Saturday 3 August 2013


I've just read this article over at Liberal Conspiracy. 

It's something that I think we all need to read. 

People need to know that this company (and why would any other companies be different) are playing around with the health of sick and vulnerable people, and treating their staff with such disdain.

Do they not see that having to deal with these situations day in and day out, without proper medical knowledge, will create an intolerable strain. I wouldn’t last the first day.

Companies tender for these contracts, from which they can make a lot of money; they cut costs to the minimum with never a thought to the consequences. 

They are, after all, not in the least interested in the patient outcome. Dead or alive, they make money and it appears that if it all fails, they simply hand back the contract to the government and walk off with bonuses and Mercedes.

I am reminded of the almost unbelievable situation we found ourselves in a few years ago when retirement homes ran out of money and couldn't cope, because the management had sold off the property to give themselves massive bonuses, and then couldn't afford the money to rent them back. The taxpayer had to step in, regardless that the directors of the company had made millions, and rescue old people who didn't know where their next meal was coming from. 

It's hardly a modern European way of doing things, is it?

It’s no use appealing to a Tory government though. They and theirs are covered by private health insurance so they won't be listening. It’s a problem for little people of no account.  So Mr Hunt (promoted because he managed to deliver the Olympics with an unlimited budget, which we have never been allowed to know; and with the help of tens of thousands of army personnel, because his private contracts went belly up just days before curtain up) will continue to make a complete mess of running health in England.

Yes, in England, so, thank god, it is not us. Yet. Let's make sure it never is. 

Here's the article:

by Anonymous

The NHS Direct service, which has received much negative coverage since launch, will pull out of 111 contracts and hand over to other providers.

Does this surprise me? No – it serves an example of the negative consequences of the privatisation of the NHS.

As a former employee I know first hand that although this service fails its patients, they are not the only victims. The ‘call handlers’ whose job it is to speak to patients have been failed by the service too.

I worked for NHS Direct for four months, and during this time I was ‘trained’ to handle calls on the old service, and the new 111 number. I had no medical background, and five weeks of training on a computer questionnaire health system was deemed adequate to begin taking calls from the general public.

Focus was placed on the quantity of workers as opposed to the quality of our knowledge.

My first live call was a disaster. The patient was a stroke victim, and I did not recognise the signs. Trying to contact a clinician for advice was useless due to the long queues because of large call volumes. It was only when a manager intervened (a previous call handler with no official medical training) did I recognise the signs. Instead of being taken offline and being given the further training that I obviously needed, I was  informally disciplined and told to keep my head down.

Staff morale was low, and the wages were terrible. I worked for an external agency that was employed by the NHS to provide staff and the agency paid us up to 60% less for doing the same job as those employed by directly by the NHS.

Shifts could be changed within a twenty-four hour period; no paid sick leave, pension options or incentives. Because of this and poor management, no counselling or emotional support much of the staff did not care about the job or the patients.

Confidentiality breaches were common; with many staff unaware what decision to make would often invite others to help. Calls from the mentally disturbed and elderly were handled incorrectly by some staff members who had not received enough training to correctly handle these calls. Abuse calls required a flag to be raised but many staff simply could not always recognise the signs and would decide not to take action.

I participated in commissioner calls in order to deem the 111 service safe for a live launch. The calls were conducted in a casual and unprofessional manner. A call which I was tested on involved the caller speaking in a ludicrous French accent to determine if I knew what correct procedure to follow on the computer system. Even though the centre was deemed ‘safe’ it was obvious that given the circus like atmosphere on the day of the final tests that the staff were unprepared.

During my time as a call handler I tried to do the best that I could with the limited resources available. But because of the emotional and mentally draining element of the job I decided to leave, as did many other staff.

The illustrations of the English cabinet secretary for health are mine.


  1. tris

    I could of wrote this perhaps should of but there you go

    Voting for the first time was as much a rite of passage for me as learning to drive was for my peers – like Adrian Mole, I longed to stick it to the Tories. When the chance eventually arrived, I took it with glee – voting Labour in local, European and general elections. After the hung parliament of 2010 threw Labour back into opposition, I felt closer than ever to the party I had supported for most of my life. I filled in the forms, set up a direct debit and became a paid-up member. Why, I wondered, had I waited so long?

    In the leadership election, I made Ed Miliband my first preference in the belief his leftwing credentials would see him counter the inevitable anti-poor narrative the elected right would attempt to impose on the financial crisis. But this week I have decided to cancel my membership. The blame for this, I am sorry to say, lies squarely with its leader. When Labour veteran George Mudie said yesterday that Miliband was "hesitant and confused" he was, if anything, being too kind on him.

    Back in July 2011, Miliband was asked the same question six times about whether he would, as Labour leader, support public sector strikes; six times he gave the same, unconvincing answer. It's largely the same story at the dispatch box. The scant few blows he has been able to land on David Cameron are offset by Miliband's unwillingness to press home whatever advantage he may have for fear of upsetting the rightwing press. Tory cuts are criticised but accepted with a shrug, while the rank incompetence of leading cabinet members, most notably Jeremy Hunt, slips by unremarked upon, almost as if Miliband is too polite to mention it.

    Ed Balls has offered most resistance to the right's suicidal economic plans, but even he has fallen silent as the coalition government successfully begins to reinflate the bubble that got us into this mess in the first place. The Labour leader, on the other hand, is too busy fighting fires that he started to challenge the narrative of the right. His conflict with the unions – something which he must imagine puts him on a par with Tony Blair – has divided the left at a time it can ill afford it. It's not even as though it's the kind of dispute that will help him draw floating voters to his cause – party funding is a turn-off to anyone who isn't a hardcore politics nut.

  2. Meanwhile, the true opposition to the government is to be found away from Westminster. David Blanchflower, Polly Toynbee and even the Institute of Directors have all made a better job of holding the coalition to account than Labour. Clearly, there are influential groups and individuals ready to come to the party's aid, but Miliband has failed to marshal the forces at his disposal. Instead, he is stumbling blindly past the middle ground he so desperately longs to control, and off to some right-of-centre nightmare traditional Labour supporters never thought their leader could reach.

    Perhaps it's unreasonable in a country where the media is dominated by Murdoch and Dacre to expect leftwing views to get a fair hearing, but Miliband seems so frightened of the "Red Ed" tag that he's not even willing to try. If he believes he's currying favour in these areas, he's in for a surprise when the next election rolls around. At the moment, Miliband's biggest achievements are somehow remaining largely anonymous, while the country and its leaders struggle to tread water, and isolating his core support but failing to woo voters of other political leanings – a lead of just three points in the polls is pathetic.

    I would stay and try to help it get its act together, but Labour's views no longer seem to tally with mine. So the direct debit is cancelled, the membership over and I find myself taking an increasing interest in the policies of the Greens. I always thought it would be me who got more rightwing as I grew older, but it turns out it was the Labour party.

    1. It's a sad tale of a party that lost its way, Niko.

      In a way I can see what happened. Partly explained by Blair, who was caused by Thatcher, who was caused by the outrageous excesses of the 70s, which was caused by the intransigence of postwar Conservatism "Right chaps, thanks for winning the war for England's green and pleasant land, what! Now shoulder to the wheel, your back in the yoke, live in your bombed out hovel while we spend the reparation money on nuclear weaponry, so we can keep up with the Americans what...

      However Labour got there, and by what processes, the country is now a bastion of right wingedness. it's probably true that there is no place for the Michael Foot Labour party of long ago. But what we have is a slightly less odious version of the Tories.

      No one will overturn the evil that this government of Spivs has unleashed on us. Even if Miliband could win the next election, he'll not reverse anything.

      He'll say he can't afford it, but the real reason will be that he won't want to upset Dacre and his pursed lipped racist readership of vinegar tits, or the weird Barclay Brothers from their tax haven island in the Channel, or Mr Murdoch, because in the end it's the Sun what wins it.

      Getting its act together? How would it do that? Become a centre left party that cares about the poor; get rid of the bedroom tax; stop benefits being cut; make a living wage so that the social security system doesn't have to support companies by allowing them to pay starvation wages; ban zero hour contracts; send the scum bag venture capitals running for cover; stop Atos's contracts; renationalise the NHS in England and Wales; get rid of the phallic symbol of Britain's virility, the bomb ?

      No. It won't do any of that. Because the country is controlled by the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express, and they would have them out on their ear tout de suite.

      Little Englanders have been taught by the Tories and their press not to like scroungers and foreigners, cripples and greens.

      In the next few years it will only get worse. The Tories will almost undoubtedly win the next election unless something amazing happens... like the entire Tory party are found to have been plotting against the life of the baby George Alexander Louis.

      If it's mere corruption that they have been up to...pfff... No one cares about that any more. We are conditioned to expect it.

      Like we have been conditioned to believe that anyone who is unemployed is a scrounger; anyone who is disabled or sick is a liar; anyone who is under 70 should be out there working and anyone (except Lynton Crosby and that Bank of England blokey), who is foreign, should be sent home.

      The place has turned into a narrow little Englander, Xenophobic right wing state, where insulting the prime minister is now an offence. (The big fat dim silver spooned Eton twat.)

      It's a country made for spivs. It's a country that applauds the Wonga money lenders and the management that trains laymen for 5 weeks and leaves them at the end of a phone to diagnose strokes and heart attacks, if they can be bothered so that real doctors and consultants on £200,000 a year can take it easy and have time to spend their money.

      That's why I want out, because one way or the other, Tory and Liberals or Labour and Liberals, with the Racists thrown in for good measure, the UK is the stinking arm pit of Europe.

  3. Cockney rhyming slang was invented for Jeremy Hunt. He has that 'something of the night' look that Mandelson has.
    In the modern UK, everything is for sale, including humanity.
    Get me out of here!

    1. I think Jim Naughtie did that... Jutie.

      As I said above's the armpit of Europe.

  4. Could well be CH.

    His history is typical of a politician. He's really done nothing much, and in the end was thrown out of office by an opponent.

    So as a way of saying get stuffed to the public as the likes of Cleggy are apt to do, they simply stick him in the House of Lords. No one will ever vote for him...but then, he can be a parliamentarian, even a minister, and no one has to vote for him. And he will be there till he dies... and as he is around 40 that's a bloody long time that he can count on £300 a day tax free for doing sod all.

    A pox on all their houses.

    Get me out of here.

  5. tris

    why is it all the adds on vans in tory voting areas potential UKIP
    winning ones. All the adds warning illegal immigrants to 'GO HOME '
    Are writ large in English seeing as most illegal immigrant only
    have a basic knowledge of written English.

    Just who are these racist adds aimed at the Vile stinking tory voting scum
    whoms vote Cameron and his racist Australian svengali are terrifeid of losing.
    Or the illegal immigrant employed mainly by racist Tory supporting employers.

  6. Heaven knows why they have done that, Niko.

    As you say, supposedly to impress the right wingers in the Tory shires (where illegal immigrants rarely have their estates) that they are being tough on damned foreigners.

    Of course if the Home Office had the slightest handle on what was going on they would manage to deport illegal immigrants, but as usual the Home Office lives in a world of its own where they actually employ illegal immigrants as cleaners!!!

    So they have to ask them to leave of their own accord.

    Erm, I say old chap, would you be so terribly kind as to erm return to your country of origin quick as you can... jolly good show ...toodle pip.