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By 999 Call for the NHS, Nov 9 2016 03:55PM

The latest spurt of Killer Clowns made me smile as 999 had just produced another batch of Corporate Clown cards. I kept hoping one would appear outside the Dept of Health where the real killer clowns live. Maybe one day.

Then one of the network sent me a link to a rather wonderful activitst blog from 2012 and that made me chuckle in an even darker way. And it's a distinct reminder that good people, informed people have been fighting this battle - stopping the privatisation by stealth of our NHS - for many many years. In the last 6 months we've met retired consultants who have been battling since the 1980's, retired nurses who have been fighting since the 90's, ordinary folk who have - like most of us - accidentally fallen into the NHS universe of corporate hell and won't let go. Not until we have won. And we will.

Because the darkness is too much to subject our kids and grandkids to. The lies and deciets employed by successive governments of the last 25yrs are too great to let go unanswered. People will be punished for their criminal acts. Destroying a public institution with corporate smiles and the suits of KPMG, Ernst& Young, Price Waterhouse Cooper & McKinsey plus that entourage of corporate killer clown siblings - they wlll be pulled short. And on the whole - once you've swallowed the blue pill - you can't give up, you can't unsee the awful clever cheating that the corporate killer clowns are carrying out.

And there are many different ways of fighting back. Humour is one way that thankfully is on our side. This blog from 2012 is a really fun (dark I warn you) way of highlighting the problems. And it may inspire you to do something similar.

Have fun.

Steven Carne


Going private?

My reply to a job offer from a private health company (July 2012)

What the heck is this? I’ve been trying and failing to stop the government from privatising the National Health Service for years, and now a private healthcare company has contacted me about a job!

The email from Care UK says they are “seeking a Media Relations Executive for our Head Office based in Colchester and your skills and experience appear to be a good match.” Huh? They are offering a “competitive salary, 25 days holiday and corporate discounts.”

Here’s what I have replied:

Dear Laura,

Thank you for your unexpected email about the Media Relations Executive job with Care UK. I am very interested. Since Care UK is possibly the leading private healthcare company making inroads into the NHS, I would relish the opportunity to publicise what it does – indeed, this is precisely what I was trying to do in my previous job as information officer for Keep Our NHS Public (on a much smaller budget, I’m sure). That must be what you were referring to when you said my skills and experience are “a good match”.

As you can imagine, I am brimming with ideas. If you don’t mind, I would like to set them out here. First of all, I think much more needs to be done to let the public know what Care UK is. Hardly anyone realises just how big a chunk of the NHS you now run, from GP surgeries and walk-in centres to treatment units doing things like bunions. If I were your Media Relations Executor I would promote this aggressively to build the brand. I think the public has a vague idea about NHS privatisation, but they aren’t yet able to put a face to the name, so to speak. Care UK’s name could be that face. As a profit-making healthcare company owned by a private equity firm you are perfectly positioned.

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By 999 Call for the NHS, Oct 22 2016 05:00PM

I love my job. NHS Staff do this for the love. Not profit
I love my job. NHS Staff do this for the love. Not profit

It’s been some time since I wrote so I thought it’s time for an update!

The struggle for the NHS is ongoing, and long may it continue. The Junior Doctor struggle has, of course this week passed through the High Court with a ruling that some see as a win, some see as a loss. I have to say at the outset, I am filled with admiration for my Justice for Health colleagues – how many of us would put our names and our careers out there for all to see and engage in such a public battle? For me it has been a breathtakingly brave journey and these Doctors will remain in my mind for many years. Currently, despite their best efforts, it looks like the Junior Doctor contract will be imposed, despite Mr Hunt’s assertions that he didn’t intend this. What does it all mean?

My understanding is that this contract was designed to address a truly seven-day NHS but essentially in a cost-neutral way, meaning no extra funding. This means that imposing the Junior Doctor contract stretches an already under-resourced workforce across a seven-day period. Let’s be clear, our current NHS workforce struggles to cope with the demands placed on it now and, as many have argued, without further resourcing this contract cannot safely be achieved. As has been debated by many, with no further resourcing this means that Doctors will be doing unsafe shift patterns and this will have an inevitable impact on the role of the nurse, on our patients and on overall NHS service provision because there are only so many Doctors to go around. Long shift patterns leading to severely disrupted sleep patterns and resulting tiredness, and leaving little time to socialise or have a life could lead to more mistakes, in an environment where mistakes are costly. As Doctors have claimed, the imposition of the new contract will result in Doctors leaving the NHS at a time when more, not fewer, are needed.

To me, this contract seems a bit like punishing NHS Doctors for working hard, going the extra mile, and sometimes working on goodwill alone. My colleagues work tirelessly to make patients better; in the NHS we try to make life easier and safer for patients; we work collaboratively to ensure the very best outcome is achieved for patients – we have no desire to see the NHS fail, to see its demise, or to take part in its wholesale destruction. Nurses, Doctors and allied healthcare professionals want our patients to get well, we want our patients to have a good experience of our care and we strive to deliver a service that the public will be happy with. So, when the same public ask why the NHS isn’t working any more, I would advise that they look to this government, not NHS staff. Quite frankly, we can’t work any harder.

This would be a good place to say that I absolutely love my job! Seriously, it is the most rewarding career in the world. My patients and my colleagues make being a nurse worthwhile. And working in an organisation like the NHS is priceless. The teamwork in the NHS is breathtaking – on an average day a nurse like me can talk to at least six other practitioners about one patient; such conversations take place to ensure the right pathway for the patient, often to keep them safe. This week I like to think that, with the assistance of many others, I have helped several patients to cope with damaging physical and emotional symptoms; sometimes with medication, sometimes with a listening ear, sometimes with a hug, sometimes by arranging another step on their journey, and always with empathy – the possibilities to help someone are endless and my job affords me this privilege. It can be the most rewarding of things to lighten someone’s burden.

I will continue to fight for the NHS and my patients – because to me these two are inextricably intertwined. My patients deserve the best of care and I believe that the NHS delivers it. So, I will march for the NHS, I will shout for it and I encourage all parties to do the same. I will fight further NHS cuts to budgets. I will continue to support my colleagues – their input is vital for patient welfare and, importantly, they are good human beings. I will do this because I believe the NHS does work; it sees record numbers of patients every day; to listen to the media however, we fail at every juncture. So who is right? Only the public can solve this conundrum by declaring what they want, what works, and by being open about what we do well; until they do, the sand in the hour-glass is slowly flowing towards a breakdown of the NHS that no collaboration, no medication and no hug will fix.

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