Issue 210: 2019 07 11: Blast from the Past

11 July 2019

A Refresher from Corbynista

Episode 2

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don UrquhartIn January 2018, Hunt apologised to patients for postponement of operations and long waits in A&E.  Foreign Secretary Johnson continued to stumble from cock-up to cock-up.

3 January 2018

Very soon Jeremy Hunt will be on our TV screens characterising criticism of his government’s underfunding of “our treasured NHS” as an attack on the wonderful and heroic doctors and nurses.

Ambulance services are beyond their limits, operations are being cancelled, people are being shuffled into mixed wards and we are being told that if we need medical treatment A&E is the place to avoid.  As if GP surgeries and walk-ins are brimming with over capacity.

The Department of Health is spinning it as the implementation of sophisticated contingency plans.

4 January 2018

Esther Herbert accompanied her 87-year-old mother to Worcestershire Royal Hospital before Christmas.

The doors opened and it was just a sea of people.

There were people on beds all the way down the corridor, as far as you could see.

Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre has asked patients to avoid its A&E after being deluged on Tuesday evening.

Jeremy Hunt said the whole country was grateful for the work NHS staff were putting in working “incredibly long hours through the night, beyond the call of duty in every possible way”.

5 January 2018

Leah Butler-Smith was with her mother, who was having a stroke, when she was caught in a queue outside Broomfield Hospital in Essex this week.

It was five hours until she was seen by a doctor – an experience she described as “scary”.

“We weren’t moving. We weren’t going anywhere,” she said.

Ambulances continued arriving, making them scared they would be bumped for more urgent cases.

She said it was too soon to know what affect the delay had had on her mother’s health.

“The staff are doing all they can. There just aren’t the funds for the beds.”

6 January 2018

Tom Tugendhat, head of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee criticises Jeremy Corbyn for not condemning the Iranian regime’s suppression of demonstrations.  Three things here.  Corbyn probably has better things to do than letting his stomach rumble at distant Ayatollahs.  Tugendhat must have better things to do than turn Iran’s problems into a UK party political issue. And how shouty should any of us be when we are still trying to extricate Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from an Iranian prison?

8 January 2018

For a few days now we have been hearing that Jeremy Hunt is ripe for promotion, with Deputy Leader as a possible new slot.

11 January 2018

Chris Hopson, of NHS Providers, said hospitals were now unsafe and over-crowded and the government should rethink its policies.

23 January 2018

Along comes Boris arguing for an extra £100 million a week for the Health Service.  You would have thought that this would be his last act as a member of the Cabinet before following his Dad into the jungle.

1 February 2018

Back in September 2016 Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to 5 years in an Iranian prison.  Foreign Secretary Johnson famously put his foot in his mouth last November to lengthen her stay.  He was optimistic about his chances of extricating her before Christmas and there were rumours of financial inducements and other concessions.  It is now February 2018 and Nazanin is no closer to returning home.

Bad news for all of us that Mr Johnson has taken to speaking out in support of the NHS.

8 February 2018

Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the Nuffield Trust think-tank, said the health service was creaking at the seams – the growing number of trolley waits showed “corridors had become the new emergency wards”.

28 March 2018

The King’s Fund recently published NatCen Social Research’s British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey regarding the NHS. It was carried out between July and October 2017.

Among the conclusions:

The statistically significant fall in satisfaction (and rise in dissatisfaction) in 2017 took net satisfaction to its lowest level since 2007. With an increase over the last few years in the proportion of survey respondents reporting lack of funding as a reason for their dissatisfaction, it seems the public is increasingly aware of the reality of funding pressures that the NHS has experienced over the last seven years. With equally small increases in funding planned over the next few years and NHS performance on key headline measures worsening, it is hard to see the public’s satisfaction with the NHS improving in the near future.

29 March 2018

Yesterday NHS Providers, which represents chief executives, warned the service was facing an impossible task in 2018-19.

Waiting lists will grow and long A&E waits continue.

4 April 2018

It’s a month since Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned.

On 12th March the case was debated in The Commons and Corbyn counselled caution:

Has high resolution trace analysis been run on a sample of the nerve agent and has that revealed any evidence as to the location of its production or the identity of its perpetrators?

In an interview on March 19thDeutsche Welle’s Zhanna Nemtsova posed this question to the Foreign Secretary:

You argue that the source of this nerve agent, Novichok, is Russia.  How did you manage to find this out so quickly….

The Foreign Secretary had no doubts:

I interrogated very closely…the people from Porton Down and they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself are you sure? And he said there’s no doubt.

Yesterday ITV News asked Gary Aitkenhead, the Chief Executive of Porton Down:

How do you identify it as Russian?

He was quite categorical that Porton Down had not done so:

Our job within the whole of this investigation is and was to identify the agent used which is from the family of Novichok nerve agents.  We have provided this information to the government who have used a number of other sources to come to the conclusions they have.

Sadly this is not the first time the Foreign Secretary has taken liberties with the truth in a serious matter.

15 April 2018

When Parliament returns tomorrow, it will debate Syria.  It will be interesting to see how people behave.

How things change. A couple of months ago Assad continuing in charge of Syria was unthinkable; now it is generally accepted.

What’s quite certain is that relations with Russia need finesse and intelligence. Hopefully the Prime Minister can keep the Foreign Secretary away from it.

He was on the Andrew Marr show.  His host gave him an opportunity to explain why he had said that Porton Down had told him that Russia was responsible for the attempted murder of the Skripals.

He decided to answer a different question and waffled:

Porton Down told us in absolutely no uncertain terms that this was a military grade Novichok agent of a type that had been produced and stockpiled in the former Soviet Union.  I said are you sure about that and they said they were certain. 

On March 19th Deutsche Welle’s Zhanna Nemtsova had askedhim:

 You argue that the source of this nerve agent, Novichok, is Russia.  How did you manage to find this out so quickly….

The Foreign Secretary responded:

I interrogated very closely…the people from Porton Down and they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself are you sure? And he said there’s no doubt.

22 April

The Home Office under May and Rudd is revealed as a bastion of callousness where longstanding British citizens are informed by Capita that they are no longer welcome.  So up pops Jeremy Hunt with something nicer to look at – an initiative to pressure the social media into making their services safer for children.  It’s one of those issues where Jeremy would like things to happen.  It may have escaped his notice that he is a Government minister with the power to legislate to protect our children.  His latest initiative is gesture politics and no more.

6 May

Jeremy Hunt made a big song and dance about the NHS’s failure to invite some women for breast screening.  It was something you couldn’t really blame the government for, unlike Windrush and so much else, so a useful diversionary tactic.  As he admitted himself there is increasing evidence that breast screening causes as many deaths as it prevents.  At any event the jury is out.  Anyway he asked Serco to man the new emergency hotline (yet another) and the staff told the Guardian that they had been thrown in with only an hour’s training. This is knee-jerk gesture politics rather than sound management of our affairs.

24 May 2018

A report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Health Foundation said the NHS would need an extra 4% a year – or £2,000 per UK household – for the next 15 years.

We have to deal with the results of 8 years of chronic underinvestment, a top down reorganisation that just added overheads and dogmatic privatisation sucking money into corporate profits.

On this topic government ministers are as headless chickens firing off half-baked ideas and aspirational soundbites.

8 June 2018

The Foreign Secretary clearly articulated the fears of many, channelling Corporal Jones:

You’ve got to face the fact there may now be a meltdown. OK? I don’t want anybody to panic during the meltdown. No panic. Pro bono publico, no bloody panic!

Not exactly reassuring.

24 June 2018

Jeremy Hunt, interviewed by Andrew Marr, chastises Airbus, Siemens and BMW executives for suggesting that they might reduce UK operations if there is a “ no deal” Brexit.  He describes the business leaders’ statements as threats, although they might also be regarded as quite rational warnings to stakeholders.







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