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999 Call for the NHS

A grassroots NHS campaign. Not affiliated to any of the political parties.

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By 999 Call for the NHS, Aug 8 2015 06:02AM

I wrote a letter to my MP, Right Hon Grant Shapps, and posted an edited version in the comments under the Independent article, my opinion only. Maybe a little militant, a bit controversial perhaps, but it's how I feel on this issue. Text is here.

"I am a Cambridge-educated consultant paediatrician. Until recently I was barely political but Mr Hunt has changed that somewhat. As a result I know a few things I hadn’t known previously:

- I know that a stated aim of the Conservative Party is the privatisation of the NHS.

- I know that the aim of Mr Hunt’s recent statements is to convince the public that:

1) the NHS is of low quality (it is imperfect but it is the best in the world) and

2) overpaid workshy doctors are a major obstacle to service improvement.

- I know that these statements are based on:

1) a demonstrably erroneous interpretation of available data regarding death rates,

2) lies about average consultant income,

3) misleading impressions about consultant weekend working opt-out rates, and

4) exaggeration of the likely impact of enhanced weekend working.

That’s what I know, what follows is what I believe to be likely:

- I guess that Mr Hunt (not a stupid man despite his alma mater) knows we will oppose these “reform” plans, not because they will be financially ruinous to junior doctors (many in their 30s with children, mortgages etc.), nor because they will be detrimental to our family lives (although that would be reason enough for a less committed workforce), but rather because they are based on unsound premises, and because there is no evidence that they will achieve the stated aim, which is to promote a 7 day high quality NHS.

- I guess that he plans to use our opposition to make us a scapegoat for a much exaggerated and publicised poor NHS performance, drawing attention away from the chronic governmental underinvestment and mismanagement that is actually to blame. If people no longer value the NHS they will not love it, and if they do not love it they will not react when it is dismantled in favour of an insurance-based system.

This is clever (if underhanded) stuff. It is a neat solution to the genuine problem of funding the service. In your private system there will be more than enough doctors and nurses, and they will be happy with their hours and their wages. This is because they will be treating far fewer patients, because they will doubtless deliver an NHS-branded skeleton service (think US-medicare) to the 'have nots' of society, those who do not have the income or employment to provide a decent health plan. I will not discuss further the unnecessary tests and procedures prevalent in insurance-driven, litigation-heavy healthcare systems like the one that is likely to succeed our NHS if you have your way.

As an aside I note the deafening media silence (some notable exceptions) regarding this vocal and generally eloquent, nuanced, and evidenced social media campaign, and wonder how much influence the Tories have over the popular press. I also note the evidence that there are those in the Conservative party who will benefit financially from the ‘reforms’ you have fought so hard to bring to pass.

Jeremy Hunt has the chutzpah to state that he will enforce contract change if we do not submit, I suggest he and his leader underestimate how strong is the feeling throughout the NHS regarding this issue. We will fight, we may even strike (there are ways to do this without harming the public). You think we won’t because we value the love of the people too much; I believe we might, if we have to, because we value the health of the people (all of the people) more than we value their love.

This is not about us, Mr Hunt (doctors will likely do far better in your private system than we do now), this is about the population we serve. That kind of motivation is something your government may not understand, however you would do well to consider it as you plan your next move.

If you have queries regarding any of my stated claims I have evidence enough to support them and would be happy to provide such. Enjoy your weekend Mr Hunt."

Chinedu Nwokoro

Published with kind permission, originally produced for Facebook

By 999 Call for the NHS, Jun 26 2015 11:45AM

The NHS Needs YOU
The NHS Needs YOU

Why is it that 7am, sitting on the loo waiting for the coffee to brew, is the moment when sudden lucid thoughts burst through the fog ...

NHS destruction and confusion? DId you notice I paused there? I did. I wanted to use words like onslaught, attack, death, bombardment. I still do and here’s why.

I’ve been reluctant to use military vocabulary during my year of NHS Campaigning. Army. Soldiers. Weapons. Attack. But there’s no option now really because we are fighting a war. A corporate war where battalions of boardroom executives, trustees and consultant advisors are plotting the overthrow of the unsuspecting NHS Empire. Their corporate guns, tanks and bombers are spreadsheets, network models, management restructuring documents, change culture documents, allied consultancy documents and lobbying treatments and an ever growing vocabulary of positive care speak - integrated, joined-up, care in the home, time to care, forward view - it just goes on and on. All this hides the awful truth. They are attacking, bombing, killing, destroying the fabric of our society - the NHS and pretty much all our public services.

Austerity. We are at War.

And this is where my 7am lucid loo moment comes in. The 2003 Invasion of Iraq. The USA did a very clever thing with the media - they invented embedded journalism. This was a new move - attaching journalists and their crews to a regiment or military unit under the guise of allowing transparency and giving us at home a real sense of the crisis. In reality all we got was journalists and their camera crew cowering for shelter from a hail of bullets and incoming explosives. Chaos. Journalists were too busy avoiding near death to actually do their job - ask questions, explore the wider picture, give the world an overview of what was going on.

David Ignatius an American journalist writing in The Washington Post (2010) about embedded journalism - both military and political.

Journalists gain access to information and talkative sources, but also inherit the distortions and biases that come with being "on the bus" or "on the plane." The larger troubles of the news business are complicated, but this problem is simple: We can't understand what we don't see; we can't explain a conflict if we hear from only one side.

In the Iraq Invasion, the saying “keep your enemy close” was the name of the game. The media was the enemy and the USA/UK governments kept them very, very close. And the same thing is happening in the NHS takeover. Using the same technique of distorting the larger picture, NHS doctors, nurses, consultants and charitable organisations are being embedded into the management processes and restructuring under the guise of “informed knowledge and expertise”, “awareness of what healthcare needs”.

These poor NHS workers find themselves now on boards of committees, planning groups, sub-committees, review bodies, advisory centres - embedded close to the infantry of accountants, consultants, culture change experts, free market economic strategists who have spent days, weeks and months plotting the attack. On top of a working week they are now “invited” and embedded in a system which only exhausts them, confuses them and renders them pretty much useless - just like the media in the Iraq Invasion of 2003.

So yes. This is a war. Yes. We need an army. An army of people who can see through the “we care” bullshit and recognise the boardroom speak that the enemy can’t resist using. An army of people willing to infiltrate Patient Participation Groups, Clinical Commissioning Groups. An army of detectives who are willing, when the family are in bed, to trawl the net till 2am hunting out the enemies and their allies.

The June 20th People’s Assembly Anti-Austerity March gave me hope that such an army could exist. An army of people who care. Initial doubt gave way to hope. And without hope we can’t fight. But fight is what we must do.

We are at War.

I suggest you try looking at then tell me different.

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