Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Social care - or lack of it.


Green Party Health Spokesperson Stuart Jeffery today responded to the annual 'State of the Nation' report from the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

The report has, for the first time, explored the experiences of people not deemed eligible for state-supported social care - either because their need is not considered critical enough or because they are found to have sufficient funds of their own to provide to pay for their own

Mr Jeffery said:

"Today's report is a damming inditement of the state of social care in England.

"Recent local area settlements and last year's comprehensive spending review have combined to force local authorities to cutback on vital services, and some of the most vulnerable people in our society are feeling the effects.

"The number of people receiving support from their local council has fallen in recent years. Seven out of ten councils now restrict their services to those people whose needs are defined as 'substantial' or 'critical'.

"Government care minister Ivan Lewis has responded - announcing a fundamental review of eligibility criteria, but an enormous amount of the problems that people are experiencing on the front line are just to do with a dearth of funds."

Pointing to the green paper due for release later this year, Mr. Jeffery concluded

"The Government has a tremendous opportunity to re-frame the whole social care system, ransforming it into one that reflects our aging society's hanging needs.

"This is an open and shut case - budget cuts at a national level mean some of the most vulnerable in our society are not receiving the support they desperately need at a local level.

"The Green Party want to see all social care provided free at the point of need. If there is dispute between the person requiring care and the local authority there should be an independent assessment and appeals process. This is the best way to ensure equity and the best way for us to care for the vulnerable members of our society.

"We desperately need to see this and future governments commit to spending a higher proportion of public money on social care - as a matter of urgency."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Health Service - Lib Dem Style

I sent this to the Guardian a couple of days ago after the announcement of the LibDem health service plans:

Dear Editor,

It seems that Nick Clegg's 'policy on the hoof' approach to NHS would simply undermine an already fragile system. The Lib Dems clearly havenot thought through their ideas and considered the impacts.

For example, directly elected health boards are a waste of time and money - there is already a system of local government that the NHS should be accountable to, why does he feel the need to reinvent the wheel?

As for individual budgets, these are an appalling neo-liberal concept that will simply increase inequalities. The whole point of the NHS is that it is based on need, not want; next he will be advocating top up payments! And how will £2 billion cover the care budget for the elderly,
he obviously hasn't done his sums. Personal care should be free, Scotland have managed to do it, but England couldn't do it with just £2bn.

The LibDems have really shown that they do not understand health care with these announcements. What is needed is an end to private sector provision and an end to the healthcare market economy, this will really free up cash to be invested in high quality services for patients. Astonishingly, The Green Party remains the only major party to say NO the privatisation of the NHS.

Stuart Jeffery
Health Spokesperson for the Green Party

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lib Dem health policy takes a lurch to the right.

Firstly, accountability for health care services to local people is Green Party policy too, but we say accountable to local government, not a separately elected board. Loads of cross over benefit with public health measures would be possible having both under one roof.

Secondly, if patient's needs are not being met then the NHS needs to meet them, not give the money to corporate fat cats.

Thirdly, if local people can increase their contribution to health care spending, surely that will increase inequalities with poorer areas losing out.


Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has launched an attack on the way the NHS is run, describing it as a service in "crisis".

He told the BBC he would hand control of the NHS to local people

The Lib Dems would introduce locally elected health boards, Mr Clegg told the Andrew Marr show, and if patients' needs were not met they would be able to have private treatment paid for by the NHS.

The party would also scrap centralised targets and give people the power to raise cash for health services through a local income tax.

"If you are going to give local communities more say over health services, they should also be able to vary, maybe raise extra money," said the Lib Dem leader.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Green light for hybrid research

This is quite revolting and should not have happened. We screw around with nature like this at our peril. I find it hard to believe that the public were fine with this idea - we only have to think about the public reaction to GM food. Also killing off the embryos after 14 days, not that they would be viable, but really - the whole area is simply macabre.

Hybrids are made using an animal egg mixed with human genes
This is from the BBC:

Regulators have given scientists the green light to create human-animal embryos for research.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority granted permission after a consultation showed the public were "at ease" with the idea.


Scientists want to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs in a bid to extract stem cells. The embryos would then be destroyed within 14 days.

The cells form the basic building blocks of the body and have the potential to become any tissue, making them essential for research.

It is already illegal to implant human-animal embryos in the womb or bring them to term.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Save Henderson Hospital

The campaign is growing to save Henderson Hospital: there is an online Prime Minister petition here.

This is what the BBC had to say today:

Lawyers are planning a High Court challenge to the proposed closure of a hospital which helps people with complex mental health problems.

Solicitors acting for in-patients at the Henderson Hospital in Sutton, Surrey, said its closure would have a serious impact.

They estimate it would halve the number of beds available to people with personality disorder.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Nuclear power and cancer

Channel 4 have reported on further evidence on the link between nuclear power and cancer:

"Channel 4 News online exclusive: Leukaemia risk "doubled" for children who live near nuclear power stations - new German research. 'The finding cannot be dismissed' Professor Anthony Thomas, Dept of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto"

The Low Level Radiation Campaign has been researching this for years and their site contains very useful information.

Estimates of the death toll from Chernobyl range up to 500,000 and don't forget that hundreds of UK farms are still affected by the fallout from Chernobyl.

So all that it needed is for our government to back a new generation of nuclear power stations that will not provide energy security and will be too late to reduce our carbon footprint to make a difference.

Monday, January 7, 2008

More privatisation of the NHS by Brown

In response to Gordon Bush/Blair/Brown's announcement on the future of health care, this went out from the Green Party yesterday:

The Green Party have today hit out at Gordon Brown's plans for the
expansion of preventative medicine, accusing the Government of
creating a smoke screen for more stealth NHS privatisation and further
opening up NHS funds for private profit.

Green Party Member of the European Parliament, Jean Lambert, said:

"Brown's announcement that his Government intends to shift the focus
of the NHS towards preventative medicine would be warmly welcomed if
we thought that this was more than him just trying to shift the public
focus away from his agenda of rampant privatisation.

"Gordon Brown doesn't even seem to understand what prevention is. He
is suggesting that screening is preventative; it is not, of course. It
simply picks up an illness earlier. Better personal and public health
is the key to prevention of illness, not early detection. If Brown
was sincerely committed to disease prevention he would be rejecting
new nuclear power builds, coal-fired power stations and Heathrow
airport expansion to avoid the potential ill-health effects of the
resulting pollution.

"Brown is overseeing a radical privatisation of NHS services that
Thatcher could only dream of. The announcement of these screening
initiatives must not divert attention from his plans to boost
corporate profits at the expense of our health service."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Peak Oil - Public Health is Fundamental

Dan Bednarz is the leading writer on Peak Oil and Healthcare. The challenges faced by health care are perhaps greater culturally than in other sectors. Our entire health care system is built on oil and writers generally consider that we need to radically rethink our approach. However we tackle it we need to rapidly improve public health...

This is an excerpt from Bednarz's latest offering, this time with Kirsten Bradford:

"With few exceptions, medicine is not preparing for global warming and the approaching zeniths in the extraction of oil, natural gas and coal from the earth (often referred to as peak oil). The implications of these intertwined socioeconomic and geopolitical perils are stupefying, with global warming calling for radical reductions in the use of fossil fuels to reduce carbon emissions – most estimates calculate 80% or more by 2050. "

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Conservatives - the party of the NHS

This is from the Tory party, the party that wants to make itself the party of the NHS. I could have sworn that this was New Labour policy...

"David Cameron yesterday pledged to dock payments to NHS trusts for every patient who is infected with MRSA or other hospital-acquired superbugs." Guardian 3rd Dec

I sent a response to the Guardian:


The Conservatives want to be the party of the NHS yet they seem to backing the most bizarre of recent health care ideas. Taking money away from hospitals that need it to improve infection control is the most counter-productive measure possible and will endanger the lives of thousands.

If Cameron's health ideas are that strapped for cash, a better idea would be to fine or prosecute the drug companies whose products cause in excess of 3000 deaths each year while making huge profits.

Stuart Jeffery
Health Spokesperson for the Green Party

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Most Astonishing Health Disaster of the 20th Century

I haven't been able to verify the statistics quoted in this video by Dr Mercola (see www.mercola.com) but the message is certainly one that rings very true.