Monday, May 29, 2006

I think that this record is scratched...

Neil Harding is incredibly worried by the idea of the Tories getting in after the next election. Yes, yes, nothing new under the sun, eh? This time he's turning his jaundiced and oh-so-precise eye on the NHS in particular, with nary a sweeping statement to be seen. OK, part of that sentence is a lie, I'll admit it.
So the Tories are ahead in the polls, but even more frightening is their lead on issues such as health, the environment and education. Issues they have no discernable policies on and an awful track record. This is a ridiculous situation. With David Cameron admitting he hasn't decided his policies, how the hell do the voters know what they are?

Oh, I don't know that their track record is that bad. Actually, they didn't do to badly in bringing down waiting times and, apparently, the internal market was such a good idea that—having dismantled it—NuLabour are now keenly setting it up again.
I suppose it is governments that lose elections, not oppositions that win them and who could argue that it's not open season on Labour at the moment (although this is always the case with our biased media).

I'm sorry, but this really cannot be let go. Neil, were you moaning and bitching about biased media when they were all supporting Blair and shitting on the Tories. Nope, didn't think so. It's also interesting to note that you seem to be one of the few people who thinks that our media are biased to the Right.
Anyway, here are some comments people made on this BBC website [And remember, chaps, that the Beeb is renowned for being biased towards the Tories, just like they are biased towards the Israelis, OK?—DK] last year just before the general election;

It's interesting that the people who actually work in the health service are the most positive about Labour's track record since taking power. Everyone else's opinion is just negative and media-influenced.

Yes, people like Dr Crippen (and all of his commentators) are not only immensely happy with the NHS, but they are part of a negative media bias. Fucking get a grip Crippen and tell it like it is, OK? Enough with your stories of people lying starving on the wards or coming out of hospital with brand-new sacral pressure sores, damn it! We want to hear more about how NuLabour's hitting all its targets; you're so fucking negative all the time. In the name of all that is unholy, Crippen, have you no shame? Patsy told me that the NHS has just had "its best year ever" and you had better start bloody well telling me some of the good shit, Crippen, or I'll get your children to dob you in to Big Toni. Oh, and we'll send the Mouth of NuLabour around to tell you how you've never had it so good, at inordinent length.

But, hist! Our BBC correspondant continues:
Beforehand, in each case, I priced private treatment. Frightening! I am afraid that very many people would have had to do without.

Yes, unless they had insurance to pay for it which, of course, is what NICs is. Except that you don't get to shop around to find either the best price or the best hospital. Hooray for government!
Our brave BBC comment writer is a nurse. Jolly good show, what!
I have been a nurse for 23 years... Under the Tories you could wait for two years for a coronary artery by-pass operation. In Manchester and throughout most of the UK there is no waiting list now. When you see the surgeon you basically book the date of your operation. Also under the Tories you could wait 18 months for an angiogram. The wait now for non-urgent cases is three months and improving.

I wonder if that is the good Dr Crippen's experience. From what I've read of his blog, i.e. all of it, this all seems to be pie-in-the-sky, frankly. But, naturally, the nurse would know.
I run a busy ward in a cardiac centre in London.

No doctors runnning it, you notice: no doubt they are all out playing golf. And those damn managers that we hear so much about: are they prepping the figures for Patsy?
Undoubtedly, I have many disagreements with Labour health policy, but remember well my first years in the NHS under a Tory government. Admittedly, I would have liked to have seen Blair reversing some of the disastrous Tory policies, but remember, they were Tory policies.

And that is relevent how? Blair did reverse the major policy: that of the internal market. He tore it down and restored peace and tranquility to the NHS. Indeed, so fucking stupid was the internal market, that Blair—having realised that his return to central diktat was an ever bigger and more expensive failure than the previous system—has decided to bring it back. But in a limited form, you understand; you know, you get all of the penpushing without the same range of choice. Internal-market-lite, if you like.

But let us return to our ever-beloved and rational Neil, fount of socialist wisdom.
I know there has been cutbacks in some areas of the NHS (even job losses) but do the Tories really deserve to be ahead on an issue they have no policies for and where they have such an awful record?

I don't know, Neil; did NuLabour deserved to be elected when they had such an appalling record on the economy? You now, devaluation of the pound in 1967, borrowing £3.6 billion from the IMF in 1976 (because they were bankrupt) and fucking up the entire country (because they were still bankrupt and were unable to stand up to their paymasters, the unions). Did NuLabour deserve to get in on that record? (Actually, it was those things that kept them out for so long; so, they had to bring in nice middle-class Mr Blair to spin and lie to reassure the voters who remembered the total fuck-up that Labour made in the 70s.)
By 1995 the Tory Govt were spending over £100m per year on management consultants and this practise was rapidly expanding as internal markets and PFIs took hold.

A trend which NuLabour has, thankfully, reversed. Erm...
Some of the recent press headlines are a scandalous misrepresentation of the facts as some of these scandals date from 1984, 1987 and 1994. The Tories were allowing foreign rapists and murderers to stay in the country and putting private agencies in charge of prisons who were then letting prisoners escape.

Oh dear god, it's like listening to an automated NuLabour answer-machine, ain't it just?
Just as privatisation started under Callagham [sic] and was expanded under Thatcher/Major, the management culture started under Thatcher, expanded under Major and has unfortunately accelerated under Blair (though as a percentage of total spend it hasn't).

Well, that's because the total spend is considerably higher now than it was under the Tories and is now standing at 43% of GDP. Or, as I like to call it, a fucking insane and unsustainable level; the kind of spending that would only be supported by an economic idiot and embittered political moron.
I tend to think that competence levels between Labour and Tory are similar.

So your beef with the Tories is...?
If anything Labour are slightly better.

Well, what a surprise that is...
People might think 'time for a change'. And a change is what they will get under the Tories, but it won't be the change we all want.

Who the hell is "we"? The majority of the blogosphere think that NuLabour are a bunch of useless, fascist nutjobs who are about as fit to govern as a fucking lobotomised duck; 78% of the people who were eligible to vote in this country also didn't want them in at the last general election. Oh, sorry, that's just negative media bias. D'oh, why didn't I spot that?
The Tories will cut frontline services before they touch the management consultants and bureaucracy (if they touch them at all). The Tories past record is poor.

But certainly no poorer than NuLabour's, actually. Or, indeed, your use of apostrophes (DISCLAIMER: obligatory cheap shot).
Every government wants to improve competence and efficiency and if it was easy the present government would be doing it.

Unless, of course, they are a bunch of fuck-witted cunts who lack the ability to thing about anything but centrist control. Those of us on the right know how to improve government services: stop them being government services. Open them up to market forces: I think that my plan was pretty sound. If you don't think so, well, you are just a bunch of biased media types deliberately spreading negativity. And spreading negativity is just, like, so uncoooool, maaan.
Just remember it is the spin of Cameron (he is Thatcherite underneath that thin veneer), the control freakery of his A-lists, and just look at the sort of people Cameron chooses. Are the voters expected to trust people like this? Don't do it.

Yeah, the trouble with that argument is that—whilst the Tories may be a bunch of untrustworthy, control freaks—NuLabour have proven that they are, and only a weasel fuckhead with some kind of psychotic monomania would try to urge anyone to continue voting for the fucking cunts.

24 comments:

Dr John Crippen said...

Heavens.

Neil Harding. I must be temperate, because he is a nurse-specialist. We now live in the world of the "nurse-specialist". They look after the poor people, whilst Tony and Cherie, and Liz and Pip, and all those people in BUPA see doctors.

Neil's post is a string of anecdotes roughtly held together by the glue of his personal political ideology. He is a paid up New Labour supporter - nothing wrong with that, it is his life - and he writes from that perspective.

I do not belong to any political party. However, like Neil, I voted for Tony Blair in 1997. I really thought he was giong to make a difference to health care and education, the two things that are most important to me.

The New Labour Health Care policies have had some success. Frankly, you cannot spend that sort of money without, even accidentally, getting something right. Access to hospital diagnostic service for patients with cancer is better than it was. Patients on waiting lists for hernias and varicose veins get seen a little quicker.

The downside however, is huge. Morale in the NHS is worse than I have ever known it. Project 2000 encouraged nurses to leave real nursing, and become irritating technocrats preteneding to be doctors, whilst patients now lie on wards starving and dying of bedsores becasue no one can be bothered to care for them. Hospitals are filthy. We have one of the worse MRSA rates in Europe. That is not anecdote, Neil, it is fact. Access to urgent surgery is patchy. Neil might have got one of his family through quickly. I work in a practice of 18000 patients, and we find it harder to access decent hospital care for them than it has ever been. I have had patients die waiting for CABGs. I have three patients on the waiting list for the cardiac surgery that the prime minister had "on the NHS" without waiting at all. The government is cutting services across the board either by abolishing them altogether, or dumbing them down so that jobs that should be done by doctors are now being done by nurses and others who have neither the intelligence nor the training to do the job properly. General practice is being destroyed and turned into an immediate access walk-in service, available 24 hours a day but frontended by nurses and EMTs.

I could go on. Well, I do go on frequently on NHS BLOG DOCTOR.

I partially agree with Neil that, as yet, the boy David has not pulled anything out of the hat to make me think that the Tories know how to turn it round, but that does not in anyway justify the status quo.

John

The Remittance Man said...

"It's interesting that the people who actually work in the health service are the most positive about Labour's track record since taking power".

Are we talking people doing real work - doctors, nurses, etc? Or could Neil be refering to the umpteen hundred thousand jobsworths currently warming NHS office chairs courtesy of Mr Blair's conviction that more managers means more productivity and Mr Brown's fetish for making every unemployable in the land personally beholden to him and his munificence.

Sadly the term "those working in the Health Service" no longer allows us to differentiate between the two. Neil will have to be more specific in future.

RM

Dr John Crippen said...

I think Neil needs to take a look at:


http://www.dailypropaganda.co.uk/2006/05/results_of_eye_examination.html



John

Dr John Crippen said...

Slightly OT...well, perhaps not, because you started with Neil...but I have just been browsing around his site.

He is pro Identity Cards.

I never understand why the touchy-feely, tree-hugging, caring left are so gobstoppingly fascist on issues like this. Or is it just that Neil thinks that anything emerging from a Blair orifice is gospel?


John

prawn crackers said...

The Good Doctor's diagnosis is correct...'anything emerging from a Blair orifice is gospel'. Neil talks twaddle but I think he is sincere in his beliefs and is probably a nice person. But I don't think DK should spend his energy and effort in fisking the unfiskable. Neil is not serious and should not be taken seriously. Trust my judgement on this. possibility that he is just having DK on since

Katy Newton said...

Didn't Neil change his mind about ID cards at some stage?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Neil did, after almost the entire blogosphere crashed down on him, change his mind about the government ID Cards and NIR proposals.

However he only admitted that this was a bad proposal and has never renounced his support for the concept of ID Cards or the NIR.

But he is a socilialist: what do you expect?

DK

Devil's Kitchen said...

Oh, and I never understand why the touchy-feely, tree-hugging, caring left are so gobstoppingly fascist on issues like this.

It is because humans are evil, whilst trees are not. Humans need to be kept in check by their betters, you see...

DK

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

"It is because humans are evil, whilst trees are not. Humans need to be kept in check by their betters, you see..."

Let me get this straight: humans are to be kept in check by trees? No wonder everything is going pear-shaped round here.

;-P

PG

Devil's Kitchen said...

P-G,

Yup, that's right. Because, like, trees, man, they're like gentle and don't like screw up the environment, man. I mean, like, they are the environment and we are just, like, totally fucking it up, man. Like, trees are good, you know. And, like, people are bad, yeah? So, like, people need to, like, rediscover the dryads and, like, commune with the trees like our ancestors used to. Yeah?

DK

Katy Newton said...

In this government's new utopia it is only a matter of time before the trees are required to carry ID cards as well.

Wrong Un said...

Fuck me you talk some shit.

You bang on about Labour's economic record in the seventies - how about the Conservative economic record in the early nineties - have you conveniently forgotten interest rates of 15% and our exit from the ERM? Forgotten about the recession?

I could go on but I won't. Your rant is so full of holes that it would take me a decade to go through them all...

Devil's Kitchen said...

Wrong Un,

Your problem is that you talk exactly like Neil. I know about the Tories less than perfect record on the economy; indeed, I am more than well aware of it.

However, I was not comparing the Tories' economic record with Labour's; Neil says that Labour is doing a good job with the economy (I don't happen to agree, but let us take this assumption as read). What I was pointing out was that, although Labour are doing well now economically, their previous track record is disastrous.

In the same way, just because the Tories' record on health has been bad in the past does not automatically mean that they will be as bad when they next get in.

You see, it's quite simple really. When you think about it...

DK

Devil's Kitchen said...

Oh, and while we're about it, I really don't think that anything that the Tories did in the 80s can possibly compare to the almighty fuck-up that was the winter of discontent.

And the problem wasn't our exit from the ERM; it was the entry (yes, entirely the Tories' fault): we went in pegged far too high against the Deutschmark, given the high inflation and interest rates. Once we hit recession, there was no way that we were going to be able to stay within the 6% margin.

However, it was not all bad:

In the months and years following Black Wednesday, the pound traded substantially below its ERM lower band. It dipped below 2.20 Deutsche Mark in spring 1995. From this point onwards however, it began a sustained recovery and, at one point, touched the value of 3.20 DM. Some commentators believe that 'Black' Wednesday has proved to be good for the British economy in the long-term, as interest rates were allowed to find their natural level and the government was encouraged to adopt institutional changes that have further strengthened the economy.

Indeed the performance of the UK economy subsequent to the events of Black Wednesday has been significantly stronger than that of the Eurozone and, despite the damage caused to the economy in the short term, many economists now use the term 'White Wednesday' to describe the day (a term originally coined by Euro-sceptics happy at the stalling of further European integration). According to figures from the OECD, the average annual growth rate between 1996 and 2005 works out at 2.2% in France, 1.5% in Italy, 1.3% in Germany, 2% for the Eurozone overall and 2.7% in the UK.


The real damage was done to the Conservatives' reputation, but by that time the people handling the economy were, Heath-like, so desperate to get into bed with the Eurozone that -- once again -- they took us in on deeply unfavourable terms.

Which just convinces me further that we should leave them to it and look to the rest of the world.

DK

Devil's Kitchen said...

And now, why don't you have a go at the rest of the holes in my arguments? On you come, Wrong Un...

DK

Neil Harding said...

John (Dr Crippen), your politcs are right-wing, so you see everything through that perspective.

Is it possible to be working hard doing a valuable job in the NHS and be left wing? Well yes it is, and there are many (maybe a majority of) people in the NHS who would disagree with your analysis and especially your ideas of how to sort out NHS problems.

Yes we do have one of the worst MRSA problems in the EU, we also have some of the poorest paid cleaning staff in our hospitals and we all know the Tories put cleaning contracts out to private companies and that was a disaster.

The basic facts are that we spend less on our healthcare than France and Germany do, so to say the NHS is awash with cash is inaccurate.

To say the NHS is more inefficient doesn't stand up to scrutiny either, since in the US they spend twice per head what we do, yet the majority are faced with worse healthcare than us.

According to WHO we are 18th in the world on overall healthcare outcomes but only 26th in the world on per capita spend, compared to the US who are 37th in the world on outcomes but 1st on per capita spend. This suggests that by international comparison, the NHS is highly efficient.

In any organisation the size of the NHS, it will always be possible on a daily basis to find significant errors, faults, even horror stories, but we should put that into the perspective of the millions of people who receive excellent care they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. Those on the right don't care about these people, those on the left however think that tax cuts are less important than this fact.

(I have also posted this comment in reply to Dr Crippen on my site).

DK As for the winter of discontent (I lived through it and hardly noticed), it was grossly exagerated by our press. The 3 day week under the Tories (Edward Heath) was far more of an inconvenience for most people. I remember constantly having to go and buy some more candles.

Neil Harding said...

DK, By the way, fair summary of my position on ID cards. I see no problem with ID cards if they are introduced in the right way. Countries far more democratic than here have them. In fact Shaki Chakrabarti at Liberty has said that her sister organisations in Europe find her position on ID cards strange.

Neil Harding said...

Shami Chakrabarti is what I meant to put!

Neil Harding said...

Isn't congratulating the Tories for the Black Wednesday disaster, a bit like congratulating an arsonist for a forest fire (because wildlife benefits in the long run)?

Devil's Kitchen said...

DK, By the way, fair summary of my position on ID cards. I see no problem with ID cards if they are introduced in the right way. Countries far more democratic than here have them. In fact Shaki Chakrabarti at Liberty has said that her sister organisations in Europe find her position on ID cards strange.

Yes, but, Neil, I find it strange that, for instance, those countries also throw the burden of proof upon the accused rather than the state. I find it odd that they don't have habeas corpus and people can be locked up indefinitely. Also, we've never been ruled by a totalitarian government, either Communist or Fascist, whereas all the others have. Handing over one's papers for inspections doesn't seem so awful when you've had to do it all of you life. Besides, as you are well aware, it is the scope of the NIR that really got us all so fucking pissed off.

Isn't congratulating the Tories for the Black Wednesday disaster, a bit like congratulating an arsonist for a forest fire (because wildlife benefits in the long run)?

No, although it might be like clubbing seals to spare them the starvation later on. I was hardly congratulating them; I would't say that anything to do with the ERM could be counted as a bravura performance. However, it is worth pointing out that there have been benefits: obviously those benefits will have been far greater from the opinion of a Euronihilist, like myself, than for you.

DK

Katy Newton said...

Neil, I loathed and despised the Tory administration but they haven't been in power since 1997. At what point do you think the state of the country is going to stop being the Tories' fault and start being Labour's fault?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Oh Katy, Katy, don't be silly. The answer to your question is "never". If I may paraphrase Galaxyquest: "never give up! Never surrender to reality!"

DK

Neil Harding said...

It's a shame no-one has commented on my health stats above which I put in bold to emphasise them. The lies Crippen and DK put out about the NHS are disgraceful. The NHS is not awash with cash, we spend less per capita than Germany and France. The NHS is not inefficient either, by international comparison according to WHO we do quite well, 26th on spending per capita but 18th on overall health performance. The US in comparision spends the most per capita but is in 37th on overall health performance. This suggests the NHS is efficient.

Katy, it was DK who brought up Black Wednesday and tried to suggest that it was the Tories who are responsible for the success of the economy.

I am quite happy for Labour to take the rap for problems in the Home office and NHS as long as Labour are given their due credit for managing the economy. DK seems to want it both ways.

The facts are the NHS is much better than it was, waiting times have tumbled and the level of service has improved. There are more operations, more doctors, nurses etc and they are better paid. From my own personal experience I can vouch for this, my dad had to wait 18 months for his first hip replacement in the early nineties, his recent hip replacement he only had to wait a month.

As for the Home Office, it is in a bad shape but as I pointed out with my examples of Tory incompetence, it is no worse than it was under the Tories.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Neil,

The lies Crippen and DK put out about the NHS are disgraceful.

To accuse a practising GP -- who has not only voted Labour but also repeatedly declared himself a fan of the principle of the NHS -- of lying shows not only a disregard for someone with considerable more experience than yourself, but also a mealy-mouthed refusal to face facts.

The NHS is not awash with cash, we spend less per capita than Germany and France.

But, as I have said many times before, the way in which we spend it is entirely different: the financing in France and Germany is mainly through private insurance (levied compulsorarily on wages, but not pissed up the wall by the government). The structure is entirely different. We are spending twice as much on the NHS as we were in 1997: has the NHS got twice as good? No.

Katy, it was DK who brought up Black Wednesday and tried to suggest that it was the Tories who are responsible for the success of the economy.

No, I didn't, you silly little man; I pointed to and quoted a Wikipedia article which suggested that it had had some benefits. Every cloud and all that. The fact is that, having recovered from Black Wednesday, the Tories then set about making the economy as stable as possible. Gordon Brown has traded on that.

I am quite happy for Labour to take the rap for problems in the Home office and NHS as long as Labour are given their due credit for managing the economy. DK seems to want it both ways.

Yes, I want you to see that Labour has not improved the NHS in line with the extra funding, that the Home Office is, and patently has been for at least the last nine years, and that the economy is also failing. Give us four years, Neil: I will be proved right and you will be proved wrong.

DK

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