Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Dalton Road, Barrow, Saturday 27th August 2011 

Health Secretary Lansley's new Health Bill will have its third and final reading over the 6th and 7th September when it will then be put to a vote by members of parliament.

Eight NHS services worth £1 billion are up for grabs by the private companies. Services such as treatment for back pain, wheelchair services for children and psychological therapies for adults will be on offer to businesses to run them to generate private profit.  These services will then no longer be part of the National Health Service.

The British Medical Association council is campaigning for the bill to be withdrawn and accuses the government of misleading the public when government continues to state there will be no privatisation of the NHS.

Three members of Barrow & Furness Pensioners' Association were present to hand out pensioner leaflets and talk to members of the public. In addition, a GMB member, a Unison member and an NUT member gave their full support to the general campaign that morning despite having no anti-cuts literature that ought to be provided by their respective local organisations.  The member of the Public and Commercial Services union had been absent from work and was unable to attend the stall that day and two further supporters were absent owing to being at work.  

Several people signed up to the anti-cuts campaign on Saturday and many willingly accepted a leaflet but it would be a gross exaggeration to claim we were 'beseiged' by people demanding literature or 'queuing up' to support the campaign.  Most people in Barrow currently do not want to know about the government's assault on the Welfare State, the National Health Service or even of that on their own personal standard of living. (You'd think that self-interest alone would at least provide some motivation, wouldn't you?)  

Meeting such a wall of pure apathy is sometimes disheartening and may sap the morale of an individual campaigner - and this is why it is important for group members to be constantly kept up to date with robust campaigns throughout the northern region and the rest of the country and, together with other local campaigners, celebrate their successes and achievements.

It is my view that those organisations receiving money to protect and help members of the public (such as trade unions, trades union councils, charities, community associations, and churches) which have as yet made no effort to do so, be challenged to explain why they continue to remain indifferent.  

It has been suggested this might upset these organisations and dissuade them from joining or supporting the campaign - so what, then, has been dissuading them for the past sixteen months?  No, if they are upset, offended or angered by a simple and, in my opinion, perfectly legitimate question then it is because they want to cover their guilt by feigning indignation. It's a very old and familiar technique employed by worthless people from all walks of life e.g.
"How dare you call me a hypocrite!"
"How? Because you're always saying one thing and doing exactly the opposite, that's how!"
Now, if there is something I can't stand its a hypocrite, a thief, a liar or an opportunist and on some occasions, I've met all of these traits in one person!

** From 'A Conneticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur' by Mark Twain.
and the song contiues....
 Now, is that appropriate - or what!


Friday, 19 August 2011


Two members of the steering group of Furness Against the Cuts attended a public meeting organised by the Westmorland and Lonsdale Constituency Labour Party held on Thursday 14 July at the Shakespeare Centre, Kendal.

The meeting, called to address government proposals to sell off the most highly profitable parts of the National Health Service to private companies, was attended by about 45 persons - not one of whom was under the age of 50.

The panel (left to right) consisted of Paul Gardner (Royal College of Nursing), Tim Ells (Unison), Chairman Paul Braithwaite (W&L CLP) and Doctor David Wrigley, GP (Keep Our NHS Public campaign).

Dr Wrigley, a member of the British Medical Association Council, described the remarkable step forward when, 64 years ago, the National Health Service was introduced.  Minister Bevan described this as a Milestone in History and a Civilised Step for it provided health care for all that was free at the point of need.  Gone was the great fear of falling ill and having to meet a doctor's bill for teat ment and medication.  No health and social care for vulnerable people should rely upon service provided by some business that could, like some retail company, fail and be bankrupted (liquidation of Southern Cross homes is a good example of this). Dr Wrigley explained how the Private and Public Finance Initiative (PPFI), introduced by the previous Labour government, has cost £65 billion for a value of just £25 billion.

Tim Ellis stated the need to be fully resourced and trusted.  He stated contributions to the public purse would be much greater if the 49 richest people and 220 companies in this country that PAY NO TAX were to pay the estimated £120 billion lost through their tax evasion.  The current White Paper is about introducing competition into the NHS and should not be amended but killed off. Public pressure could sink this bill just as it did Thatcher's bid to introduce the Poll Tax in the 1980s.  However, top Tories had noted public opposition, feared this would have electoral consequences and so pressed Thatcher to drop it.

Paul Gardner reported 98% of delegates attending the RCN conference in Liverpool gave a vote of 'No Confidence' on the current Secretary of State. The RCN was severely critical of commissioning by GP fund-holders and strongly suggested there be a nurse on every commissioning body.  Essentially, priorities are: quality of care, safety, assessment level of safety and of risks during and following hospital treatment and that the experience of the patient must be positive.  Minister Lansley's agenda undermined these.

There followed some good contibutions by members of the audience with, of course, one by the token defeatist "These cuts will go through so what we've got to do is see how we can reduce their impact on people."

The meeting ended with an overwhelming vote to ask our local Members of Parliament to oppose the Health and Social Care bill.