Posts tagged with Privatisation

Very Great Deal

Right queer goings on at the Lib Dem Spring Conference this weekend, after Shirley Williams started bowling from the pavilion end last week. A procedural vote yesterday to decide which NHS motion should be debated today had the ditch-the-bill motion win on first past the post; and then, by some quirk of bent Lib Dem voting logic, the Williams didn’t-we-do-well motion won. Since the two motions were in some respects mirror images of each other, it did not seem to Dr No that yesterday’s vote was the end of the world: a vote against Squirls’ motion sends much the same message as a vote for the ditch-the-bill motion, the only significant difference being the former lacks the explicit ‘ditch’ directive of the latter.

The Law of Wet Paper Bags

There is a variant of Dennis Healey’s Law of Holes which says: when you are in a wet paper bag, stop pissing. Most folk who spend much time in wet paper bags appreciate the importance of this law to their survival, but it seems those folk who inhabit the wet paper bag more generally known as the British Medical Association have yet to turn off the tap. At a time when there is overwhelming and very visible professional opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill, and so a real prospect of nailing the bill, the BMA has turned on a golden shower of pension reform objections. There is even talk of industrial action.

The Listening Bank

Broken Arrow - so-called because he doesn’t work, and can’t be fired – stood up red-faced in the Commons on Monday. A nervous tie-fingering moment later, he launched into a resentful defensive downcast drone about his beloved Titanic Bill. It was already more than four fifths of the way across the Atlantic, he declared – it had concluded its committee stage, and eighty-seven percent of GPs covering forty-five million patients had already signed up to join the party. Labour jeered and heckled, and Broken Arrow’s face got redder. But a spectre of icebergs had loomed, and through gritted teeth, he admitted the most unTitanic of conduct: a slow down. The government, he said, would take advantage of a ‘natural break’ in the passage of the Bill to ‘pause, to listen, and to engage’. Labour, of course weren’t having any of it. Broken Arrow hadn’t listened before, so why should he start listening now?

Not Quite Tannochbrae

The Tories, it seems, have the hots for Big Bangs. In 1986, they famously blew open the Stock Market, deregulating the financial markets, arguably paving the way to a rather different kind of bang, more crash-bang than Big Bang, twenty one years later. Today’s Tory Big Bang target is none other than our National Health Service. Agent Lansley has been charged with blowing it to smithereens. Even before the debris settles, any willing cowboy will be welcomed to ride off with rich pickings, the drear and dross discarded, as dust on the desert floor.

The Patient on the Clapham Omnibus

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

–Sir Winston Churchill

The hills may be alive with the sound of music, but the UK medical blogosphere is alive with the sound of rebellion. Virtually all British medical bloggers – and much superb research and writing has been and is being done - are singing off the same hymn sheet: Broken Arrow’s NHS reforms will be at best disastrous, at worst will kill off the NHS.

The Royal College of Nursing has come out staunchly against the reforms; while the British Medical Association has been, to its shame, woefully timid, but is nonetheless critical of the proposals. And of course we have the wonderful Professor Allyson Pollock, the thinking doctor’s crumpet, writing sterling material in the medical journals and elsewhere.

Bad Move

The Internet Association for Tree Hugging, Badger Loving, NHS Saving, Petition Signing and Other Worthy Causes Too Numerous To Mention, more generally known as 38 Degrees, has, at great expense, assisted a clutch of learned friends with their mortgage payments. In return, the learned friends have produced an opinion.

A few months back, Dr Death opened his coffin, exhaled a similar set of legal opinions, and retired, the silk-lined lid closing silently behind him. He has since remained as silent as a stiff on the matter.

In both cases, Dr No believes the seekers of the legal opinions have committed an error, perhaps even grave enough to put in some jeopardy the ultimate aim, that of bringing about the withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill. He believes 38 Degrees’ error to be especially unfortunate, occurring as it does only days before the Bill’s third reading.

Mildew and Mayhem, Churchill and Chamberlain

Lord Mildew of That Ilk, Chief Pongo at the British Medical Association, is worried about his eggs. Speaking at the Association’s Special Representative Meeting yesterday, the first such meeting in nearly twenty years, he implored his delegates not to put all their ‘negotiating eggs in one basket’. To Dr No, the pleas of The Lord of the Ilks sounded more in line with a foolish game-keeper laying out all his eggs individually, the better that the foxes might easily pick them off later, one by one, than a fighting chief calling his clan to arms.

The reason for the exceptional SRM was that the BMA wanted to vote on a number of motions to do with the government’s proposed changes to the NHS. As is BMA way, the agenda was pre-loaded with motions deploring the decline in the standard of NHS biscuits, but in amongst the chaff there was no mistaking the wheat. The BMA mill was spinning for none other than the government’s chief architect of, and ambassador for, its ruinous Health and Social Care Bill, Secretary of State Andrew ‘Ribbentrop’ Lansley. The crux of the meeting, to be decided at the final vote, was whether to oppose this architect of doom by gentle jaw-jaw, or by the husk shattering steam hammer of war.

The Shrinking Raspberry – BMA Blows It Again

With friends like the British Medical Association, who needs enemies? On the day the Care Quality Commission revealed that three out of twelve hospitals it reported on were hanging elderly patients out to die, the BMA chose to blow its anti-Health and Social Care bill trumpet. But the Association’s call was inevitably drowned in the howls of anguish that arose in the face of hospitals turning biddies into Ryvitas on an industrial scale. Even Humph rose to the occasion, and adopted his best dishcloth wringing tone. No need to get bogged down in the statistics, said he, as he wrung the dishcloth of despair to its dying drop. As beads of disbelief coalesced on the brow of concern, he told the nation what it so desperately needed to hear: it was, he said in a whisper, about humanity. The BMA story, naturally, sunk like a stone in a pond.


Dear Reader–

I have recently been travelling around the country, on your behalf and at your expense, visiting some of the chaps with whom I hope to be shaping your NHS. I went first to Wales, to Llwelliwindywillow, and there I spoke with the Welsh health minister, Ms Llwesley Griffiyd, and we exchanged many frank words in our respective languages, so precious little came of that in the way of understanding. I did however remonstrate with her that offering free PIP implants was reckless, and I am told she remonstrated with me that not offering free PIP implants was reckless.

Jobs for the Boys

So – this is the day that Cambuffoon and his Lillie Langtry are to sprinkle drops of NHS blood on the oceans of commerce; and already the corporates are circling, to devour the NHS as a shark does its prey. Rich fat and valuable flesh will be stripped from bone, and all will go, save the profitless indigestible carcass of the weak, the poor, the chronic and the incurable.

These are the headline notes of the grim fate our government has in store for our health service. Already the rabble of the right is roused; and already the cry has gone up: The NHS is a wasteful and bloated sacred cow that should be slaughtered! The steely knife of market forces will excise all waste and all inefficiency on the trading floors of the agoræ, where ‘any willing provider’ can and will step up to the mark.