Tag Archives: pressure

Tories lift unfair threat to doctors over face-to-face appointments

Don’t sweat it, Sajid: really, this image should show egg on his face but we can’t have everything we want, can we?

The GP strike is off – for the moment.

You’ll remember This Site reporting last week that GPs in England were threatening to strike after Sajid Javid wanted to compel them to hold face-to-face appointments with anybody who wants one – and threatened to publicly humiliate surgeries that didn’t meet targets he would impose.

Well… it seems Javid has discovered that a week in politics really is a long time.

After the threats and counter-threats, appointment figures for September have been published – showing that GPs have already conducted a significantly higher number of face-to-face appointments.

Remember, they started doing this before Javid made his ridiculous threat.

According to The Guardian,

Figures from NHS Digital show that 28.5m appointments were estimated to have taken place in September – about 8% higher than for the same month in 2019, and up around 3m on the figure for August.

Of the appointments made in September, 43.2% took place on the same day they were booked and 61% were in person. This 17.3m total for face-to-face contacts is the highest figure recorded since February 2020 and is up by about 3.5m on the figure for August, when 58% of appointments were face-to-face, the data suggests.

It’s still fewer than the 80 per cent of appointments that were face-to-face before the arrival of the Covid crisis…

But it was enough to cause a shamefaced Department of Health and Social Care to withdraw its threat to publish monthly “league table” data showing what proportion of surgery appointments occur in person or virtually,

according to sources.

Oh, and

An NHS source claimed “naming and shaming” GPs carrying out low levels of face-to-face appointments had never been included in the plans, only that “appropriate levels of face-to-face appointments for patients based on local need must be delivered”. The NHS source added that “while more localised access data will be published, the plan does not include ‘naming and shaming’”.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter now that it isn’t going to happen anyway, does it?

Source: GPs win ‘significant concessions’ from NHS England over in-person access | GPs | The Guardian

No ‘unsustainable’ pressure on the NHS? Then why are GPs threatening to strike?

Sajid Javid: behind the smug smile there appears to be no intelligence at all.

The following tweets appeared next to each other on my timeline:

It’s just more evidence that Sajid Javid was lying when he said pressure on the NHS due to Covid-19 was “not unsustainable” – as if we needed it, after Stephen Powis contradicted him during his own press conference on Wednesday:

GPs are under severe pressure due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis – worsened by the government’s refusal to take action to reduce infections, in the face of increases past 50,000 a day and the worst death rate since March.

But Health Secretary Sajid Javid wants to compel them to hold face-to-face appointments with anybody who wants one – and is threatening to publicly humiliate surgeries that don’t meet targets he imposes.

As a result,

GPs in England are threatening industrial action in protest at the government’s attempt to force them to see any patient who wants a face-to-face appointment.

The British Medical Association’s GPs committee voted unanimously to reject the plan by the health secretary, Sajid Javid.

The doctors’ union has decided to hold a ballot on possible industrial action, which could result in family doctors at the 6,600 practices in England reducing the work they undertake.

So Javid’s interference is likely to make it less possible to see a GP personally. What a stupid way to run a health service.

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Keir Starmer needs to be persuaded to support socialist social care policy. He must go

Keir Starmer: someone recently said he’d run out of Brylcreem long before he ever gets to run the UK and on the basis of this failure, that is just as well.

This is a shocking indictment of the man who pretends to be the Labour Party’s leader.

Keir Starmer had to be told to oppose the Conservative plan to increase National Insurance that poor people pay – increasing poverty – under the pretext that it is to fund social care.

It’s worse than that – it is class warfare, and a class war in which Starmer seems firmly on the side of the rich few against the masses who made him Labour leader.

Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room: nobody has to be taxed to pay for social care. The government owns the magic money tree and can simply create the cash.

The principal reason we talk about people being taxed to pay for such measures is because taxation is needed to control inflation – but inflation hasn’t been a problem whenever the Tory government has created money for itself and its friends over the last 11 years, so it doesn’t seem a problem.

If we accept that improving social care may cause inflation, then there are better ways to tax that problem away. For a start, there is a very rich part of society that isn’t taxed nearly enough – and won’t be forced into starvation or onto the streets if they are asked to pay a little more:

The issue with Starmer that this has revealed is the fact that he had to be told – in fact, it seems he is resisting calls for him to support this commonsense policy. And people are calling him out on it:

Even Tory ministers are coming out against the government plan – before Starmer:

(Sorry but I don’t know who @philbc3 is or what that person may have said about it. Blame Grace, not me.)

The worst part of this is that previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had a perfectly good policy for funding social care – and Starmer hasn’t even had the wit to mention it. Fortunately Corbyn’s shadow chancellor is on hand to remind us all:

This last comment is perhaps the most incisive – and the most damning against Starmer:

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Climate change: let’s put pressure on the companies causing it


Did you know that just 100 corporations are responsible for 71 per cent of the pollutants that cause global warming?

That was the finding of the Carbon Majors report in 2017. And here are the names of the firms doing the damage (as it seems unlikely that many – or indeed any – of them will have gone out of business in the last four years). They are:

China (Coal)
Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco)
Gazprom OAO
National Iranian Oil Co
ExxonMobil Corp
Coal India
Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex)
Russia (Coal)
Royal Dutch Shell PLC
China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC)
BP PLC
Chevron Corp
Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA)
Abu Dhabi National Oil Co
Poland Coal
Peabody Energy Corp
Sonatrach SPA
Kuwait Petroleum Corp
Total SA
BHP Billiton Ltd
ConocoPhillips
Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras)
Lukoil OAO
Rio Tinto
Nigerian National Petroleum Corp
Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas)
Rosneft OAO
Arch Coal Inc
Iraq National Oil Co
Eni SPA
Anglo American
Surgutneftegas OAO
Alpha Natural Resources Inc
Qatar Petroleum Corp
PT Pertamina
Kazakhstan Coal
Statoil ASA
National Oil Corporation of Libya
Consol Energy Inc
Ukraine Coal
RWE AG
Oil & Natural Gas Corp Ltd
Glencore PLC
TurkmenGaz
Sasol Ltd
Repsol SA
Anadarko Petroleum Corp
Egyptian General Petroleum Corp
Petroleum Development Oman LLC
Czech Republic Coal
China Petrochemical Corp (Sinopec)
China National Offshore Oil Corp Ltc (CNOOC)
Ecopetrol SA
Singareni Collieries Company
Occidental Petroleum Corp
Sonangol EP
Tatneft OAO
North Korea Coal
Bumi Resources
Suncor Energy Inc
Petoro AS
Devon Energy Corp
Natural Resource Partners LP
Marathon Oil Corp
Vistra Energy
Encana Corp
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd
Hess Corp
Exxaro Resources Ltd
YPF SA
Apache Corp
Murray Coal
Alliance Resource Partners LP
Syrian Petroleum Co
Novatek OAO
NACCO Industries Inc
KazMunayGas
Adaro Energy PT
Petroleos del Ecuador
Inpex Corp
Kiewit Mining Group
AP Moller (Maersk)
Banpu Public Co Ltd
EOG Resources Inc
Husky Energy Inc
Kideco Jaya Agung PT
Bahrain Petroleum Co (BAPCO)
Westmoreland Coal Co
Cloud Peak Energy Inc
Chesapeake Energy Corp
Drummond Co
Teck Resources Ltd
Turkmennebit
OMV AG
Noble Energy Inc
Murphy Oil Corp
Berau Coal Energy Tbk PT
Bukit Asam (Persero) Tbk PT
Indika Energy Tbk PT
Southwestern Energy Co

These are the firms whose bosses need to be persuaded to rethink their business plans – and they won’t do that unless public opinion is mobilised against them.

That’s where you come in.

If you have any concerns about climate change at all, you need to get in touch with these firms and express your unhappiness with what they are doing. Call for them to reconsider their approach and to re-model their businesses to conform with a greener agenda.

I appreciate that many of these companies are not based in the United Kingdom. This is an international issue. They don’t just pollute their own countries; they pollute the whole world because we are all feeling the consequences of their irresponsibility.

That said, I would appreciate it if you would share this article with your friends – including those who live outside the UK. The more people take action – from as many countries as possible – the more likely these moguls are to pay attention.

I will try to look up contact details for these firms and add them to this article as they become available. If anybody can help with that, please do.

We cannot rely on our government(s) to do the right thing. The UK’s government is currently pushing legislation through Parliament to criminalise those protesting against the destruction of the planet. It is also providing tax relief to those reponsible for that destruction.

Government representatives and members of the party of government in the UK are lining up to pretend that there’s really no problem at all, and that the polluters should be allowed to carry on stinking up our homes in any way they please. Perhaps these people have shares in the companies concerned.

Remember: There is no planet B. Where are you going to go when the billionaires have poisoned the Earth so badly that you can no longer live on it?

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Employers are forcing staff to spread Covid-19, research finds

Rampant: the Covid-19 virus is once again on the loose across the UK because the Tories haven’t just lost control; they’ve deliberately thrown it away.

This is what wage slavery does to people; it forces us to do the wrong thing, harming not just our own health but that of everybody around us.

This Writer had to face it in one of my newspaper jobs. The company dictated that employees could only take a maximum of five sick days per year – and I suffered from cluster headaches.

The condition is now acknowledged by the NHS to cause the most extreme pain of any kind at all; when it comes on, it can last around three months, inflicting excruciating migraines on the sufferer (in my case) around four times a day.

You can see the problem. The condition could last three months but I was allowed only five days off work. Even taking all my vacation time, I could not cover the time I needed.

So this does not surprise me at all:

Thousands of workers feel pressured to return to their jobs when they still risk spreading coronavirus, and employers who breach Covid guidelines are avoiding serious punishment, according to evidence of major weaknesses in England’s lockdown measures.

One in 10 of those doing insecure work, such as zero-hours contracts and agency or gig economy jobs, said they had been to work within 10 days of a positive Covid test, according to research seen by the Observer. For workers overall the proportion is around one in 25.

These people have been coerced into endangering themselves and the people around them.

And consider the consequences. Suppose family members, friends, people on the same bus or train caught Covid-19 as a result, and some died. Who would get the blame for infecting them? The firm that forced people to work when they were sick? Or the employee?

I think we all know the answer.

And now the Tory government wants to cut back employees’ rights.

New Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has denied plans to strip us of our entitlement to paid holidays and other protections – but he is infamous for having condemned UK 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”.

So what do you think he’s going to do?

Meanwhile,

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors have not issued any enforcement notices on companies for Covid safety breaches since the start of the latest lockdown, despite having been contacted 2,945 times between 6 and 14 January about safety issues.

Just 0.1% of about 97,000 Covid safety cases it has dealt with during the pandemic appear to have resulted in the issuing of an improvement or prohibition notice. No company has been prosecuted for a Covid-related breach.

This is just not taking Covid-19 seriously.

No wonder the virus is rampaging across the UK and our hospitals are being overwhelmed.

Source: Staff ‘pressured to go back to work’ in breach of UK Covid rules | Coronavirus | The Guardian

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Tories pressurised benefit assessment company to find sick claimants fit for work, says doctor

Despair: Harsher criteria in benefit assessments led to sick people being found fit for work, pushing them to despair and suicide.

Let’s be fair: The Conservatives put Atos under immense pressure to find claimants ineligible for out-of-work sickness benefits.

Disability News Service attributed the pressure to the Department for Work and Pensions but, like all government departments, it only carries out the orders of the government of the day.

DNS stated that a new document unearthed by the family of Michael O’Sullivan, a disabled man who took his own life after being found unfairly fit for work, shows that a doctor working for the private firm Atos, contracted to carry out benefit assessments, made it clear that the Conservative-run DWP was partly to blame for the decision to find him ineligible.

The doctor’s representatives told General Medical Council (GMC) investigators: “Following the conversion of Incapacity Benefit to ESA, the DWP put immense pressure on Atos disability analysts to deem claimants fit for work when they previously would have qualified for benefits.”

They also told the GMC in their evidence that Atos assessors, who “had no formal psychiatric training”, were not required by DWP to use a medical tool that evaluates the severity of a person’s depression.

They also claimed that the criteria applied during Work Capability Assessments had been “altered” by DWP to make it more difficult for claimants to be found eligible for ESA.

We know this to be true; Iain Duncan Smith demanded that these criteria should be made harsher when he took over as Work and Pensions Secretary in 2010.

DNS reminded us that Mr O’Sullivan’s death in September 2013 led to a coroner blaming failings in the notorious work capability assessment (WCA) system for his death, and writing to DWP to request urgent changes to prevent further deaths.

Those changes were never made, and further deaths have continued to be linked to the WCA over the last five years.

The O’Sullivan case also illustrates an excellent reason Labour wants to end the involvement of private companies with the benefit assessment system.

The team investigating the death submitted questions to the DWP – only to be told last year that some of them must be directed at Atos.

Those questions were passed to the company in January and it still hasn’t answered, according to DNS.

This indicates that the privatisation of benefit assessments is a mechanism to allow buck-passing between the government, the civil servants of the DWP and the company to ensure that nobody has to take responsibility for an entirely avoidable death.

That is the most despicable aspect of it.

Source: WCA death doctor: DWP put ‘immense pressure’ on Atos to find claimants fit for work – Disability News Service

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Here is another death to add to the DWP’s body count

Amy Nice.

Does anybody remember a song by The Police called Murder By Numbers? One of the verses went like this:

You can reach the top of your profession
If you become the leader of the land
For murder is the sport of the elected
You don’t need to lift a finger of your hand.

That certainly rings true in the case of Amy Nice, who took her own life because she feared that her Universal Credit would be sanctioned away from her because pen-pushers at the Department for Work and Pensions might think she wasn’t doing enough to find work.

This is a young woman with kidney disease and attendant severe depression and anxiety. She should have been classified as having a long-term illness – and eventually was, but too late to do any good. DWP assessors had pressurised her into an early grave.

Ms Nice’s terror of losing benefits was due to the ratcheting-up of the sanctions regime at the DWP. On Twitter today, I learned a little about how that had happened. It seems the Liberal Democrats had agreed to it while in coalition government with the Conservatives in 2014 – in return for agreement to place a 5p tax on plastic bags at shops. Here’s Polly Mackenzie:

The Liberal Democrats had no qualms about increasing the threat to the lives of benefit claimants; they wanted a boost for their environmental credentials in time for their party conference – and nobody had to know about their grotty little deal.

Well, now we do.

It is because of this deal that people like Ms Nice have been going to their deaths with a regularity that makes the government that has been in place since 2010 one of the worst-ever killers of its own citizens. Thousands have died.

But nobody in power will ever admit responsibility; they’ll say these people took their own lives. And the reasons for suicide are complicated.

Coroner James Newman doesn’t seem to think so. He made it perfectly clear that Ms Nice took her life because she was “under pressure from the Department for Work and Pensions” and accepted that this “would play massively on a young woman’s mind with a young child and history of physical and mental illness.”

Read the story for yourself:

“A struggling young mum took her own life after she feared losing her benefits under the Government’s Universal Credit scheme, an inquest heard.

“Amy Nice, 21, had been suffering from severe depression and anxiety following a diagnosis for kidney disease but had felt ‘pressurised’ to find work under new rules for claimants.

“On October 24 last year, after months of financial worry, Amy wrote a suicide note saying she ‘couldn’t see a way forward’, dropped off her young son at school then hanged herself in woodland near her home in the village of Coppull near Chorley, Lancashire.

“At an inquest into her death, a coroner ruled the tragedy as suicide saying the risk of losing benefits would ‘play massively on a young woman’s mind with a young child and history of illness’.

“Coroner James Newman said: “She was under pressure from the Department for Work and Pensions – a source of income she relied on. The pressure was to get back to work or be able to prove she was searching for work.

“”In a person with her mental history I could understand that would be difficult. There is pressure that she could run the risk of losing her benefits and I can see that financial matters would play massively on a young woman’s mind with a young child and history of physical and mental illness.””

To the DWP and its lower-than-vermin minister Esther McVey, this means nothing.

She’d probably say the Department’s cruel threat of sanctions had “assisted” Ms Nice into a place where she could be happier. I refer, of course, to the grave.

And they will never – ever – consciously accept responsibility, even though it is plain for all to see that this woman died under threat from the DWP, which was acting on the orders of the Conservative government.

The ever-increasing ranks of the deceased are a demand for justice.

When will they get it?


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Sharp rise in ambulance patient deaths in England is all part of the Tory plan

Serious incidents resulting in the death of a patient rose from 31 in 2012 to 72 in 2016 [Image: Rui Vieira/PA].

The ambulance service is indeed under “excessive pressure” – but we all need to remember that this is not patient pressure, but pressure caused by Jeremy Hunt’s de-funding.

Mr Hunt is pushing the NHS towards privatisation and the way to do that, as Noam Chomsky has observed, is to de-fund the service so it starts to fail. When people complain, he can say that a publicly-funded health service doesn’t work and privatisation is the only way forward.

It is only after the service has been placed entirely in the hands of private companies that the public will realise privatised services are not better and do not receive more funds. Experience shows that money paid into such companies is drained out of them as profits, while investment dwindles.

Oh, and your services end up in the hands of foreign powers. Supporters of Brexit should pay particular attention to this, as they were fooled into voting for it in the belief that control would revert to the United Kingdom.

It won’t. Take a look at the privatised rail, water and energy companies.

The deaths of a few hundred people mean nothing to the Tories who are pushing these policies through – as those of use who have watched their behaviour towards benefit claimants and those on social care know very well.

A sharp rise in the number of patients dying unexpectedly while under the care of NHS ambulance staff has prompted warnings that the service is under “excessive pressure”.

NHS figures for England obtained under freedom of information (FoI) laws show “serious incidents” resulting in the death of a patient more than doubled from 31 in 2012 to 72 in 2016, rising year on year.

One trust noted that a serious incident meant a three-year-old asthma patient had died, and another death was logged as being caused by a delayed response linked to “no resources”. Deaths were also due to missed diagnoses and long delays, with one patient even taken to the wrong hospital.

Serious incidents are logged when the consequences for patients and staff are so significant they warrant investigations. The number of such reports that involved death, low, moderate or serious harm, injury and abuse rose sharply over the five-year period, almost doubling from 194 in 2012 to 376 last year.

Source: Alarm over sharp rise in ambulance patient deaths in England | Society | The Guardian


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NHS walk-in centres close – to INCREASE pressure on A&E departments

The walk-in centres in Bury and Prestwich will close but will remain as healthcare sites [Image: BBC].

You’d have to be an idiot to believe that closing NHS walk-in centres is about relieving pressure on hospital Accident and Emergency departments.

Walk-in centres were intended to relieve pressure on both GP practices and hospital A&E departments by providing treatment to people, without appointments (they could just walk in) on a range of illnesses and ailments.

The idea was to leave only real emergencies to Accident and Emergency departments.

But the Conservatives have been closing walk-in centres and we can all see the result: A humanitarian crisis in the English National Health Service that has led to several deaths and seriously compromised the system.

Now the BBC is reporting the closure of two more, with the doublespeak justification that is will “reduce hospital attendance and admissions”.

How is that supposed to happen? Without the walk-in centres, people in immediate need will have nowhere else to go!

I think we all know what is really behind this.

The local Clinical Commissioning Group is having to make budget cuts, so the service must suffer.

Meanwhile, Theresa May chatters on about “minor pressures” on the NHS while more patients suffer.

Two walk-in centres will close as part of a shake-up of urgent care to reduce hospital attendance and admissions.

The sites, in Bury and Prestwich in Greater Manchester, will shut so resources can be moved to NHS 111, GP surgeries and A&E departments.

Though popular, the service was deemed “confusing” and the changes are intended to direct patients to the “right care”.

Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) approved the plan earlier.

However, protesters said the group had “ignored” their concerns.

More than 2,000 people signed a petition to save Moorgate Primary Care Centre and Prestwich Walk In Centre.

Source: Bury and Prestwich walk-in centre closures in care shake-up – BBC News

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Is this what the UK’s education system can learn from low-tech Africa?

‘My students are making the sort of weekly progress that would make an inspector drool.’ [Image: Alamy].

‘My students are making the sort of weekly progress that would make an inspector drool.’ [Image: Alamy].

The UK’s Kafka-esque education system vexes This Writer.

Discussion of it always falls into the same problem – where to lay blame/make changes.

When central government, regional assemblies and local councils all have a say – not to mention school governors themselves, and don’t even get me started on the private influence brought in with academisation – it’s no surprise that so many teachers end up with work-related stress problems.

Perhaps this snapshot of working conditions and job satisfaction abroad is the kind of information we need (although I doubt anybody in a position to take positive action will even pay attention to it).

This line is extremely telling:

“It’s a low-pressure, high-freedom environment that places absolute trust in its teachers’ abilities. As a result, my students are making the sort of progress that would make an inspector drool.”

Low-pressure? Yes. In the UK ‘The Secret Teacher’ had 130 students; in East Africa, 75 – with no “emergency data-meetings, twilight Insets, morning briefings, and admin-centric departmental meetings”, no “box-ticking exercises of bloated middle-management teams”, no “sharp-suited Machiavellis, clinging desperately to iPads and spreadsheets in the hope that they are projecting a credible image of what a manager looks like”.

So perhaps this is the lesson the UK needs to be taught: Don’t over-manage schools and teaching.

Give them just one boss to satisfy, and make sure that they have a straightforward set of criteria to meet: “We want English to a minimum of this standard, Maths to this standard, Science to this standard”.

And let them get on with it.

Source: Secret Teacher: I moved to Africa – and realised how flawed British education is | Teacher Network | The Guardian

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