Saturday, 26 March 2011

March today against cuts

Many friends today are marching in London against the Thatcheite cutting agenda. Unfortunately I cant join them, I became a dad yesterday and am in hospital with my family.

As you can see the hospital is also against the cuts.

Protest the cuts for a better big society

Others feel the same way.
Nora Pearce, midwife,
I'm going to be there to defend the NHS. I'll be with a very large group from Kingston hospital, where I work, and a couple of my grandchildren, and we'll all be carrying two flipping heavy banners.

We feel the NHS is under attack. Before the last election, Nick Clegg and David Cameron used Kingston hospital as a backdrop to say that the NHS would be safe in their hands. But now the government has said the NHS must have £20bn worth of efficiency savings, despite maintaining that no frontline staff will be cut. And at Kingston we have been told that over the next four years we will be losing nearly 500 staff - 20% of whom are nurses and doctors. Now, if that ain't frontline staff, then what is?

The hospital is saying that no services will be affected. Yeah, right. It is also saying there will be no redundancies. I half-believe that, because it could achieve staff reductions through people retiring. But it ain't about redundancies: it's about the service. You can't run a hospital without the staff. At Kingston, we have 22 consultants, and 214 nurses and midwives. They're not exactly sitting in the cupboard twiddling their thumbs.

So I hope the march will make the government seriously rethink these reforms. They just don't get the ethos of the health service. I don't know how to say this without sounding pious, but I've worked for the NHS for 30 years, and I don't work there for the pay. I work there out of public duty. People in the health service work much more than their hours. I couldn't tell you how many times I've gone without a break – how many times I've worked past the end of my shift when the people I was looking after needed me to stay.

The plan to sell off the blood transfusion service, which will be run by private companies for profit, is a perfect example of how the government doesn't get what the NHS is about: people don't give their blood for profit. If they bring in all these private companies, pity the poor sod who has got multiple health problems – the private sector won't want you. They won't want to do your hip operation if you're diabetic, epileptic and elderly, because it'll cost too much money.

The other thing that's upsetting us is our pensions. When they talk about the "gold-plated" NHS pension, I don't know what Mickey-Mouse world they're living in. I don't think a £5,000 pension is particularly gold-plated. A few people in the public sector get very good pensions, but the vast majority of us don't.

Meanwhile an idiot calls for bombing of protestors here
Surely the RAF could afford to divert one Typhoon from Libya for a humanitarian strike on Hyde Park?
They must be scared of us.


Jonathan said...

There is certainly plenty of scope for cuts in the Health Service without affecting patient care, but governments never seem to be able to do it right.

For example, the previous regime agreed to pay GPs more in return for doing less work - they are no longer responsible for out of hours care, and then paid them even more money to provide a separate out of hours care service.

Having a separate out of hours clinic at the Royal Berks was probably a good idea, but it should have lead to the other GPs being paid less money, not more.

Secondly, the NHS is the fourth largest employer in the world, after the Chinese Army, the Indian Railways and Wallmart. I'm pretty sure it isn't the largest healthcare service in the world, or anywhere near it. More than half of the NHS staff are admin staff, compared to about 1/6 in Bupa, so there must be a way to reduce bureaucracy in the NHS, and you will probably find that clinical staff have to spend a lot of their time keeping bureucrats happy rather than treating patients.

Also, some parts of the NHS are already private and always have been, and this hasn't caused a problem. For example, I have never heard anyone complain about the ability of Boots to dispense NHS medicines. That is the one part of the NHS that does seem to work reliably all the time, perhaps because people can always go to Superdrug, Lloyds etc if they are not happy. People do complain about prescription charges and the fact that some expensive cancer drugs are not funded, but that is a separate issue that would exist in a publicly or privately provided service.

Adrian Windisch said...

My first blog post 4 years ago was about improving the NHS,

YOu seem to be asking for less paperwork, which is fine. Cuts will reduce services, no matter how much the Thatcherites claim to be reducing management. Managers will administer the cuts and most will not reduce their own role.

I would not be surprised if when GPs are in charge that GPs will be paid more, while nurses and midwives struggle.

weggis said...

Coo! It sounds like your first?
Boy or girl, can't tell from the image?
Congrats, but are you really against all "cuts"? :)

Adrian Windisch said...

Cheers Weggis, a little girl 34 weeks 5 days so a little premature. Yes its our first, now 2 days old.

I want to cut trident, the subsidy to fossil fuel and the arms trade. I dont want cuts to services. That would be quite a long title so like most I just shorten it (in the title) to being against cuts.

Ailbhe said...

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Adrian Windisch said...

Cheers Ailbhe, very useful information