Posts tagged ‘NHS’

Poe’s Law conundrums (Millipede Jr’s 2014 Conference Speech edition)

Is this a typical Gruniad sub-editing fail or have they just repeated the briefing notes verbatim:

The Labour leader’s big six goals are designed to restore a lost faith in the future. They are:

  • Ensuring as many school leavers go on to apprenticeships as go to university.
  • Help working families share fairly in the UK’s wealth.
  • Meet the demand for new homes by doubling the number of first-time buyers from the current 200,000 a year to 400,000.
  • Halve the number of low paid – defined as those earning two-thirds of median earnings – from 5 million to 2.5 million.
  • Create a million more hi-tech green jobs in a bid to overhaul the number of Germans and Japan.
  • Restore the NHS by integrating health and care services, ensuring joined up preventive care to keep the healthy out of hospital.

Owned by the NHS

Following a recent blood test, I have been trying to get hold of a hard copy of the results so that I might discuss them with a private physician. Previously this has been accomplished by dropping a letter off with the GP and collecting the print out a few days later, occasionally coughing up a quid in the process.

This time my stock letter was met by one from my GP by return of post. Allegedly NHS Guidelines mean that the act of looking up my records on the computer system and printing a couple of sides of A4 will cost me a princely £10. Given that this should be, at most, a 5 minute task, I consider this ‘Administration Fee’ to be extortion and have responded in kind. No further response has yet been received.

However there was a second part to my GPs letter, which, I quote, reads:

Furthermore, I would advise you that NHS information is not to be taken abroad.

Personally I’d have said that information about my health was my property, to do with as I please, not that of the organisation I am forced to pay for under threat of violence but it seems I am mistaken in this matter…

Nice to have written evidence that we are mere chattel to them, isn’t it?

Pointless voting

No, this isn’t a post on AV. :-)

Yesterday, April 13th, saw the result of two rather pointless votes.

In the first, much trumpeted by the Labour party and their media arm, the delegates at the spring conference of trade union that is the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) delivered a vote of no confidence in the current Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley.

Obviously a union voting against a Conservative minister is up there with ursine defecatory habits and the religious orientation of the Pope in terms of news but much was made of the decisiveness: some 96.1% of attendees (and 98.8% of those voting) agreed with the motion. A very impressive margin but one that does deserve closer inspection however.

The RCN has approximately 400,000 members. Obviously not all of these were in the Socialist Republic of Liverpool for this vote but how many were there? 10%? 5%? Sorry too high. Only 497 members, a little over one tenth of 1% of the membership, were in the hall at the time the vote was taken.

Suddenly it doesn’t look very impressive does it? “0.12% of union nurses pass vote of no confidence in the Secretary of State” is hardly newsworthy.

I’ll accept that the sentiments expressed may be held, if not in such percentages, within the greater RCN membership but the sample size on display is so statistically insignificant that it is not worth Lansley, authoritarian incompetent that he is, losing any sleep over.

The second, much less mentioned, vote yesterday was for the successor to hapless Aaron Porter as the President of the National Union of Students (NUS). In terms of relevance this can be ranked up there with the results of the local parish vegetable growing competition given that most students couldn’t give a fig which wannabe politician is currently claiming to represent them.

The President of the NUS is not elected directly by the membership but instead by delegates of the various universities who are themselves elected on turnouts that, from what I recall of my own student days*, struggle to break into four figure territory as apathy, rather than discredited far left wing ideology, tends to be the political opinion of most.

These votes are not representative democracy in action but rather two minorities taking the results of a vote that polled only a minuscule percentage of their membership and dressing it up in such a way as to have others believe that it means something.

They don’t.

NHS reform is necessary and will happen eventually regardless of the conservatism of the RCN (and the other medical unions) on the matter whilst students, having already not stopped going to university in huge numbers after the introduction fees under the last government, will continue to apply accepting that higher fees are simply part of the deal.

* The NUS is the only union of which I have ever been a member (by dint of being an undergraduate) and I do recall inquiring as to whether it was possible to opt out to membership. Sadly, as to do so would have theoretically excluded me from using the union facilities (i.e. the subsidised bars), I didn’t follow through.