NHS news review

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There are two main NHS news items today – Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams criticises the ConDem coalition policies and actions generally (which of course includes the NHS) and the security group Lulz Security warns of lax NHS computer security.

Welsh man of God Rowan Williams is currently guest editor of the New Statesman magazine. He writes an editorial highly critical of the Con-Dem coalition government


“With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted.

“At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context.”

He criticised the government for continuing to blame the country’s difficulties entirely on the deficit it inherited from Labour and said there was “bafflement and indignation” over coalition plans to reform the health service and education.

Cameron responds by rejecting the criticisms.

I’m with the whiskered Welshman on this one. Clearly nobody voted for huge top-down reorganisation of the NHS and huge NHS cuts – instead they voted for exactly the opposite. Likewise nobody voted for abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance and 300% increases in tuition fees.

Lutz Security have merely warned the NHS that it stumbled across some admin passwords. I have some suspicions on what is meant by “we hope that little girls feasts on the bones of many giving souls”. Think about it. (I don’t think that the little girls bit is intended literally.)

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

New Statesman – Leader: The government needs to know how afraid people are

…With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted. At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context. Not many people want government by plebiscite, certainly. But, for example, the comprehensive reworking of the Education Act 1944 that is now going forward might well be regarded as a proper matter for open probing in the context of election debates. The anxiety and anger have to do with the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument.

I don’t think that the government’s commitment to localism and devolved power is simply a cynical walking-away from the problem. But I do think that there is confusion about the means that have to be willed in order to achieve the end. If civil society organisations are going to have to pick up
responsibilities shed by government, the crucial questions are these. First, what services must have cast-iron guarantees of nationwide standards, parity and continuity? (Look at what is happening to youth services, surely a strategic priority.) Second, how, therefore, does national government underwrite these strategic “absolutes” so as to make sure that, even in a straitened financial climate, there is a continuing investment in the long term, a continuing response to what most would see as root issues: child poverty, poor literacy, the deficit in access to educational excellence, sustainable infrastructure in poorer communities (rural as well as urban), and so on? What is too important to be left to even the most resourceful localism?

Government badly needs to hear just how much plain fear there is around such questions at present. It isn’t enough to respond with what sounds like a mixture of, “This is the last government’s legacy,” and, “We’d like to do more, but just wait until the economy recovers a bit.” To acknowledge the reality of fear is not necessarily to collude with it. But not to recognise how pervasive it is risks making it worse. Equally, the task of opposition is not to collude in it, either, but to define some achievable alternatives. And, for that to happen, we need sharp-edged statements of where the disagreements lie.

David Cameron hits back at Rowan Williams over coalition criticism | Politics | The Guardian

David Cameron has rejected the archbishop of Canterbury’s claim that the coalition government is forcing through “radical policies for which no one voted”. The prime minister said Rowan Williams was free to express his concerns, but he “profoundly disagreed” with many of his comments.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat cabinet ministers joined backbenchers in registering surprise at the sweep and the specifics of the archbishop’s criticisms.

Speaking at a press conference on a visit to Northern Ireland, Cameron said: “I think the archbishop of Canterbury is entirely free to express political views. I have never been one to say that the Church should fight shy of making political interventions.

“But what I would say is that I profoundly disagree with many of the views that he has expressed, particularly on issues like debt and welfare and education.”

BBC News – Hackers warn NHS over security

A notorious hacker group has warned the NHS that its computer networks are vulnerable to cyber attack.

Lulz Security, which claims to have been behind a recent hack on Sony, sent an email to NHS administrators revealing it had found a way to breach the service’s network.

But the Department of Health was quick to deny that any patient information was at risk.

The hackers said they did not intend to steal any data.

Styling themselves as “pirate ninjas”, LulzSec posted on Twitter the e-mail it sent to the NHS.

Lulz warns NHS of sick security • The Register

Lulz published an email sent to the NHS with the relevant passwords blacked out.

It said:

We’re a somewhat known band of pirate-ninjas that go by LulzSec.

Some time ago, we were traversing the Internets for signs of enemy fleets.

While you aren’t considered an enemy – your work is of course brilliant – we did stumble upon several of your admin passwords, which are as follows….

We mean you no harm and only want to help you fix your tech issues. Also, we hope that little girls feasts on the bones of many giving souls. All the best.

Lulz Security

Shameless deception in support of wealthy friends / Features / Home – Morning Star

Cameron’s five “pledges” on the NHS include a pledge for more privatisation. He promised not to “sell off the NHS.” But he never planned to sell the NHS. Instead he will force the NHS to buy health services from the people who fund his party.

And when Cameron says “we will ensure competition benefits patients” he actually means he will ensure that fixed markets benefit his business chums. There won’t be a “sell-off,” there will be a money transfusion with cash pumped out of NHS hospitals and into the bank balances of Tory supporters. They get healthy profits. NHS hospitals are left undernourished and weak.

The privatisers are Cameron’s backers. Circle Health, which is about to run the first fully privatised NHS hospital, is owned by investors who have given the Tories a staggering £862,000.

The firm was cleared to take over Hinchingbrooke NHS Hospital near Cambridge this October. It is often described as a “social enterprise” – a John Lewis-style partnership. The impression this gives is that it is some kind of workers’ co-operative committed to the greater good. But it turns out that the “social enterprise” is just a front for big money.

Circle Health is 49 per cent owned by employees and 51 per cent owned by greedy millionaires. One firm, Odey Asset Management, owns 21 per cent of Circle Health. A company called Lansdowne Holdings owns a further 18 per cent.

These are hedge firms which like making multimillion-pound bets on the stock market. But Cameron has stacked the odds in their favour by promising that the NHS must use more private companies.

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