Tag Archives: year

Wait for dentist appointments in England stretches from two to three years in three months

Check-up: if you haven’t made an appointment already, don’t expect to be in this position at any time… probably for the rest of your natural life.

Dental treatment in England is collapsing beneath the weight of demand.

Only three months ago, This Site reported that NHS patients were being told to wait two years for appointments. Now we learn that the wait has been extended to three.

By the time these poor souls get any treatment, they’ll probably have lost every tooth they have in their mouths!

The report by Healthwatch England confirmed that people are being advised to take private care instead – at cost.

Back in February, the same organisation reported that people were being asked to pay £1,700 to private practitioners for treatments that would cost £60 on the NHS.

Other findings in the latest report include:

  • People removed from the practice list for not making an appointment sooner.
  • Repeated cancelled appointments – even midway through treatment.
  • Dentists have reported that they have thousands of people on their waiting lists, with some patients claiming they are unable to even get on a waiting list.
  • Dentists shutting down or going completely private.
  • Patients being asked to wait up to three years for appointments – or six weeks for emergency care.
  • Some who called NHS 111 seeking emergency dental care were told to “use salt water” and carry on calling practices until they could find help.
  • Other patients have been told to use DIY filling kits while they wait for an appointment.
  • People being increasingly prescribed antibiotics with no prospect of a follow-up appointment to actually treat the problem.

It’s a racket, isn’t it? Blackmail.

Dentists have realised that the Covid-19 lockdowns have created huge queues for treatment that they know the surgeries they run for the NHS cannot service.

They are greedily worsening this bottleneck by closing NHS practices, forcing people either to pay a fortune for private care or face a future of pain and possible disfigurement as their teeth decay.

Perhaps it will serve them right when they find that the victims of their scam can’t afford to pay them; and consider even NHS prices to be too expensive:

The watchdog warned that even when people can get access to dental care on the health service, three fifths (61%) of people deem treatment too expensive.

Healthwatch England has called for sweeping reforms to NHS dentistry to avoid harm to the dental health of the UK as a nation.

Fat chance.

The Department of Health has said it is committed to ensuring everybody can access affordable, high-quality dental care.

But it has said nothing about how it will achieve this miracle in the face of dental practitioners’ unwillingness to co-operate. Its spokespeople have been able to talk about only what they did in 2019-20.

You can bet Boris Johnson’s corrupt crew won’t do anything at all for the rest of us. They can afford dentistry, after all.

Anybody who voted for the Conservatives voted for their own teeth to rot out of their head.

Source: People in England ‘face three-year waits for dentist appointments’ | Dentists | The Guardian

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‘Voting irregularities’ at the MP of the Year awards? What’s going on?

Jeremy Corbyn: he had been nominated to win the MP of the Year Award – but then his Labour membership was suspended. Chris Williamson was disqualified as a candidate for the award last year after his membership was suspended. Are these awards being ‘managed’ to deny recognition to popular left-wing candidates?

The MP of the Year Awards have apparently fallen into trouble yet again.

The award scheme, run by the Patchwork Foundation, has been under a shadow since Chris Williamson was disqualified last year – because his Labour Party membership had been suspended.

At the time, the organisation stated: “Our MP of the Year Awards seek to celebrate and recognise those MPs that uphold the ethos and values of the Foundation; to champion underrepresented, minority or disadvantaged communities in the UK.

“MPs under investigation or suspension would not be included. As such, Chris Williamson’s nomination could not be taken forward this year, as he is currently suspended from the Labour Party.”

This year, Jeremy Corbyn was nominated and – wonder of wonders! – his Labour Party membership has been suspended.

So – wonder of wonders! – suddenly the Patchwork Foundation is apparently saying there are “irregularities in the voting count” and it will only release the choice of the judges’ panel instead.

I think James Foster may have drawn the correct conclusion:

He’s not the only one:

This Site has contacted Patchwork for a comment.

If there is interference in the public vote – to remove the most popular candidate because he is considered undesirable in some way, and for a second year running – then these awards have fallen into disrepute and should be discontinued.

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Did 3,000 people HAVE to die penniless while the Tories fought court case over PIP for the terminally-ill?

Lorraine Cox: she has motor neurone disease, but was denied PIP because she could say she would die within six months. It seems 3,000 others who also couldn’t predict their own deaths have died without receiving PIP in the last year.

It is one year since the Tories pledged to review their rules on which terminally-ill people could claim Personal Independence Payment – and it seems more than 3,000 would-be PIP claimants had to die before they were forced to do it by a court ruling.

They died without receiving PIP, because they could not predict when they were likely to die.

This Site celebrated like many others when Lorraine Cox won her case demanding a judicial review of the rules that said only people with particular terminal illness could claim PIP – and only if they knew they would die within six months.

Now we discover that – if recent trends have continued – then 3,000 people died between the Tories pledging a review that seems not to have happened and the Tory defeat in the Cox case.

I asked what happened to those people while Ms Cox was fighting her case in court.

Well, now we know.

According to The Mirror:

DWP figures show 17,070 people died waiting for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) decision in five previous years.

If that pattern repeated, more than 3,000 will have died in similar cases since the review launched last summer.

Charities have demanded change.

The Tories are saying the Covid-19 crisis delayed their review.

Source: DWP: 3,000 people ‘die waiting’ for terminally ill benefit reforms one year on – Mirror Online

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Coronavirus: half a year before normality resumes – because of Tory stupidity

Johnson: This stupid ass caught coronavirus because he failed to follow his own social distancing advice (once he got round to giving it). Now he’s got the nerve to tell us he may tighten restrictions – but he’ll never admit that he has been at fault.

They’ll never admit it but if it does take half a year or more before people in the UK are allowed to resume their normal lives, it’s because of the stupidity of our Conservative government.

And if the lockdown lasts as long – or almost – that will be because of Tory stupidity too.

Boris Johnson’s letter saying the situation will worsen before it gets better is nothing more than we should all expect.

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jenny Harries, said the number of deaths is likely to worsen over the next one or two weeks – because it will take that long before the effects of social distancing begin to be felt.

And Johnson has warned that stricter measures could be put in place if necessary. This makes perfect sense, if deaths continue to rise.

But the reason deaths may continue rising is the government’s failure to impress upon the population the fact that the measures already in place are important.

In his letter, Johnson says, “From the start, we have sought to put in the right measures at the right time.” This is contemptible nonsense.

Before coronavirus arrived in the UK, the Tories had ensured that none of the plans necessary to protect the public against a contagion of this kind were up to date.

And they had dismantled the specialist team in the Department of Health, that would have dealt with the pandemic, nine years ago.

Medical journal The Lancet warned the government to get its act together on January 24.

But Johnson dithered for a further seven weeks, issuing contradictory statements and advice that left members of the public confused.

Is it any wonder, then, that when he ordered us all to stay home and observe social distancing rules, many people have ignored him completely – including himself?

The prime minister himself caught the disease because he failed to follow his own advice.

The news websites are full of reports of street parties being broken up by police, who are empowered to issue fines starting at £60 but rising to £960 for repeat offenders.

This Writer has been told of barbecues in Shrewsbury, and even health professionals have been caught flouting the rules.

This brings us to another point: remember Jenny Harries, who said the number of deaths is likely to worsen? She must take part of the blame for that.

The Lancet (again) has called on her to apologise for claiming that the NHS had “a perfectly adequate supply of PPE [Personal Protective Equipment, worn by medical staff while treating coronavirus patients to prevent them from contracting it or passing on to others]”.

It didn’t – and I note that two doctors are reported to have died in this report alone.

The government failed to join a European Union scheme to provide much-needed ventilators – by misdirecting the email, it seems – and there are concerns over the choices of supplier made by Johnson and his cronies.

Put it all together and you can see that more people will die because of the Tories; there is a lack of equipment to fight the virus because of the Tories; and if it takes longer for life to return to normal – they’ll be responsible for that too.

Source: Coronavirus: Strict measures could last ‘significant period’ – BBC News

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Complained about the DWP? Don’t hold your breath waiting for an investigation

The state of this.

Remember when This Site told you complaints to the DWP about the company the Tory government hired to assess claimants’ eligibility for certain benefits had multiplied nearly 15 times since 2013?

Well, it turns out that if you complain to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) about the DWP or any organisation working for it, you’ll be waiting more than a year.

In response to a parliamentary question last week, the Tory government admitted:

“In the first six months of 2019 (January to June 2019) it took the Independent Case Examiner’s Office an average of: 59 weeks to commence an investigation (from the point at which the complaint was accepted for examination); and 23 weeks to complete an investigation (from the point at which it was allocated to an investigation case manager).”

So you’ll be waiting a year and a half for compensation that totals a maximum of £200.

Did you ever get the impression that somebody wants you to think it isn’t worth bothering?

Source: Claimants wait over a year for ICE to even begin investigations into DWP

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Does accusation=guilt as Patchwork Foundation vetoes Chris Williamson’s nomination as MP of the Year?

Chris Williamson.

A charity that self-describes as “strengthening democracy” has undermined its own work by vetoing the nomination of Chris Williamson as a candidate for its ‘MP of the Year’ award.

The Patchwork Foundation, which claims to encourage the positive integration of disadvantaged and minority communities into British democracy and civil society, pushed Mr Williamson off the list because his membership of the Labour Party has been suspended pending an investigation into claims of anti-Semitism. This is despite the fact that he continues his work as an outstanding constituency MP.

A letter from the organisation states:

“Our MP of the Year Awards seek to celebrate and recognise those MPs that uphold the ethos and values of the Fooundation; to champion underrepresented, minority or disadvantaged communities in the UK.

“MPs under investigation or suspension would not be included. As such, Chris Williamson’s nomination could not be taken forward this year, as he is currently suspended from the Labour Party.”

Here it is:

What message does this send to disadvantaged and minority communities? “Don’t get accused of anything because the establishment – including this organisation – will automatically assume that you are guilty”? “We will pre-judge you on anything that is said about you”? “Don’t dare try to make a difference because you will be punished”?

That’s what it says to me.

By getting on the witch-hunt’s bandwagon, it seems clear that the Patchwork Foundation has abandoned all hope of running a fair contest and whoever wins – no matter how good an MP he or she may be – will have to face the fact that they may have won it unfairly.

Mr Williamson has been gracious about it:

Some of those who nominated him are less pleased:

What do you think?

Is it reasonable that people should be denied an opportunity to show support for others they believe have been falsely accused, simply because they have been accused?

Or is this an example of Establishment figures clustering together to ostracise the innocent?

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Nigel Farage wants to censor satire – or does he simply have no sense of humour?

What a drip: But why is Nigel so glum? The only person harmed by this milkshake attack was his tailor.

Who’d have thought Nigel Farage was such a fragile little snowflake?

First he took offence at Jo Brand’s joke that a milkshake was too mild a liquid to throw over him and that it should have been battery acid.

Now he has attacked Channel 4 for screening a satire in which a character called “Neil Fromage”, who makes an anti-immigrant speech, gets shot in the head.

It’s possible he is still sore at the TV station for its recent docudrama about the 2016 EU referendum, which did not portray the Leave campaign in a flattering light.

I’m reminded of a routine by the late comic Bill Hicks, who said that not only would the United States be run better if the Senate and the House of Representatives were filled by people off the streets rather than politicians, but that the politicians should be marched into a TV studio and shot, live on air, as a lesson to others not to follow their example.

He added that this was just a joke and – as he was saying this in the early 1990s – nobody took offence.

In fact, it occurs to This Writer that the only people who would demand the censorship of such commentary on the behaviour of politicians are people with a vested interest in silencing others.

And, as the current saying goes, the optics on that are terrible.

For clarity: Nobody is suggesting that Mr Farage should actually be shot in the head. The worst one could infer is that anti-immigrant rhetoric is divisive and breeds hatred.

My personal opinion, as someone who has been a comedy consumer for nearly half a century and an observer of politics and human behaviour for a slightly shorter period, is that shows like Year of the Rabbit are more likely to dissuade people from harming others.

Mr Farage – poor little snowflake that he is – should be grateful.

Nigel Farage has spoken out against Channel 4 for a “totally sick” scene in the comedy Year of The Rabbit that shows a right-wing campaigner named Neil Fromage being shot in the head.

The Brexit party leader called the moment in the Matt Berry-starring spoof show, in which the character of Fromage is killed while giving an anti-immigration speech, “totally sick and frankly irresponsible”.

Speaking to the Daily Star on Sunday, Farage went on to attack the network: “With Channel 4, we have reached a point where they are so partisan politically in everything they do that they now consistently go beyond what’s acceptable.”

In the assassination scene, Fromage takes to a soapbox and says: “Immigrants infest this city they do … like a cancer. And if they take over, you can be sure of one thing.” “Far better restaurants?” a character in the crowd interjects. “Blood, blood, blood.”

A spokesperson for Channel 4 said: “Year of the Rabbit is a purposefully outrageous and heightened comedy set in Victorian-era London featuring exaggerated and ridiculous fictional characters and in this context it is clear to viewers that the actions of these characters – be they grave robbers, murderous historical preservation enthusiasts or serial killer politicians – are preposterous and not to be taken seriously.”

Source: Nigel Farage furious at TV show assassinating ‘Neil Fromage’ – The Guardian

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900 deaths a year due to NHS computer problems – caused by unsuitable software?

My understanding is that the software used by the NHS – like that used by many government departments – is bought from large corporations that work on a “one size fits all” basis.

The problem? One size doesn’t fit all.

The simple fact, as it seems to This Writer, is that government – not just the current government, but any government – seems too willing to pay a fortune to huge corporations for off-the-shelf software that doesn’t work.

I mean, who provided the software under criticism in the article quoted below?

A much better policy would be to seek tenders from multiple software writers – including small firms – for bespoke software that actually does the job required of it.

It would be cheaper, it would be better, and above all… it would be safer.

Problems with computers could be blamed for up to 900 deaths in the NHS every year, two academics have claimed.

Computers are embedded across the NHS but many are “bad” and “low quality”, putting lives at risk they say.

From the PC that stores patient records to systems embedded in devices like MRI scanners and dialysis machines, NHS IT is “unnecessarily buggy” and “susceptible to cyber-attack”, according to Harold Thimbleby, professor of computer science at Swansea University.

Source: NHS computer problems could be to blame for ‘up to 900 deaths a year’ – Mirror Online


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Still wondering why Tony Blair was given a philanthropy award by GQ magazine? – Pride’s Purge

Tony-Blair-006

Some people have been wondering why GQ magazine decided Tony Blair would be a suitable person to receive its annual Philanthropist of the Year award, writes Tom Pride in Pride’s Purge.

Well, GQ’s editor is a right-wing Conservative Party supporter who gave Boris Johnson a job on the magazine and put David Cameron on the cover.

And GQ’s owner is a right-wing Republican Party supporter who, just before the 2008 presidential election, put a cartoon of Obama dressed as a Muslim terrorist burning the US flag on one of his magazine covers – later claiming it was a joke.

So clearly, starting numerous wars, dropping bombs on sovereign nations and being a paid adviser to brutal murderous dictators must be a right-winger’s idea of philanthropy.

For more of Tom’s wisdom, visit Pride’s Purge here.

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Work Programme year two result: FAIL

130627workprogramme

The government’s flagship Work Programme has failed to reach its own minimum standard of results – for the second year running.

The Department for Work and Pensions said 13 per cent of jobseekers had managed to find work lasting at least six months (three months for the hardest to help) – but targets for the second year were higher than the first and the DWP admitted that the Work Programme has failed to meet them.

Of the 1.02 million who have been on the programme long enough to count in today’s figures, 132,000 people found work lasting long enough to be counted a success according to its (low) standards. Six months in work is not a long-term job.

This totals 13.4 per cent. Broken down into particular payment groups, Work Programme providers got 31.9 per cent of JSA claimants aged 18-24 into sustained work against a contracted level of 33 per cent – so that is a fail. For JSA claimants aged 25 or over, they averaged 27.3 per cent against a contracted level of 27.5 per cent – so that is also a fail.

We should concede that this is a big improvement from the first year, when no provider reached their contracted level of 5.5 per cent for either group.

But 31.9 per cent and 27.3 per cent creates a combined average of 29.6 per cent, so you’re probably wondering why the Work Programme’s actual average is 13.4 per cent.

Part of this has to do with the total for people on Employment and Support Allowance. The achievement for ESA new customers was just 5.3 per cent, against a target of 16.5 per cent – and is therefore a bitter fail.

This still does not create a combined figure of 13.4 per cent but I am momentarily at a loss to find any other figures to account for it in the statistical release or the DWP’s press release.

This – the press release – is a piece of comedy rather than information, as we have come to expect from the Department of Wayward Pronoouncements.

It makes no mention of the abject failure to meet ESA targets but states: “Compared to many employment schemes under previous governments, the programme targets the hardest to help into work, such as those claiming Employment and Support Allowance.”

That’s a shot in the foot right there, because it immediately sent me looking for the relevant – and damning – figures.

The omission here, coupled with the recent BBC news report in which WP providers got their begging bowls out and demanded more cash to help ESA claimants into work, creates a bleak picture for sick and disabled people who are being forced to seek employment and reinforces the position set out in a previous Vox Political article that these are people who are too ill to work and should not be forced to seek it.

It’s a lose-lose scenario: The Work Programme providers will fail to hit their targets and the ESA recipients’ health will suffer.

And we all know that the DWP is hiding the figures showing how many ESA recipients are dying every week as a result of participation in its brutal assessment process and silly work placement schemes.

Employment minister Mark Hoban, commenting on the programme’s failure to meet its contracted targets, said: “The Work Programme is helping large numbers of people escape the misery of long-term unemployment and get back into real jobs. The improvement in performance over the past year has been profound and the scheme is getting better and better.”

So we know that he’s living in a fantasy world.

In fairness, it should be pointed out that 18 out of the 40 Work Programme providers have met or exceeded their targets. Unfortunately we don’t know how they managed this; considering some of the horror stories that have come from the schemes, it seems a miracle that anyone got a job at all.

Oh, and there’s a sideswipe at commenters like Vox Political. The statistical summary states: “Many commentators on the previous statistical release looked to compare total job outcome payments with total referrals in the period covered by that publication (June 2011 to July 2012) and assess this against a minimum benchmark.

“Incorrectly the media calculated 3.5 per cent (using data covered by full release period) and 2.3 per cent (using data from June 2011 to May 2012) as the relevant figure to compare against the 5.5 per cent benchmark. The contractual benchmark is measured each financial year for three specific groups of Participants only.”

The press release states that – for once – the DWP has an endorsement from the UK Statistics Authority: “The UK Statistics Authority has said that it does not regard the calculation by commentators that 3.5% of people got into work in the first year of the scheme is the most relevant figure on which to assess performance.

“It agrees with the DWP that performance is better measured by counting how many people referred to the Work Programme get into sustained employment within a year of being referred to the scheme.”

That’s very nice. It would have been even nicer to have been provided with the correct figure at the time. I remember wondering why vital information had been omitted from the releases provided to us, forcing us to make the best calculations we could with what was available.

If the DWP wants to play silly games with the figures, its people have no right to come crying to the rest of us, just because we have tried to fill the gap.

To summarise: The Work Programme has failed to hit targets in its second year, with the results being particularly disastrous for the sick and disabled.

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