Why does it matter if your free NHS treatment was at a private hospital?

From Facebook:

“Reflecting on what was an unusual weekend.

On Saturday morning I got a knock on the door from a stranger to say that my partner had come off his bike at the end of our road. The panic must have been visible on my face. “He’s ok”, she said. “But he’s got a nasty gash on the side of his face. My husband’s with him. He’s ok. But he’ll need to go to hospital.”

Her husband, it turns out, is a firefighter. So fortunately knew what to do when he saw the head injury.

By the time I got to him, Kev was sitting on a chair outside their house, with kitchen paper held over the left side of his face. There was a lot of blood. He was conscious, but in shock. They told me it was probably best not to look at his wound.

The paramedics arrived within minutes and took us to Kings, where they have a specialist facial trauma unit.

Although he was wearing a helmet his face smashed into the edge of a sharp curb. So, as well as the deep lacerations around his eye socket, he’d broken his cheekbone in three places.

From the moment we stepped into the ambulance around 1030am to when that we left the hospital around 9pm, we were in the hands of the most amazing individuals.

In total, at least 20 different people were involved in caring for him: 2 paramedics, an A&E receptionist, 3 different A&E nurses, 1 X-ray receptionist, 1 radiologist, 1 A&E doctor, 3 facial trauma specialists, 1 facial surgeon, 2 porters, 1 neuro radiology receptionist, 1 neuro radiologist, 1 ophthalmic consultant, 1 head injury specialist, and an A&E discharge nurse. And these were just the people we met. There were probably countless others contributing behind the scenes.

We were so well looked after. Every single one of those people were calm, caring, cheerful, patient, professional, focussed and committed. They explained what was happening at every stage. They cared about doing the best for us.

Many of these medical professionals were working 12-hour shifts. Several of them worked beyond the end of their shift to care for us, including one facial trauma doctor who, although his cover had arrived, stayed to help her with the complex stitching that Kev needed, and chatted cheerfully to us as he worked.

Many of these NHS professionals were from other countries – Australia, Cyprus, Nigeria, Philippines and Poland, to name a few – working in what is the busiest A&E department in the whole of the EU.

Their expertise was incredible. We were seen by three different specialist teams – facial trauma, neurology and ophthalmology – all working together, seamlessly, under the same roof.

This is the NHS is all its magnificent glory.

At no point did we worry about the cost of this care. At no point did anyone ask us for an insurance number. At no point were we offered optional treatments with different price tags. Everything they did was the very best available treatment for that patient with that specific problem, no matter their background, or circumstances, or means. From my partner, to the elderly woman who‘d had a fall, to the young lad with a sports injury, and the chirpy flat capped guy with a suspected broken hip, and the loveable and slightly drunk homeless woman with a fractured wrist. They were all treated equally. They were all given the very best medical care available.

I am a huge supporter of the NHS. I marched to save Lewisham Hospital, where I gave birth. I was one of the people who swelled with pride and wept watching nurses bouncing on beds at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. And on Saturday I witnessed first-hand how brilliant and precious it really is.

But there are those in government who are keen to see market forces play a bigger role in our NHS, or who are at best extremely relaxed about it. They’ve already introduced a lot more private providers into the system.

You might think, “what does it matter if my routine surgery, my cataract operation or my knee replacement, gets done by a private health care company? So long as I’m not paying for it.” It matters because as the private sector cherry-picks the straight forward and more lucrative areas of care, it gets more and more difficult for NHS hospitals to function well.

There is something about the way hospitals are funded that means that, when money is diverted to private providers for routine treatments or elective surgery, it becomes more challenging for hospitals to provide emergency care and the more complex higher risk medical treatments.

So, this is to say that the concerns around private sector involvement in the NHS are multifaceted.

It’s not just a question of “well, as long as medical treatment is still free, it doesn’t matter who is providing it”. Gradual and almost invisible changes are already undermining and eroding the system. And if we aren’t careful, they’ll have such a seismic impact that we risk losing the NHS as we know it.

There are other people that have a much greater insight into all this than I do. And if you’re interested in finding out more more, a good starting point is to watch this video of Allyson Pollock’s TED talk on the privatisation of the NHS, or to visit the website Public Matters.

The NHS is at risk as never before. I knew that already, but this week I was reminded just how very precious it is, and how fortunate we are to have it.

Our family’s experience this weekend was stressful, but our worries were only for Kev’s health, well-being and medical prognosis. I dread to think how it would have been if we’d been worrying about whether we’d be able to access the specialist care he needed, or whether that care was available close to home. Or if we had been fretting about whether we’d be able to afford the treatment on offer. Or wondering if our insurance would cover it.

This weekend the NHS was there for my family and is going to be hugely important to us over the coming weeks as Kev continues his treatment on the road to recovery.

If the NHS is important to you, then fight for it. I will be.”

Daily Telegraph: “For the Tories, choosing candidates is a trade-off between parachuting in favoured sons and alienating grassroots members”

This is not Mr Jupp on his parachute into East Devon – just his boss … on a sort-of parachute …

The Daily Telegraph article (which, unfortunately is behind a pay wall) goes on to give the example of an adviser being parachuted in of “Simon Jupp, who advises Dominic Raab, in East Devon”.

Andrew Moulding joins election insults battle

Just about the only candidate who HASN’T joined the slag-fest is Claire Wright!

“Tories and Independent trade insults over former radio candidate.

Housing? Employment? Refuse collection? Regeneration of seafront towns? Any one of them could be top of the charts when it comes to issues of critical importance to East Devon. But Tory and Independent council leaders in the constituency are instead having a spat over whether ageing rocker Iggy Pop would do a better job than Conservative candidate Simon Jupp.

The former radio presenter and journalist won the selection battle to wear the biggest blue rosette at the weekend and took immediately to door-knocking to drum up support. He’s defending an 8,000 majority bequeathed to him by outgoing MP Sir Hugo Swire. But that majority itself was down from 12,000 on the 2015 election, with independent Claire Wright snatching a sizeable share of the vote.

Now East Devon District Council leader Ben Ingham, an independent, has told a local newspaper he thinks Mr Pop – who had a top 10 hit in 1986 with ‘Real Wild Child’ – would have been a better candidate. “People would be able to relate to him more than a DJ from Plymouth,” he’s reported as saying. Mr Ingham also says he’d thought of running for parliament himself because he’s disappointed by the area’s MPs.

That’s got the leader of East Devon Conservatives, Andrew Moulding, into a lather. He’s penned a 500-word response metaphorically telling Mr Ingham to wind his neck in. Being “a DJ from Plymouth [is[ not in itself a crime,” he claims (although he may not have met some of the profession in that city). If Mr Ingham thinks he can do a better job, he’s still got time to stand, he suggests. And “To compare [Mr Jupp] with Iggy Pop shows how out of touch with reality disaffected Conservative Ben Ingham actually is, stuck in some 1970’s time warp, where Simon Jupp will be nobody’s ‘Stooge’ and has a clear ‘Lust for Life’ (apologies to Iggy), working hard for residents of East Devon on both local and national issues.”

East Devon and its predecessors have been Conservative for more than a century. It’s considered a two-way battle in next month’s election between Mr Jupp and Ms Wright. “


ANOTHER Lib Dem stands down to avoid Tory victory (NOT in East Devon)

And, in spite of the last paragraph below, East Devon now appears to be one of only a few seats where the Lib Dem and the Greens want to hand the constituency a Tory ex-DJ parachuted in from Bristol!

“Lib Dem candidate stands aside to avoid ‘nightmare’ of Tory win.

The Liberal Democrat candidate in a marginal Labour seat has unilaterally decided to stand down, saying that while the two parties could not agree on a pact he wanted to avoid the “nightmare” of handing the constituency back to the Conservatives.

In an article for the Guardian, Tim Walker said that while he did not trust Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit, he wanted to give Rosie Duffield, the Labour candidate who took Canterbury from the Tories for the first time in 2017 by just 187 votes, the best chance of winning.

The announcement of his candidacy had dismayed some Lib Dems, who argued that while there is no formal deal between their party and Labour it would be better to stand aside to help Duffield, who is strongly pro-remain. In 2017 the then-Lib Dem candidate received more than 4,500 votes.

The deadline for nominations in the 12 December election closes on Thursday. It is not yet clear if the Lib Dems plan to stand another candidate in Walker’s place.

It comes as the Lib Dem candidate in Boris Johnson’s seat, Uxbridge and South Ruislip, announced she was standing aside. In a statement, Elizabeth Evenden-Kenyon said this was because of family illness, and that the party would have enough time to select a new hopeful.

However, if the Lib Dems do not, it could boost Labour’s admittedly outside chance of unseating Johnson. He had a majority of just over 5,000 in 2017, with the third-placed Lib Dems getting more than 1,800 votes.

Writing in the Guardian, Walker, a journalist who formerly worked for the Daily Telegraph, said it had become clear that if he stayed in place in Canterbury, there was “a danger I’d divide the remainers” and allow victory for the Tory candidate, Anna Firth: a vehement Brexit supporter who worked with the Vote Leave campaign.

“I don’t trust Corbyn on Brexit, but I share with many members of my party locally a visceral dread of the Commons being filled with people like Firth,” Walker wrote. “Trying to stop that happening is now more important than ever, given Nigel Farage’s unholy alliance with Johnson.”

He added: “I’ve therefore asked that my local party withdraws my nomination papers to stand for Canterbury. Politics does not always have to be grubby and small-minded; sometimes it’s possible to acknowledge there’s something at stake that’s more important than party politics and do something that seems right.”

It was not an easy decision, Walker wrote, “but the nightmare that kept me awake was standing awkwardly at the count beside a vanquished Duffield as the Tory Brexiter raised her hands in triumph. I wanted no part in that.”

He went on: “I now wish Rosie well and urge her to fight for our country, and, when she hopefully gets to resume her seat in the Commons, to continue to think for herself.”

The Lib Dems are part of a so-called remain alliance, which has seen them, Plaid Cymru and the Greens give each others’ candidates a free run in 60 seats around England and Wales.”


The Brexit (not a) Party!

“Nigel Farage’s decision to unilaterally stand down more than half the Brexit party’s candidates has prompted fury from some of the hopefuls, with one candidate saying he only learned the news when a passing driver asked him why he was still campaigning.

Darren Selkus, who was the candidate for Epping Forest, said Farage had “betrayed my incredible volunteers and thousands of constituents who will have no one to vote for” by pulling out of all 317 Conservative-held seats.

In a statement on his local party website, Selkus said that as soon as Farage made the announcement at a rally on Monday in Hartlepool, he and other ex-candidates were immediately locked out of their Brexit party emails and supporter databases.

While a majority of the former candidates who took to social media to express opinions seemed to back Farage’s argument that the move was necessary to protect Brexit, a small but vocal group complained about the move.

Julian Malins, a barrister who was due to stand in the Tory-held seat of Salisbury, tweeted: “I thought I had enlisted in Caesar’s army but it turned out to be the Grand Old Duke of York’s.”

Although it is a registered party, the Brexit party is structured as a company, with Farage and the party chair, Richard Tice, having near-total control. Those who have paid the party’s £25 joining fee become “registered supporters” rather than members, with no say over policy or other matters. …”


Maybe not a good idea to build on flood plains …

“Poor management of the rural landscape along with global heating and building on floodplains are the main factors that led to the floods that have engulfed towns in northern England, according to experts.

Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster are among the places flooded, 12 years after they were badly hit when the River Don burst its banks in 2007. Many affected areas, including Meadowhall shopping centre, where customers were stranded overnight, lie within the river’s floodplain – low-lying land next to the river that naturally floods during high flow.

“This is only a problem if you develop floodplains by building houses, businesses and factories on them, which is obviously what we have done over the years, so to some degree it’s a problem of our own making,” said Roy Mosley, the head of conservation and land management at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

The risk faced by floodplain communities is exacerbated by the management of land upstream of the city. Intensive animal grazing leads to short grass and compacted soil, which is less able to absorb and hold water. There are no longer enough trees and plants to absorb rain and stop it from running straight into the river, Mosley said.”