Panorama, Undercover: Britain’s Biggest GP chains, BBC 1, BBC iPlayer, undercover reporter Jacqui Wakefield

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0017x2b/panorama-undercover-britains-biggest-gp-chain

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jun/13/britains-biggest-chain-of-gp-surgeries-accused-of-profiteering

My partner recently had to go into hospital. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow, Accident and Emergency. It was recently slated for having up to a thirteen-hour waiting time. We know there is little point phoning for a GP appointment on the Tuesday, after a Bank Holiday. The phone will ring off the hook. My tactic to avoid this is go to the surgery window and wait to catch the receptionist’s gaze. We’re an ageing population with more money needed to be channelled into health care.

What we get instead is Thatcherite ideology of the market knows best. The market does know best. It knows best how to take money from poor people and give it to the rich. In this case Operose Health, which is a subsidiary of private healthcare firm Centene. In the United States their looting of welfare funds led to them being sued by a number of State bodies for fraud. They paid the fine, but, of course, didn’t admit guilt.

What we have here is a different kind of fraud. A rentier class, who are paid a fixed amount for providing a service where there is no risk to the rich. We also did it with trains. Subsidised other nation’s rain networks and it gave them a guaranteed income.  

70 GP surgeries and 600 000 patients. Jacqui Wakefield logged 300 patients waiting to get through to her. And she couldn’t offer any GP appointments for any of them. One ruse was to offer appointments with a cheaper option. Put them in a white coat. Give them a fancy title. Work them with appointment after appointment so they do the equivalent work of two GPs. That’s called efficiency savings. In other words, profit for destroying the worker’s health and the health of the people he or she is trying, but failing to help.

  A study of the equivalent of Norwegian GP’s, for example, found that the more highly qualified those practicing medicine the better outcome for the patient. Not only were they able to pick up early signs of disease and treat it earlier saving more costly treatments with knock-on effects at later stages. A virtuous circle.   

A vicious circle looks something like this model. Underqualified staff.  Clinical correspondence – medical reports, test results and hospital letters – that had not been read for up to six months.

In the Thatcherite model of health care, patients would be able to shop around for better treatment, where they weren’t treated to the indignity of having to spend days on the phone. Similarly, GP practices would compete against each other to bring in the brightest and best and innovate, while making a profit. In the same way we did with our prisons, or the probation service, before that was scrapped as being unworkable.

Scotland has largely rejected this carpetbagger model of modern finance. But the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was extended with many of the same principles. Give money to rich people for building something you could do cheaper and better with forward planning. We can clap NHS workers, while not giving them a pay rise and look for savings elsewhere.  We know how this looks. It looks very much like the one rule for the rich and one rule for the poor of Centene and their ilk. Efficiency savings are only efficient if they end up in a tax haven. We all know how that feels. Because we’re all in it together. In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, ‘some animals are more equal than others’.  Some patients are more valued than others.

A Dangerous Dynasty: The House of Assad, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, director Nick Green.

house of assed.jpg

Panorama, BBC 1, BBCiPlayer, editor Rachel Jupp.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bb6yw0/panorama-syrias-chemical-war

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bnfn0d/a-dangerous-dynasty-house-of-assad-series-1-episode-1

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bp1b9v/a-dangerous-dynasty-house-of-assad-series-1-episode-2

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bpyvvh

Civil War in Syria has lasted seven years, around 13 million of its citizens have been displaced and the refugee crisis in Europe has led to a right-wing orchestrated backlash against those who dare to cross borders and not die quietly at home.

Bashar Al-Assad the President of Syria was never meant to be in the position of leadership, never meant to be a mass murderer of around half a million of his people, never meant to sanction the use of barrel bombs, low-tech chlorine and high-tech Sarin chemical weapons against men, women and children, in the city of Idib, targeting hospitals – and then of course, deny it. He was never cut out to be a war criminal that should be charged under the 1949 Geneva Convention for crimes against humanity.

Bashar Al-Assad was destined to be a run-of-the mill eye-doctor who trained at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington, London. A largely forgotten figure outside his own country, where his father Hafez was a conventional Middle-East dictator with a billion pound sea-front property in which to bring up his five children.  A pragmatic man who seized power in a 1970 army  coup d’etat and intended to keep it by whatever means necessary, which included bombing and killing up to 20 000 of his own citizens in Homs and jailing and torturing many others.

Not surprisingly, when the Arab Spring flooded the Middle East in 2011, Homs home of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni Muslims was anti-Assad. Again unarmed civilians were murdered and tortured, prisoners in Syria’s largest prison massacred.

Watch what seems ancient footage of newly trained recruits stabbing puppies as a mark of loyalty to President Hafez, but they had it easy, female soldiers had to bite the heads off live snakes.  But Hafez also saw off Israeli advances in Lebanon, a state he kept firmly in his grip as a satellite and he lived long enough to see off six elected American Presidents.

Bashar’s eldest brother Bassel was in line to take over from Hafez. He showed the right credentials. When a fellow army officer in a horse-riding event, for example, beat Bassel in an equestrian championship he was arrested. It doesn’t tell you what happened to him next, but we can guess. Bassel also liked fast cars and that’s what killed him.

Hafez had to decide who to pass his crown to, his daughter, of course, was ruled out for being the wrong gender. We can take the script from a cross between the Corleone family in The Godfather and King Lear, ‘nothing will come of nothing’. Quietly spoken Bashar comes from nothing to lead the family when his father dies, but he has married wisely and married well, Asma’s Lady Macbeth and would-be first lady of Syria, but supermodels herself on Lady Di.

Fast forward to 2013, millions fleeing Syria, the advance of Islamic State and Bashar’s family only controlling 14% of Syria, and the rebels three miles from his presidential palace.   One word: PUTIN.

Poems for Refugees (2002) edited by Pippa Haywood.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) The Second Coming.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosened and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction; while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity

Panorama: I’m Broken Inside – Sarah’s Story, BBC 1. 7.30pm.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b077r82t/panorama-im-broken-inside-saras-story

How many children die whilst in psychiatric care?

You probably don’t know. If you were health secretary, you might say something to the effect, none that I know of, or you might guess the answer to be four this year, one of them Sarah Green. You might suggest that the knock on effects of broken Britain (my words) is the number of children seeking psychiatric care placement has, according to Deborah Coles, who under Freedom of Information made a request to the appropriate authorities (a mismatch of NHS Trusts and local authorities) and suggest that that number has  doubled since the nineteen eighties and quadrupled between 2010-2014.

In quantitative terms 0.7% of the NHS budget is spent on psychiatric care (mental health) of young people and gaps in services mean that young people can be shipped hundreds of miles from home, as Sarah Green was. Her final placement was in The Priory which receives eighty-five percent of its funding from NHS clients. Sarah’s family complained that at a case meeting about her care the NHS trust, and CAM’s team openly squabbled about who was to pay for her care. None of this surprised me. Nor did Sarah’s death. What shocked me, I’m sad to say, was the cost. The NHS Trust were paying £800 per day for Sarah’s care. The Priory as a private consortium does not have to disclose what happens to whom in its institutions. There’s big bucks in patient care. Economic rent. Sarah could have hired two or three full-time staff and stayed at home. Let’s put this into perspective. Justin King who has taken over the running of Four Season’s Care Homes (debts £50 million) complained that local authorities were paying as little as £400 per week for care of the elderly. He argued the break-even figure was nearer £500. My argument is quite simply we should be doing these things ourselves. Self-help. Not paying for both care and adding on profit as a justifiable cost. For me that’s unjustifiable.

Rachel’s story is the story of some many other kids. Frozen out and shipped to some far-flung institution that in the jargon has the appropriate resources. Tara Philips, for example, featured and her petition [below] from Change Org., appeared in my inbox.  Her story is Sarah’s story, but without the suicide. They deserve better. We deserve better.

I am a mum of 6 kids. My oldest, Rachael, just turned 15. Growing up she has always been a loving, thoughtful, young lady with an incredible sense of humour. But  when she was 13 she developed severe depression and was soon sectioned. At a time when she needed her family the most, she was moved to a specialist unit on the other side of the country. It costs £100 every time I travel to visit her. I can only afford to visit once every two weeks.

It has become unbearable to have my daughter so far away when I know she is suffering, that’s why I have started this petition to get her care closer to home.

Petitions have helped other families in similar situations.  When Phill Wills started his  #BringJoshHome campaign to get care for his son, his local authorities started to listen. Public pressure can do the same for us.

Young people’s mental health care has been overlooked in this country for far too long and thousands of families like mine are being neglected. In Lancashire, particularly, I know people aren’t getting the treatment they deserve. High quality local care for Rachael could be the first step to creating better care for all young people in the area

Please sign this petition and join me in calling on Lancashire NHS Trust to localise Rachael’s care and get her treatment closer to us.