Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

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It’s time Miller went


Time to go: Cabinet minister leaves the House of Commons after her 32-second apology on Thursday for fiddling her expenses

Time to go: Cabinet minister leaves the House of Commons after her 32-second apology on Thursday for fiddling her expenses

The word which launched itself out of the radio when I heard the news of Cabinet minister Maria Miller’s apology to the House of Commons on Thursday was “attitude”. From that, read sheer arrogance, thinly-veiled threats by Mrs Miller to the Standards Commissioner and by her special advisor to journalists reporting on the investigation, and rank intransigence.

For the word “attitude” to be deliberately used in the Standards Committee’s written judgement – considered a very strong and somewhat “impolite” word by the Westminster elite – demonstrates just how pompous and arrogant Culture Secretary Maria Miller must be to deal with. No wonder David Cameron likes her so much.

But back to the facts of Maria Miller’s expenses claims. Parliament’s independent standards commissioner, a post created after the expenses scandal rocked Westminster in 2009, Kathryn Hudson, found the Culture Secretary had incorrectly designated an expensive property in south-west London as her ‘second home’ and then over-claimed £45,000 for mortgage payments at the taxpayer’s expense. Mrs Miller was in fact housing her parents in the ‘second home’ and from all accounts was spending more nights herself in the property than her designated ‘main home’ in her Basingstoke constituency. Parliamentary rules specifically state using taxpayer’s money to pay for the housing of relatives is strictly forbidden. Frankly, Maria Miller was committing fraud, a crime which some MPs have been sent to prison for.

Mrs Hudson’s report then had to pass to a committee of MPs – the Standards Committee – who decided to water down the findings and declared the Culture Secretary only needed to pay back £5,800 to the taxpayer and apologise for her “attitude” towards the inquiry. It had taken Kathryn Hudson’s team 14 months to unravel Mrs Miller’s £90,000 expenses claim, whilst being obstructed by the Culture Secretary at every turn, but only 32-seconds for the Cabinet minister to issue her reply to the findings.

During her apology (read from the backbenchers in the House of Commons despite Maria Miller being a front bench Cabinet secretary – one of those parliamentary quirks I guess!) she was flanked by the Chief Whip, Sir George Young, and her predecessor at the Culture, Media and Sport department, Jeremy Hunt, who had galloped from the front bench to assume his loyal position. Loyalty to the prime minister that is.

You see you don’t get this sort of senior support whilst being forced to “apologise to the House” (i.e. to the country) unless the big man in Number 10 wants the offender to stick around. Maria Miller is only one of three ministers in David Cameron’s cabinet and he has a bit of a reputation for being anti-woman, according to private polling and of course egged on by a smirking Ed Miliband. It really wouldn’t do for one of his female standard bearers to be given the chop.

Today, the Tories had their Spring Conference – in central London again, thus ensuring ordinary Conservatives were kept away by sheer expense (no pun intended) – and the Cameroon Tories were out in force saying to the 24-hour news channels how “wooonderful” Maria Miller is and how her constituents “just love her”. If you look closely as the Cameroons were being interviewed you can see David Cameron dart into the venue behind them. Job done.

Back in the real-world and real Tory shires, the verdict is somewhat more to the point. Tonight a Survation poll has found 82% of Conservative voters say Maria Miller should resign from cabinet and 66% say she should resign as an MP. Interestingly, 73% of the public as a whole say the apology Mrs Miller gave to the House of Commons was not enough.

David Cameron has yet again gone against his own members (and the public) in favour of a select elite who now run the Conservative Party. Perhaps he will pay attention to Survation’s voting intention figures which see the Conservatives slump to 29 points with UKIP – after Nigel Farage sunk Clegg on Wednesday – up 4 points to 20%.

It’s Miller time – to go!


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Front door to NHS infested with maggots

This is how Danny Boyle portrayed the NHS - the reality is far different

This is how Danny Boyle portrayed the NHS – the reality is far different


This is a true story. The Care Quality Commission (the NHS inspector) visited 1000 doctors surgeries and in one case found the clinic so dirty the treatment rooms were infested with maggots.

At other surgeries, consultation rooms did not have doors, providing no privacy to patients. The usual complaint of not even being able to get an appointment was brought into stark focus when inspectors found patients queuing for hours outside their surgery in Birmingham to book an appointment – some were so prepared for this horrendous “service” they brought their own stool to sit on in the street during the wait to be seen.

The CQC also found some GPs were just not up to the job with some not even able to use basic life saving equipment. Inspectors found that in another West Midlands surgery two doctors had each referred the other to the General Medical Council on grounds of incompetence.

This is a report on the front door to an organisation that costs the British taxpayer £120 billion a year! It comes as no surprise. We’ve all got horror stories to tell about the experience we have had at our GP surgery. I remember a time when you couldn’t get an afternoon appointment if you called in the morning and instead you had to call at 1pm to make the afternoon appointment. This we now know was due to a Labour Government target whereby patients had to receive an appointment within 48 hours. Patients, therefore, were barred from booking an appointment greater than 48 hours in advance so GP surgeries could meet the Government target. My GP surgery in Ipswich went one step further and refused even to book an afternoon appointment during the morning of the same day.  This was also the case for mother Diane Church who famously tackled Tony Blair on the BBC’s Question Time during the 2005 General Election. Blair said he found the interpretation of the target “absurd” and ordered the practice to stop.

But the contempt for patients by doctors continued. They colluded with Labour to take a massive pay rise for doing less work – i.e. refusing to undertake out-of-hours care –  leading to patients being left in pain during the night and in one case a man was killed by a foreign doctor without an adequate grasp of English.

As I’ve said before, the NHS is a flawed institution, which harms rather than helps patients. It, frankly, unnecessarily kills patients by the thousands, as we saw at Stafford Hospital. The NHS removes people’s dignity in their old age as we have seen by the way nurses treat our elderly relatives, left to die to thirst in their own faeces. And now it has been proven GPs hold the same contempt.

Enough is enough. Billions and billions of pounds are being spent on an organisation not fit for purpose. It is a political organisation not a health service and needs to be broken up and privatised. Only then will we stop the pain and suffering it inflicts daily when it is meant to be doing the opposite.

A classic case of the political interference is this quote on the CQC GP surgery inspections by the Tory Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt: “Patients have a right to expect the best care from their GP practice. That’s why we have introduced this new, tougher system of inspection which will root out poor standards and celebrate the best.” (my emphasis).

Why should a Secretary of State be even remotely concerned with “celebrating the best”? A doctor giving a good service to a patient shouldn’t be celebrated. In other parts of the world, it is demanded by default a doctor is good – if they aren’t, they face prosecution. Their very handsome wage is there to say thank you. This encapsulates the political interference which is THE problem. This faux praise – along the lines of how “wonderful” our nurses are – may garner a few votes but it is costing thousands of lives.

I was speaking to a colleague in Belgium the other day and she was recounting her experience of dealing with doctors to treat her cancer. She was able to pick and choose her consultant, her hospital, everything about her care. In the UK, we’d be lucky to even be referred to a specialist by our GP before dropping dead, as has been proven in recent days.

The Envy of the World? What a sick joke.


UK state-sponsored death plan to be scrapped

nhs deaths

A story at the weekend which was eclipsed by Prof Sir Bob Keogh’s report (to be published later today) into 13,000 unnecessary deaths in 14 NHS Trusts was the Government’s decision to scrap the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), dubbed the death plan for its sole aim of killing off patients at the end of their lives to free up NHS hospital beds.

The LCP was promoted by doctors and nurses as a programme to give terminally ill patients a dignified death. It was nothing of the sort. NHS Trusts were incentivised with money to put people on the death plan and the more who were killed off through its use the more dosh the NHS Trust got their bloodied hands on.

The Department for Health ordered an inquiry into the LCP, it’s practices and the experiences of patients placed on the plan and their relatives. Liberal Democrat health minister, Norman Lamb (who I’ve always had a lot of time for, especially his work on the credit card industry), branded the LCP “a national disgrace”, which is an understatement considering the evidence collected from patients’ relatives.

People placed on the LCP were refused water to the extent some were seen desperately sucking at wet sponges. Nurses (yep, those “wonderful” nurses again) involved in the implementation of the death plan were described in the LCP review report as “uncaring, rushed and ignorant” and of using “brutal or callous language” with the word ‘futile’ scrawled in big letters in one patient’s notes who had been placed on the death plan. There were several reports of doctors and nurses passing the end of patients’ beds saying loudly “Oh, is X still with us?

Once patients were placed on the LCP, there was no course of appeal. That was it. The only exit was death. Some patients, desperate for water, were heavily sedated to shut them up. Where relatives could, they gave them the water they were crying out for only for nurses to scream at them from across the ward to not given them a drink because they were on the LCP. There were multiple accounts of this behaviour from nurses.

The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) was basically a doctor’s order to starve a patient to death with even junior doctors in the middle of the night giving the order the patient should die. This is the UK in the 21st Century not Hitler’s Germany but it might as well be.

Thankfully, the LCP is being scrapped and to be replaced with a system (yet to be explained by ministers) whereby patients who are at end of their lives are treated as individuals with their own tailored care plan. I could have told them that before the LCP was implemented nationwide by the state health care system (which even those who can go private have to use). This is what socialism looks like in the raw: a killing machine.

Today Jeremy Hunt, the current Health Secretary, will address Parliament on the Keogh Report into the 13,000 needless deaths, which are on top of the LCP deaths where it was deemed “legal” to kill.

The NHS is not fit for purpose and in many cases doctors and nurses are acting like guards in Auschwitz rather than caring health professionals in the seventh richest country on Earth. We need words from the Health Secretary today explaining what he is going to do about this catastrophe in our hospitals but we also need visual action: nurses and doctors taken from hospitals in handcuffs might be a good start.


New NHS killing fields uncovered

NHS logo

Let’s stop pussfooting around. Let’s wake up and smell and see the great big elephant in the room: the NHS is not fit for purpose.

The Francis Report found 1,200 patients were killed by doctors and nurses at the behest of top-down management targets set from Whitehall. This sentence sounds like something from Stalin’s Russia or Hitler’s Third Reich. But it happened in Staffordshire, England between 2005 and 2009 at Stafford Hospital.

And now we find Stafford was not a one-off.

Another 13,000 people needlessly died since 2005 at 14 NHS Trusts.

The NHS is not a place of care. It is a slaughter house.

After the Francis Report was published in February, Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a report into “excess deaths” across the entire NHS. Report author Prof Sir Bruce Keogh investigated the 14 hospital trusts with the worst mortality rates over the past two years. The report will be published on Tuesday.

I asked in February how many more have to die before the NHS is broken up and a new form of healthcare, proven abroad, is introduced into one of the richest countries on Earth: the United Kingdom. Is 13,000 enough Jeremy Hunt?

This crime, and it is a crime which the police are investigating in Stafford (clink, clink doctor!), has been allowed to happen because of the perverse thinking of the British public, egged on by all political leaders, that the NHS is the envy of the world, the best healthcare system ever invented by man. Well, if the NHS is the best healthcare there is, I dread to think what the worst is.

The political party that gave birth to the NHS was Labour and frankly it was them who caused these deaths with their top-down target driven culture imposed on the NHS during the final five years of their reign from 2005 to 2010: from the Secretary of State for Health (Andy Burnham, you have blood on your hands) in Whitehall down through the former Strategic Health Authorities and Trusts into the wards and corridors, which at Stafford Hospital and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals resembled killing fields rather than centres of care.

Only 51% of doctors and nurses at Basildon and Thurrock said they would be happy for their friends and relatives to be treated at the Essex hospital.

David Cameron can wipe the smirk off his Eton face. Nothing will have changed in our hospitals in the first three years of his Coalition Government, mainly because the first thing he did when he became Conservative Party leader in 2005 (as elderly women in hospital were drinking from vases because they were so thirsty) was fall prostrate and pay homage at the sacred altar of the NHS. “NHYes”: remember that.

Current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

We are promised a statement from the current Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Let’s hope this time he does better than his boss, Mr Cameron, who when the Francis Report was published, went out of his way not to criticise the Labour ministers who presided over the slaughter between 2005 and 2009. The Health Secretary at the height of the killing in 2009 was one Mr Andy Burnham, who is now the Shadow Secretary State for Health, and has had the audacity to say the 14 NHS Trusts investigated in Sir Bruce’s report have been allowed to “deteriorate significantly” since the Coalition came to power in 2010. Hold on, what about the thousands of deaths on your watch in 2009 Mr Burnham? I suggest you get your own house in order and legal case before looking to deflect blame elsewhere.

Now is the time to point the finger at who is to blame for this catastrophe: the Labour Party, Patricia Hewitt (Health Secretary 2005-2007), Alan Johnson (Health Secretary 2007-2009), Andy Burnham (2009-2010), Sir David Nicholson (Chief Executive of NHS England and Head of Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust during the slaughter at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009), the doctors and nurses at whose hands the patients needlessly died and all other politicians who say how “wonderful” the NHS is, including Prime Minister David Cameron.

The time even for debate about the NHS, which has never been able to take place, shut down by politicians of all sides in case our “wonderful” doctors and nurses are offended by pointing out they are killing patients, has now passed. The NHS is entirely unfit for purpose. We learn today that more soldiers have killed themselves back in the UK than have been killed in total by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The woeful lack of care for our veterans is summed up by reports it is taking a year and a half for a former soldier to see a psychiatrist in the NHS. That’s not a service, that’s an insult to the taxpayer and a system which is killing in our hospitals, on the bridges and the paracetamol poisonings up and down the land.

It’s time to bring the killer to book and for the NHS to be broken up with a Netherlands-style healthcare system put in its place.

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Nursing union says nurses washing patients is “stupid”

NHS logo

The Government last month unveiled a new requirement that all trainee nurses should spend a year as a healthcare assistant, washing and feeding patients, prior to qualifying as a nurse.  In response, Andrea Spyropoulos, the president of the Royal College of Nursing – the nurses’ union –  said the idea was “stupid”.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, announced the measure after the damning report on the needless deaths of 1,200 patients at the hands of doctors and nurses at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009.  Robert Francis QC in his report said patients were left to wallow in their own excrement and elderly men and women suffered terrible injuries as a result of their rough handling by nurses whilst others were left starving and thirsty, so much so that patients were forced to drink water from dirty vases to stay alive.

Mrs Spyropoulos added: “It is an unbelievable thing to introduce that takes nursing back a hundred years.”

This is how Danny Boyle portrayed nurses - the reality is far different

This is how Danny Boyle portrayed nurses – the reality is far different

This is another case of nurses believing they are “too posh to wash”. There was a time, in the last century Mrs Spyropoulos talks about, when nurses were mainly on the wards to wash and feed the patients: i.e. provide their basic needs. Now, nurses prance around in their scrubs (which means you can’t tell the difference between a nurse and a Consultant) like mini-doctors but without going through the work and effort studying and taking the same examinations as doctors.

As teachers seem to put the adults’ careers before the tuition of children, the RCN makes a good case for nurses putting themselves before the care of patients. In fact we have more than this evidence: read the Francis Report for the proof of “Nazi-style” treatment of patients at Stafford Hospital.

This all leads me to think if the nursing union is against the Government’s requirement for nurses to learn how to be compassionate and caring again then it must be a very good plan indeed. If a nurse doesn’t want to give an elderly man a bed bath, I suggest they find another profession.