“Timberhill campaign…showing the Tories the NHS is worth fighting for” by @LabourLewis

Like many of your readers I’ve been concerned at the possible loss of our city’s Timberhill walk-in centre. It’s an essential service that caters to some of the most vulnerable in our city. One that saves the NHS millions of pounds a year by diverting patients that would otherwise end up at an overstretched A&E.

But across the country 25% of walk-in centres have closed – victims of the Coalition Government’s NHS budget cuts, in part caused by the billions being spent on its break-up and privatisation.

That’s why Norwich Labour Party has been campaigning hard to keep this vital city service open. So far alongside Friends of Timberhill walk-in centre, numerous city street stalls and knocking on hundreds of doors with petitions – we’ve managed to mobilise hundreds of people into having their voice heard.

All too often we see ourselves as passive bystanders in our own democracy – powerless to affect the change we want. But not this time. Whether to the Castle Mall, NHS England or the Tory Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt – we’ll make sure our voice is heard.

Throughout it all one thing has become clear whilst campaigning to save Timberhill it’s this fact: the overwhelming majority of people in this city believe a public NHS is worth standing up and fighting for.

So just how the city’s two Coalition MPs square that fact with their own record of voting for the break-up and privatisation of the NHS back in 2012, remains to be seen.

Cameron continues to deny there is a cost-of-living crisis…yet people struggle to make ends meet slams @MichaelDugherMP

As reported in the Barnsley Chronicle and the Barnsley News and Sport, official figures have week revealed a sharp rise in inflation in June, with the largest increases coming in clothing, food and non-alcoholic drinks.

The Office for National Statistics announced on Tuesday that the Consumer Prices Index grew by 1.9 per cent in the year to June 2014, up from 1.5 per cent in May.

The worrying rise in inflation comes in the same week that two new foodbanks are set to open in Barnsley, which will aim to help the rising number of people in the town being pushed into food poverty by the cost-of-living crisis.

Commenting, Michael said:

Whilst David Cameron continues to deny that there is a cost-of-living crisis, people across Barnsley are continue to struggle to make ends meet.

“More and more people are being pushed into food poverty and it is the voluntary sector that is being left to pick up the pieces. This week’s sharp rise in inflation shows that everyday essentials such as clothes, food and drink are becoming more and more expensive. With the average family £1,600 a year worse off, the figures speak for themselves.

“We need policies like the introduction of a new 10p tax rate and an energy bill price freeze to help those who continue to struggle with the cost of living crisis.”

Save the Max Glatt Unit


The Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust have recently announced the proposed closure of the world famous Max Glatt Unit based at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The closure of the Max Glatt unit will result in this specialist 15 bed detox unit shutting its doors to some of London’s and the South East’s most complex and vulnerable addicts who rely on the Max Glatt Unit to medically detox them from alcohol and or drugs.

Over the past few years, staff at the Max Glatt unit have seen a steep rise in the number of patients being referred for treatment with Physical or Mental Health complications, which many other facilities may find challenging.

As a result of the recent announcement by the Trust to close this world famous facility, many service providers, voluntary organisations and Service Users have begun a campaign to save the Max Glatt Unit.

Paul Doyle who is an ex Service User from the Max Glatt Unit, started the campaign “Veterans and Service Users Unite to Save Max Glatt Unit”

 In a statement Paul Doyle said “The Max Glatt Unit treats hundreds of patients per year where their medical condition is so complex that other services may struggle to treat these patients.

The staff at the Max Glatt Unit, (many of whom have been working at the unit for a number years,) have a wealth of knowledge within addiction, both from a clinical angle and also psychological one. The staff’s knowledge, encouragement, advice and care that they provide is world class, and  has helped me overcome my addiction and has allowed me to live a healthy, balanced, substance free lifestyle. The staff is without doubt, the best. To come into work day in, day out and deal with 15 highly strung, ill patients, and have a short time (up to 21 days) to get them back on their feet before discharge, is unbelievable.  I am shocked after 52 years of doing such an excellent job that  the Trust have proposed such a valuable facility like the Max Glatt Unit  to close, and to lose staff who have so much knowledge and dedication, is shocking for me.  Such a valuable service should be getting more funding, not facing the risk of closing. At a time when services are focusing on recovery, how are people meant to be able to recover from their addiction when they we are closing the first step in the recovery process for hundreds of people?”

Some facts about Max Glatt

The Max Glatt Unit was named after Dr. Max Glatt who was a pioneer in the treatment and rehabilitation of alcoholics and drug addicts.

Born in Berlin into a prosperous middle-class family, Max was destined for a prestigious academic career in medicine but the racial laws of the time made it practically impossible for Jews to gain a university appointment. Even so, in 1936, Max was awarded a doctorate in neurological medicine at Leipzig University. He should have left Germany then but he delayed his departure. When, after Kristallnacht in 1938, he tried to escape to Holland, he was captured by frontier guards and taken to Dachau. He later learned that, at the same time, his parents were taken to a concentration camp in Estonia where they were eventually killed. His sister, who had been smuggled across the border into Holland, was the only other member of his family to survive.

Max, the eternal optimist, the man who saw no evil in his fellow human beings, was forced to review his beliefs and his attitudes. But this did not lead to bitterness. He returned to Germany to lecture and to receive honours from various universities. He remained interested in his native country, particularly in the experiences of those who, like the Bielenbergs, had remained in Germany while in opposition to the Nazi regime.

Max arrived in England in 1940. He was soon classified as an enemy alien and was sent to Australia. By 1942, he was back in this country and his medical career, which was to stretch over 60 years, took off.

His work began – as it was to continue – in psychiatric hospitals. From early on he had decided to dedicate himself to the treatment of alcohol and drug addicts. He identified with them, seeing them as people who had been stigmatised and made to feel unwelcome.

In 1952, he set up the first NHS unit for the treatment of alcoholism at Warlingham Park Hospital in Croydon. In 1962 he set up a unit for the treatment of both alcoholism and drug addiction at St Bernards Hospital, in Ealing, west London, a unit that is now called the Max Glatt Centre. Both units as well as further centres, private and NHS, in which he was involved were run on group lines on therapeutic community principles. He set up the first treatment unit in a prison – Wormwood Scrubs – which now also bears his name and where he continued to run groups until just before his death. There, his interest in football helped him to forge a close relationship with the inmates who named their football team “the Glatt Dynamos”.

“The Assisted dying bill… a change every opinion poll has shown” by @KailashChandOBE

The ‘Assisted dying’ bill tabled by Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor had its second reading in the house of Lords last Friday and was passed without vote.The Assisted Dying Bill is a specific, focused piece of legislation based on a recognition – repeatedly expressed by the courts – that the issue is one for Parliament to address. The Bill drawn up by Lord Falconer is modelled on the system in the US state of Oregon and would mean patients would be able to administer a fatal dose of drugs to themselves, but would not be able to receive help if they could not lift or swallow it. The process would have to be signed off by two doctors.

 A change in the law that every opinion poll has shown is supported by an overwhelming majority of the public.

Breaking ranks with the medical establishment the respected BMJ (British Medical Journal), has issued an outspoken editorial backing the bill tabled by the Lord Falconer. It argues that “respect for autonomy” – rather than the ideas of the Hippocratic Oath – is now the “cardinal principle” in medical ethics amid a “patient revolution”. The BMA and Royal colleges remain opposed to change in the law.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has given a boost to the campaign for a change in the law on assisted suicide by announcing that terminally ill people should be able to exercise their right to end their lives.

There is clearly a desire among some patients with debilitating and incurable diseases, to end their suffering with the support of their doctor and relatives. To deny this right is to prolong the suffering of individuals and families—something I cannot condone. I sincerely believe, unbearable suffering, prolonged by modern medical technology/care, and inflicted on a dying patient against their will, is an unequivocal evil. To die with dignity is a basic human right.

For many years, surveys have shown a steady 75% plus support for assisted dying in the general population. I, like many in the profession, would like to see the law on assisted suicide amended to allow doctors to provide the choice of an assisted death only to those who are terminally ill, mentally competent, and who have expressed “a clear and settled wish to die”. I concede that a significant number of my colleagues in the profession would prefer to see no change at all as has been demonstrated numerous times at the BMA ARM.

The argument that palliative care, combined with psychological and spiritual support, can address all the problems of all dying patients ignores the clinical reality. Quite a few patients, despite receiving the best palliative care, still suffer beyond our imaginations. International experience also confirms that palliative care and assisted dying are not either/or options. Since 2002, assisted dying has been legal in Oregon under the Death with Dignity Act. Of the 50 states of the USA, Oregon has amongst the best palliative care and nearly 90 per cent of those seeking assisted dying do so from within those services.

I accept that assisted dying is not like any other clinical decision and if society is to offer this solemn choice it must build in safeguards that not only rectify the inadequacies of the current situation, but protect the vulnerable, the weak and all those—doctors and nurses included—who are involved in this incredibly difficult situation.

We must enact legislation to decriminalise acts of physician-assisted suicide, for the following compelling reasons:

  • Prevention of cruelty and protection of human rights. To allow a terminally ill individual to end their life is the only humane, rational, and compassionate choice. The current prohibitions require a person with great physical or mental suffering to continue to endure suffering against their wishes, which cannot be right. The right to life and to a private and family life under the European convention on human rights should be interpreted broadly to include decisions about quality of life, including decisions about death if life is no longer one of quality.
  • Regulatory control. The terminally ill are travelling abroad to countries where the right to end life in terminal cases is lawful. We cannot regulate the laws of foreign lands. We must make provisions within our laws to regulate this issue within our boundaries. We must not prosecute loved ones who assist a terminally ill individual to travel abroad to end their life lawfully for “encouraging or assisting” suicide.
  • Ambiguity. The current law conflicts with the law as it is being enforced. If the laws were enforced, more than 100 people would have been prosecuted for accompanying loved ones abroad to end their lives. This uncertainty leaves all concerned, including physicians, unprotected.
  • Discrimination. The ability of the wealthy to travel to countries where it is lawful for the terminally ill to end their lives treats the haves and have-nots unequally.
  • Available safeguards. Many people are opposed to legislation that would allow “end of life” choices. But our concerns relating to abuses and protection of the vulnerable can be addressed by ensuring certain objective conditions are met prior to allowing a terminally ill individual to exercise the right to die:
    • the patient must be terminally ill.
    • the patient must be an adult.
    • the patient must be mentally competent.
    • the patient must be in severe pain.
    • two independent physicians must be satisfied that the above conditions are present.

If we do not address this issue head on, we will have continued uncertainty and the unregulated practice of assisted dying, with the fear of prosecution hanging over the heads of all concerned. The goal of the medical profession should still be to save lives—but not at the expense of compassion and the right of the terminally ill to choose to end their lives with dignity. The moral issue confronting the world today is: while techno-medical interventions are acceptable for prolonging life, the same is not accepted in matters of death. At this juncture the question of ‘Assisted Dying’ is not a philosophical one; it involves social, legal and moral approval for a medical answer to a hopeless medical situation. The compassionate coach of the “Million Dollar Baby” helped her die with dignity, after helping her live a life of dignity. He was ethically right. If we all want to live with dignity, it is our fundamental right to die with dignity too!

List: The 100 worst failures of David Cameron’s Government. #LestWeForget by @DrEoinCl

I write a list of the government’s 100 greatest failures every year. For a glimpse at last year’s list (see here). Below I list 100 of the most up to date failures of this Tory government. Each point is evidenced with a hyperlink in brackets after the claim. Please click on the hyperlinks if you wish to explore the evidence.
  1. Tories have axed 576 Sure Start Centres (evidence)
  2. Bankers’ Bonuses rise by 64% in just 1 year (evidence)
  3. Food Bank usage has grown by 700%+ in 3 years (evidence)
  4. 1 million are now employed on Zero-Hours Contracts (evidence)
  5. The Disabled have suffered real term cuts of 1.7% this year in benefits (here)
  6. 52,701 firms have been declared Insolvent (Q2 2010 to Q2 2013) (evidence)
  7. 379,968 persons have been declared Insolvent (Q2 2010 to Q2 2013)  (evidence)
  8. Unemployment is 20,000+ higher today than May 2010 (evidence & here)
  9. Private Rental Homes costs £9,084 to rent (£1,128 up from Apr 2010) (evidence & here)
  10. Tories have axed 5,601 Nurses since May 2010  (evidence)
  11. Council Tax rises imposed on the poor & disabled have led to 450,000 being dragged to courts since April (evidence)
  12. 1 million people have had to sell their family home to pay for Elderly Care in the last 5 years (in fairness that include 2 years of a Labour government). Cameron promised no one would have to sell their family home to pay for elderly care (evidence here)
  13. More than 250,000 Disabled people have been forced to take place in the Work Programme unpaid (here)
  14. Water Charges  are up 20% since 1 Apr 2010  (herehere, here)
  15. 20% of Law Firms are facing bankruptcy and 500 shut in 6 months amid Legal Aid cuts (evidence)
  16. Stamp Prices are up 46-56% since May 2010 (evidence)
  17. Suicide Rates have climbed 8% in just 1 year reaching their highest levels since 2004 (evidence)
  18. Number of Children in Class Sizes of more than 30 has doubled in a year (here)
  19. Free Schools are under-subscribed but they get more money per pupil & freeze out poor kids (herehere & here)
  20. Tories axed 5,000 Firefighters and hundreds of Fire Stations. Evidence of the impact in London alone (here)
  21. Waiting Lists for families seeking to rent social housing have soared to record highs (evidence here)
  22. Housing Benefit Bill has climbed to more than £20 billion as Private Landloards cash in with record rents (evidence)
  23. The number of Cancelled Operations in our NHS have doubled and are at their worst for 8 years (evidence)
  24. OBR predict Household Debt will grow more than £500bn this parliament thus continuing Labour’s awful record of encouraging personal debt (here)
  25. The Tories sold the Royal Mail for 50% less than it’s now valued (evidence)
  26. Gas Prices are up 31% since May 2010 (evidence)
  27. Homelessness is up 28-34% since May 2010  (evidence & here)
  28. Rough Sleeping in London has grown 85% since Boris Johnson became Mayor (evidence)
  29. House Building, last year, fell to a 90 year peacetime low  (evidence)
  30. Electricity prices are up 22-39% in price since May 2010 (evidence)
  31. The UK suffered a 97% drop in Affordable House starts in 6 months under Grant Shapps  (evidence)
  32. £12bn+ of NHS has been put up for sale under this government (evidence)
  33. 33% of NHS Walk In Centres have been axed  (evidence)
  34. Wage Growth is just 0.7% which is much lower than inflation  (evidence)
  35. Profit Tax is to be cut by 25% (from 28% to 21%)  (evidence)
  36. 3.5 million now live in Child Poverty as Tory welfare cuts & sluggish wage growth bite (evidence)
  37. 800,000 more households are living in Fuel Poverty & this excludes the impact of recent price rises (evidence)
  38. Numbers of Working Poor have doubled in 3 years & include homes with 2.2mill children (evidence)
  39. Numbers living in temporary accommodation have grown 11.4% since Q2 2010 (here)
  40. ‘The 50p rate’ High Earner Tax  was cut by 10% (from 50p to 45p)  (evidence)
  41. VAT Tax was hiked by 14% (from 17.5% to 20%)  (evidence)
  42. EMA was scrapped for 500,000 as drop out rates climb (evidence)
  43. Bedroom Tax clobbered 660,000 of which 2/3rs are disabled & 1/4 single parents  (evidence)
  44. The Tories and their Lib Dem pals trebled Tuition Fees  (evidence)
  45. Record number of PFI contracts signed in the first year of a Tory government  (evidence)
  46. Bus Fares are up 22% under the Tories (here, herehere)
  47. £5bn spent on back to work schemes that are less than 2% successful  (evidence)
  48. 7,968 Hospital Beds Axed  (evidence)
  49. Rail Fares are up 27% since 2010 (here, here)
  50. The Number of GCSE Students getting A/A* Grades has fallen by 6% since 2010 (From 22.6 to 21.3)
  51. 35,000 Police personnel have lost their jobs under the Tories (evidence)
  52. 42,000 Armed Forces personnel to lose their jobs even though £2bn went unspent (here & here)
  53. Tories abolished Equality Impact Assessments to cover up the immorality of their policies (here)
  54. Tories lost several court cases against NHS closures & the Risk Register (eg here)
  55. The Tories halved a worker’s right to 90 days Redundancy Notice (here)
  56. £168m in donations raked in by Tories including £20m from Private Health  (evidence)
  57. Chair of UK Statistics Authority tells Gove to stop lying about Education  (here)
  58. Chair of UK Statistics Authority tells Hunt to stop lying about NHS Spending (here)
  59. Chair of UK Statistics Authority tells Cameron to stop lying about Debt Reduction (here)
  60. National Debt has risen £447 billion  (evidence)
  61. NHS Spending did not rise as promised  (evidence)
  62. NHS ‘Never Events’ have more than trebled  (evidence)
  63. NHS Negligence complaints lodged have increased 49% since 2010  (evidence & here)
  64. 35,000+ NHS Staff have been axed  (evidence)
  65. 5,000 Firefighters have been axed  (evidence)
  66. Minimum Wage rises have been below inflation every year of Tory rule (evidence)
  67. University Applications fell by 6% in Jan 2013 (here)
  68. 20 Treatments are no longer free on the NHS in parts of England  (evidence)
  69. 10 Prisons have been axed & 4 more are to close (evidence & here)
  70. 4 Profit Making Prisons have been opened  (evidence)
  71. The Tax Gap has grown by £3bn to £35bn in the last year alone [evasion/avoidance] (evidence)
  72. 6% of Prison Cells have been cut in 1 year  (evidence)
  73. £829m cut from the Children’s & Families Budget  (evidence)
  74. The percentage of A-Level Students getting A/A* has fallen 3% since 2010 (here)
  75. Food Prices are up 19% under the Tories  (evidence)
  76. 11,000 Fat Cat NHS Bosses given a 13% pay hike while nurses pay frozen (evidence)
  77. At least a third of Ambulance Stations have been axed since 2010 (evidence)
  78. NHS GP Funding cut by £400 million (evidence)
  79. NHS Funding For Cancer, Stroke & Heart Patients cut by 12-26% (evidence)
  80. A&Es waiting times at their worst for 8+ years  (here)
  81. Michael Gove overspent £1bn on Free Schools & Academies at State Schools expense (evidence)
  82. NHS Direct was axed and replaced by a botched and fragmented NHS111 (evidence)
  83. NHS Patient Satisfaction went from record high under Labour to record low under Tories (evidence)
  84. Government wasted £1.4 billion on NHS Staff Redundancy Payouts (evidence)
  85. Government axed a plan to rebuild 715 Crumbling Schools (evidence)
  86. Just 3% of CEOs in the FTSE 350 are Women & Cameron has fueled a more Sexist tone to our politics (evidence &here)
  87. 31% of UK women have suffered Domestic Abuse and it has risen in 25% after the Tories came to power. Legal Aid cuts, police cuts & the Bedroom Tax make it harder for women to escape it (evidence & here)
  88. Tories cut Child Benefit for middle-class families while giving tax cuts to millionaires (evidence)
  89. Number of people Working Unpaid is at a 13 year high (evidence sheet 3)
  90. The Government used your taxes to fund Racist Vans that drove around London warning immigrants to “Go Home”. The Advertising Standards Authority has now banned them (evidence)
  91. 1.8 million workers now earn less than the National Minimum Wage (evidence)
  92. More than 600,000 Public Sector workers have been axed (evidence sheet 4)
  93. Job creation: There were more workers born in the UK employed in Britain in Jul-Sept 2010 than 3 years later on 30 June 2013 (sheet 8 rows 64-76)
  94. On world disability day the Tories shut 36 Remploy Factories axed 1,000 disabled workers (here)
  95. Job Creation: 70% of new jobs created in the UK under the Tories have gone to non-UK citizens which makes a lie of the Tory claim they’ve created a million new jobs (sheet 8 rows 64-76)
  96. 95 Tory Fat Cat Academy Bosses rake in more than MPs with the top 10 giving themselves £2million between them (evidenceevidence)
  97. The Tories have Privatised Educational Services, Auditing, Consultancy and Prison Services worth £5 billion (evidence & here)
  98. Were it not for Ed Miliband & the pressure of the UK public Cameron would have taken us to war in Syria.
  99. Tories have Privatised 1 major NHS Hospital, have put another major hospital up for sale and have handed 12 community hospitals to profiteers (herehere & here)
  100. Sure Start Funding has been cut by 28% as Cameron breaks his SureStart promise (evidence)