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There’s a strike today by public servants over attacks on their pensions. Chancellor George Osborne and the Con-Dem coalition government is confrontational to the unions over the strikes and blame the strikers – and everyone and everything else except themselves – for damaging the UK economy.

Conservative election poster 2010

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

Day of strikes as millions heed unions’ call to fight pension cuts | Society | guardian.co.uk

  • • Disruption across UK as many services come to virtual halt
  • • Airports, schools, rail services and hospitals affected
  • • Reform of public sector pensions is at heart of dispute

The UK is experiencing the worst disruption to services in decades as more than 2 million public sector workers stage a nationwide strike, closing schools and bringing councils and hospitals to a virtual standstill.

The strike by more than 30 unions over cuts to public sector pensions started at midnight, leading to the closure of most state schools; cancellation of refuse collections; rail service and tunnel closures; the postponement of thousands of non-emergency hospital operations; and possible delays at airports and ferry terminals.

The TUC said it was the biggest stoppage in more than 30 years and was comparable to the last mass strike by 1.5 million workers in 1979. Hundreds of marches and rallies are due to take place in cities and towns across the country.

Pickets began to form before dawn at many hospitals, Whitehall departments, ports and colleges.

The strikes have been called over government plans to overhaul pensions for all public sector workers, by cutting employer contributions, increasing personal contributions and, it emerged on Tuesday, increasing the state retirement age to 67 in 2026, eight years earlier than originally planned.

Union leaders were further enraged after George Osborne announced that as well as a public sector pay freeze for most until 2013, public sector workers’ pay rises would be capped at 1% for the two years after that.




BBC News – Strike ‘not expect to affect urgent NHS care’

The NHS is confident emergency and urgent care will be mainly unaffected by the strikes, managers believe.

The walkout will be the biggest in the health service for more than 20 years, with the government expecting a fifth of the workforce to take action.

But contingency measures have been put in place to protect services such as A&E units, cancer treatment and end-of-life care, NHS Employers said.

Routine appointments and non-emergency operations are likely to be hit though.

Health workers who are members of Unison and Unite will take part in the strikes on Wednesday.

Between them they have more than 500,000 health staff, including nurses, health care workers, admin staff, porters and cleaners.

But not all of these will take part, because unions have agreed urgent care should not be affected. For example, ambulance staff will be on strike but they will still be on hand to answer 999 calls.

“Many services will be working in much the same way they do at a weekend or on a bank holiday”

Dean Royles NHS Employers

Radiographers, physics, podiatrists and chiropodists are also walking out.

However, the British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives are not taking part.

George Osborne: strikers are ‘damaging our economy’ – Telegraph

George Osborne opened a new front in the Coalition’s escalating conflict with the unions yesterday as he announced pay cuts for millions of state employees.

On the eve of the largest national strike since 1979, the Chancellor told nurses, police, teachers and council workers they would suffer real-terms reductions in pay until at least 2015.

State employees also face seeing their salaries reduced further under plans to abolish national pay deals, Mr Osborne warned.

Union leaders accused the Chancellor of launching a “class war” after he chose to announce the pay reforms just hours before a national strike over pensions by 2 million public sector staff was due to begin.

Mr Osborne’s statement came as official forecasts predicted 710,000 more public sector workers could lose their jobs in the next six years.

Workers ranging from lollipop ladies to nuclear physicists are expected to join the industrial action over pensions, which ministers expect to close 90% of state schools and bring “gridlock” to airports.

Royal College of Nursing Scotland comments on latest NHS workforce figures – RCN

Figures released by the Scottish Government’s NHS Information Services Division (ISD) today reveal the number of nursing staff employed by NHS Scotland is continuing to fall, with a further 372 posts lost between June and September 2011. This means that in the space of a year, the number of nursing and midwifery staff in post has fallen by 1,569 (2.7%) to 56,309, and more than 2,000 nursing posts have been lost in two years.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe said:

“True to their word, health boards are cutting the number of nurses they employ, as they set out in their workforce projections for the financial year. As a result the number of nursing staff working in our NHS is at its lowest level since 2006. Health boards are in the unenviable position of having to balance their books and make savings at the same time. This is resulting in cuts to the nursing workforce – the backbone of the NHS – so they can save money on their wage bills, yet at the same time Scotland’s population is getting older and living longer with complex conditions so healthcare demand is going up. These cuts are not only bad news for patient care, but mean that the remaining staff in the NHS are increasingly over-stretched. Our most recent survey of members in the NHS found that half reported they were too busy to provide the standard of care they would like to.

Bowel cancer patients dying due to lack of surgeons – Telegraph

An audit of bowel cancer patients has found that 11 per cent of those undergoing emergency surgery in England and Wales die within 30 days of an operation.

That is more than four times higher than the rate for those who had pre-planned surgery (2.4 per cent).

Part of the reason for the difference is that those presenting as urgent or emergency cases are sicker. For example, their tumours can be so large that they can be blocking the intestine, which can kill very quickly. They can also cause deadly bleeds.

However, surgeons believe it is also because hospitals have tended to prioritise pre-planned surgery over emergency surgery, due to the way they are paid.

Professor Paul Finan from Leeds General Infirmary, lead author of the audit, said: “There has been a real push to do elective [pre-planned] surgery to reduce waiting times, and emergency surgery has become a bit of Cinderella.

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Conservative election poster 2010

A recent news article about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Controversial NHS shake-up will cost over £3bn, Labour claims – Main Section – Yorkshire Post

CONTROVERSIAL reforms of the NHS will cost nearly £3.4 billion, Labour claimed last night.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham accused the Government of “burying” the true scale of the cost of the reorganisation in papers setting out the technical details of the plans.

He claims an order for primary care trusts (PCTs) to hold back two per cent of their budgets over two financial years to pay for the overhaul will total £1.69bn this year and £1.7bn in 2011-12.

Government estimates put the cost of the shake-up, which includes giving GPs control of health service budgets, at around £1.3bn but academics have predicted the final bill will reach double that.

Mr Burnham said: “This wasteful reorganisation is costing the NHS even more than we first feared.

“It is scandalous that the Government is spending £3.5bn on an unnecessary reorganisation when the NHS is facing the biggest financial challenge in its history.

“On his watch patients are waiting longer for treatment and thousands of nursing jobs are being axed.

“These shocking new figures show that the reality is that patient care is being cut in real terms. If ever a reason was needed to stop this reorganisation, then this is surely it.”

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People admitted to NHS hospitals for emergency treatment during the weekend are almost 10% more likely to die than those taken in during the week, according to a new report. While concerning, this is likely to be more complex than it first appears e.g. there are likely to be more DIY and sporting activities, more drinking etc at weekends.

There are suggestions that the government may reverse its intention to abolish the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people in care homes.

Public sector strike over pensions on Wednesday.

UK Uncut

We start with some simple points of agreement. The brutal cuts to services about to be inflicted by the current Government are unnecessary, unfair and ideologically motivated. The coalition are particularly fond of two obscene catchphrases: ‘There is no alternative’ and ‘We’re all in this together.’ Both slogans are empty and untrue. The cuts will dismantle the welfare state, send inequality sky-rocketing and hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest. A cabinet of millionaires have decided that libraries, healthcare, education funding, voluntary services, sports, the environment, the disabled, the poor and the elderly must pay the price for the recklessness of the rich.

Austerity-economics is the policy of the powerful. It cannot be stopped by asking nicely. We cannot wait until the next election. If we want to win the fight against these cuts (and we can win) then we must make it impossible to ignore our arguments and impossible to resist our demands. This means building a powerful grassroots mass movement, able to resist the Government cuts at every turn.

UK Uncut

The Government’s Line lies


“There is no alternative.”

We are told that the only way to reduce the deficit is to cut public services. This is certainly not the case. There are alternatives, but the government chooses to ignore them, highlighting the fact that the cuts are based on ideology, not necessity.

  • One alternative is to clamp down on tax avoidance by corporations and the rich and tax evasion, estimated to cost the state £95bn a year
  • Another is to make the banks pay for free insurance provided to them by the taxpayer: a chief executive at the Bank of England put the cost of this subsidy at £100bn in a single year

Either the tax avoided and evaded in a single year or the taxpayer subsidy to the banking industry could pay for all of the £81bn, four-year cuts programme.

“We are all in this together.”

Since the banking crisis:

David Cameron himself has said that the cuts will change Britain’s “whole way of life”. Every aspect of what was fought for by generations seems under threat – from selling off the forests, privatising health provision, closing the libraries and swimming pools, to scrapping rural bus routes. What Cameron doesn’t say is that the cuts will also disproportionately hit the poor and vulnerable, with cuts to housing benefit, disability living allowance, the childcare element of working tax credits, EMA, the Every Child a Reader programme, Sure Start and the Future Jobs Fund to name a few.

The facts speak for themselves; we are not all in this together, we are paying for the folly of reckless bankers whilst the rich profit.

Conservative election poster 2010

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

NHS hospitals have higher death rates at weekends, research finds | Society | The Guardian

People admitted to NHS hospitals for emergency treatment during the weekend are almost 10% more likely to die than those taken in during the week, according to a new report.

Research by the Dr Foster Intelligence comparative healthcare website found that one in eight NHS trusts had higher than expected death rates on Saturdays and Sundays, the Daily Telegraph reported. Many hospitals have vastly fewer numbers of senior consultants on site outside normal office hours, and rely on junior doctors, and nurses, to treat critically ill patients, according to the paper.

The report, which is officially published today, was said to have found that at 12% of trusts, 18 in all, mortality rates at the weekend were higher than expected; it also said that in a “handful” of trusts, the mortality rate was found to have risen 20% or more at weekends.

Government U-turn on scrapping mobility allowance expected – 11/25/2011 – Community Care

Charities are cautiously optimistic that the government will not now take away the mobility component of disability living allowance from 78,000 residents funded by the NHS or councils as envisaged in the Welfare Reform Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords.

It is thought the government will announce its U-turn next month, though it is uncertain precisely what concessions the government is prepared to make on the mobility component.

The news follows disability rights campaigner Lord Low’s inquiry into scrapping the mobility component, which called for the benefit to be retained.

The government is holding its own internal review into the proposal, which would come into force in 2013 with the replacement of DLA with a new benefit, personal independence payment.

Steve McIntosh, policy and public affairs officer at Carers UK, said: “There are a number of areas, which the government is looking at again around the Welfare Reform Bill. We would welcome any move that the government would make to continue the mobility component in residential care and hope this represents a positive sign the government is looking to reconsider the decision.”

Wednesday’s strike is just the start | Len McCluskey | Comment is free | The Guardian

The day of action is a rebuke to an elite that gives money to banks at the expense of the poor

Last week ministers tried to raise a scare about the alleged cost of the day of action. The fantasy figure they came up with was £500m. Even were it true, you would have to multiply it 248 times to get to the minimum calculation of the sum taxpayers have lost bailing out the banks: £124bn. That is why the “all in it together” rhetoric has attracted such ridicule. And there is no respect in which it is less true than pension provision. Cabinet members Francis Maude and Eric Pickles can look forward to more than £43,000 a year in retirement at the taxpayers’ expense – about £37,000 a year more than the dinner ladies they are now asking to pay more to get less. For those striking it is a very different picture. They are victims of the elite policy of taking money from the taxpayer to give it to the bankers and then plugging the budget gap at the expense of some of the poorest.

Let me offer a few examples from members of Unite. A worker for the Ministry of Defence with 20 years of public service will have to start paying £870 extra a year for his pension, which is to be cut by 15%. Graeme, a firefighter from the north-east, will have to find an additional £79 a month not just until he is 60, as hitherto, but until he is 67. “Do you want a 67-year-old fireman coming to your rescue? Me neither,” he says.

Carole, working for a local authority in Lincolnshire, will be on strike because “my apparently gold-plated pension will be £6,000 per year”. She warns that if the government makes the scheme unaffordable, “people will walk away from it and it will fold”.

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Conservative election poster 2010

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

The British Medical Association (BMA) Council passed a motion expressing its “opposition to the whole Health and Social Care Bill” and calling for a public campaign of opposition.



BMA demands withdrawal of DoH plans to ‘privatise’ commissioning support | GPonline.com

The BMA Council has taken a decision to oppose the whole Health and Social Care Bill following a publication of draft guidance for commissioning support organisations.

Following the publication of draft guidance from the DoH – Developing commissioning support: Towards service excellence – the BMA will be urging clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to urgently review and where necessary change their structures to ensure they are able to fulfil their statutory functions without using private commissioning support.

Management in Practice – BMA has ‘misunderstood’ gov plans

The British Medical Association (BMA) has “misunderstood” commissioning support plans, the Department of Health has claimed.

In a statement to MiP a spokesperson from the DH said it will be BMA members that determine what form commissioning support takes in the future, not the government.

BMA gives members chance to vote on government’s final pensions offer | GPonline.com

Following a final offer from the government, expected in December or January, BMA members will be asked to give their views on whether the offer is acceptable.

A BMA spokesman said the union would also use the vote to get a ‘steer’ on industrial action.

The BMA Council agreed on Thursday that ‘given the strength of feeling within the profession, members should have their say on the future of their pensions’.

Following the Council’s decision, the BMA will begin an intensive workplace outreach programme to raise awareness of the proposals and to help ensure members’ personal details are completely up to date – a vital step if a ballot is to go ahead.

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum described the proposed reforms as ‘manifestly unfair’ since the NHS scheme was reviewed in 2008.

‘Doctors stand to be very hard hit by the proposed changes to the NHS pension scheme. Those at the start of their careers face the prospect of paying around £200,000 more in lifetime contributions, and of working much longer.

Join ‘Bevan’s Run’ to protest against THE BILL » Hospital Dr

Whatever your view of the Health and Social Care Bill – evil instrument of NHS privatisation or empowering tool for clinician-led commissioning – you’ve got to respect people who go the extra mile to get their message across.

I’ve mentioned the chairman of the Israel Medical Association in the past who completed a 12-day hunger strike earlier this year in a bid to secure better pay, work conditions and funding for the country’s public doctors.

Dr Clive Peedell is about to embark on his own form of suffering in order to raise the profile of his anti-Health Bill campaign. He’s a clinical oncologist, co-chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association and a member of BMA council. Along with another oncologist Dr David Wilson, he’s going to be running 160 miles from Aneurin Bevan’s statue in Cardiff to the Department of Health in Whitehall.

It was Bevan, the founding father of the NHS, who famously said: “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.”

The Courier – ‘We are getting absolutely pummelled’ — NHS Tayside worker describes pressure amid recruitment freeze

The situation looks unlikely to improve any time soon as the health authority’s director of finance, Ian McDonald, confirmed there is a freeze on ”non-essential” recruitment.

He said that will last at least until the end of next March and probably beyond.

The disgruntled employee said: ”There are not enough bodies to do the work and we are getting absolutely pummelled with jobs. Management have got to save 30-odd million pounds so there are cutbacks and they are not filling jobs.

”The people that are left are getting hit with doing their own job and the jobs of the people that are not replaced. It is really hard and nobody seems to be doing anything about it.”

A Ninewells Hospital worker was unimpressed with the claim the freeze is limited to ”non-essential” posts.

”What the managers don’t realise is that if there aren’t enough cleaners, porters and kitchen staff, then the doctors and nurses can’t do their jobs properly. Doctors and nurses aren’t the only essential staff.”

Mr McDonald said he was leading by example and was not filling three posts that had become vacant in his own department.

”It just means every other member of staff is having to work a bit harder,” he said.

He explained that managers who want to take on staff and fill posts must go before an NHS Tayside panel that scrutinises the request.

”For posts that become vacant between now and March 31, they will be separated into two — essential to recruit or non-essential. Essential posts we will fill. If they are not essential, they will be deferred.

”That is not just an issue between now and March 31 but that would probably continue in to 2012/13 (financial year beginning April 1).”

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Tory Health Minister Simon Burns called activists opposed to the Con-Dem coalition government’s plans to destroy the NHS “zombies”. Burns comments echo a similar comment by David Cameron exposing the Con-Dems’ contempt for parliamentary democracy. He said that those that opposed their Neo-Victorian policies should “grow up”.

This is about the stupendously rich and priviledged’s arrogant sense of entitlement and superiority. There is no need to debate on the issues since opponents are simply dismissed as immature or the living dead – or is it less than human? The super rich are so divorced from reality that they simply cannot understand that anyone could disagree with them. Please sir, can I have some more?

I paraphrase my step-father on the Tories’ ‘Big Society’ return to Neo-Victorian hypocrisy and prudery and their failure to maintain the deception of parliamentary democracy: Another deception, of course, is David Cameron’s discussion of the “Big Society”. In truth he is keen to undermine society – and even undermine democracy itself.

A century and a half ago, almost all services that ordinary people depended on were provided either by private companies or voluntary organisations founded by rich individuals. Gradually the vote was extended, first to men and then to women. The intention of universal sufferage was to create a society where the most important services were in the hands of peoples’ representatives to ensure that they were available to all and in an acceptable form to the majority of the population. This formula has never worked perfectly of course and we need new methods to make our representatives and service managers more accountable to the people.

Instead of trying to improve this formula, the Tories want to destroy it utterly and return public services back to the Capitalist and the rich voluntary bodies. Nobody else will have any influence on our public services. The clock will be turned back a century and a half and many of the major features of a democratic society will be destroyed.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development thinktank reports that the NHS is good and that it is repeated reforms that is damaging it.

Conservative election poster 2010

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

‘Zombie’ insult angers activists / Britain / Home – Morning Star

Health campaigners hit back today after Tory Health Minister Simon Burns called them “zombies” for making noise about the government’s controversial NHS reforms.

The MP insulted campaign group 38 Degrees in the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon while responding to a question by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

The question related to a demand by 38 Degrees that the government releases its NHS risk register promptly so peers have the full facts during their debate of the Health and Social Care Bill in the House of Lords over the next few weeks.

Mr Burns said: “I think Mr Burnham does himself a disservice by simply joining the rants of organisations like 38 Degrees who are frightening people and getting them almost zombie-like to send in emails.”

The campaign group said that it was “shocked” to hear the minister attacking members of the public who had emailed their MPs about their concerns regarding the Bill while neglecting to explain why the government is delaying releasing the details, despite the Information Commission ruling that it must.

“Thousands of members have been in touch with 38 Degrees since Mr Burns made his remarks to express their disappointment that he’s chosen to insult them in this way,” said 38 Degrees executive director David Babbs.

“Many have said how worrying it is that a senior member of the government doesn’t seem to think we have a right to contact him about something as important as the NHS.”

Related: David Babbs: 38 Degrees Members are Not ‘Zombie Like’

A new return to Victorian values – UK Politics – UK – The Independent

Coalition health bill will undermine NHS, says OECD thinktank | Politics | The Guardian

Each reform costs years of improvements in quality, report suggests, but Andrew Lansley insists change is needed

The last thing the NHS needs is a large reform as it is one of the world’s best health systems and has been improving patient care for years, says the author of the OECD’s flagship report into international care and treatment.

The report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development thinktank, which is funded by wealthy governments, says the NHS has cut heart attack deaths by two-thirds since 1980; the public rarely has to pay to meet health needs; and citizens have comparable life expectancies to their neighbours on the continent. Among global diseases the UK also scores well: less than 5% of adults had diabetes in 2010, contrasting with 10% in the United States.

“The UK is one of the best performers in the world. But outcomes are not what you expect because there is a big reform every five years. We calculate that each reform costs two years of improvements in quality. No country reforms its health service as frequently as the UK,” said Mark Pearson, head of health at the OECD.

When it was put to Pearson, a respected economist, that the NHS faces its biggest upheaval in 60 years with the coalition’s health bill, he said: “The NHS is so central to the political process that every politician has to promise to improve the NHS. But there’s no big reform that will improve it. Better to let it bed down and tinker rather than wondering about more or less competition. It is less the type of system that counts, but rather how it is managed.”

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

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