SpringWatch — The blossoms are out!

Although blossom season isn’t as big an event in the UK as it is in East Asia, it is still enjoyed by many around the country. This bank holiday (the archaic British term for public holiday which originates from when the Bank of England closed) has been the warmest recorded which means that many families have been enjoying the blossoms and the many other delights of Spring. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many families, young and old people, dogs enjoying early May as much as over the last few days.

British blossoms are delightful, though they do not have the symbolic meaning that they have elsewhere. In Japanese culture, cherry blossoms (Sakura) are a symbol of the transient nature of life, and are a cultural feature in art, literature and film. The way they bloom en masse, like clouds, conjures classic iconic images of Japan. There is even a hierarchy for work trips to hanami (“looking at flowers”) picnics. Its definitely on my wish list to travel to Japan for cherry blossom season, but for now I have to make do with the UK’s version, which isn’t shoddy at all (I hope you agree):

Lots of shades of colour on this street’s blossoming trees.

I like the juxtaposition of the pink blossom and the blue sky (which can be a rarity for this time of the year in the UK)

Here I am under a particularly blooming tree, taken with an old iphone camera.

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Saudi Arabia’s takeover of British politics will be complete with the Tory-DUP Coalition

Saudi Arabia’s takeover of British politics is complete following the Tory-DUP coalition (as they have a more direct financial link with the DUP)

DUP Referendum campaign funded via Prince Nawwaf:
https://www.opendemocracy.net/…/secretive-dup-brexit-donor-…

http://www.independent.co.uk/…/election-dup-brexit-donation…

£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.

And to protect us…

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Theresa May – Money or Lives?

46,700 = Total number of police cut by Theresa May since she became home secretary

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£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 

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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.

What is more important, money or lives?

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The Destruction of the NHS: A Dialogue at Breaking Point

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?

Source: BMA

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:

Source: BMA

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.

Source: BMA

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:

Source: BMA

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.

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Around the world in 50 football pitches

Turf and Beauty…

Have you played on any of these?

Which of these would you like to play on?

Henningsvaer, NORWAY

 

Adidas Futsal Park, TOKYO

 

Munich Olympia Park, GERMANY

 

Marina Bay, SINGAPORE

 

Shell Football Pitch Rio, BRAZIL

 

Ottmar Hitzfeld Gspon Arena, SWITZERLAND

 

Gangwon Ski Jump Pitch, SOUTH KOREA

 

Tasiilaq pitch, GREENLAND

 

Stadion Piran, SLOVENIA

 

Hasteinsvollur Stadium, ICELAND

 

Al-Hajar pitch, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

 

Selkirk Football pitch, SCOTLAND

 

Igraliste Batarija CROATIA

 

Coroico Football Pitch, BOLIVIA

 

Bamburg Castle Football Pitch, ENGLAND

 

Cocodrilos Sports Park, VENEZUELA

 

Fuglafjørður, FAROE ISLANDS

 

Tamnogalt MOROCCO

 

Janosovska Stadium CZECH REPUBLIC

 

Kuredu Football Pitch MALDIVES

 

Stadion Gospin Dolac CROATIA

 

Wakhan Valley, Dzhiland TAJIKISTAN

 

Eidi Field, FAROE ISLANDS

 

Koh Panyi, Phang-Nga THAILAND

 

Autuntheatre Staduim FRANCE

 

Ghana Field, GHANA

 

Estadio Silvestre Carrillo de La Palma, SPAIN

 

Atlanta Station Stadium, UNITED STATES

 

Qaqortoq, GREENLAND

 

San Carlos Favela Football Pitch – BRAZIL

 

Devil’s Tower Camp, GIBRALTAR

 

Ipurua, Eibar, SPAIN

 

Saas-Fee Snow Field, SWITZERLAND

 

Estadi Comunal D’Andorra La Vella, ANDORRA

 

Vorovoro Football Pitch FIJI

 

NJ Rijeka Kantrida, CROATIA

 

Eduardo Souto de Moura Braga, PORTUGAL

 

Desert Pitch, OMAN

 

Svanfaskard Stadium, FAROE ISLANDS

 

Mmbatho Stadium Mafikeng SOUTH AFRICA

 

Tonciu Football Pitch ROMANIA

 

Brooklyn Bridge Park UNITED STATES

 

Pancho Arena HUNGARY

 

Ascension Island Football Pitch SAINT HELENA

 

AS Monaco Training Pitch, MONACO

 

World Games Solar Stadium, TAIWAN

 

Marseilles Harbour Pitch, FRANCE

 

Bureh Town Football Pitch, SIERRA LEONE

 

Hattoheim Football Pitch, NETHERLANDS

 

Lordegan, Iran

 

 

Liverpool Biennial Pitch ENGLAND

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