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By 999 Call for the NHS, Apr 26 2020 02:58PM

According to the website the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is

responsible for ensuring that timely and coordinated scientific advice is made available to decision makers to support UK cross-government decisions in the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR). The advice provided by SAGE does not represent official government policy.

The membership of SAGE depends on the nature of the emergency but it typically includes leading experts from within government and leading specialists from the fields of academia and industry.

So the recent press discovery that so-called “advisor” to the Prime Minister - Dominic Cummings - has been sitting on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies Covid19 meetings has raised yet more alarm and questions about the decision-making and logic of the government’s response to the pandemic. He’s not a scientist and he’s certainly not independent.

What has caused most alarm is the fact that the experts present at meetings and the evidence they have been presenting and gathering has not been made public. The Government are refusing to be open about it. So again... what is the political advisor doing at the SAGE meetings and what influence is he having there?

At the beginning of April current Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance claimed the decision not to disclose its membership was based on security advice from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) itself a rather flash government agency headed up by MI5 Chief Andrew Parker. Apparently those attending the meetings were possible targets of death threats.

What the hell were they discussing?

Despite MPs callling on the government to publish details of those attending the SAGE meetings the government has rejected the demands. Yet this week the Government’s own Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty plainly said that he and SAGE Chair, Sir Patrick Vallance, had “no objection (in principle) to details of the membership being disclosed”.

But it appears Sir Patrick Vallance was sticking by his statement to the Science and Technology Committee that there were no plans to reveal the identities of the other Sage members. He said: 'Once Sage stops convening on this emergency the minutes of relevant Sage meetings, supporting documents and the names of participants (with their permission) will be published,'.

Vallance used the word “participants” and the press should take note. The use of the word “members” - which suggests a regular secretive group - might be a trap to avoid. SAGE is not a members committee. SAGE is called when an emergency occurs, pulls “experts” in and sits beneath the other emergency group COBR - the Cabinet Office Briefing Room.

Past SAGE attendee Professor Sir Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) from September 2012 to August 2019 told the Press Association how the voluntary SAGE process worked:

“There’s a pool of experts, and those people from within that pool, who are relevant to a particular topic will be called on at any particular time. What happens is that you get an email through or you get a calendar invite through which is a calling notice that says there’s going to be a SAGE at a particular time you’re invited to attend, and here’s the agenda.”

So are the press, like Matt Hancock, ramping it up for dramatic value? And are we - campaigners and angry confused public alike also falling for it? Yes a little. Drama is addictive and we are all reacting to the beat of theatrical drums. We need to try and suck the air out of overblown drama and identify where the real threats, real wrongdoings lie. SAGE is not a secret group with dark advisory secrets. But the refusal to publish the attendee list makes it appear so and justifiably arouses concern and anger. So quite rightly we should call the government out for their repeated (polite) mistakes and mishandling of the crisis.

At a time when a nation needs to feel that the leaders can be trusted - trust is totally lacking.

Time and again promises have been made at the 5pm Press Conference only to reveal that there was never any possibility of the promises being kept or completed. Personal Protection Equipment, weeks waiting and still failing according to many NHS workers; testing still nowhere near the promised targets and chaotic in its distribution not to mention the complete lack of a plan to act on the testing results (contact tracing and tracking, quarantine, cordon sanitaire (isolating areas) etc.)

Andrew Neil took to witter telling everyone to ‘get a grip’. Gladly Mr Neil you pompous oaf but...

Trouble is get a grip of what? Nothing is clear in the mis management of this public health crisis.

Cick on THIS LINK to see the leaked list of the 23rd March SAGE meeting. It is worth taking a look.

The supposed mystery and skullduggery of Cummins and his Vote Leave algorithm sidekick Ben Warner being present at the 23rd March meeting - the list leaked by someone - is yet one more step into the never ending labyrinth of confusion designed by this government’s apparent willful contempt, misuse and abuse of political infrastructures. It’s probably one more DEAD CAT for us all to get our knickers in a twist over.

One thing is clear though. Even if and when this government has a decent plan no one would believe it. And that is a terrible place for a country to be in.

A public looking to the leadership with a complete lack of TRUST.

By 999 Call for the NHS, Mar 19 2016 09:24AM

Where were Labour?
Where were Labour?

Friday 11th March

Caroline Lucas presented the NHS BILL (formerly NHS Reinstatement Bill). It was an opportunity for the Labour Party to get behind something that (no matter how imperfect it might technically as a Draft Bill) set out clear aims to bring back the NHS into public hands again. Taking the private market culture out of it and making it impossible for private corporations to control - as they are doing now in our understanding.

Deborah Harrington gives us this brilliant thought as to why Labour chose not to support it with MPs attendance at the debate - despite over 42,000 signatures on a 38 Degree petition.

Thanks Deborah.

Some context for those who don't get the point of the NHS Bill and think there is no problem with Labour not turning up to support it.

The first problem of note is Simon Stevens.

Simon Stevens was an NHS manager. He became a health policy advisor to Alan Milburn, in 1997, along with Mark Britnell and Penny Dash. He was also a Labour councillor in Lambeth.

He introduced the first privatisations into the NHS, including the Foundation Trusts (making them arm's length business units, rather than publicly owned services), PFI, and bringing United Health in to run the first privatised GP practices, among many other things. (Hansard evidence click)

In 2006 he went to work for United Health (the US's largest private healthcare corporation) in their Europe division, and in 2008 as president of global operations.

(Mark Britnell went on to KPMG and Penny Dash to McKinsey, where her role has included being a Trust Special Administrator - a role created by Labour)

In that role Stevens led a lobby group, lobbying the US Trade Dept to use trade laws to break open public health services worldwide to create access for US markets. United Health also lobbied against Obama's affordable care act.

In 2014 the Coalition brought him back as NHS England's CEO. Within a few months he had produced the 5 Year Forward View, which is what all your hospitals are suffering under, all the closures, reductions in service, land sales.

The 5YFV is completing the implementation of the H&SCA (2012). Labour calls Lansley's Act the reorganisation of the NHS, as if it is done and dusted and behaves as if everything else is just a consequence of the de-funding. It isn't. It is the constant restructuring of the 5 YFV. The money is being used as a lever to get the changes made - comply and you'll be bailed out, is the message.

Labour welcomed Stevens' appointment and support the 5 YFV. You can't oppose privatisation of the NHS and simultaneously support Stevens.

The second problem of note

is private sector involvement in the NHS and public ownership.

No matter what the Labour Party says, it appears to have no intention of renationalising the Foundation Trust hospitals, which is essential if they are not to be sold off as hospital chains to foreign investors (one of the next privatisation steps).

It is impossible to get the Labour Party to commit to Bevan's principles. Efford's Bill was not a proper 'NHS' bill. They refuse to support the actual NHS bill on the grounds that it is another 'top down reorganisation'. This is based on three things: 1. that the NHS staff don't want any more reorganisations. This is not true. Staff know the NHS is in a broken up mess. They need it to be put back together. But Simon Stevens says, in the 5YF that staff do not want another reorganisation (as he downgrades, closes and restructures all our services), and Simon is god like in the infallibility of his pronouncements according to all the main Parliamentary parties. 2. That everything is just settling down after Lansley's Act. It isn't, as explained above. 3. They don't understand the bill's provisions for returning to Bevan's NHS, because they don't understand anything about the nuts and bolts of health provision.

And Labour is quite happy to sell off our public land and assets. They also had no problem with massive restructuring for the purposes of privatisation. It is only restructuring to bring it back into public ownership they object to.

The Bill itself was totemic. In the face of piss poor opposition to date from Labour to the Coalition's and now the Tories' brutal destruction (they would have had to confess -and renounce- their role in the privatisation to successfully oppose) their support for the bill would have been a marker of intent on their part. And, with the SNP support + Lucas herself would have indicated the start of a progressive alliance that might have posed a real threat to the government. Unfortunately that's of little interest to a large section of the PLP.

It should be a matter of concern to the Corbynistas that John McDonnell was happy for Labour MPs to attend and vote in favour of the bill. He thought any problems could be dealt with in committee stage. But Labour Central issued the standard reply to be sent to constituents by all MPs, presumably against his will? - and Corbyn's? - on Thursday, saying they all had constituency duties, when they had had months of notice and could have rearranged their schedules for the day.

You have to understand that this is a story of corporate capture of our democratic processes, not a question of party political purity. United Health, McKinsey, KPMG, PwC and others are making the decisions about our NHS - on behalf of both the Tories and Labour. New Labour introduced New Public Management - the idea that government is about management of an entrepreneurial culture, not about political ideology. They brought think tanks and management consultants in to take the place of the civil service. The same management consultants whose major clients are global corporations. We need to fight this corruption of our democracy. Then the Labour Parliamentary party might return to the values most of its supporters old and new hold dear.

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