Thursday, 22 March 2012

Reply from Jackie Doyle-Price

A few weeks ago I sent an e-mail asking my MP, Jackie Doyle-Price, to call for the release of the risk report around the NHS reforms that are being pushed through.  The risk report goes into detail about how the reforms may negatively affect the NHS.  I promised that I would publish her reply on this blog and, although it is a little late due to the worries I had over my pet cat Merlin, here it finally is - the whole letter as a JPEG file (only my address has been removed).

I would have sent a response but I knew it would be falling on deaf ears.  The impact assessment that Doyle-Price refers to does not go into the depth one would need to make an accurate assessment of whether one should support the changes that have been proposed.

The NHS reforms have now been passed into law and the future now looks extremely bleak but I and others will continue to fight to save the NHS before the great reforming ConDem Coalition can do too much permanent damage.

Until next time...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Justice for a special dog

I could not believe this when I read it.  Please support this cause and get justice for this special animal.

Some kids placed typical Christmas strong firecracker in the mouth of this animal and made sure he could not open it.

The world is like this. To these kids it must have been a macabre fun for a few minutes and then they continued with their life like nothing happened.

To this animal his life ended during those minutes, with a pain so deep that is better to forget.

If you are against the mistreatment of animals, sign this so we can get justice for this poor dog!

NHS - bad news

Here is the text of an e-mail I received today.  The NHS needs our help if it is to survive so please think about supporting this cause.

Dear Myles,

This isn't an easy email to write. It's bad news. After more than a year of controversy and debate, the government has got its NHS plans through Parliament.[1] Our petition was read out many times, and there were scores of MPs and Lords who gave a passionate defence of the NHS, but the votes were still lost.[2] It isn't the result any of us were hoping for.

They didn't totally get their own way. 38 Degrees members – along with doctors and nurses’ groups, medical charities and even some politicians – forced through changes and delays. But while there are glimmers of hope, it's still pretty grim. Most medical experts still warn that these changes will do horrible damage to our health service.[3]

We came close, and we gave it everything we had. A huge petition. Thousands of messages and phone calls to MPs and Lords. Hundreds of local events all across the UK. Money raised to hire in lawyers and run billboard and newspaper adverts.[4] No one can say that 38 Degrees members didn't try our best.

Now, in this moment of disappointment, we need to decide what we do next. Shall we carry on our work to protect the NHS? Do we want to keep working together to slow down the changes and reduce the damage to our health service? Or is it time to move on and focus on other issues?

If 38 Degrees members wanted to keep going, it’s likely we could come up with some good ideas for things we could do. Some doctors are even volunteering to stand for election as “Save the NHS” candidates![5]

Please take one moment to vote YES or NO – are you up for continuing to campaign to protect the NHS?

This is not the first time people power has had setbacks. Those of us who joined millions of others to march against the Iraq war may feel echoes today of another occasion when a different government decided to ignore public opinion. And sometimes it’s tempting to give up and disengage from politics altogether.

But 38 Degrees members have done so much to prove people power can work. To give just one example, this spring many of us will enjoy walking in the woodlands we stopped from being sold off.[6]

More than that, we’re part of a much bigger story of ordinary people standing up for what’s right, all through the ages. Votes for women, the minimum wage, the right to roam in our beautiful countryside. The creation of the NHS itself. Politicians often follow where people power leads.

There are now 1 million 38 Degrees members and we know we can be a force for good in this country. It’s not always easy, and there will be setbacks as well as moments of fantastic victory. But one thing’s for certain – if we keep working together things will turn out better than if we did nothing at all.

Please take 30 seconds to vote YES or NO on whether 38 Degrees should keep going with the campaign to protect the NHS:

Thank you for being part of it and everything you've done,

David, Marie, Hannah, Becky, Cian, James and the 38 Degrees team

PS: If most 38 Degrees members vote "yes", then we'll need to vote again soon, to choose options for future campaigning to protect the NHS. If most members vote "no", then the 38 Degrees office team will shift focus over to other issues voted for by 38 Degrees members. Have your say YES or NO here:

PPS: If you want to read more about everything we've done together and what this all means for our health service, read all about it on the 38 Degrees' website.


Friday, 16 March 2012

'To do' list

As I have a bad memory I have decided to write myself these little 'To do' lists to remind me of the things I'm behind on.  This is my latest one:

  1. Write my first article/paper for The Enlightenment Project's politics group.
  2. Read the rest of The Selfish Capitalist.
  3. Write a poem dedicated to all those who sent prayers and best wishes when I needed them during Merlin's illness.
  4. Write an article about cruelty to animals.
  5. Write my first article/paper for The Enlightenment Project's philosophy group.
  6. Type up and publish the response I got from my local MP from the letter I sent her and published on this blog.
  7. Start planning my campaign for a National Veterinary Health Service.
  8. Work on my plans for the mental health service user involvement project.
  9. Begin Operation Global Takeover.
I, perhaps, shouldn't have added that last item.  Oh well, LOL.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Normal service will be resumed...

It's been a while since my last blog entry and I think that it's only right that I explain.  Some of you will already know that my cat, Merlin, has been rather ill lately and has needed a lot of treatment and observation.  This meant that I had to forget my trips to the public library to update my blog as I have no internet connection at home.  Of course, this also means that I am left with much emptier pockets and a long list of things that need doing.  I will, however, try to catch up as soon as I can.

One thing that my recent experiences have left me with is a burning desire to campaign for a National Veterinary Health Service (NVHS) for the UK along the lines of the National Health Service (NHS) for humans.  All the treatment that Merlin has undergone has come to around £2000, an amount that is only partially covered by the pet insurance.  I still have 20% of that amount to pay out.  There is an organisation called the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals(PDSA) that provides some cheap veterinary service but only if you live in the catchment area of one of their hospitals and you are in receipt of either Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.  I may be in a catchment area but I am not receiving either of those benefits so I could get no help from the PDSA despite the fact that Merlin's health problems were serious, possibly life-threatening.

Now, the UK has always prided itself on being a nation of animal lovers so I think that offering no help to people who may need to have a pet for, in my case, mental health reasons or simply because they need the companionship a pet provides but are not on Housing or Council Tax Benefits, is ludicrous.  In fact, not having a 'free at the point of delivery' health service for pets at all is ludicrous.  There may be problems that will arise as to who should be eligible for such as service.  For example, I think that the rich should pay for the treatment of their animals as they can afford it; however, families on low incomes and people who have animals for mental health reasons or sensory animals should get free treatment for their pets (if they don't already).  People who rescue animals from abusive environments should be similarly given free veterinary care for their adopted pets but, unlike the NHS that allows non-UK residents to have free non-emergency healthcare and operations, the NVHS should give free treatment only to UK residents' pets except in the case of emergency treatment for the financially distressed.  I'm not trying to be nationalist about it, I'm simply trying to ensure that the UK doesn't become the destination for veterinary health tourism as we have for human health.

If there was any doubt that the UK needs an NHS for pets, then I would put the argument forward that, as a nation of animal lovers, we need to show that by making sure that animals are cared for and not put down simply through lack of money for treatment.  It's disturbing to think that, if I had not had the foresight to get pet insurance, my cat would have been put down because I could not have afforded the treatment that has, I hope, saved his life.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

‘Workfare’ – Modern-day Slavery?

There has been rather a large amount of controversy involving the UK Government’s welfare-to-work scheme or ‘workfare’ as it has become known.  The major problem seems to be that it is viewed by some as modern day slavery and I have to agree with that group.  That said, I’m all in favour of getting people back into work and a ‘workfare’ scheme seems a good way to do it, however, I believe that a day’s work should be deserving of a day’s pay and not a pittance as the Government wants.
The Government wants to make it the case that people currently on benefits should find that work is the better option, ‘making work pay’, so that they are not sitting around costing the taxpayer their hard earned tax money.  This is an admirable idea and one worth pursuing if a suitable scheme can be created. There are smarter men than me on the case, I suspect, but I don’t think that any of them have even considered the suggestion I am about to make.  If the Government truly wants to ‘make work pay’ then why isn’t their ‘workfare’ scheme structured so that the benefit claimant can see that work really does pay in no uncertain terms by ensuring that, for the term of the work experience placement, the claimant is paid at the national minimum wage.  During their placement, their benefit will be suspended; this means that they are not costing the taxpayers any money and are, in fact, contributing financially to the economy through the payment of Income Tax and National Insurance.  At the end of the placement, they will either be offered a job if they have performed well or will return to claiming benefits awaiting a new work experience placement.  Simple.
The problem of people dropping out of the scheme would disappear because the claimants would be getting a decent wage for their labours and it is most likely going to end up providing a greater incentive for claimants to perform better in the placement because they are not being exploited.
Let us not forget that the national minimum wage was set because it was the minimum hourly payment deemed necessary to provide a reasonable standard of living for an individual so, surely, work experience placements should pay that amount or be considered as nothing but exploitative slavery.
Until next time…