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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.

Andrew Lansley and the ConDem coalition government make a CONtemptuous and insulting offer on NHS pensions. The offer is to postpone pension contribution increases for the low paid for a year while increasing pension contributions for more highly-paid staff.

Despite the offer being totally CONtemptuous it is being spun by many corporate media sources as “protecting” the pensions of NHS staff, etc.

There are concerns over the anonymity of anonymised patient records.

GPs bombarded by a new guideline every 48 hours

I’ve been reflecting on the cancelled but continuing national NHS records project. The technical needs of such a system seem simple and straightforward i.e. it is a need for a data specification and interfacing of various systems to that specification: it’s about using databases properly. £7bn wasted on nothing and some crap computer firm demanding a further £2bn. Failed, dissolved companies cannot take anyone to court.

NHS move fails to ease pensions row – Home News – UK – The Independent

The public sector pensions dispute remained deadlocked tonight despite a move by the Government to improve arrangements for more than half a million NHS workers.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that under “improved” proposals, 530,000 staff will not need to pay any more into their pensions next year because the threshold for freezing pension contributions will be raised from £15,000 to £26,557 for 2012/13.

The change will protect lower-paid staff in the health service, with increased contributions distributed among higher earners, said the Government.

Unions accused ministers of trying to “mislead” workers and criticised the timing of the announcement ahead of fresh negotiations which were held today.

Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea said: “The proposed increase in pension contributions will still hit more than half of all NHS staff who are already struggling to cope with the pay freeze and rising inflation.”

Unite said thousands of middle-income NHS workers will be subject to a “smash and grab” raid by the Treasury under the latest proposals, which the GMB said were not enough to settle the pensions row.

Related: Unions say Lansley offer to protect low-paid NHS staff is ‘divide and rule’ – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent

Postponement of NHS pension contributions hike for lower paid | News | Nursing Times

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter, said: “This is yet another divisive and provocative move by the government and means that more than two thirds of nurses will now face further increased pensions contributions.

“The truth is these increased contributions will not go into the NHS pension scheme, but will go to the Treasury to help pay off deficits that nurses and healthcare assistants have had no part in creating.”

GP contributions to rise under NHS pension offer | GPonline.com

A fresh proposal from the DH will mean that a member of NHS staff earning £69,900 will now pay around £1,680 more in 2012/13 than in 2011/12 towards their pension. Earlier government proposals would have meant an increase of £1,400 for someone at this level.

Under the proposals, NHS staff earning up to £26,557 will be spared any increase in pension contributions next year. This threshold was previously set at £15,000.

But to compensate for the change, higher earning NHS staff will now be forced to make higher contributions to their pensions than previously expected.

Unions criticise government’s new pension offer to NHS employees » Hospital Dr

NHS Pensions Move Not Enough Says GMB

UNISON Press Release: Pension contribution rises will still hit hard

Express.co.uk – Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Unions snub deal to protect the pensions of 500,000 NHS staff

Can NHS data be truly anonymised? | Expert opinion

Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge Computer Laboratory, says that anonymisation techniques will not work as well as the government hopes

The effectiveness of anonymisation is something piously hoped for all over Whitehall, but I’m afraid there’s bad news. There’s no conceivable way that the kind of things that [the government] wants to do with medical records can be done by just using anonymity as a shield. A small amount of contextual information can ruin anonymisation.

The problems are much worse than some people in Whitehall are prepared to contemplate – we’ve been arguing about this for fifteen years, but it’s extraordinarily difficult to get someone to understand something, when his continued employment depends on his not understanding it.

GPs bombarded by a new guideline every 48 hours – Pulse

GPs face a blizzard of ‘wide-ranging and untailored’ guidelines sent to them every month, according to an analysis by medical defence experts.

The Medical Protection Society found that GPs were issued with 15 sets of guidelines during October, with everything from guidance for CQC inspectors on equality and human rights to the public health risks of fish pedicures’. Some of the guidelines exceeded 100 pages while the majority were more than 30 pages in length.

Dr Stephanie Bown, director of policy and communications at MPS, said their analysis showed there was a ‘wholly unrealistic’ expectation that GPs are able to have local knowledge about every subject.

How cuts will make Britain more unfair | The wrong cure | False Economy

How cuts will make Britain more unfair

The government says that its cuts programme is not just unavoidable, but also fair and progressive. Is this true?

You can argue about the meaning of fair, but progressive has a definition. If what the government is doing is progressive it would take from the rich and give to the poor (or at least hit them much less than the rich).

Independent experts say the cuts are not progressive.

Let’s first look at the changes in tax and benefits, and then at the impact of cuts in services.

Tax and benefits

Whether changes in tax and benefits are progressive is relatively easy to measure as these are flows of cash.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies is well respected as an independent analyst. It says that the government’s claim that the tax and benefit changes in the budget and spending review are progressive is wrong.

This graph is from their analysis of George Osborne’s first budget:

June 2010 Budget: Effect of tax and benefit reforms by income decile

It shows the biggest losers are the poorest 10 per cent of families with children.

The IFS also had this to say about October’s spending review:

Our analysis (of the budget) shows that … the impact of all tax and benefit measures yet to come reduces the incomes of lower income households by more than that of higher income households, with the notable exception of the richest 2% of the population who are the hardest hit. Therefore the tax and benefit changes are regressive rather than progressive across most of the income distribution. And when we add in the new measures announced yesterday this finding is, unsurprisingly, reinforced. So our analysis continues to show that, with the notable exception of the richest 2%, the tax and benefit components of the fiscal consolidation are, overall, being implemented in a regressive way.

This is the IFS analysis of all government policies on tax and benefit by 2015. The poorest lose the most. It is only the impact of the previous government’s tax increases for the wealthy that make the top ten per cent bigger losers than some of those who are poorer.

Impact by 2015-15 of government policies

Spending cuts

Working out the impact of the cuts in spending on services is harder. Some parts of public spending benefit all of us – such as many environmental protection measures.

But other parts of public spending do benefit some people more than others. To give a simple example the richer you are, the less likely that you use the bus.

Researchers for the TUC trawled official statistics to gather information about how different income groups benefit from public spending. With these figures, and by assuming that everyone benefits equally from spending like environmental protection and defence, they were able to work out whether the cuts were progressive.

This chart shows the value of the services lost as a proportion of household income.

Value of services lost by percentage of household income

Again the impact of the cuts is much harder on the poor and those in the middle than it is on the rich. The poorest ten per cent suffer 15 times more than the richest.

The impact on women

The Womens’ Budget Group is a group of independent experts who have been working with the Treasury to analyse the effect of economic policies on women.

This is what they said about the impact of the Spending Review:

  • Lone parents and single pensioners – most of whom are women – will suffer the greatest reduction in their living standards to public service cuts. Lone parents will lose services worth 18.5% and female singles pensioners services worth 12% of their incomes.
  • Overall single women will lose services worth 60% more than single men as proportions of their incomes, and nearly three times the amount lost by couples.
  • The cuts will lead to hundreds of thousands of women losing their job. 53% of the jobs in the public sector services that have not been protected from the cuts are held by women. The pay and conditions of all public sectors workers, 65% of whom are women, are likely to deteriorate.
  • Cuts in welfare spending fall disproportionately on women’s finances. Child benefit is paid almost 100% to women; while 53% of housing benefit claimants are single women. Both benefits have been cut significantly in real terms and eligibility has been tightened.


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.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.


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