Is this the kind of NHS hip replacement operation that Lord Carter thinks is too pricey?

Earlier today, Vox Political reported that Labour’s Lord Carter had claimed some hip operations were “costing more than double the amount that they should, with some expensive replacements not lasting as long as cheaper ones”. A quick stroll through the Internet has now turned up an example of the kind of operation it is likely he meant – and, don’t be surprised, it’s by a private healthcare company. The report is a few years old (from 2012) but there’s no reason to believe standards have improved at all. Here’s what…

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FOI? Or just FU?

It seems Yr Obdt Srvt has become the victim of DWP game-playing that shows contempt for sick and disabled benefit claimants whose lives are threatened by poor decision-making. You may be familiar with the following saying (or at least with the fact that George W Bush wasn’t): “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” I mention this as a precursor to the following story, for reasons that should become clear. Back in May, I sent another Freedom of Information request to the Department for Work and…

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Public consultation on anti-democratic trade deal – a sham?

The European Union’s trade commissioner, Karel De Gucht, reckons he’s going to consult the public over the controversional Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – the EU/US free trade agreement. He says he is determined to strike the right balance between protecting EU firms’ investment interests and upholding governments’ right to regulate in the public interest. Bear in mind, this is for the investment part of the deal, which includes investment protection and the red-hot disputed subject of investor-to-state dispute settlement, where firms would be allowed to sue governments if regulations got…

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Information Commissioner rules on the cover-up of DWP-related deaths

Long-term readers will know that the author of this blog has spent the last few months trying to get officials at the Department for Work and Pensions to release mortality statistics for people undergoing the assessment procedure for Employment and Support Allowance. It is in the public interest for the nation to know how many seriously ill or disabled people are dying while they wait to undergo the controversial Atos-run medical assessment, while they await the result, and while they appeal against a result that puts them in the wrong…

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No justice for legal aid as Grayling ignores thousands of consultation responses

A story has appeared on the BBC News website, stating that elite barristers have joined the chorus of opposition to the government’s plan to cut legal aid for criminal cases by almost a quarter. It states that the Treasury Counsel, a group appointed by the Attorney General to prosecute the most serious crimes, has followed the lead of the Bar Council and the Law Society in saying the plan to cut £220 million from the annual £1 billion legal aid budget is unsustainable. This is accurate, but fails to address…

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DWP obstruction over Atos deaths – a plea for sanity

Emailed to the Department for Work and Pensions today: Thank you for your response to my Freedom of Information request. I am writing to request an internal review, on the grounds that your refusal of my request, on the grounds that it is “vexatious”, is unreasonable. I believe the decision may also be politically motivated. Your letter states that your refusal is entirely based on a single line – not in my FOI request itself, but on my political blog website – at the end of an entry in which…

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Will the DWP do ANYTHING to avoid revealing the true extent of the Atos deaths?

The Department for Work and Pensions has turned down my Freedom of Information request on the number of people who have died while going through the Atos benefit assessment process, or shortly afterwards – claiming that I am harassing officials with a co-ordinated, web-based campaign to disrupt the organisation. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “They’re having a laugh, aren’t they?” Alas, no. My request was for the department to provide the number of Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants who have died in 2012. Please break…

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Farage meets Murdoch; Leveson has achieved nothing

Was the Leveson Inquiry into media standards just an incredibly lengthy distraction from the ravages being wrought on the British system of government by the Coalition? In the light of current evidence, it seems so. The inquiry found, and I quote from the executive summary, “the political parties of UK national Government and of UK official Opposition, have had or developed too close a relationship with the press in a way which has not been in the public interest. In part, this has simply been a matter of spending a…

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