‘People Will Die’ – The End Of The NHS.

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Conservative election poster 2010
Medialens has a couple of articles on the failure of the UK media – particularly the BBC – to cover the passage of the Health and Social Care / Destroy the NHS Bill. Medialens propose the “sham of UK ‘democracy'” since the bill passed without widespread public awareness due to corporate media’s complicity with vested interests.

    ‘People Will Die’ – The End Of The NHS. Part 1: The Corporate Assault

Few political acts have exposed the sham of British ‘democracy’ like the decision to dismantle the National Health Service. In essence, the issues are simple:

1. The longstanding obligation of the UK government to provide universal health care has now been ditched.

2. The NHS is being carved open for exploitation by private interests.

The media, notably the BBC – often ranked alongside the NHS as one of the country’s greatest institutions –  have failed to report this corporate assault on the country’s health service.

What is deeply disturbing is how little the British public has been told about what has happened, and about the likely consequences for an institution we all hold dear.

Much Profit To Be Made!

On March 20, 2012, MPs passed the Health and Social Care Bill (commonly called ‘the NHS bill’) more than 14 months after it was first put before Parliament. Virtually every major professional medical body had fought against it, and there were numerous public protests. But the opposition was given scant media coverage and the government was able to force the bill through.

Recall that the Conservatives, led by David Cameron, won just 36% of the vote in the 2010 general election. Outrageously, the Conservative manifesto said nothing about the NHS bill. The former Conservative minister and leading political pundit Michael Portillo explained the reasoning:

‘They did not believe they could win an election if they told you what they were going to do because people are so wedded to the NHS.’

Cameron had pledged that there would be: ‘No more pointless and disruptive reorganisations’. Instead, he said change would be: ‘Driven by the wishes and needs of NHS professionals and patients.’ The coalition agreement between the Tories and the Lib Dems of May 2010 had promised: ‘We will stop the top-down reorganisation of the NHS.’ That promise has been well and truly smashed.

The government tried to justify the bill by arguing that the NHS is not working and that it must be ‘reformed’. In fact, the NHS is one of the fairest, most cost-effective and efficient healthcare systems in the world. Its per capita costs are half that of the US healthcare system, a country which has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality (OECD figures). One can only look on in horror across the Atlantic to see the way our health service is headed.

Michael Moore, writer and director of Sicko, a film about the US health system,  tweeted of Cameron’s recent visit to the United States:

‘Is British PM Cameron here in USA this week to study our health care system & bring it back to the UK? There’s much profit to be made!

‘Last nite, Brit PM watched 1st ever basketball game. Today he goes to hospital 2 watch sick ppl turned away & denied care. It’s a fun trip!’

The NHS bill was hideously complicated and virtually unreadable. Critics claimed this was intentional, serving to hide the bill’s true purpose – selling off more and more of the NHS to private companies. The British Medical Association denounced the bill as ‘complex, incoherent and not fit for purpose, and almost impossible to implement successfully, given widespread opposition across the NHS workforce’.

In a rare instance of BBC Question Time actually putting a senior politician on the spot about something that matters, Dr Phil Hammond challenged Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health, on the disaster the bill would create for genuine health care, for cooperation between medical professionals and for basic human compassion. Imagine if news editors and journalists had been consistently making this kind of challenge in the 14 months before the bill became law.

‘People Will Die’ – The End Of The NHS. Part 2: Buried By The BBC

Along with the NHS, the BBC is supposed to epitomise the best of British institutions. The BBC has a duty, enshrined in its Charter, to report objectively on stories of national and international interest. The NHS affects every man, woman and child in the country. And yet we suspect very few members of the public realise what has just happened to their health care system.

The BBC mostly failed to cover the story, and otherwise offered coverage heavily biased in favour of the government’s perspective. On the very day the bill passed into law, the tag line across the bottom of BBC news broadcasts said ‘Bill which gives power to GPs passes’. The assessment could have come from a government press release, spin that has been rejected by an overwhelming majority of GPs. The BBC has also repeatedly failed to cover public protests, including one outside the Department of Health which stopped the traffic in Whitehall for an hour.

It is nigh-on impossible for Media Lens, with our meagre resources, to closely monitor the prodigious output of BBC television and radio news; even on a single topic. But one activist who has been following the NHS story closely over an extended period sent us this last month:

‘For the past two years there has been so little coverage of this bill that even as some were desperately fighting to stop it – through e-petitions, lobbying campaigns and even demonstrations – many people did not appear to be even aware of it. I have been on a demonstration in which people sat down in the road in Whitehall, outside the Department of Health and blocked the traffic, yet this was not mentioned at all on the news.

‘When the BBC have reported on the bill they have been sparse with their explanations of its implications or the reasons why so many – including most medical professionals – have objected to it. They have tended to limit their comments to those of the type “Some people say it’s privatisation” without explaining why or exploring the issue.

‘There have not been – as we might have expected for so momentous a change – debates on the Today Programme, on BBC Newsnight, or blackground analysis programmes, with politicians being challenged and questioned on the policy. Radio 4 ran a programme at 8pm [The Report, on March 22, 2012] which appeared to be very biased in favour of the bill, with opposing views not adequately represented. Contrast this programme with this article by Hackney Keep Our NHS Public (KONP)

‘Whatever one’s views on the Health and Social Care bill, surely such large scale changes which may affect the health of so many, should have been widely reported and debated, especially when you consider that the coalition government was not elected and did not put this issue in their manifestos.’ (Email, name withheld, March 23, 2012)

Why did we never see a BBC television news report like this one from RT: ‘UK govt bill opens up NHS to private profiteering’?

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NHS news review

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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.


Virgin has featured in health news recently. Thatcher’s pet Capitalist appears to be profiteering from the privatisation of the NHS. I’d love for him to have an (analogous) smack – maybe put Virgin businesses out of business and invade and occupy Necker Island.


Verging on the ridiculous …

Richard Branson’s Virgin gain contract to profit from those suffering from sexual diseases in West Sussex


… in the week after the meeting a casual update of the Action Log for the West Sussex CCG was emailed confidentially to members of that CCG West Sussex board. On the Action Log was the announcement of a decision that Virgin were awarded the contract to make profit from sexual diseases in West Sussex. Had concerned board members not read the Action Log they may have been none the wiser.  This is very concerning for several reasons. 3 members of that board have confided in me that 

a) They had no idea Virgin even had a bid in 
b) They have not been allowed to discuss the nature or financial robustness of Virgin’s bid.
c) They have not been able to consider other bidders 
d) The contents of the March 27 Report were hidden from board members 
e) The manner in which the decision was announced casually through email to board members is an abject failure of accountability. 
f) The board does not meet again until the first week of May and so there is no opportunity to table emergency questions on Virgin’s takeover.

To top it all off, all of this is confidential. It has been hidden from the public and no announcement has been made to let those suffering sexual diseases in the West Sussex area that they are now beholden to Richard Branson’s Virgin. …
The following article by Max Pemberton originally appeared in the Telegraph. Looks like the Telegraph has pulled the article following rumours of threats of legal action.

Real health choice under the NHS reform Bill doesn’t exist, and the so-called market is a mockery.


I have argued before that in a healthcare setting, choice is a misnomer: all hospitals should provide an excellent level of care because so many people – the old, the infirm – are unable to exercise choice because of geographical or physical limitations. But only now that we can see the shape of the NHS Bill can we truly assess what choice actually means.

What real choice did the people of Surrey have in who provided their community health services? The answer: none. The choice was made by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who use “public consultation” as a fig leaf for fundamentally changing the nature of how healthcare is delivered.

Increasingly, the details of these decisions and the contracts that are drawn up are deemed commercially sensitive, so we are not privy to what is happening to our NHS and our money. For example, what providers other than Virgin might be an option for Surrey residents? After all, it’s about choice, isn’t it? The answer, again, is none. The good folk of Surrey haven’t been allowed to exercise a choice between providers – it’s Virgin Care or nothing. This isn’t a market in the true capitalist sense. This is a perverse, warped and corrupt reading of market principles. If we are going to open up healthcare in this country to the market, at least let’s do it properly, rather than handing out these whopping amounts of public cash to corporations that are also handed a captive consumer base. There’s no choice here.

It reminds me of the other market that Virgin has colonised: parts of the rail network. You often hear people complain about the cost of fares, the atrocious service and cramped conditions they have to endure. I’m lucky that I don’t have to commute, so I have not paid particular attention to this in the past. Then, last year, I did a book signing at a small, independent bookshop in Bramhall, near Manchester. I arrived at London’s Euston station mid-afternoon and went to the self-service ticket desk. I keyed in the details for a ticket to return later that night – £296. I stared at the screen in disbelief: was that a ticket to Bramhall by way of the Seychelles? It transpired that leaving at 4.30pm meant I was travelling at peak time. I had no choice but to swallow hard and pay up, just as countless others have to. Of course, the train was full, so I’d paid nearly £300 for the privilege of standing for two and half hours. There were no other train operators to choose from; no competition to drive up quality and push down prices. Just a dreadful service at extortionate cost.

Rail travel, like community health services, is not a fungible good – it cannot be exchanged for something else. You can’t travel to a different destination from the one you need to get to and you can’t seek treatment for a different condition to the one you have.

In these circumstances, choice doesn’t exist and it makes a mockery of a so-called market. The people of Surrey did not vote for this change or for their NHS to be gutted and served on a silver platter to Virgin Care. But this signals the shape of the NHS to come, and with such rich pickings, I doubt there will be many delays.


The NHS carve-up has begun

Rumour has it that Richard Branson is threatening to sue the Telegraph and the journalist, Max Pemberton, for his article published recently (broken link) which covers the Virgin takeover of NHS community services. People will soon be waking up to the fact that the NHS is no longer the provider of care in many areas.

It seems that a high court injunction was served on Sunday to try to prevent the article being published and Branson is apparently demanding a half-page reply. Branson is said to also be unhappy about related tweeting and is including this as part of the case. Pemberton could face costs of up to £90,000.

It appears too that the Department of Health have engineered a major media campaign to dampen down press interest hence the under-reporting of these takeovers by the BBC and other media.

Branson’s/Virgin’s actions are a very worrying sign of things to come for those who dare question these sorts of deals. The real concern is that dissenting voices will be silenced or frightened off so it’s important to speak up and write in in support of Pemberton’s article. Anyone who faces similar intimidation should also speak out.


David Cameron faces pressure as NHS waiting times grow

PM’s election pledge in jeopardy as report reveals patients waiting 6% longer and fewer receiving planned operations

Patients are enduring increasingly long delays before having some of the most common forms of surgery, according to official data that casts serious doubt on David Cameron‘s pledge to keep NHS waiting times low.

New research by the Patients Association also shows that fewer patients are undergoing planned operations such as joint replacements, cataract removal and hernia repairs, as the NHS tries to make £20bn of efficiency savings at a time when demand for healthcare is growing.

A report from the association, based on information supplied by 93 of England’s 170 acute hospital trusts, found that waiting times for a range of elective operations rose between 2010 and 2011.

Not-for-profit GP providers cheaper and rated higher than private out-of-hours firms

GPs remain pessimistic about NHS reform success





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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.


It’s been some time since I’ve posted on the destruction of the NHS by the Con-Dems – the Conservative and Liberal-Democrat Conservative coalition government.

The Destroy the NHS Bill has been passed. The government refused to publish the risk register documents despite being instructed to do so. An early draft of the risk register was leaked.  Privatisation of the health service continues. The Lib-Dems are getting hit for being duplicious two-faced, lying scum and for being in coalition with duplicious two-faced, lying scum.

Health reforms could damage NHS, warns draft risk register

Document points to danger of emergencies being less well managed and increased use of private sector driving up costs

• A longer term danger to the NHS’s ability to cope with emergencies. It said: “The NHS role in emergency preparedness/responsiveness is more difficult to manage through a more devolved organisation, and so emergencies are less well managed/ mitigated.”

• Greater costs if new GP-led consortiums make greater use of the private sector. “One example of area where system could be more costly is if GP Consortia makes use of private sector organisations/staff which adds costs to the overall system.”

• A danger that the new system is set up too quickly, threatening the running of the NHS.

• A loss of financial control. “Financial control is lost due to the restructuring of budgets distributed between or allocated to organisations within the system [to be clarified],” it said.

• Unfavourable media coverage. “Public reputation. There is a risk that the transition will be presented in a negative light via the media. Two of the biggest risks which have already surfaced in the media are i) that the reforms will continue to be characterised through the prism of privatisation and ii) financial cuts.”

Public interest ‘high’ in publishing NHS risk register

The public interest in publishing a risk assessment of the NHS overhaul in England is “very high, if not exceptional”, a tribunal has ruled.

NHS privatisation trumped by pasties and petrol

… [T]here are plenty of stories for any self-respecting health journalist to get excited about. To give but two recent examples, neither of which was given much publicity.  The first is the sudden closure of a GP surgery in Camden, only four years after it was taken over by UnitedHealth, the wealthiest US healthcare company. Over 3,000 patients in one of London’s more deprived areas have been left without a GP, and, therefore, access to secondary care. This is the reality of private providers who can leave their patients high and dry. Secondly, we have the handing over of Surrey’s community services to Virgin, in a 500 million pound contract on 1st April. Yes, reassuringly the same Virgin Group who provide such a fantastic value-for-money rail service. This is despite repeated claims by ministers that anyone describing the Health and Social Care Bill as “privatisation” was scaremongering. I wonder what definition of privatisation they are using if giving large chunks of NHS work (and taxpayers’ money) to Virgin doesn’t count.

So why haven’t these events made the national news bulletins? Are we really more interested in Ken Livingston’s tax return? I can think of two reasons – firstly people only worry about health when they’re ill. When well they prefer not to think about it, and cling to their assumption that the NHS will always be there for them. Secondly, lazy journalism – health provision is complicated to explain, whereas pasties and petrol are easy. And if those don’t explain why the nation’s health provision isn’t considered newsworthy, we will have to stray into the territory of conspiracy theory. [!]

NHS reforms: GPs losing faith, BBC poll suggests

The number of GPs who believe that the government’s health reforms in England will improve patient care is falling, a BBC poll suggests.

Just 12% agreed that putting GP-led groups in charge of the budget would mean patients saw a “noticeable” improvement.

That figure was 23% when a similar poll was carried out in September 2010.

A majority of the 814 GPs polled also believed there would be more rationing of care because of financial pressures.

In total, 83% said there would be an increase in rationing in their area.

Collapse in activist base over NHS reforms and civil liberties sparks fears for 2015 contest


Fears that NHS reforms, tuition fees and state incursions into civil liberties have damaged Nick Clegg’s hopes at the next general election are fuelled today by figures showing that the Liberal Democrats are not fielding candidates in key town hall battles on polling day next month.

Analysis of nominations for the local elections on 3 May seen by The Independent on Sunday shows that 1,198 fewer candidates are standing for the Lib Dems than for Labour in England, Wales and Scotland.

The figures suggest that the Lib Dems’ activist base has been severely curtailed as a result of its coalition with the Conservatives, with fewer candidates ready to wear a yellow rosette and defend the Government’s policies on the doorstep than in recent memory.

How the Orange Bookers took over the Lib Dems

What Britain now has is a blue-orange coalition, with the little-known Orange Book forming the core of current Lib Dem political thinking. To understand how this disreputable arrangement has come about, we need to examine the philosophy laid out in The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism, edited by David Laws (now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Paul Marshall. Particularly interesting are the contributions of the Lib Dems’ present leadership.

Published in 2004, the Orange Book marked the start of the slow decline of progressive values in the Lib Dems and the gradual abandonment of social market values. It also provided the ideological standpoint around which the party’s right wing was able to coalesce and begin their march to power in the Lib Dems. What is remarkable is the failure of former SDP and Labour elements to sound warning bells about the direction the party was taking. Former Labour ministers such as Shirley Williams and Tom McNally should be ashamed of their inaction.

Clegg and his Lib Dem supporters have much in common with David Cameron and his allies in their philosophical approach and with their social liberal solutions to society’s perceived ills. The Orange Book is predicated on an abiding belief in the free market’s ability to address issues such as public healthcare, pensions, environment, globalisation, social and agricultural policy, local government and prisons.

The Lib Dem leadership seems to sit very easily in the Tory-led coalition. This is an arranged marriage between partners of a similar background and belief. Even the Tory-Whig coalition of early 1780s, although its members were from the same class, at least had fundamental political differences. Now we see a Government made up of a single elite that has previously manifested itself as two separate political parties and which is divided more by subtle shades of opinion than any profound ideological difference.


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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Pesticides kill bees

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Neonicotinoid pesticides are shown to poison bees. While this study was concerned with bumblebees it is likely that the findings are also relevant to honeybees and similar insects.

The point about pesticides is that they are poisons. Neonicotinoid pesticides are systemic pesticides that affect the whole plant including nectar and pollen.

image of black bees
Black bees


Insecticide blamed for bee deaths by Stirling University study

Use of a specific group of insecticides is having a serious impact on bumblebee populations, according to a team of Scottish scientists.

The Stirling University researchers found exposure even to low levels of neonicotinoid pesticides had a serious impact on the health of bumblebees.

Bee populations have fallen sharply, and scientists say urgent action is needed to reverse the decline.

Of particular concern is an 85% drop in the number of queens.

That means 85% fewer nests in the following year.

The research found bumblebee colony growth slowed after exposure to the chemicals.

This may partly be to blame for colony collapse disorder, a mysterious phenomenon which has hit large numbers of hives in Europe and North America in recent years.

Professor Dave Goulson, who led the Stirling research, said: “Some bumblebee species have declined hugely. For example in North America, several bumblebee species which used to be common have more or less disappeared from the entire continent. In the UK, three species have gone extinct.

“Bumblebees pollinate many of our crops and wild flowers. The use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops clearly poses a threat to their health, and urgently needs to be re-evaluated.”

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