British public nothing but a series of lies from beginning to end. And has he forgotten that a significant proportion of Tories also voted Remain? Some might stay out of (misplaced) loyalty, but many may be put off by a party that is turning its back on them (if his claim about Tory policy is accurate).

“The Liberal Democrats now have their sights on the party’s 5 million remainers, and in the recent by-elections they’ve won plenty over.” This may be the only relevant point in Harrop’s entire piece. Yes. The Liberal Democrats are enjoying a resurgence – and Labour isn’t doing its job in response. The response is to point out that the Liberal Democrats are a right-wing party that allied with the Tories for five years and pushed through policies that were hugely harmful to the general population of the UK.

Anybody who votes for a Liberal Democrat, based on the party’s position on Brexit, is voting for a lie. The Liberal Democrats cannot affect the UK’s membership of the European Union – but they will happily ally with the Tories again if they get the chance. Tim Farron has said as much.

“To find a way back, Labour must therefore become the party of this cultural ‘middle’.” This is plain – Mr Harrop is advocating a return to the Blairite ‘triangulation’ that reduced Labour to the hollowed-out shell that lost the 2015 general election so badly.

Mr Harrop is completely wrong.

We’re back to Tony Benn’s “weathercocks” and “signposts”. Mr Harrop wants Labour to be a party of “weathercocks”, going any way the wind blows in a desperate bid for votes from people who – according to the assumption – won’t change their opinions. Labour has tried that plan. It is, in the words of Blackadder, “bollocks”.

British politics is at a low ebb and copying other parties is a sure way to self-destruction.

Labour members should be the “signposts” to a new kind of politics. Jeremy Corbyn has clearly expressed his direction of travel. If you need to be reminded, here it is:

Are these words not clear enough?

Sadly, it seems some in the media are keen to give Mr Harrop’s claims a semblance of credibility that they do not deserve.

Look at The Guardian‘s ‘fake news’ piece suggesting John Healey agreed with the Fabian doomsayer. The strapline has it that “John Healey … says report that party could shrink to 150 MPs is ‘warning’”.

Look at what he actually says, further down the piece, and you’ll see that this is an unwarranted misrepresentation. He didn’t support Mr Harrop’s attempt to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s new direction for Labour. Instead, he pointed out: “Quite rightly, the Fabian Society say the roots of Labour’s problems pre-date Jeremy Corbyn. They were there in the 2015 election and in the 2010 election.”

In other words, he is suggesting the opposite of Mr Harrop’s claims.

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Happier workers really do make more profit, report shows

More respect, please: If company bosses stop trying to wring every last ounce of profit out of workers while paying them a pittance, and start treating them well instead, they'll be surprised at how well their firm starts to perform, according to a new report.

More respect, please: If company bosses stop trying to wring every last ounce of profit out of workers while paying them a pittance, and start treating them well instead, they’ll be surprised at how well their firm starts to perform, according to a new report.

The nice folk at NIESR have produced a new report that supports something this blog has been saying for many years – that businesses make more profit if they take better care of their workforce.

The report is headed Happier workers, higher profits? and states: “We found those workplaces with rising employee job satisfaction also experienced improvements in workplace performance, while deteriorating employee job satisfaction is detrimental to workplace performance.

“Employee job satisfaction was found to be positively associated with workplace financial performance, labour productivity, the quality of output and service and an additive scale combining all three aspects of performance.

“Workplaces experiencing an improvement in non-pecuniary job satisfaction… also experience an improvement in performance.

“By contrast, there was no robust association between job-related affect (measured in terms of the amount of time feeling tense, depressed, worried, gloomy, uneasy and miserable) and workplace performance, nor pay satisfaction and workplace performance.”

The conclusion is that “these findings are consistent with the proposition that employers who are able to raise employees’ job satisfaction may see improvements in workplace profitability (financial performance), labour productivity and the quality of output or service [bolding mine, for reasons that will become apparent].

“Although we cannot state definitively that the link between increasing job satisfaction and improved workplace performance is causal, the findings are robust to tests for reverse causation and persist within workplaces over time, so that we can discount the possibility that the results are driven by fixed unobservable differences between workplaces.

“There is therefore a prima facie case for employers to consider investing in the wellbeing of their employees on the basis of the likely performance benefits.”

This ties in very closely with Vox Political‘s many comments on the Living Wage. The relationship is obvious: Pay somebody enough that they don’t need to ask for State benefits and their sense of self-worth increases hugely.

Here’s what this blog said on the subject back in April last year: “If a person receives enough, in return for their work, to pay their way in the world without having to take state benefits, several things happen.

“They feel valued in their position, and try harder. The quality of their work improves, along with that of the other workers in the company who also receive the living wage, and as a result, the employer is likely to benefit from improved orders. The company flourishes [increased productivity] and is able to take on more employees.

“As a result of this, the firm and its employees are able to pay more taxes and National Insurance contributions – not as a result of an increase imposed by an oppressive government, but because more people are employed there [and profits are higher]. The government therefore has more cash to fund public services; it has less need to borrow money and will not have to pay as much in social security benefits – in-work benefits will be unnecessary because working people will be receiving enough to put them above the threshold for that support, and fewer people will be claiming out-of-work benefits.

“The government can then pay off its debts and deficit more quickly, after which it can cut tax rates. This means everyone will have more money in their pockets – including employers, who can plough the extra cash back into the firm with infrastructure improvements and more employment.

“You see how this works?

“Contrast this with what happens when you employ somebody on the minimum wage, or abolish it.

“People on the absolute minimum do not feel valued. They consider their employers to be taking more than their fair share of the profits generated by the company where they all work together. They feel undervalued – and demeaned by the fact that they have to claim state benefits in order to survive. Their health may be put at risk, because they may find themselves having to work ridiculously long hours, just to make ends meet. Their work starts to suffer, and they may end up unemployed, either for health reasons or because the company is suffering (as a result of workers turning in substandard work).

“The company makes cutbacks. Its bosses don’t want to take a pay cut so they cut corners elsewhere. The workforce diminishes and the quality of the product suffers. In time, the firm’s contribution to the national economy dwindles – if it doesn’t go to the wall altogether. Its tax and National Insurance contribution plummets.

“The government finds itself paying in-work benefits for increasing numbers of people, and unemployment figures skyrocket. Employers and workers do not provide enough money in taxes and National Insurance to pay the bill for public services, so these are cut back and borrowing increases. The nation goes into a debt spiral.

“That is the current situation.

“Which of the above would you rather have?”

That remains the current situation, no matter what George Osborne may be saying today. The government would not be considering slashing the amount paid to ESA claimants if it didn’t consider the number of people claiming the benefit to be too high. We all know the number of people claiming in-work benefits has rocketed and that Osborne is facing a huge shortfall between the amount of tax he expected to receive this year and the actual amount. What is it – £5 billion? That’s not small change!

There have been huge arguments with right-wingers who have made spurious claims that employers can’t afford to pay more than the minimum wage – or that there is no incentive to do so.

This research provides an incentive to do so.

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Prepare to lose all credibility if you like Michael Gove

Spot the boob in this picture.

Spot the boob in this picture.

Among a cabinet of fools, the Education Secretary – Michael Gove – seems to be leading a charmed life.

His department has won praise for its “radical” policies, which have led to the creation of ‘free’ schools, plans to impose performance-related pay on teachers, the development of the EBacc exam, and the introduction of £9,000 university tuition fees.

Hang on a second!

‘Free’ schools are nothing of the kind! They cost a fortune, and suck desperately-needed money away from state-maintained schools!

Performance-related pay for teachers? How do you measure that? It isn’t a manufacturing job, you know! School pupils’ abilities vary, their temperaments vary, their concentration levels vary. They may have any number of other issues interfering with their learning experience and you can’t pin any of the above on teachers’ performance! How perverse!

The EBacc exam has been widely criticised ever since it was first suggested! Just do a quick web search for it – four out of the first five results are about reforming it! Many of the others are complaints: “EBacc has forced arts off curriculum”, “PE should be part of Ebacc exam system, experts warn”, “EBacc threatens creativity”.

And as for the introduction of university tuition fees… life is too short to discuss the dire threat to higher education in the UK that this represents.

Now we have confirmation of our worst fears about the Schools’ Dunce and his department – from teachers themselves, in a new YouGov poll.

You know there has to be something wrong when 77 per cent of teachers in the NUT – that’s the National Union of Teachers, the largest organisation representing the profession – say the current government is having a negative impact on education.

Morale has plummeted, with 55 per cent – more than half, saying their confidence in the future of their profession was either low or very low. Only 15 per cent said their morale was very high.

Taking this further, 69 per cent said their morale had declined since the 2010 general election and 71 per cent said they rarely or never felt trusted by the government.

Academy and ‘free’ school programmes were taking education in the wrong direction, according to 77 per cent of respondents.

Cuts and austerity measures were harming some or most children and their families, according to 76 per cent of those asked – and that’s before 2013’s toxic cocktail of cuts has even arrived!

And the performance-related pay argument suffered another hit when 74 per cent said children’s educational achievements were affected by their family’s income.

The EBacc was being rushed through without enough consultation, according to a staggering four-fifths of secondary school teachers (81 per cent).

Only five per cent – one-twentieth of those asked – thought the Coalition government was having a positive effect on schools.

The general opinion is that Mr Gove is rushing through changes according to an outdated philosophy, rather than taking the time to gather evidence on what might, in fact, work.

According to The Guardian, it’s called “new public management” and is a Neo-Liberal idea calling for public services to mimic the market in order to ensure high standards and accountability. The only problem is, it doesn’t work. Managers are brought in, to keep the ‘producer interests’ – teachers and academics – from controlling the system, but they then distort the system with league tables and performance targets; instead of providing a varied and engaging education, teachers are coerced into following government-imposed incentives. Education suffers as a result. And that is what we’re seeing here.

The Education Department’s response? Teaching is an “attractive” profession with vacancy rates “at their lowest since 2005”.

The changes will raise standards by giving more power to head teachers, attracting the best graduates and professionals, and helping those teaching now to do their jobs even better. How? They didn’t say. I don’t think they’ve got the evidence to back themselves up.

So teachers are the latest professionals to go on the state-starved sick list – along with the police, doctors and nurses, and anyone working in the public sector.

And Mr Gove? All things considered, if we were to tell him to modify his own surname into a word describing what he should do, he’d probably spell it “goe”.

False economies that leave the business books unbalanced

The flipside to the question I covered in ‘Where’s the benefit’ must be the harm caused by company bosses who have taken, I believe, pay rises amounting to 700 per cent over the past 20 years.

That mean they are now taking home seven times as much money from the business where they work as they would have in 1992.

Compare this with the average workers, who have received rises amounting to only 27 per cent. This means that, in 1992, they were taking home a little less than four-fifths of what they get today.

That’s a huge difference. I think we all know that bosses’ pay rises do not have any relationship with their companies’ performance, so workers are right – in my opinion – to feel resentful.

It seems to me that many employees are finding life extremely difficult now, because the amount they are paid does not cover all their outgoings and they are having to work out what they can do without. The cost of living has risen more sharply than their pay, so they are out of pocket.

This creates stress, which can create illness, which could take them out of work and turn them into a liability to the economy – as they would then be claiming benefits.

That’s bad – not only for the country but also for their company, because demoralised employees produce poor work and the company’s turnover will decrease; having to bring in and train up new workers to replace those who are leaving through ill health is time-consuming and unproductive.

Therefore, in taking the money for themselves, rather than sharing it with employees, bosses are clearly harming their own companies and the economy.

In fact, it seems to me that this is a microcosm of the larger, national economy. In order to keep more money, bosses (and the government) pay less (in the government’s case, to pay off the national deficit). This means less work gets done, and is of poorer quality (in both cases). So orders fall off and firms have to make more cutbacks (or, revenue decreases so the government makes more cutbacks in order to keep up its debt payments).

The message to bosses – and the government – is clear: Cutting back investment in people to keep money for yourselves will cripple your earning ability. Cutting even more to make up for what you lose will put you into a death spiral. You are trying to dig your way out of your own graves.

But there is an alternative.

A reasonable pay increase to employees would ensure they can pay their bills, and would also keep them happy.

Happy workers produce better results.

Better results keep businesses afloat and earn extra work for them.

That in turn creates more revenue, making it possible for bosses not only to increase their own pay but employ more people as well.

Wouldn’t that be better for everybody?

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