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Showing posts from August, 2010

111 and Labour's synthetic rage over NHS Direct

So the government under Labour piloted a new scheme This was a scheme to replace NHS Direct with a new 111 non-emergency number. Quoting from this: In the future, it could become the single number for non-emergency services, including NHS Direct. Ministers did know about it: Health Minister Mike O'Brien said: "Patients have told us that they need clear, easy advice on how to find healthcare quickly when it's less urgent than 999 and I am delighted that Ofcom has allocated 111 for these purposes. "This will be particularly useful outside of GP surgery hours and for people who are away from home." Now Labour seem to be against it . The plan has provoked an angry reaction from Labour, with shadow health secretary Andy Burnham using it as evidence of what he claims is the government's intention to "dismantle" the NHS. He said: "The health secretary's statement will stun people across the NHS. "It is yet more evidence that Andrew Lansley

The Emergency Budget and the IFS report

The "new" IFS report repeats substantially what they said at the time of the Emergency Budget. Firstly from a tax perspective the budget is progressive. It in fact is more progressive than Labour because of the CGT increases. Where the debate exists is on the treatment of benefits. The biggest factor is whether the change from RPI to CPI should be considered to be regressive or not. The above chart shows that recently CPI inflation has often been higher than RPI inflation. The biggest distinction currently arises from using a geometric mean rather than an artithmetic mean for averaging price increases. Then come various housing issues some of which are encountered by some claimant households. My view is that we should have a measure to monitor inflation for claimant households. I raised this in the house and the government have agreed to look at this. Some things such as energy costs hit claimant households harder than other households. That is why this needs to be looke

Panorama and the William Ward Case

The William Ward case was an exceptional case in a number of ways. However, Panorama have really missed the key points. Most mothers facing a case like this one would not only have lost their son to adoption, but also lost subsequent children. Firstly, they were allowed to have the grandparents supervising. That is rare. Secondly, they were allowed a second medical opinion. That also is rare. What would normally have happened would have been that baby William would have been put with foster carers and limited contact (perhaps three times a week if they were lucky) would have been the option. What needs to be looked at in respect of this case is, however, more complex than presented in the programme. Firstly, we should not attack experts who offer opinion merely because the judge does not agree with it. Experts have to offer their viewpoint. Where the real problem lies is in the interface between medical opinion and legal certainty. Medical opinion is often not that certain. There

Childrens Commissioner on experiences of Safeguarding

The Childrens Commissioner has published a good report looking at the experiences of the safeguarding system from a family perspective. There are some strong quotations in the report and it is surprising that it has not had any press. eg One parent described how a male social worker had been allocated to her daughter who had been sexually abused by her ex-partner and was terrified of men. This mother had specifically asked for a female social worker to be allocated. “They just don’t listen. They don’t want to hear what you say.” This issue puzzled the families, and they felt they never got a clear answer about it and so were left with the conclusion that: “It’s another way of controlling us.” “They can leave and never come back, and you might never know, but as soon as you say, this is not working, I want someone new, they don’t like it.”

Victoria Ward and Panorama

The link is to a Panorama programme tonight about a family court case. This case was unusual because the Ward's were allowed to get a second opinion. Normally the parents are refused a second opinion and lose the case. It should also be noted that quite large expert fees are paid to those people who diagnose child abuse in children. Those fees are generally not available if people don't think that the children have been abused. This creates a major conflict of interest which I have raised with the GMC. If anyone thinks that is a fair and just system I am amazed.

100 Days

There is nothing really key about 100 days. It is a purely arbitrary point at which to assess a government. However, one key assessment is what the interest rate is on government debt. The figures from Bloomberg today are: UK (10 year) 3.037 Ireland (10 year) 5.236 Greece (10 year) 10.692 Germany (10 year) 2.353 That affects in the long term how much money is available for public services. Labour's strategy of don't cut so much in the short term leads to larger cuts in the Long term. In the mean time the Coalition government is working to make the UK a nicer place to live. The banning of demanding money with menaces (aka car clamping on private land) is a good example of that. Yes people may still have to pay penalty charges, but the behaviour of so many clamping operations has been totally unacceptable.

The Audit Commission

I must admit that when I looked in detail recently at one of the Audit Commission's inspection I saw an inspection where the conclusions had been identified before the inspection started. A good way of saving money, therefore, is to stop such ludicrous inspections from even starting.

PFI is it value for money?

PFI costs a lot as the BBC have found (hat tip Bob Piper ) - see link. The government claim it is value for money. The problem is that it is not. It is only calculated as being value for money by using an adjustment to the alternative public sector procurement cost. This is called optimism bias. I have explained this a number of times. The last time in the house was here We have a similar problem with the funding costs of private finance initiatives. The great difficulty is comparing all the figures involved in what is called optimism bias. I asked the Government what the optimism bias figures were for a number of different PFI projects, and they came back with a wide range of figures. Let me explain a bit about optimism bias, for those hon. Members who are not aware of it. When a PFI project is put together, there is an assumption that, if it could be done through the public sector, it would be done through the public sector, so it must therefore be done in the most cost-effective

Legal aid proposals for family division

There is a lot of wailing going on about the legal aid proposals. Some of it may be valid. However, given that most firms of solicitors merely roll over when facing care proceedings against their clients I see a lot of the money as being simply wasted. Furthermore given that legal aid is from time to time refused for parents who wish to contest proceedings I wonder what it is all about.

International Miscarriage of Justice

There is an important extract from John Waters' story Through the evolution of media custom and practice, however, a situation has developed whereby the very mention of “childcare proceedings” or “family law” is enough to have media lawyers and editors running for cover. Even though it is very often abundantly clear that the only purpose being served by a blanket suppression of information is the protection of judges, lawyers, State agencies and professionals, media practitioners continue to impose an interpretation of the in camera rule that implicitly assumes these outcomes to be legitimate. This applies to the irish rules, however.# He goes on to say Such interpretations of the legal situation are grossly inimical to the interests of democracy. Something deeply ugly is happening at the heart of our society and the manner of its governance in the most intimate areas of human life. If social workers from a foreign jurisdiction are enabled to run whooping and high-fiving from an Ir

A bit more on the financial position

Consituents remain interested in the situation for the country hence I am going to repost and update a posting I made on 23rd July (on The Stirrer forum). The financial crisis had really four components. Three were international and one national. The international ones were 1. CDOs (the credit crunch issue - causing a big hole in banks' balance sheets). This is the issue that causes all the fuss about banks and bonuses as people were basically making money out of thin air. This is also the mistake of the ratings agencies. 2. The illiquidity of the land market and associated bubble. This has a cycle that is often international, but can be local (as was the case in Sweden). That has a knock on effect on the capital of lending institutions. It runs on about a 15 year cycle with the previous periods being 89-92 and the mid 1970s. Because it ran for slightly longer the fall back was higher. 3. Oil prices. Jumps in oil prices cause recessions. Energy affects economic activity. The ca

David Cameron's comments on Council Housing

I am not that happy about his comments about council housing. There is a complex issue about housing and how we manage a spectrum of different types of tenancies and ownerships. Housing is a very important foundation for families. People with disabilities often have their properties specifically adapted. I think it is important to give people some security. I am actually unhappy about forcibly removing people from their homes for under occupation although I reocgnise that we should encourage people to downsize. The local housing allowance scheme does encourage people to downsize when they don't need such a large property. This is an area where considerable discussion is needed before putting proposals forward in legislation.