Thursday, 22 September 2011

Wasted NHS Money

I have just heard two NHS related articles on the BBC news. The first was about the PFI initiatives to build hospitals. By 2049 more than £70 billion will have been spent on the construction and maintenance of buildings worth around £11 billion. The second article was about the probable scrapping of the national NHS computerised records system. By coincidence this project also cost £11 billion but there is now little confidence that the project could be delivered and trusts will use their own computer systems.

The PFI initiatives were set up to allow the private sector to help deliver public services. It sounds good but what it actually means is that public services have to pay for private support, and the private sector is not a benevolent society. Today's news is that up to sixty hospitals are on the brink of financial collapse because of these initiatives. It didn't surprise me that the private sector wanted significant reward. What did surprise me was how easily a Labour government continued with support for the private sector. It should be so simple. Government collects revenue. Trusts spend money. However it was decided that the NHS does not have the ability to follow this simple route and now we are paying the price.

As for the national computer system, I have heard that there could be a benefit if I walk into a hospital at the other end of the country and my records are available. I have never bought into this notion for many reasons. If I end up in hospital then there is a really good chance it will be my local hospital. If I do have to go to another hospital then the chances are that I will be able to speak with a doctor and tell then what is wrong with me. There are many more reasons why I was not keen on spending billions on a national computer system but I think you get the idea - decisions are being made recklessly which mean that our money is wasted and somebody should be accountable.

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Thursday, 8 September 2011

I was misled

It's only a few blog entries away, but on the 12th August I wrote that the words from the Police Complaints Commission that they "may have misled journalists" struck me as a cause for concern. the subject was the death of Mark Duggan.

Today on the news I hear that Mark's family has no trust in the IPCC's investigation but at least the IPCC admit that they misled journalists (not that they may have misled). Now the blame lies with the Police Complaints Commission and not with the journalists so it is no wonder the family can't trust this organisation.

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Monday, 5 September 2011

Why dislike the X Factor?

I always thought that I was indifferent to the X Factor - well not completely indifferent. I like to see contestants sing badly and then listen to the comments of the judges. As for those who audition well, they have to follow a formula. Firstly they have to be able to sing and hit the notes, secondly, they have to sing in a popular style. Maybe their voice could be influenced by blues or jazz or a number of other influences but essentially they have to produce formulaic pop music.

What changed my opinion from indifference was watching the highlights of the Cropredy music festival. This festival is organised by Fairport Convention, a group I have seen on a handful of occasions and they have always been brilliant. Most importantly they have produced a following which is just as friendly as they are. However this group would not last a minute on the X Factor. They would be stopped because it takes minutes or hours to get into this type of music. Some would say years. I also went to see a folk group on Friday that had influences from many different directions. North America, France, Portugal and this country were all involved in creating their music and there were probably many other sources.

If you like to hear criticisms of people who fail, if you like all your music to sound the same, then the X Factor could be for you.

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Sunday, 4 September 2011

How to get sent off

I have been watching the Wigan versus Warrington match this afternoon. The match is almost finished but Gareth Hock for Wigan has decided that there is still plenty to play for. So much so that Gareth thought it was worthwhile putting his fingers in the eyes of Ben Harrison the Warrington prop. Then Gareth followed it up with a push/punch with his left arm and an attempted upper cut with his right. For this misdemeanor he is placed on report.

I don't know if all of this was seen by the referee, but I had two thoughts on this incident. Wouldn't it be nice to think that a player's eyesight was more important than whether a boot went onto a white line in the process of scoring a try. So bring in the technology to allow the referee to know exactly what has gone on. Secondly, if the referee did know what went on, and what I saw was correct (I only saw the replay three times) then the punishment should relate to the incident. What do you have to do to end up in the sin bin? What do you have to do to get sent off?

The good news is that the initial comment was that incident was shocking, and after the match we were told that there is no place for this type of action in the game of rugby league. So maybe my interpretation was correct.

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Friday, 2 September 2011

More Marmite required

In 1983 I was 22 years old. I had been politically active since I was a teenager but one event of that year inspired me to more political activity and it inspires me still. You may remember the news programme called Nationwide and one particular interview with Margaret Thatcher. If you don't remember Nationwide you will remember Mrs Thatcher, the Marmite of politics as you either loved her or hated her.

This was one of a series of interviews which allowed members of the public ask their questions to famous people. They were in another studio and their faces were on a screen in the background. Mrs Thatcher was asked about the Belgrano and how it could have been "a danger to our shipping" when it was outside the exclusion zone and heading in the opposite direction. You know, the thing you do if you don't want to be shot at. All Margaret did was to repeat her "danger to our shipping" phrase but had no substance to back this up. We were too stupid as members of the public to understand where the danger was coming from.

I suppose the Belgrano could have turned round and become aggressive and so could have been a danger, but I don't know of any Hollywood film that lets the good guys act like this. There is room for agreement with Maggie as long as you want to be one of the bad guys and if you are the bad guys then it isn't worth winning the war.

At the time of the interview I remember raising my arms in exasperation at the television. Maybe we need more Marmite to get more people concerned about politics.

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