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Showing posts from January, 2011

Labour's myths about NHS proposals

Labour myths answered Myth: There is next to nothing of Lib Dem policy in this huge top-down reorganisation: Absolutely not true. The Liberal Democrat manifesto promised that new social enterprises would be created to deliver NHS services, that all types of providers – NHS, voluntary, or independent sector – would be free to deliver, the scrapping central, top-down targets, and cutting back on unnecessary administrative costs . Abolishing SHAs, increased competition, stronger local democratic input in the NHS and greater integration between health and social care are also all Liberal Democrat policies explicitly set out in our manifesto. 1. GP commissioning “[We will ensure] that local GPs are directly involved in providing out-of-hours care.” (page 43, Liberal Democrat manifesto) 2. Provider-side reform “[We will put] front-lime staff in charge of their ward or unit budgets, and [allow] staff to establish employee trusts giving them real involvement and a say over how their service is

The Cootes Family back in Suffolk

This is an Anglia TV story about the Cootes Family that went to live next door to Sam Hallimond in Los Monterisinos. Sam and Vanessa have now got their son with him in Spain, but his previous daughter is lost to them in the English adoption system.

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

The issue of EMA has been debated today in the House of Commons. No-one is saying that the system should not change. The difficulty is working out what proportion of EMA is spent on unnecessary things. It is clear that many students rely on it for transport, but not all of them. What I have been doing is working with the 6th form Colleges in Birmingham to try to find out what is essential. Only when we have that information can we judge how much money should be in the replacement scheme.

The human misery behind the statistics

The link is to a story in today's Sunday Telegraph. In recent months, I have reported on many disturbing examples of how our system of “family protection” has gone horribly off the rails, but none is more bizarre than this week’s. As usual, I am legally barred from identifying the mother at the centre of this case or giving many other details, but she is in her mid-thirties, has various academic qualifications and some time back returned to England after 10 years working in America. There, among other things, she had worked as a counsellor in Guantanamo Bay, but what she saw there led her to start a new career as a financial adviser. In September 2009, after a difficult pregnancy, she gave birth to a daughter, by an old friend with whom marriage was not possible. Two months later, she was sitting on her mother’s windowsill, dressed in a coat and hat ready to go out, when she fell, snatching at a curtain in a vain attempt to save herself. She woke up in hospital, paralysed from the

Ed Milliband, Lib Dems and Coalition

The real problem with Ed Milliband's approach to Lib Dems is that it ignores those aspects of the coalition policy which are simply a rational approach to reality with him trying to pretend they are ideological. There is no uncertainty about the underlying need to reduce the size of the structural deficit. This can easily be quantified and we now also have the Office of Budget Responsibility to look at this. We can monitor the interest rates on sovereign debt and it is very clear that the overall financial envelope of government policy is not something where there are real alternative options. There is, additionally, a more ideological question as to the size of the state. This of often measured in terms of the proportion of the GDP which is spent by the state. After the cuts the state will still be spending over 40% of GDP. Historically this is higher than the first two Blair governments. Hence ideologically from this aspect the proposal about the same (and possibly a bit mo

Social workers accused of "penguin mentality"

The link is to the story in the Birmingham Mail today. This is where a Birmingham politician (not me) has said: “It’s what I call the penguin complex among social workers. They live in a different continent to the rest of us, like Antarctica, and at the slightest criticism they all go into a huge huddle, turning their backs and shield each other.” (Len Clark) In part the rest of society is to blame by tending to look for a scapegoat when things go wrong. However, things will not improve if people do not respond to suggestions for change other than by resisting it.

TB and Birmingham

Sadly someone has now died from TB in a Birmingham School. The school was one in Yardley, but the majority of children at that School are not from Yardley. Birmingham as a whole qualifies for having the option of a TB vaccination in school as do the HOB and BEN PCT areas although not the South Birmingham Area. Since 2005 I have been calling for an extension of TB vaccination as an option at school. More recently the Council has come on side on this and I am hoping that this will change in the near future.

Refuse Collection and Equal Pay in Birmingham

There is a lot of confusion about the issues behind the industrial action by Refuse Collectors in Birmingham. What is clear is that there have been problems collecting the rubbish. The background to the issue is Single Status and the Pay and Grading Review. Most of the pain in this process arose from the need to cut some people's pay to fit the overall pay scale. Initially the Refuse Collectors were "assimilated" part way up the grade. However, legal action was taken against the council which declared that this particular proposal was unlawful. Hence the council has been forced to cut the pay of the refuse collectors. The alternative is to increase the pay of everyone working for the City Council by around £4,000. That is because the system of pay grades include the vast majority of council employees and it is not possible to have a separate scheme. The comparison made was between Refuse Operatives (Bin Men) and Canteen Workers (Dinner Ladies). Personally I have w