Tag Archives: time

‘Go to the cinema’ says Johnson. Fool me twice, shame on… who?

Not the cinema announcement: but the caption behind Boris Johnson (that I made for a previous story) is also appropriate to this one.

I know it’s just a coincidence, but shortly after This Site published an article criticising the Johnson government for jeopardising the arts and entertainment in the UK during the Covid crisis, BoJob himself made a pronouncement about it.

He got it all wrong, of course.

Johnson should have announced financial help for venues and businesses – for the duration of the Covid crisis, while his restrictions make it impossible for them to break even, and in addition to any schemes already in place that clearly aren’t doing enough.*

You see, I’d rather be able to go to the pictures, even if the auditorium is practically empty by order of the government, than for the cinema to be closed – possibly for ever.

Instead, BoJob passed the buck to us – as usual.

“Go to the cinema,” he told us – just as he told us to go to the pub and the restaurant back in the summer.

And what happened?

There was a huge spike in Covid-19 infections and Johnson blamed us.

Fool us once, BoJob, shame on you. Fool us twice – shame on us.

What will you do if we go and there’s another increase in Covid infections? Blame us for your mistake again?

What will you do if we don’t, and lots of cinemas go out of business? Blame us again?

I think it’s best if we just ignore Johnson as an incompetent nincompoop and make a rule that any unhappy consequence is his concern, not ours.

Oh, and this will make it easier: the film he wants us to go and see? It’s the new James Bond, No Time To Die.

And its release has just been delayed until April next year.

And also: Cineworld is closing its 120 UK cinemas anyway.

So we can happily stay away for the time being, and still say we were following Johnson’s instructions.

And in the meantime, we can demand to know what he’s going to do about the economic crisis he caused.

Here are comments from just a few people who feel as I do:

*It seems this is unlikely to happen because Johnson and his government haven’t actually started any of these schemes. Here’s @RussInCheshire with The Week In Tory:

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Tory threat to our cinemas as their failure to cope with Covid hits entertainment industry

“Delayed AGAIN???” Daniel Craig wonders whether the new James Bond film, No Time To Die, will ever see cinema release.

I don’t want to have any “it’s not their fault” mewling over this.

Cineworld is not the only venue for the creative industries that is suffering as a result of the Johnson government’s failure to get a grip on Covid-19.

But while BoJob and his buddies funnel money hand over fist to their chums in fake firms, set up in a pretence at treating/preventing the disease, they’re letting our artists and entertainers go to the wall.

They’ll say it’s because they haven’t got a legal means of helping but I think they just want to end fun in our lifetime.

Cineworld is set to temporarily close its UK cinemas in the coming weeks.

The firm is writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to say the industry is now “unviable”.

The firm says it has been hit by delays in the release of big-budget films, putting 5,500 jobs at risk.

The premiere of James Bond film No Time To Die has been postponed twice and is now due for release in April 2021.

Philippa Childs of entertainment and broadcasting union Bectu said: “The delay in the release of the Bond film along with the other delayed releases has plunged cinema into crisis.”

In a socially-distanced country, cinemas simply aren’t viable. Current guidelines mean operators should “organise seating to ensure two-metre distancing can be maintained; where two metres is not viable, one metre with risk mitigation is acceptable. Mitigations should be considered and those introduced set out in the risk assessment”. In Scotland, the two-metre rule must be maintained strictly.

That means only a handful of people can attend any auditorium at any time and it becomes unviable to employ the staff needed to run a venue.

It’s not often that I agree with this tweeter any more, but I’ll make an exception in this case:

Cineworld expects to make 5,500 staff unemployed while the 120-venue chain is closed – throwing them on the scant mercy of the Johnson government.

The hope is that they will be able to re-employ those members of their former staff who survive a winter of Covid-19 and the Tories’ harsh benefit conditions.

If that happens, I hope the company doesn’t take the easy – and very Tory – option of using this as an opportunity to cut staff pay and conditions. That would be a step too far.

Source: Cineworld to shut down UK screens after Bond film delay – BBC News

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Covid test waiting time soars as IT failure hits private ‘lighthouse’ testing lab

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Matt Hancock: this is the brain-dead nincompoop who thought it would be a good idea to let private companies try to make a profit from a deadly pandemic virus. Nothing works properly and we all remain in deadly danger six months after Covid-19 arrived in the UK.

Once again private profiteers have failed the people of the UK.

An “IT systems failure” at a ‘Lighthouse’ mega-laboratory in Cheshire “resulted in a delay to the processing of results,” the government said.

“In addition, the increase of tests across all routes has resulted in backlogs in some laboratories.”

The labs were built in April, in a partnership between the Department of Health and Social Care, Medicines Discovery Catapult, UK Biocentre and the University of Glasgow, supported by pharma companies GSK and AstraZeneca.

It means just seven per cent of people who took a test at a “satellite centre” got their results within 48 hours in the week to August 12 – down from 75 per cent two weeks earlier.

And only 28 per cent of people who were posted home testing kits got the result within 48 hours – down from 72 per cent.

This is what happens when you commit the health of the nation to the hands of people who want to make a profit from it: nothing works.

Source: New coronavirus chaos as test result waiting times soar due to IT malfunction – Mirror Online

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Theresa May lied to Parliament about Accident & Emergency waiting times

Theresa May has been rebuked by the UK’s statistics watchdog for using a misleading comparison between the health services of England and Wales.

Sir David Norgrove said the minority prime minister had used two different measures to compare the waiting times in Accident & Emergency services in England and Wales.

She was trying to make Wales look bad in comparison to England.

Here’s his letter to the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones:

It says: “Thank you for your letter of 25 January, where you raised concerns about the Prime Minister’s comparison of accident and emergency performance in England and Wales.

“You are right to say that the comparison is not valid. The figure used for England refers to the accident and emergency wait time from the decision to admit to admission into another part of the health service. The figure used for Wales represents the entire time patients wait from arriving to leaving accident and emergency services, including the time from decision to admit to actual admission.

“Waiting time comparisons between UK countries are difficult, for a variety of reasons, including differences in data collection and in health service structure, the use of walk-in centres for example.

“It is clearly important to be able to compare health and social care service performance across the UK, particularly to learn lessons from different ways of doing things. I welcome current efforts to improve accessibility of the data and their comparability but strongly urge the need for faster progress.”

Of course, we know why Mrs May lied, don’t we? Or at least we can guess.

She wants to soften us up to the idea that the part-privatised English NHS is more efficient than the wholly-nationalised Welsh version. That way, she hopes to convince the public that private healthcare is a better option.

If the only way she thinks she can win the argument is by lying, then she has already lost.

The NHS is at its most efficient as a wholly-nationalised organisation, with funds pumped into providing the best healthcare possible for the people of the UK, rather than being funnelled into the pockets of rich executives and their shareholders who see health as a profit-making exercise for themselves, not a service to the country.

It is to be hoped that Opposition MPs remember this, next time Mrs May thinks it’s clever to commit contempt of Parliament by deliberately lying to her fellow MPs – and the public – and puts her on the spot for it.


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Tories have been breaking the law by rejecting vulnerable benefit claimants

This could have serious repercussions for the Conservative government.

Suddenly, instead of dismissing appeals for mandatory reconsideration from people who were not able to submit them in time, ministers have been told benefit claimants must have a right to a tribunal.

It’s a game-changer, and it could save lives.

What does that tell us about the Tory policy that refused people this legal recourse?

Senior judges from an Upper Tribunal have ruled that Theresa May’s government has been acting illegally. And once again, those affected by the ruling are some of the most vulnerable people in the country. The judgment means that the government has likely been screwing over thousands of disabled people who will now potentially be affected by the ruling.

The case was brought by two people who failed to appeal the decision to stop their Employment and Support Allowance in time. Current Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rules state that the first stage of appealing a decision – a mandatory reconsideration – needs to be lodged within a month.

These claimants didn’t make the deadline because of their “extenuating circumstances”; both have mental health issues along with other problems. But the DWP initially refused to hear their appeals or allow them to present their arguments to a tribunal. So with the help of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), they took the case further.

The problem with strict time limits for people with health conditions should be obvious. They may have issues that do not always allow them to appeal quickly. And this is something the Upper Tribunal judges thought should be “obvious”.

They ruled that: “We have concluded that as a matter of statutory interpretation a claimant in such circumstances has a statutory right of appeal to the first-tier tribunal.”

Source: Senior judges rule that Theresa May broke the law and probably screwed over thousands of people | The Canary


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This year’s NHS crisis has begun as patients experience sharp rising in A&E waiting times

The ambulance bay at Bristol Royal Infirmary [Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images].

As Jeremy Corbyn put it, “This is completely unacceptable.

“Growing pressure on our NHS means more people waiting longer in ambulances and A&E departments having to divert more patients to other hospitals.”

Of course it is entirely in line with the claim that the Tories are trying to make the health service look incompetent in order to make a profit-making, privatised health system seem more attractive.

The minority Tory government may say it isn’t planning to sell off the NHS, but the recent announcement that the UK is holding private trade talks with the USA is a red flag to everybody who ever cared about the health service.

Of course, the real losers in this situation are the service users.

Growing numbers of patients taken to hospital by ambulance are having to wait an hour or more before they are handed over to A&E staff for treatment, NHS England figures show.

In the week to last Sunday, 17 December, one in seven such patients faced a delay of at least 30 minutes in the back of an ambulance or an area of the hospital where the crew look after them, up from one in eight the week before.

Hospitals are finding it impossible to stick to tough rules brought in for this winter by NHS England and NHS Improvement requiring that no patient should have to wait more than 15 minutes.

In a further sign of the extra pressure the NHS is under this winter, the number of times A&E units had to temporarily divert patients elsewhere because they could not cope with the demand for care rose from 25 the previous week to 30.

Source: NHS figures show sharp rise in patients waiting for A&E care | Society | The Guardian


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Official: There is NO time limit for disabled people on Universal Credit to find a job

It seems strange to write a myth-busting article in favour of the Department for Work and Pensions, but it seems whoever told our fellow blog Skwawkbox that there was a two-year time limit for Universal Credit claimants with disabilities to find a job was misinformed.

This should come as a huge relief to many people who raised concerns after the article was published last month.

But it raises serious questions as to the information being circulated around the DWP.

This Writer, acting on concerns that the article was “fake news”, submitted a Freedom of Information request to the DWP on July 19. I received a reply today. It states:

“There is no Work-Related Activity Group in Universal Credit (UC). UC claimants are allocated to one of four legally defined conditionality groups, set out in sections 19-22 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012. The requirements that may apply to claimants in each of these groups are set out in sections 15-18 of the Act. A link to the Act is provided here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/5/contents/enacted.

“Claimants who are expected to look for and be available for work must do all they reasonably can to find and take up a job. The Universal Credit Regulations 2013 regulations 93 – 99 set out the parameters for setting work-related requirements and regulations 101- 105 set out the different types of sanctions. A link to the Regulations is provided here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2013/9780111531938/contents.

“Sanctions are only used in a minority of cases when people fail to attend work-search reviews; fail to meet the work-related requirements they have agreed in their Claimant Commitment; fail to apply for work or take up an offer of work; or leave a job, without good reason. The DWP does not have any statutory powers to sanction or reduce benefit payments solely on the basis that a claimant has been trying but has been unable to find work within 2 years.

“There are no time limits for how long a UC claimant is given to find a job.”

So that’s that. 

The parts of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 are worth reading in their own right – especially paragraph 99 of the Regulations.

As regards the claims that the original article was “fake news”, I contacted Steve Walker, who runs Skwawkbox, on July 22, and he told me:

“Can’t say for sure where the activist who first contacted me got the idea. She begged me to put something out asap to highlight it – I checked it with three separate longstanding DWP contacts whose responses ranged from “yep” to “100 per cent correct”, so I ran the story.”

My experience of Mr Walker gives me every reason to believe that these are the facts of the matter. Apologies are due to anybody who was unduly distressed by the inaccurate information in the article published on This Site on July 17. Considering Mr Walker’s comments, and the fact that the DWP is currently trying to hide facts about ‘outcome reports’ on its fitness-for-work tests after lying by saying it did not hold the relevant information, I can assure all readers that it was published in good faith.

We are left to wonder about the quality of information being given to DWP employees, that made it possible for them to confirm the original allegations as accurate.


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Why should doctors resign because of the #NHSCrisis caused by Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt?

Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt are the Tory fools who have created the crisis in the English NHS. Tell them they are to blame. Tell them they should resign now.

The more I think about the unreasonable comments and demands made by Theresa May and her health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the less acceptable they seem.

We are told senior GPs could resign in huge numbers because Mrs May has irrationally chosen to scapegoat them for the humanitarian crisis sweeping the National Health Service in England. But why should they?

Surely we can all see where responsibility really lies?

The Conservatives aren’t responsible for the NHS in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – and those countries aren’t experiencing any crisis – except possibly where their services are reliant on facilities based in England.

The Conservatives are responsible for the NHS in England, and it is in England that the crisis has occurred.

Therefore Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt are responsible for causing the current crisis; so Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt should resign.

Why are high-profile politicians and medical leaders not already demanding their heads on a plate?

Theresa May seems keen to blame anybody but herself – she tried to pin the crisis on the elderly before claiming that A&E departments are buckling because she thinks GPs are lazy.

Enough is enough.

Whenever Mrs May, Mr Hunt or any other Tory (with the exception of Dr Sarah Wollaston, who has spoken up for the NHS, thereby proving she is in the wrong political party altogether) tries to run down the NHS, its doctors, nurses, specialists, workers or users, let’s just tell them:

“No. You are to blame. Resign.”

It’s a simple message, and easy to repeat.

Put it out there a few times and even our Tory-loving mass media might get the hang of it.

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Tory lies and the #NHSCrisis: Health service ISN’T getting more cash than it wanted

“Let’s not rewrite history,” said NHS England chief Simon Stevens – but Theresa May has tried to do exactly that.

She knows perfectly well that he said the NHS in England would need between £8 billion and £21 billion in order to sustain the service up to 2020.

Her claim that, by giving the service £10 billion over six years, she is providing more than was requested is a lie.

That’s £8.4 billion over five years – the absolute lowest end of the scale presented by Mr Stevens.

It takes no account of cuts to social care, closed walk-in centres, closed pharmacies, limited availability of GP appointments – all caused by Tory mismanagement.

More money than the NHS requested would be at least £22 billion.

And the fact is that Tory cuts to the English health service will amount to nearly £40 billion – including the extra £8.4 billion – by 2020.

Theresa May is a liar and should resign because her lies are threatening people’s lives. Jeremy Hunt is a liar and should resign for the same reason.

The claim: The NHS is being given more money than it asked for.

Reality Check verdict: The amount that the NHS in England is being given over this Parliament is at the bottom end of the range that it asked for. It doesn’t take into account the knock-on effects of shortfalls in other areas such as social care.

“We asked the NHS to work out what it needed over the next five years in terms of… the funding it would need,” Prime Minister Theresa May told Sky News on Sunday.

“We gave them more funding then they required.”

But NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens denied this on Wednesday.

Mr Stevens has made clear that when he mentioned the £8bn figure, that was the minimum amount needed just to plug the funding gap.

But this figure is not enough to keep pace with rising demand, improve services or accommodate plans for seven-day services.

Speaking to NHS leaders last June, he said: “Let’s not rewrite history.

“In the Forward View, we actually said that the National Health Service would need between £8bn and £21bn by 2020 in order to sustain and improve.”

Source: Reality Check: Is the NHS getting more than it wanted? – BBC News

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The #NHSCrisis is only encouraging private firms to bite larger chunks from the health service

[Image: Martin Shovel.]

Even as the UK erupts in protest at the government’s neglect of the NHS, the Tory privatisation plan is working, it seems.

The crisis has created a perception that the public health service is unable to cope. Private firms can capitalise on this – and don’t forget that more private contracts are being offered up for NHS work, every day. Here’s the latest:

It’s for an ‘integrated urgent care service’ (whatever that may be), offered by Kernow CCG (in Cornwall?) and is worth nearly £50 million.

It should be remembered that private healthcare will not offer treatment for the most complicated, long-term conditions; the people who need it most. Instead, they take contracts that draw funding away from their treatment.

And the ‘crisis’ narrative gains momentum – but it lacks one major element.

The only reason there is a humanitarian crisis in the NHS is underfunding by the Conservative Party in government. They will have inflicted nearly £40 billion of cuts by 2020, and have already passed on around £20 billion of funding to private companies, much of which will be transferred to shareholders’ bank accounts as profit, rather than having anything to do with treatment of illness.

The bureaucratic cost of private involvement alone is astronomical.

Yet Theresa May tried to blame the crisis on the increase of elderly patients, in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

In fact, decades of ward closures have led to the bed crisis. Bed-to-population ratios are worse than in some eastern European countries. Funding of the NHS, in total, is well below the EU average. But Mrs May keeps rattling on about a “strong economy” being the answer. Didn’t Philip Hammond say our economy is the strongest in the developed world, during his Autumn Statement last year? Yes, he did.

The only way the NHS can receive proper funding is the removal of private sector involvement from the National Health Service and the redirection of the funds this frees, back into healthcare.

That must be the first priority of any campaign to save the NHS.

The way to achieve it is simple: Destroy the Tory narrative.

The aging population isn’t blocking up A&E – Tory underfunding and bed closures did that.

Why isn’t the NHS properly funded, considering the Tories say we have the healthiest economy in the developed world?

If the Tories didn’t want A&E departments flooded with non-urgent patients, why did they close walk-in centres and pharmacies?

There must be no let-up, no relief for Conservative pro-privatisation mouthpieces. They must be challenged at every opportunity.

Their answers must always be challenged. If they fail to provide adequate answers, the question should be put again.

Challenge the narrative. Undermine their confidence.

Win back your health service.