Lord Buckethead is an experienced political campaigner, leader of the Gremloid party, and possibly humanity’s future overlord. Having garnered three-digit numbers in the Finchley and Huntingdon constituencies battling Margaret Thatcher in 1987 and John Major in 1992, he took a respectible 249 votes in Maidenhead against Theresa May (beating the Christian People’s Party, Just Political Party, Monster Raving Loony Party, two independents, and Elmo).
Watch John Oliver announce Lord Buckethead as the UK’s future Brexit negotiator.
£3,300,000,000 = The amount we got last year for arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
Wikileaks: Saudi Arabia’s rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted… told they faced “another 7/7” and the loss of “British lives on British Streets” if they pressed on with their enquiries.
Wahhabism (as part of the Salafi movement) = The ideological concept of destruction and terrorism (suicide bombings, indiscriminate attacks) which is the root of current home-grown terrorism. From Saudi Arabia. We have now sponsored it for years and years to come.
46,700 = Total number of police cut by Theresa May since she became home secretary
£3,300,000,000 = The amount we got last year for arms exports to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia 2016 (Wikileaks) Saudi Arabia’s rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted… told they faced “another 7/7” and the loss of “British lives on British Streets” if they pressed on with their enquiries
Wahhabism (as part of the Salafi movement) = The ideological concept of destruction and terrorism (suicide bombings, indiscriminate attacks) which is the root of current home-grown terrorism. From Saudi Arabia. We have now sponsored it for another decade.
The Destruction of the NHS: A Dialogue at Breaking Point
by Nima Ghadiri
Is the NHS at breaking point?
Yes, it really is. As things stand, it will not exist in five to ten years time, and different elements of our Health Service will be apportioned as Dialysis-Plus East Coast, CrossCancer, Virgin Maternity, or whatever other word-pasticcio the “brand positioner” regorges.
With consecutive governments in seemingly total denial about the state of the NHS, the phrase “crisis point” is an understatement. We need to do something now, every month which passes brings the death sentence closer.
Ok, just…. just chill out there for a second. Are things really THAT BAD?
Chucking about numbers is often a precursor to a well-known Disraeli quote, paraphrased by Mark Twain. Nevertheless, sometimes they are needed so people can grasp what is happening.
Since 2011, there has been a 504% increase in the number of patients waiting over four hours in A&E Departments across the country, forcing Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to ditch the target. 23 hospitals were simultaneously on black alert earlier this year, which means that they “are unable to guarantee life-saving emergency care”. This included Jeremy Hunt’s own local hospital The Royal Surrey, which had 27 patients urgently needing a bed but no space.
Waiting times for surgery have been getting much longer, and 4093 urgent operations were cancelled in 2016, an increase of 27% in just two years. Knee and hip operations are now being rationed only for those who aren’t able to sleep because of agony, using bogus “pain tests” as a differentiator.
Cancer treatment targets have been missed for four consecutive years, and services are now failing. Mental health services are being rationed, so people who suffer are dying in their homes, unable to care for themselves.
These are frightening figures, it’s no wonder the Red Cross (who stepped in early in the year to help with a shortage of ambulances) has declared the NHS a humanitarian crisis, as people are dying needlessly in the world’s fifth-richest country…
Stop, I get the idea, things are looking gloomy all round. Surely, we have the MONEY to stop this?
Astonishingly, as demand has risen hugely, funding has been cut. Our spending on the NHS as a percentage of our GDP has plummeted below 10%. This is a lot less than France and Germany, and amongst the lowest in the developed world.
If our national health funding matched the average amount that Europe’s 10 leading economies spend on their healthcare, perhaps we could lose this uncoveted accolade:
Yes, we need more NURSES and DOCTORS!
And we are getting far less. Medical school applications have plummeted, the proportion of med school graduates who become first year doctors has gone down from 70% to 50%, with phrases such as “in droves” and “en masse” describing the number of junior doctors leaving the United Kingdom. Enormous rota gaps are now ubiquitous, GP vacancies have skyrocketed from 2% in 2011 to 12.2% now, and 84% of general practitioners now say that their workload is affecting patient care.
Nursing applications have fallen by 23% over the last year, and the removal of bursary funding for student nurses and midwives has sent one clear message “We don’t value you”, underlined by years of below-inflation 0% and 1% pay rises. By 2019, NHS workers will have seen their pay capped for nine consecutive years, and nurses will have seen their pay reduced by 12%.
To add salt into these raw and gaping wounds, the Secretary of State for Health massively over-estimated nurses’ average pay this month when he was asked why so many nurses are having to use food banks.
Source: British Medical Journal
So they want things to fail, is this all about PRIVATISATION?
We don’t need to speculate about this, it’s all there in numbers, contracts, even a book with Jeremy Hunt’s name on it, calling for the de-nationalisation of the NHS. There has been an increase in spending on “independent sector providers” of a third between 2014 and 2016, and an estimated 500% more contracts have gone private since 2012.
The plan for privatising the National Health Service isn’t exclusive to one party. The groundwork was done by the previous government, with poorly conceived “public service reforms” leading to unfettered introduction of private corporations into commissioning. It has accelerated over recent years, however.
So what are the POLITICIANS saying?
Absolutely the wrong things. For a National Health Service which is quite visibly starving, Jeremy Hunt said: “The NHS needs to go on a 10-year diet”.
Theresa May also didn’t like the Red Cross assessment of the NHS, calling them “irresponsible” and “overblown”.
The BMA has identified five key issues for the future of the NHS, and it would indeed be “irresponsible” if politicians did not address these:
Are you subtly telling me which way to VOTE?
No, it’s not for me to instruct you, and people don’t like being told what to do. Nevertheless, it’s currently very easy for the mainstream media and tabloid press to distract the general population and report on fake scandals rather than one which is very real, and affects all of us.
As long as you are aware of what is happening and can make up your own mind, then that’s already very important. If you can spread the word to others, even better. Over the next few months we will see an increase in grass-roots movements in social media and the streets, in support of the National Health Service. There will be a nurses’ summer of protest activity, a show of anger against pay-rise caps and maltreatment which has left 40,000 posts unfilled.
Battling a Murdoch and Dacre Press which has vested interests against the NHS will be challenging, and no doubt lies will be spun which confuse and subvert. Tabloid journalism had a pivotal role in the Junior Doctor contracts dispute, and may do so against the nurses too. It is crucial to appreciate that supporting our nurses means supporting our National Health Service.
Jeremy Hunt and the government appear to be on course for the world’s first routine 7-day health service. Unfortunately, this pioneering endeavour is hindered by a marked gap in resources. Currently (as according to NHS Providers) 80% of acute hospitals in England are in financial deficit, compared to 5% three years ago. Missed waiting time targets have risen from 10% to 90% during the same period. In recent years, healthcare expenditure per capita for the United Kingdom has been stagnant in comparison with other developed countries:
On the path to establishing this revolutionary provision, a number of steps have been taken to ensure that the foundations are as flimsy as possible. Jeremy Hunt has pushed a junior doctor contract which undervalues them and discriminates against women. He has also removed bursaries for student nurses and allied health professionals. This has nurtured an atmosphere in which applications to work abroad have skyrocketed and the portension of mass exodus hinted at in recent years may well come to fruition. Following recent events, a significant (13.5%) reduction in medical school applications over the last twelve months is unlikely to help matters.
So the question arises, how does Mr Hunt seek to introduce this 7-day NHS with negligible funding and staffing levels? And, perhaps, the answer has been there all along…
Back in 2007, before landing the job of health secretary, Jeremy Hunt asked the Chief Medical Officer to review three homeopathic studies. He also signed an Early Day Motion supporting the provision of homeopathic medicines (including simple saline solutions diluted to negligible concentrations) which “welcomes the positive contribution made to the health of the nation by the NHS homeopathic hospitals”, and “calls on the government to support these valuable national assets”. In 2014, he again called for herbal remedies to be made available on the NHS.
When one of his constituents wrote a letter to Mr Hunt disagreeing with the evidence basis for such treatments, the Secretary of State for Health responded:
“I understand that it is your view that homeopathy is not effective, and therefore that people should not be encouraged to use it as a treatment. However, I am afraid that I have to disagree with you on this issue. I realise my answer will be a disappointing one for you”
Our Minister for Magic Health’s judgement on this matter may have been influenced by another Conservative MP, David Tredinnick. Indeed, Jeremy Hunt’s request for the homeopathic studies to be reviewed was made at the behest of Mr Tredinnick, who has previously advised parliament that blood does not clot under a full moon, advocated the use of homeopathy as a treatment for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and asked that homeopathic borax be used to control foot-and-mouth disease.
Are Mr Hunt and Mr Tredinnick on to something? The combination of drugs for treating TB vary between £5000 and £50-70000 depending on whether the variant is “normal” or “drug-resistant”. Dilution to homeopathic doses can make these expensive drugs much less costly.
Even better, nature’s finest Witch Hazel, which has been used for TB (albeit in the 19th century), comes in at a tidy £2.99 per bottle from your local chemist and can last for months if the degree of dilution is precise. It can even be grown on hospital grounds, generating further savings.
The workforce could also be rationalised in a homeopathic 7-day NHS. The impact of Jeremy Hunt’s contract for junior doctors (indeed, the need for doctors in the first place) can be negated by alternative healthcare practitioners, some of whom might not even require an income. A new hospital druid role potentially offsets the vast increase in applications to Australia and New Zealand and reduction in medical school applications.
Mr Tredinnick is also a firm believer in astrology as a “useful diagnostic tool” which, alongside complementary medicine, could take “pressure off NHS doctors”. As a Capricorn, the zodiac does indeed advise that his opinion should be reliable and trustworthy for Jeremy Hunt’s Scorpio. Mr Tredinnick states “I do foresee that one day astrology will have a role to play in healthcare.” Conceivably, that day may come sooner, and we will have alternative medicine permeating into our accident and emergency departments. This delightful sketch from comedy duo Mitchell and Webb might not be too far from the truth:
When the practical and economic feasibility of a routine 7-day NHS has been roundly debunked by senior doctors, service providers and analyists, it is only natural to ask how this is going to happen. Maybe, we ought to be thinking a little more naturally ourselves, and prepare for our complementary secretary of state for health to give us a very complementary 7-day routine NHS.
As the British Medical Association (BMA) prepares for another meeting to discuss further industrial action against the government’s proposed junior doctor contract, the New Zealand Resident Doctor’s Association (NZRDA) has also announced a campaign for a better contract for junior doctors, with the threat of strikes on the horizon. Can British Doctors and their union learn from New Zealand?
Following a year-long stalemate punctuated by brief periods of attrition, Britain’s junior doctors remain locked in a dispute with the government over a proposed new contract, warning of “escalated” industrial action should the Government refuse to address concerns over patient safety and fairness. This is likely to encompass a rolling programme of strikes, starting in September. The BMA Junior Doctors Committee claim that worries have been repeatedly raised and not addressed, including concerns about weekend working and pay for those working less than full time.
JDC chair Ellen McCourt has said:
“Forcing a contract on junior doctors in which they don’t have confidence, that they don’t feel is good for their patients or themselves, is not something they can accept”.
Echoing events in Britain, New Zealand’s Resident Doctors Association (NZRDA) called for changes to junior doctor working patterns, including the number of potential consecutive 10-hour night shifts to be reduced from seven to four, and the number of consecutive day shifts to be reduced from 12 to 10.
The campaign is focusing entirely on patient safety and has centred on a strong social media presence with clear statements and images:
Highly publicized figures from NZRDA’s survey of its 3600 members reported that 300 doctors had fallen asleep behind the wheel on the way back from work, and more than 1000 doctors had made a mistake which affected patient care due to exhaustion. The NZRDA has warned that if there are no changes to rosters, there will be industrial action for the third time after previous strikes in 1992 and 2006.
The NZRDA was originally founded in 1985. In contrast to Britain’s BMA it represents only Junior Doctors, not all doctors. British doctors moving to New Zealand are often surprised about the power and proactive nature of the organisation. The face of the NZRDA for the last few decades has been the organisation’s National Secretary Dr Deborah Powell. She is perceived by doctors, media and public alike as a fiery and uncompromising battleaxe who persistently wields clout in negotiations.
These negotiations have yielded a number of benefits over time for junior doctors in New Zealand, which have included: consistent increases in pay, final year medical students being given a salary, free canteen food during working hours, training and membership costs being covered, presence of cross-cover and relief doctors to cover short-term absences, ease in going out-of-training for family or travel. There is even a motivation for hospitals and clinics to ensure that their junior doctors claim all of their annual and study leave, as the amount not used becomes “cashed out” as a payment.
In the few instances when conditions have deteriorated, the NZRDA has been aggressive. In April 2008, they gave notice of a nationwide 48-hour strike over pay, conditions and ongoing issues of retention, as 40% of Kiwi doctors were moving to Australia. At the time, a first year house-surgeon in NZ earned 88,000 NZD (£40,000) on average. Junior doctors sought a 10% pay rise over three consecutive years (twice that of other health service workers) rather than two rises of 4% over two years.
The strikes were widely seen as a success which brought the desired outcome for the doctors, caused no harm to patients (indeed, emergency department waiting times were markedly reduced), has improved retention of doctors and made New Zealand a very attractive destination for British and other doctors. They have also underlined the power of the NZRDA to fight annually for better conditions.
The success of these victories is reflected by a reversal in the exodus of Kiwi doctors to the United Kingdom, such that British doctors are now flocking to New Zealand at record levels. We can only speculate whether a single-minded force such as Deborah Powell may have challenged the various events which have taken place over the last decade and reduced morale of British junior doctors to such an extent: Loss of House Officer Accommodation, shortages of training posts, the ill-received Medical Training Application System (MTAS), pay increases below inflation, consistently increasing GMC and examination fees.
How would the NZRDA manage if metaphorically transplanted onto the negotiating table closer to home? Their use of punchy statements and images, peppered with some humour, has helped the public clearly identify the junior doctors’ argument. Based on their track record, would they have hesitated to legally challenge the UK government: particularly on Jeremy Hunt’s early assertion that we do not already have a seven-day emergency NHS, a proclamation which has already led to well-documented patient harm?