Tag Archives: NHS

That 3% rise for NHS staff in England

Lib Dems have been quick to respond to pay rise of 3% to NHS staff in England. Munira Wilson is our Health & Social Care Spokesperson and here she is challenging the Government in the Commons BEFORE the pay rise was announced:

Only a hour later she was tweeting:

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Hancock: Emergent class of rulebreakers are undermining government

Will he go or will he stay?

Can Hancock survive a sneaky snog and buttock fondle that took place at a time when he was telling us all to social distance?

Matt Hancock survived Dominic Cumming’s torpedoes and hell has no fury like a political adviser scorned. Hancock has the prime minister’s backing. Well, Johnson has had his own jolly japes.

But the media are howling for Hancock’s resignation. His behaviour and his future is bound to dominate tomorrow’s political circuit. As Ed Davey said yesterday, the real issue is Matt Hancock’s competence in his role as health secretary. Agreed. But there is growing anger among those told to obey pandemic isolation rules while ministers and advisers routinely ignore them.

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NHS pay rise of a measly 1% is too little to reward the health heroes of our nation

We have stood on the streets and applauded our front line NHS staff. We have wondered at their resilience in the biggest health crisis of our lifetimes. We have sympathised with them when they have fallen ill and with their families when they have died.

The reward health service workers will get for their efforts is a measly 1% pay rise. Ministers seem not to recognise that those who have worked themselves into exhaustion, taken on extra shifts, faced danger every working day need a boost. With tax allowances frozen, the lowest paid staff and frontline nurses should at least get the 2.1% pay rise they were promised.

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Waiting for the all clear

It’s great news that our wonderful NHS staff and volunteers are storming forward with the UK’s vaccination programme. Still, I worry about people being lulled into a false sense of security once they have had their first and even second jab.

Most of us will have had, or be getting, the AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine. It has an efficacy rate of 70 percent compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s 95 percent. These efficacy rates are based on the trials and mark the difference between those who had the vaccine and those who had a placebo (a solution that wasn’t the vaccine). If there’s no difference between the vaccine and placebo groups, the efficacy is zero. If none of those who became sick had been vaccinated, the efficacy is 100 percent.

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We need to talk about the Healthcare workforce – again

So what’s changed since my last piece for LDV on this ten months ago? – nothing and everything, in a phrase, it’s got much worse.

Last March the fear of an unknown, rapidly spreading and possible deadly virus, the prospect of the NHS being overwhelmed; inadequate ventilators and ITU beds, terrifying pictures from Italy of a modern health system crumbling in front of our eyes and our own government indecisive and floundering, with no plan and even less preparedness, galvanised the NHS workforce as never before in living memory. Things happened fast; the NHS workforce rose to the challenge, found the energy, carried on under almost impossible odds, and paid the ultimate price.

I won’t recite all the twists and turns, everyone knows them very well, except to say that you can build all the Nightingale hospitals you want, but if you don’t have the skilled workforce to staff them, they are pretty useless.

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Protect the NHS?

It is the second part of this Government strapline that causes me more than a little concern. “Protect the NHS”. To me, it is the one thing that successive Conservative Governments have failed to do. We only need to look back at those years of austerity to know just how much the NHS has been decimated.

My local hospital used to provide beds for over 600 patients and at extreme times could reach 650 and there were the staff to provide for the needs of those patients. But now it provides for fewer that 400 when pressed, but usually it is more likely to be about 360.

For many years under austerity the hospital’s budget was reduced by about 5% a year. And whilst those reductions were taking place the number of people for whom this would be their local hospital was on the increase.

It is an outstanding hospital and is proud of what it had managed to achieve in spite of the yearly reduction in funding and the consequent reductions in staff numbers as well.

It is a great credit to the NHS that it continues to provide healthcare for all our increasing communities but it is regrettable that successive Tory Governments have failed to provide the finances.

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Why can’t NHS screening services include trans patients?

NHS patients are regularly invited to screening tests for different conditions. The tests can be inconvenient or uncomfortable, but the evidence on screening clearly shows it identifies risks early, prevents disease, and saves lives. Patients are at greater risk if they don’t receive invitations, or receive the wrong information.

Trans patients can request to alter their gender marker and are given a new NHS number. Any gendered words are replaced with their new pronouns. However, this also changes their eligibility for screening programmes as many of these are gendered; men and women commonly receive different tests.

Trans patients may be given a leaflet about screening programmes and are invited to self-refer, and will receive no invitations other than those relevant to the gender marker on their NHS record. Therefore, for example, not all patients with a cervix are invited to cervical screening. Contrastingly, if a cis woman has a full hysterectomy, for example, their GP has a simple form to fill out to remove the patient from the cervical screening register as it is no longer relevant to her body. Trans patients should be included on screening registers that are relevant to their bodies.

Historic inequalities within healthcare for the LGBT+ community results in patients who are not comfortable in a healthcare setting. The LGBT Foundation, with projects such as Pride in Practice, is aiming to improve this, but whilst Public Health England (PHE) admit there are inequalities within services, they suggest population screening is inherently equitable. Yet, the issues they aim to improve barely mention gender inequality or LGBT+ communities.

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Christine Jardine’s Bill to give NHS staff right to stay in the UK to be debated on Friday

Our NHS is under more pressure than it has ever been. As I write, brave nurses, doctors, cleaners, porters, health care assistants are putting in superhuman effort to keep people alive, to comfort them and their families when they can’t and to treat more critically ill people than they have ever had to at the same time before.

And all the time taking the risk that they could be next to be lying there struggling to breathe.

It’s exhausting. And it comes after many of them bust a gut during the first wave. Then they barely stopped to rest before trying to catch up with the routine procedures and tests that they had not been able to do.

After ten months of relentless pressure, many are at breaking point. They are seeing suffering on a scale that they had not imagined.

Every day on my social media, I hear about at least one person who I actually know in real life being admitted to hospital.

As I think of them and hope that they will soon be restored to good health, I think about the stressed health professionals and support staff treating them.

Many of those staff are not UK nationals. Those who aren’t EU citizens with the protections of settled status have the hellscape of our horrendous immigration system to navigate. Every so often, their visas will have to be renewed. That is a hellishly stressful and expensive process.

If you came in to the country on a spouse visa, that will set you back £1500. And you’ll have to pay it again to renew it after two and a half years. You also have to pay £624 PER YEAR in NHS surcharge.

So, that’s nearly 5 grand for the first five years. Then you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. That will set you back another £2400.

We’re at pretty much £7,500. On a nurse’s salary? Are you having a laugh? And if you have kids who are not UK nationals, you have to pay for them too.

Right from the start of the pandemic, Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine has been trying to get the Government to give indefinite leave to remain to healthcare staff and their spouses and children.
This week, her Bill is debated reaches its next parliamentary stage. It says:

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Indefinite leave to remain

    1. (1)  An eligible person has indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
    2. (2)  The Secretary must, on request from an eligible person, issue physical documentary proof of that indefinite leave to remain as soon as reasonably practicable.

(3) No fee may be charged for issuing a proof under subsection (2)./ol>

Simple. The right to stay for free for those who have been braving the pandemic, taking that risk, and their families.

Here she is introducing the Bill back in September:

The party has released a campaign video and we can expect more in the next few days:

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Should patients be charged for missed GP appointments?

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With millions across the UK calling for a pay rise for our health heroes, maybe it’s also time we start charging serial offenders abusing one of the fundamental parts of our NHS, the GP appointments system. Our NHS knows no bounds and rightly so; the vast majority of people are proud of our National Health Service, yet despite its well-regard it is not being treated as well as it should.

To my surprise, last night while scrolling through Twitter and being led, as usual, down the rabbit hole of the online world, I came across a statistic. Not only was it shocking, but I was further flurried by the fact that not one of my fellow politically enthused friends were aware of it. According to NHS England, 15 million GP appointments are wasted every year. These vital slots of our beloved Health Service are costing millions, due to tactless laziness and lack of consideration for our supposed national treasure. Equating to 1 in 20 GP appointments being missed, it begs the question, did we really appreciate our NHS before this crisis?

Of course, from time to time, other more important things come into fruition and so previously booked appointments can’t be attended. This, however, can be resolved by a simple cancellation over the phone and the rebooking of a new appointment. But, the serious and costly problem prevails when patients fail to follow through with a cancellation, not making the surgery aware of their non-attendance, and thus taking up an appointment that could have otherwise been booked by a different patient. And the costs are not small either. With each appointment costing an average of £30, over £216 million pounds are wasted every year. Not to mention, this £216 million pounds lost could pay for the annual salary of 2,325 full time GPs or provide 58,320 hip replacement operations.

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Civil Liberties and the NHS App

The NHS has launched a tracing App for trialling in the Isle of Wight. How does it measure up against the civil liberties checklist that I authored on Lib Dem Voice on 15th April, along with some excellent additions within the comments?

First, the positives:
I urged that opting in should be voluntary. It is. A liberal society works best by consent.
It is good news that this is an NHS App, rather than being owned by the central government or by a private company. Moreover, as the NHS has overwhelming public support, this makes it more likely that there will be significant uptake of the App.

It is to be welcomed that the App uses Bluetooth rather than GPS. It records only our phones’ proximity to other phones, rather than pinpointing our precise locations at the moment of proximity.

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We must revive Britain’s history of bold policy

Coronavirus has blown open many of the issues contemporary society faces as a whole.

The UK Government has acted radically in the last few weeks. The furlough scheme has guaranteed many workers pay, and a huge effort has provided support for charities and businesses. Yet many have been left behind.

Those laid off have joined record applicants for unemployment benefit, as we look on from the precipice of the worst economic crash since the 1930s. Key workers have emerged as national heroes, but their low-pay has highlighted imbalances in our societal values. High earners continue to work from the safety of their homes, and companies are still paying shareholders, whilst relying on government bailouts to pay their staff. It is clear the government has not acted radically enough.

Yet Britain has an established history of putting radical thoughts into practice.

In 1941, the wartime coalition government began to envision how British society should look after the war. The “homes for heroes” scheme had rewarded soldiers’ service in the First World War with proper housing, and it was felt a similar repayment for sacrifices in this conflict was due. By 1942, three long years before the war would end, the report was finished. Inside was the blueprint for the modern welfare state, which aimed to pool the resources of every working citizen to maintain a standard of living “below which no one should be allowed to fall”.

George Orwell commented at the time that “it is something of an achievement even to be debating such a thing in the middle of a desperate war in which we are still fighting for survival”. It would take 6 years until the crowning glory of these reforms was unveiled with the official opening of New Park Hospital in Manchester, the first NHS hospital. Offering free healthcare to all at the point of use, the NHS remains unique around the world.

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

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‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity’ (A tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens)

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are in an unprecedented time. I continue to work for the NHS but I am also a member of the Sedgemoor district council. I came across doctors and nurses risking it all to deliver the best for their patients. I also see the local communities rally up to support one another. Crises had, indeed, brought out some of the best in us.

The Government would claim that we are well prepared for this pandemic but the reality may tell a different story. We are still falling short in testing for healthcare workers and screening for the general population. The British Medical Association suggested that in some parts of the country Personal Protective Equipment is running dangerously low. Hospital doctors also suggested that we are low in stock for certain medications such as propofol. Some would also argue that we were too late to implement the lockdown and gave up too early on contact tracing.

Professor Gabriel Scally, president of epidemiology and public health at the Royal Society of Medicine would suggest that The UK is an outlier(£) in terms of its ‘open border policy’.

With families and people losing their loved ones, suffering from an uncertain financial future and a unpredictable impact on our physical health and mental wellbeing, this could be one of the worst of times.

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Public scrutiny of lockdown exit strategy

The Government must publish its “exit strategy” for easing the “lock down” for public scrutiny to avoid repeating past mistakes and ensure that when the time comes it is ready and it does not overlook anything or anyone.

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Clap For Carers Must Be Followed Up With Action

We have all witnessed or better still participated in the clap for carers initiative which has grown out of the current crisis. I am sure that the carers themselves are lifted by our support. However what they really need is practical help, something that the government has been slow in coming up with. 

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Going back to normal would be the worst outcome of this crisis

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This global pandemic, and the consequent unprecedented changes to how we live, has laid bare the inequality that exists in our society.

Covid-19 has given inequality a human face when previously it was understood by many in the form of stats and figures, news reports, policy documents, while many more were oblivious entirely.

Workers who have often been considered to be at the bottom of the hierarchy – perhaps because their job is stigmatised for supposedly being unskilled or low paid or not requiring qualifications – are now completely essential to get us through this crisis. Retail staff, cleaners, public transport operators, fruit pickers, delivery drivers, nurses, social care staff, hospital and GP staff, refuse collectors (plus many more hard workers) are now carrying a terrible burden for the collective good.

They have always been our key workers, we just never recognised them.

These workers are facing the virus head on, often with little or no protection, to carry out their essential jobs to keep all of us going. They are also on the lowest wages, in the most insecure financial positions; their industries have often faced years of stagnant wages, staff shortages, underfunding, belligerent companies.

Two examples stand out to me: nurses and retail staff.

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We need to talk about the healthcare workforce

As a nation, we have spent the last month endlessly talking about PPE, testing and even ventilators, remorselessly picking over the technical details of things which most people still do not understand. The government is pleased for us to do this because it keeps us off the one topic they have no answer for; the elephant in the room of a totally inadequate healthcare workforce stretched to breaking point. Even with all the goodwill in the world, re-calling retired doctors and nurses doesn’t solve it.
There are many good reasons why the NHS is supposed to run at 85% of capacity; one is so that there is then some slack in the system for unforeseen emergencies. That has not happened in the last few years as successive Conservative governments have squeezed the service harder and harder driving capacity dangerously close to 95% and beyond, not addressed staffing shortages at all levels and reduced the bed numbers by too much (by at least 7,000) Eventually acknowledged by Jeremy Hunt himself towards the end of his 7+year tenure as Secretary of state for Health and Social Care.

The summer ‘respite’ for the health service didn’t happen last year or the year before, or the year before that, and the workforce has remained thousands short across the board; GPs, hospital specialists and trainees, nurses and care workers, result; an exhausted workforce close to burn-out. Add to this the wanton neglect of an able and willing EU workforce over 100,000 which was pushed out by a hostile environment as Brexit became a reality at the end of 2019 and here we are reaping the whirlwind.

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NHS – indefinite leave to remain

It’s not just non-British NHS workers who should get indefinite leave to remain.

Our party has rightly come out and argued that doctors, nurses and paramedics at the frontline who are not British citizens should not just have their visas extended by one year (as reported in the Independent, but be given an indefinite leave to remain in the UK. This offer is to be welcomed, but we need to go further. There are many community care workers working unselfishly with disabled and elderly people in their own homes, community centers and retirement centres throughout the country who have come from …

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27 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people
  • Lib Dems: Trump to profit from Brexit Britain
  • Lib Dems – Immigration detention must be absolute last resort
  • Welsh Lib Dems welcome votes at 16
  • Leaked documents show US offered PR advice to UK over chlorinated chicken

Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people

The Liberal Democrats will today unveil a poster attacking Boris Johnson for lying to the Queen, Parliament and the people.

Another poster will show Boris Johnson flanked by Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, stating: “Brexit is good for …

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Catch-up: 24 November 2019 – the day’s press releases (part 1)

Gotten myself into a bit of a backlog position, I’m afraid – the price you pay for going to St Albans, it seems…

  • Lib Dems to invest 7 billion to save our schools
  • Lib Dems: McDonnell refuses to come clean on Brexit
  • EU staff at Johnson’s local NHS trust feel “anxiety” over Brexit
  • Lib Dems: Tory manifesto is built on a lie

Lib Dems to invest 7 billion to save our schools

The Liberal Democrats have today announced an extra £7 billion over five years from the Party’s infrastructure budget for new school buildings and repairs to keep up with rising pupil numbers.

The funding will …

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US trade deal will mean higher drugs bills for NHS

President Trump is apparently to be told by Boris Johnson that the NHS is “off the table” in any negotiations with the UK Government over trade, but there are other ways in which a trade deal can be exploited by the USA, which will inevitably result in a higher drugs bill for the NHS.  

In February 2019, the USA published its specific negotiating objectives for a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK.  They include the following: “Seek provisions governing intellectual property rights that reflect a standard of protection similar to that found in U.S. law”.  Intellectual property rights were then the subject of the US-UK trade discussions on 25th July 2019 (which are the subject of redacted documents produced after a freedom of information request to the DTI).  In the context of medicines, the USA will therefore no doubt be asking the UK to implement a link (in law) between pharmaceutical patents and the drug regulatory approval process (“patent linkage”), such as the Americans have.  

The US experience shows that patent linkage can seriously delay the time at which cheaper generic drugs enter the market, whilst any patent disputes are resolved.  It is not supported in the European Union and we currently have no such system in the UK.  Bear in mind that a generic drug may be priced at a small fraction of the price of the same drug before generic entry and one gets an approximate flavour of the millions currently saved by the NHS through its use of generic pharmaceuticals.  

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Lib Dems will invest £35 billion and stop Brexit to protect NHS

The Liberal Democrats have today set out their plans to protect the NHS, by stopping Brexit and investing an extra £35 billion in the health service and social care over the next five years.

The Liberal Democrats would raise £7 billion a year in additional revenue, ring-fenced for the NHS and social care services, by adding a penny on income tax. On top of this, the party has announced a £10 billion capital fund to upgrade equipment, ambulances, hospitals and other NHS buildings to bring them into the 21st Century.

The Liberal Democrats have also set out plans to tackle the severe …

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17 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems commit £6 billion per year to strengthen welfare system
  • Lib Dems: Unholy alliance signs up to Johnson’s disastrous deal
  • Lib Dems: Tory migration policy panders to Farage
  • Swinson: Clueless Corbyn cannot answer the most basic questions on Brexit
  • Labour pursuing Brexit makes their dentist policy ‘undeliverable’
  • Lib Dems: Tory nurse tax ballooning due to immigration health surcharge rise

Lib Dems commit £6 billion per year to strengthen welfare system

The Liberal Democrats will today (Sunday 17 November) announce bold proposals to invest £6 billion per year to strengthen the welfare system over the next Parliament. This forms part of the party’s ambitious plans to build …

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Luciana: EU staff critical to our NHS

Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Luciana Berger has spoken out about how Brexit would harm our NHS, emphasising how reliant we are on EU doctors and nurses. Analysis done by the Labour Party highlights that NHS staff work a million hours of unpaid overtime every week.

That doesn’t surprise me. When my husband was seriously ill three years ago, in the 51 nights he was in hospital, only once did I see one member of staff actually leave at the end of their shift. And the situation has got much worse since then as we lose thousands of EU nurses every year.

Luciana criticised Labour’s approach to Brexit:

A key reason NHS staff are working overtime is because of the serious shortages in the number of doctors and nurses working in the NHS. Part of that shortage is due to the net loss of 5,000 EU nurses in the last two years alone.

Only yesterday, Labour failed yet again to confirm their position on freedom of movement. With the NHS reliant on 10,000 EU doctors and 20,000 EU nurses, Labour’s support for Brexit is baffling as it will be so damaging for our NHS and hardworking staff.

In the past week we have learnt about the Conservative plan to impose a Nurse Tax on any new EU health professional coming to treat NHS patients. The stakes could not be higher. Labour and the Conservatives must stop being so irresponsible with our NHS.

The Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit to protect our NHS. We will build a brighter future by investing an extra £35 billion in our NHS by adding a penny on income tax. In addition we will implement a national recruitment strategy to ensure we never again suffer shortages of nurses, doctors and other health professionals.

If Labour are bad, the Tories are terrible. They would charge nurses who come to this country to use the NHS they work for. This would cost their families thousands of pounds.

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16 November 2019 – the overnight press releases

  • Lib Dems announce plans to plant 60 million trees a year
  • Lib Dems: EU staff crucial to our NHS

Lib Dems announce plans to plant 60 million trees a year

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson will plant a tree in Hampstead today (Saturday 16 November), as the party announces ambitious proposals to undertake the largest tree-planting programme in UK history. A Liberal Democrat government will plant 60 million trees every year, increasing UK forest cover by 1 million hectares by 2045.

Just 13% of the UK is currently covered by woodland, far below the European Union average of 35%. The Conservatives …

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15 November 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

  • Tories pushing ‘Trumpian agenda’ on immigration
  • Lib Dems: Record waiting times show Tories “dismal record” on NHS
  • Tusk comments show there is “light at the end of the tunnel” for Remainers
  • Tories pushing ‘Trumpian agenda’ on immigration

    Responding to Priti Patel’s comments regarding cutting overall levels of immigration, Liberal Democrats Shadow Home Affairs spokesperson, Christine Jardine said:

    This country needs people to come here to keep our NHS and so many sectors properly skilled and staffed. The Conservatives’ approach to immigration is an insult to the millions who have come to the UK and made it their home. Immigration brings so much to our

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Of course the Lib Dems oppose exposing our NHS in future trade deals

If you’re seeing attacks from Labour types on social media tonight, saying that we didn’t vote for their amendment which, amongst other things, called for the NHS to be protected in future trade deals, ignore them.

Political parties often do this. It’s a silly game and I don’t like it when we do it, either.

It goes like this.

You lay down an amendment that has a bit of good stuff in it, and you combine it with something that another party just isn’t going to go for. Then when they don’t vote for your amendment you go after them on social media.

Today Labour’s amendment read as follows;

At end add ‘but respectfully regrets that the Gracious Speech does not repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to restore a publicly provided and administered National Health Service and protect it from future trade agreements that would allow private companies competing for services who put profit before public health and that could restrict policy decisions taken in the public interest.’

Now I know that many, including me, in this party had concerns about the reforms in the 2012 Act. But there was some good stuff in there, on social care and on mental health, both issues very important to us. So even if we think that the Act isn’t perfect, we would go with amending rather than appealing it.

So we didn’t vote for the amendment.We didn’t vote against it either. We abstained.  However, we have good form on the NHS and trade deals.  For a start, we have on very many occasions challenged the government on exactly this point. We do not want to see the NHS undermined by Donald Trump, thank you very much. Vince Cable used to challenge the government on this all the time. Look at this from February last year:

The Prime Minister’s non-answer to my question today can only infer that our NHS is indeed for sale under the Conservatives.

Her pathetic non-committal response, failing to even mention our health service once, stands in stark contrast to guarantees given in 2015 by the EU trade negotiator with the US during the TTIP negotiations that our NHS would be protected.

Unfortunately Brexit Britain, standing on our own, will be in a far weaker negotiating position.

 

Ed Davey said here that “we must make sure that the NHS is not up for grabs in any trade deal.”

Jo Swinson also talked about the danger to the NHS during the leadership campaign in an interview with the Standard. 

At the time of the Brexit vote we had Obama. Now the world is much more unstable. There’s the rise of China, Putin, strong men leaders — do you want to be at the mercy of these superpowers? They aren’t going to be giving us great terms on a trade deal; there’s chlorinated chicken, the NHS is on the table. Frankly that is a cause for concern.

We need to be a wee bit careful when we are under social media attack from Labour or (or SNP types for that matter). We can be inclined to think they must somehow be right – when in fact the trolls are at best grossly misrepresenting the facts.  It is hardly surprising that Labour want to throw some mud to deflect attention from the fact that their MPs helped get the awful Withdrawal Agreement Bill over its first parliamentary hurdle last night.

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What Boris Johnson should have said to Omar Salem

I have nothing but sympathy for Omar Salem, the dad who confronted Boris Johnson today. Watch the video on the Guardian, here. Omar’s wee one is only a week old, but was admitted as an emergency. When she got to the ward, she wasn’t seen by a doctor for hours. I can’t imagine Omar would have got much in the way of sleep.

It is absolutely terrifying when someone you love is seriously ill. You need to have confidence in the care that they are getting.

I know.

Three years ago, my husband was very seriously ill and spent 51 nights in hospital. He had some superb care from  truly exceptional people. But occasionally things went wrong. This was invariably because of under-resourcing.

I’ll never forget the day that I was on the ward at just before 5pm and I saw one of the health care assistants getting ready to serve dinner. She had been on night shift the day before until 8am that morning. Because the ward was so short staffed, she’d gone home for a couple of hours’ sleep and gone back in to do the lunches because there was nobody else to do it.

That is simply not safe – for her, mostly.

Other stuff went wrong as well. I won’t give you the gory details, but if you only have one person of a particular grade on duty overnight in an entire hospital, they can’t be everywhere they are needed and vital stuff just doesn’t get done.

If Nicola Sturgeon, or then Health Secretary Shona Robison, had turned up on the ward on one of these days, I might well have given them a piece of my mind. As a worried wife, and a human being, not as a Liberal Democrat.

And if I had done that, I reckon Shona and Nicola would have shown me some kindness. They’d have asked questions and listened. Because they are actually kind and empathetic human beings, and because they know that it is important to handle these things well.

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I now know I have PTSD and it is Liberating

I am not quite sure when I first encountered the ‘Black Dog’ but he has pretty much been on the premises for the last ten years. The crash as I like to call it came on 9th October 2009 when the pressures of a full-time job and caring finally took their toll. I remember waking at 3 am, not normal for the heavy sleeper that I always was back then. A trip to the GP surgery, anti-depressants and eventually counselling followed. On Christmas Eve 2010 my employment situation was finally resolved with a redundancy package and with the caring position fairly stable I began the process of coming off the tablets.

In the next five years my sister died aged forty, Daphne’s health worsened resulting in a move to full-time residential care and the senior officer at my old job gave me the run around after I suggested a return in a part-time role. Pretty hard to take from an organisation I gave my life to for more than twenty years. 2015 brought a return to the medication and when Daphne died in 2017 eventually some more counselling. With everything that had happened to me, the professionals had difficulty in identifying my condition so in the circumstances the focus became my recent bereavement.

It was only in the winter of 2018 when I accessed the Time To Talk service again that PTSD was mentioned and everything fell into place. The trauma caused by my work situation was still haunting me particularly through nightmares, whilst the pain of bereavement was easing. Bingo, this new diagnosis was uniquely liberating. On the downside, I waited months for the specialist counselling. The fact that someone has put the finger on what was causing my illness was strangely uplifting.

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Labour claims credit for the NHS, but Liberals laid the foundations

One of the enduring myths of British politics is that the Labour Party was uniquely responsible for founding the National Health Service. “It was the Attlee government’s introduction of the National Health Service which will rightly go down as Labour’s greatest achievement,” says the party’s website. “Labour created the NHS,” maintains the party’s shadow health secretary.

But this partisan, somewhat sentimental version of history has been demolished over the years by historians of the welfare state. In 1995, Nicholas Timmins started his magisterial (and recently updated) study, The Five Giants: A Biography of the Welfare State, by highlighting the vital role …

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Is the Green Paper on Social Care happening or not?

I spent some time yesterday in a long meeting with a local resident. He had cared for his mum for many years and sadly she died. The circumstances leading up to her death and the nursing home care she received tell a grim tale. My local resident called for an investigation and has written numerous letters demanding social care reform. He has written to MPs, Prime Ministers, Parliamentary Health Ombudsmen and the CQC. His activism and call for changes to the system has gone on for fourteen years.

I tell that story to highlight the recent Government announcement that the Social Care Green Paper, which was originally to be published in the summer of 2017, might not be produced after all. There is the suggestion that Boris Johnson’s government might publish a white paper instead.

I think it is all about a General Election – get the white policy paper out with strong proposals so that it looks like the Conservatives are taking action.

However, will it be the right action? The idea of a Green Paper is to bring together experts and have a proper consultation on proposals. One of the things my local resident is calling for is a high-level round-table, cross-party discussion on the best ways forward for social care. There are various views and proposals which should be given careful consideration. I personally like the idea of revisiting the Dilnot Report and capping personal contributions to social care; but I also think basic care should be covered in England as it is in Scotland.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments
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