Tag Archives: NHS

The Green Party – We’re Not Just a Pretty Face!

JeanI have to confess that I had a personal dilemma on how to vote in the election. Should I vote tactically or vote for what I believe in?

I have been a member of the Green Party for 30 years but I have only been able to vote Green in the General Election twice back in 1987 and 1992 and the only times I have been able to vote Green in Local Elections was when I stood as a candidate myself. It has been difficult for us as a small party to find both the people and the money to stand in General Elections so I was pleased that the Green surge brought a new excitement and energy and candidates willing to put themselves forward.

However, I live in Derby North where Labour’s Chris Williamson only won by a small majority in 2010. Many people I spoke to outside the Green Party who were concerned about the cuts and austerity said I should vote tactically rather than vote Green. I knew that Chris was passionate about Animal Welfare and he was also in a group of fifteen Labour MPs who called for an alternative to the continuation of austerity and spending cuts. So I did consider their view carefully but in the end decided to vote for the party I believed in and not to play the tactics game.

Having taken this decision, I was very disappointed that the Conservatives won Derby North by 41 votes after three re-counts. I began to think that perhaps I should have voted tactically after all. But would it have changed anything? Labour was defeated nationally, their leader resigned but they still appear to think that austerity and cuts is the answer to our debt problems. From what I have heard, the candidates for the Leadership want to move nearer to Conservative policies to win back business and the votes of comfortably off people. This is far removed from what the Green Party stands for as an anti-austerity party, who don’t want to renew Trident, who oppose TTIP and who do not want our NHS to be sold off to the highest bidder. So, I’m glad I wasn’t persuaded to play the tactics game.

As others have said, for the Green Party, it is not just about who “won” on 7 May. I think the Green Party’s results in this election have helped the Party break through the perception in many people’s minds that it is just a well-meaning nice campaigning group. I believe that it will help to convince voters in 2020 that the Green Party is a serious political party, and given the chance, it can change the future face of politics.  One of the first things that we need to try to change is the first past the post voting system.

We have a long term aim to bring back values into politics, to build a fairer society for all and to continue to push for action to try to limit the consequences of global warming. Changing attitudes is always difficult and will not happen overnight. The abolition of the slave trade, votes for women, getting rid of apartheid, all required, and still require, persistence and dedication from those who believe that something needs to change. This election has shown that the Green Party is not just a pretty face; we have the body and brain to go with it.

Jean Macdonald
25 May 2015

Vote Green Today

The polling stations are open and it’s time to go out and vote Green.

Vote for What you Believe In

Your Derbyshire Candidates:

Green Party candidate contact details

This is such an important moment for our country and we have a unique opportunity to vote for desperately needed political change. It is time to elect brave, independent Green voices to Parliament.

Green MPs will never prop up a Tory led coalition. And the polling evidence says that Labour isn’t going to win enough seats to form a government on their own, so the role of smaller parties will be more important than ever.

Every green vote sends a message that enough is enough.

It’s a vote for hope, a vote for action on climate change, for the NHS, for an end to austerity. A vote that says, we can change things for the better.

10356153_10152396653039522_7330862721074206686_n

Green Party Launch Election Campaign Video

• Greens on 25% and surging in Bristol West
• Caroline Lucas: ‘The only wasted vote is a vote for something you don’t believe in.’
• New video follows viral success of ‘Change the Tune’ election broadcast

The Green Party, the fastest-growing political party in England and Wales, has released ‘Vote for what you believe in’, its second campaign video.

The film underlines the tremendous achievements made by Caroline Lucas, the Greens’ first MP, and demonstrates how a Green grouping in Parliament can deliver real change for the common good in the next Parliament.

The film follows hot on the heels of ‘Change the Tune’, the Greens’ genre-busting boy band spoof video which went viral on the internet which is the most viewed party election broadcast of the 2015 General Election campaign.

Darrren Hall, PPC for Bristol West and the Green Party’s Home Affairs spokesperson, is on track to win in Bristol West where the Greens are polling at 25% and closing the gap on Labour. The Liberal Democrats currently hold the seat but have seen their vote slip by 28% since 2010.

In the video, Caroline Lucas says:
“The only wasted vote is a vote for something you don’t believe in.
“All of the evidence suggests that there won’t be any one single party with an overall majority, so the smaller parties are going to be more important than ever. And with just a handful of Green MPs we could make a real difference, standing up for issues that none of the other parties are. Whether that’s challenging spending a hundred billion pounds on replacing Trident nuclear weapons or bringing rail back into public ownership, or having real ambitious policies to tackle the climate crisis.”

Darren Hall adds:
“More and more I’ve heard people saying: no, I’m going to vote with my heart. Because unless you start that process, things will never change.
“We have to acknowledge the size of the climate change problem and start to tackle it today.”

The Green Party of England and Wales is polling at its highest ever levels ahead of a General Election. More people than ever before will be able to vote Green on May 7th 2015 – the Party is fielding candidates in almost 95% of constituencies.

Sue steals the Duffield hustings!

SONY DSC

Sue MacFarlane, nearest the camera, a Green Party candidate from Belper gave a very credible showing at Monday’s Mid Derbyshire Hustings at Ecclesbourne School in Duffield, hosted by The Duffield Christian Council.

In front of a very full and lively audience, Sue, who is the prospective parliamentary candidate for Mid Derbyshire, made a lot of new friends as she debated issues ranging from farming to the NHS, and housing to defence. Sue gave direct examples of how the Green Party manifesto addresses the issues people are concerned about, and spoke with passion and authority on what were clearly hot topics for the locals attending – and in some cases for the country as a whole.

The Green Party’s membership ranks continue to swell and earlier this month hit 60,000 nationally, a growth of over 300% in less than seven months, overtaking both the Lib Dem and UKIP memberships in the process.

Imagine a Public NHS

Imagine a Public NHS 

Vote for What you Believe In

Take the Profit Motive out of Health Care

GPLogoStrapGreenForWeb Quick Quote from Ralph Hierons – Candidate in Erewash Constituency

Ralph Hierons “There are many disparate, disaffected groups of potential Green voters in the UK, who may be unaware that there is a party that shares their ideals: those campaigning against TTIP who do not know we are the only party that are totally opposed to it; those fighting to save our NHS who are unaware of our policies regarding a fully funded, free at point of service, un-privatised NHS; those who do not want the land under our homes stolen, and poisoned, who need to be made aware that we are the only party who are totally against fracking. “

Green Party candidate contact details

Who is My Neighbour?

A Green Party member’s response to the House of Bishops letter saying that “Politicians need to deliver a fresh moral vision”

800px-Green_Party_protestors_2011In a letter urging congregations to vote on 7 May, the House of Bishops of the Church of England says it does not endorse a political party but encourages debate on issues such as nuclear defence and the economy. As a Vicar’s wife (retired) I know that letters to congregations are usually read out by the vicar during the main Sunday service. However, this “letter” is 56 pages long!

Here are some sound bites from the Bishop’s letter(1) with my response based on Green Party policies(2), with quotes from our two Derby Parliamentary election candidates; Alice Mason-Power (Derby North) and David Foster (Derby South).

Visions Worth Voting for – The Bishop’s letter states that the country needs “a new approach to political life that will change the political weather …”.

It seems to me that the Green Party has a new approach and a vision worth voting for.

David FosterDavid Foster says: “We Greens have a fundamental conviction that the existing system, based on inequality and exploitation, is threatening the future of the planet on which we all depend. This conviction colours every single policy we have.”

The Bishops letter covers various issues including the Economy, Europe, Defence, The State and Globalisation.

The Economy: It credits politicians for helping Britain avoid the financial instability of other European countries, but criticises them for turning the banking crisis into a “political football”

The Green Party believes that the existing banking system is undemocratic, unfair and highly damaging. Banks create money and decide how it is first used. Through the interest charged on the loans on which all credit is based, the current banking system increases inequality. Banks create and lend more and more money until the level of debt becomes unsustainable, then the taxpayer bails out the banks that are “too big to fail”. Servicing the growing debt mountain is a key driver of unsustainable economic growth that is destroying the environment. The power to create money must be removed from private banks. The supply of our national currency must be fully restored to democratic and public control so that it can be issued free of debt and directed to environmentally and socially beneficial areas such as renewable energy, social housing, and support for community businesses.

Europe: The Bishops say there is an “enduring argument for continuing to build structures of trust and co-operation between the nations of Europe”

Caroline Lucas Making a point CropCaroline Lucas MP says “I support a referendum on our membership of the EU…” but “,,,I want to see a radical reform of the way Europe operates. The EU has the potential to spread peace and make our economies more sustainable, and to promote democracy and human rights, at home and throughout the world. But it must urgently change direction, away from an obsessive focus on competition and free trade and towards placing genuine co-operation and environmental sustainability at its heart”.

Defence: The Bishops state “Shifts in global strategic realities mean that the traditional arguments for nuclear deterrence need re-examining”.

The Green Party is committed to pursuing immediate and unconditional nuclear disarmament. It believes Nuclear weapons are political weapons of terror, and are disproportionate to any threat. The £100 billion needed to renew Trident could be better spent elsewhere.

The State: The Bishops state “We need a richer justification for the state, a better account of the purposes of government, and a more serious way of talking about taxation”

The Green Party would end austerity, restore the public sector and create good jobs. This would be paid for with a wealth tax on the top 1%, a Robin Hood tax on the banks, and the closure of scandalous tax loopholes. It would also introduce a minimum wage of £10 per hour by 2020.

Globalisation: The Bishops say “The problem is that no-one in politics today has a convincing story about a healthy balance between national government and global economic power”

David FosterDavid Foster says: “Greens believe in a world that would prioritise the many, not the few. To this Government’s surprise, Coalition tax revenues are low. The rich don’t pay their way, and the poor barely earn enough to be taxed. The Green Party would change that.”

The Campaign ahead – The Bishops state “The election campaign is likely to entrench the apathy and cynicism with which many people approach politics today. To accept such attitudes is a counsel of despair. Unless we exercise the democratic rights that our ancestors struggled for, we will share responsibility for the failures of the political classes…”

This year, the Green Party will give more people than ever the chance to “vote for change” with candidates standing in 90% of constituencies. So people will have a real alternative to “politics as usual”

Vote for Values – The Bishops encourage voters to sow the seeds of a new politics by supporting candidates and policies which demonstrate key values such as “Halting and reversing the accumulation of power and wealth in fewer and fewer hands, whether those of the state, corporations or individuals”.

In the UK, wealth exists alongside unimaginable poverty. Since 2009(3), the number of billionaires in the UK has more than doubled. Pay for top company directors has increased by 40%, while the number of people using Food Banks has increased from 26,000 to nearly 1 million and the average UK worker has experienced a 9% real terms pay cut. The Green Party is committed to reducing this divide between rich and poor.

Alice Mason PowerAlice Mason-Power says: “Austerity is not working for the people of Derby. Child poverty is at 19%, food bank usage is increasing, wages are stagnating as prices rise, and the bedroom tax is putting yet more pressure on already struggling individuals and families. We believe there is an alternative to yet more cuts. We believe in a society which prioritises the many, not the few. We believe in creating a future based on sustainability and equality. We believe in working for the common good. “

The Green Party would abolish the unfair Bedroom Tax. It would aim to dramatically increase the number of social rented homes and bring empty homes back into use, ensuring everyone has a secure, affordable home. It would also introduce rent caps and longer tenancies for renters. It aims to facilitate the development of human societies in which people can enjoy the exercise of their individual and collective rights responsibly. It would fight for a publicly funded NHS free at the point of use and end the creeping privatisation of its services. It would make mental health a much higher priority with resources to match its status and ensure free social care for the over 65s

The Bishops’ letter acknowledges the depth of insecurity and anxiety that has permeated our society after decades of rapid change, not least the changes brought about by the banking crisis and austerity programme.

It encourages political parties to reflect on the obligation to secure the common good of future generations, not just our own, and address issues of intergenerational justice and it states that this must include a responsible approach to environmental issues.

The Green Party’s policy is to work to phase out fossil fuel based energy generation and nuclear power and invest in renewable energy, flood defences and building insulation.

Who is my NeighbourWho is my neighbour? – The Bishops say “This letter is about building a vision of a better kind of world, a better society and better politics. Underlying those ideas is the concept of virtue – what it means to be a good person, a good politician, a good neighbour or a good community. Virtues are nourished, not by atomised individualism, but in strong communities which relate honestly and respectfully to other groups and communities which make up this nation.”

They warn against the temptations of apathy, cynicism and blame, and instead encourage people to seek a more humane society – a better politics for a better nation.

As a Green Party member I say “Amen to that!” “Roll on the election!”

Jean Macdonald
Green Party Activist

Links:
1. House of Bishops letter – letter urging congregations to vote
2. Green Party Policies – http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/
3. Inequality Briefing – http://www.inequalitybriefing.org A non-political organization whose purpose is to spread information rather than to suggest policy solutions,

Ralph Hierons – Erewash Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Ralph HieronsI joined the Green Party following the last general election as I saw them as the only party with any remaining integrity. With election policies and promises being rapidly discarded by the three ‘mainstream’ parties in the grab for power.

I am inspired by the lack of a real alternative to the right wing bias as we approach this General Election. I want to increase my involvement with the only party that I trust to deliver on their pledges in an open democracy.

What appeals most to me about the Green Party is their holistic approach to government and to society. Whilst the other parties promote their sticking-plaster remedies to whatever populist problems will garner the most votes, the Green Party, whilst fluid enough to respond to new challenges (TTIP, Fracking) as they arise, is constant in ethos, and propose changes across the board that can only improve society, environment and equality.

As we approach the General Election, I see communication as the Green Party’s biggest challenge. There are many disparate, disaffected groups of potential Green voters in the UK, who may be unaware that there is a party that shares their ideals: those campaigning against TTIP who do not know we are the only party that are totally opposed to it; those fighting to save our NHS who are unaware of our policies regarding a fully funded, free at point of service, un-privatised NHS; those who do not want the land under our homes stolen, and poisoned, who need to be made aware that we are the only party who are totally against fracking.

Without the vast budget and huge corporate donors of the other parties, our challenge is to take this message to these people and build upon the Green surge.

I have worked as an internet designer and developer since 1997 and, along the way, have worked in film, print and on-line media. I consider myself an able communicator and am looking forward to dedicating all of my skills and experience in this field, to spreading the Green Party message throughout Erewash.

I view Erewash as a mass of abandoned potential, which like so many areas has been brutalised by austerity cuts. The constituency is distanced from Westminster and consequently disaffected. Combatting voter apathy in an area that has been penalised by the current coalition is definitely an uphill struggle, but one I would rise to. I am truly inspired by the ‘Transition Towns’ movement and believe this is a model we could apply to Long Eaton and Ilkeston – developing our micro-economy and building a stronger community.

Green Party candidate contact details

Charlotte Farrell – High Peak Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

?????????????????????????????I am standing as a parliamentary candidate for High Peak constituency because I believe it is important to give people the opportunity to vote for the Green party wherever possible.

I became interested in environmental issues back in the 1980’s, concerned about the effects our current way of life was having, and the impact of climate change on the world generally.

I believe that capitalism is incompatible with a sustainable society and that while we continue to follow the present economic trajectory we will inevitably cause untold harm to mankind and to the planet. I believe that the alternative is to build policies which put people and the planet first before profit.

I originally trained as a nurse and worked as such for 15 years before re-qualifying as a solicitor. Last year, after 10 years in the law, I left to work with my partner making orthopaedic footwear; so that I could devote more time to politics.

I live and work in the High Peak and am involved in various community activities there. In particular I was involved in the purchase of Derbyshire’s first community owned and run village pub which now provides a focus for the local community.

If I was elected I would stand for:
•  meaningful action to combat climate change and pollution
• providing decent jobs with a living wage and truly affordable housing
•  fighting cuts to public sector jobs and services
• increased investment in health and education, in particular ending the pernicious privatisation of services
• integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport
•  zero tolerance inequality and discrimination
• immediate unilateral nuclear disarmament and an end to UK involvement in overseas conflict and war.

I believe that there needs to be a fundamental change to our present economic and political system to combat the inevitable global destruction which we otherwise seem to be heading towards. I believe in providing a fairer and more equal society which is not at the expense of the environment.

Green Party candidate contact details

David Kesteven – North East Derbyshire Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

David KestevenAs the Green Party candidate for North East Derbyshire, I think that the most important thing for the party is to field as many candidates as possible to give the public a chance to vote Green. Despite supporting Green Party values for as long as I can remember, I have never voted Green because I have never had a candidate to vote for.

I work as Head Gardener at Renishaw Hall.  Working outside I am keenly aware that climate change is actually happening. In the 12 years that I managed the vineyard at Renishaw, harvest dates came forward an average of one week, that is proper scary. My employer has also invested in renewable energy (three wind turbines and a biomass boiler). However, seeing the decision making process that led to this, I can assure you that ‘leaving it up to the market’ will not solve our energy problems.

In fact, it is the abject failure of free market capitalism to deliver anything worthwhile (apart from i pods) that has politicised me even more than imminent climate catastrophe. After all, unprecedented levels of CO2 in the atmosphere may not be that bad, the results from this experiment are not in yet. Also driving at speed down the M1 with your eyes shut may be safe, it’s something else I haven’t tried. But to expect the market to deliver fairness and a more equitable society is just plain silly.

I have read and completely agree with the Green Party manifesto 2010. Here are some bits I’m particularly passionate about:

• Re-nationalise the railways.

• Education: Get rid of SATS, league tables and, Ofsted, while you’re at it; Teachers are professionals who should be allowed to teach – ticking boxes should be reserved for pupils in multiple choice examinations. I also believe that there should be no tax relief for private schools.

• Health: I believe we should get rid of all markets within the NHS; give nurses and staff a decent pay rise then ask them what needs to be done to make the NHS better. Patients should also be fed proper food while in hospital.

• I also personally believe that it would be wise to nationalise the national grid and power generation.

I hope for your support. We have a lot to do.

Green Party candidate contact details

Matthew Genn – Chesterfield Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Matthew GennI am immensely honoured to be the Green Party candidate for my home town of Chesterfield having grown up  here for most of my life.  I feel proud of the fact that I can offer the people of Chesterfield the option of voting Green in May 2015.

For me, the Green Party is the only political party that is actively advocating both environmental sustainability and social fairness and equality.  I hope in being the Green Party candidate I can represent and espouse these ideals.

I see the role of the Green Party candidate being primarily to listen and help to act upon the concerns of local people in Chesterfield.  I am also presenting voters with  a credible alternative to the three main “business as usual” Westminster parties and UKIP.

With the surge in both the Green Party’s membership and polling figures in recent months, I feel that it is becoming increasingly possible to deliver on people’s desire for change.

In particular, I want to campaign against the Coalition’s austerity agenda and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

In addition I would be a champion for young people, who often end up being disenfranchised by our current political system.  I want to give the young people of Chesterfield a voice; a voice in which they can believe.  I will endeavour to work hard to represent them and their needs.

I have long had an interest in the environment and nature.  From helping out on my parent’s allotment to studying about climate change at university, it has always been a passion of mine.  With a university background in the environment and having recently started working as an environmental consultant, I want to use my skills to bring about a positive change.

Through the Green Party, I believe this is possible.  So I am willing to roll up my sleeves and be the best Green representative that I can for the people of Chesterfield.

Green Party candidate contact details

Please can we have our NHS back?

Charlotte Farrell, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for High Peak writes…

?????????????????????????????While I was walking home from work today, I was musing about the NHS and in particular wondering what evidence has there ever been to support the idea that ‘marketising’ the NHS would improve the services offered or even reduce costs and save it money? Furthermore what was actually so wrong with the old system?

I began working in the NHS in the late 1970s. I realise that as a nurse I probably wasn’t particularly aware of the management structure, even less the processes that went into providing patient care beyond the wards level. But on the other hand I also wasn’t aware of there ever being problems. Things seemed to run smoothly enough though.

In those days, as I remember, the hospitals were broadly controlled by District Health Authorities and above them the Regional Health Authorities. Then in the 1980s things began to change, the first glimmers of privatisation began, and competitive tendering was introduced for ancillary services.

We began to notice that the wards were suddenly not kept as clean as they used to be, the cleaners were rushing their work and things got overlooked. Hygiene suffered. It was not the cleaners fault though. The concept of tendering meant that the service providers would only secure the contract if they were “competitive” and that meant lower priced bids, which also meant cutting corners. There were fewer ward cleaners, working longer hours for less. By devaluing the staff in this way they also broke some of the public service ethos that had run through the NHS for so long. Interestingly the spread of contracting out cleaning services also coincided with a rise in infection rates including MRSA.

But not to be off put by this, both Labour and Conservative have pressed ahead with the total reorganisation of the NHS into something that Aneurin Bevan would hardly recognise. The idea that the NHS should replicate the private sector has taken root: the private sector knows best and market forces will deliver better care.

Labour introduced PFI funded hospitals, saddling the NHS with debt for years to come with the benefit going to the private funders. It developed foundation trust hospitals so that hospitals could be run as businesses, even to the extent that they could become bankrupt! It introduced the “choose and book” system which opened the door to private hospitals working “alongside” the NHS. Hospitals now had chief executives in control, people often drawn from the private sector on salaries to match. The ethos of public service was further degraded.

The NHS was continually being criticised, waiting list times, poor levels of nursing care, treatments not being provided etc etc (mostly all due to being too underfunded to provide the kind of service people had come to expect, rather than an inherent problem with the staff) – paving the way for the Health and Social Care Act 2011 which promised to make the service more efficient and fit for the 21st century. But all that has been achieved is to change from a system which operated relatively straightforwardly, to one which has become almost Byzantine in complexity.

I don’t know for certain whether this is assertion is true but I would have thought it is not inconceivable that the more layers of management involved, the more labyrinthine the purchasing processes, the more individual transactions involved in providing care and the less affection the providers have for the system, the more costly the service is likely to be.

The NHS Reinstatement Bill aims to rid the NHS of the marketisation, and put it back to how it was conceived. I fully support it.

For further information you can find out more about the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 on http://www.nhsbill2015.org/  There is also a link to contact your parliamentary candidates in the run up to the election.

Private money in the health service is repellent … literally

Ian Wood, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Derbyshire Dales writes …

Ian WoodI am writing on a morning when the prime minister is reported to have appealed to employers to pay their workers more. As the election approaches, neo-liberal commentators who normally laud the free market are saying what a ‘shame’ it is (Allister Heath in the Daily Telegraph) that employees are not yet getting the benefit of our famously delayed economic recovery.

It’s remarkable that the free market still places such a high premium on neo-liberal notions – they have failed more than they have succeeded, most clearly in the public realm, from directory inquiries (what exactly was wrong with the old 192?) to the water and energy industries (in my freezing flat in Newcastle in 1981 I had the heating on all the time and I was paying £90 over three winter months). Nowhere is this failure more glaring than in the National Health Service.

It is a failure that has been known about for decades. Our own health service has been so good that we have been protected for years from the tragically hilarious efforts in healthcare contracting that have been afflicting other parts of the world. From ambulance chasing in America to incompetent private caterers in Bombay hospitals to contractors sucking in the resources of an entire province to keep one hospital running in Zimbabwe, privatisation in public health provision has failed the patient.

But privatisation in the NHS was largely resisted by Mrs Thatcher and afflicted mainly opticians and dentists. However organisational changes made in the 1980’s paved the way for the later reforms that arrived under John Major. On it went under Tony Blair, a nip here and a tuck there, his frankly right-wing ministers (Alan Milburn, John Hutton, and others who pocketed their rewards later from bodies serving the private health industry) doing their best to bring in private capital in the interests of ‘efficiency’ and ‘value for money’. Their efforts were huge and the results persistently disastrous.

CarolineLucasandGreensatSaveNHSdemo2.11.2013webThis was entirely predictable, in my view, because discrete pools of private capital looking for profit, conflict with a public health service focused on need. They can succeed only by causingdamage. This ‘private-public partnership’ reminds me of those hybrid animals you used to see in world zoos – the liger, for example, a sadly doomed mixture of a lion and a tiger, unable to live alongside any other naturally occurring animal, yet dangerous to them all.

And of course, despite his denials, it was a Labour health secretary, Andy Burnham, who left office in 2010 with a competition of three private providers (one in partnership with a trust) competing to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital. The franchise was won by Circle. The hospital then had 310 acute beds, and now has only 223. The hospital, went bust in 2007 when it had to borrow £27m to keep going. It is ‘buster’ than ever now. Private contracting has failed Hinchingbrooke Hospital. Circle has renounced its ten-year contract because the trust was about to go into special measures after it was rated ‘inadequate’, and because it was losing too much money. Fiona Allinson, head of the hospital inspection team, said after seeing the state of the hospital that she ‘wanted to drive back again with my nurse’s uniform on to sort it out.’

Private companies build hospitals, supply drugs, and supply nurses and doctors. General practitioners have been small private businesses for decades. It is when private money operates as a market in the core business of a public entity, that exists to serve need rather than the shareholder, that risks emerge. And many people think the risks are too great and too real.

Circle’s reaction to financial difficulty was illuminating in that it demonstrated how a private company will never try to correct the mistakes it may have made; it will abandon the NHS and save itself. Private companies acting through insurance will ask their customers to pay a contribution towards the private treatment they need. These co-payments are in opposition to a health service free at the point of delivery. They will cause public money to leak from the system into insurance.

Private companies are secretive when it suits them, and achieving transparency is difficult. But the overwhelming objection to private capital in the health service is that it is a giant leech. It trains none of the professionals it uses, and pays nothing towards the equipment it needs, bought with the proceeds of fun runs, charity days, sponsored skydives and the generosity of spirit found in the wider community. Victorian doctors took ages to realise leeches did not help their patients. Neo-liberal parties, like the Conservative and Labour Parties, can’t see that the leech of private capital does not help the health service.

The coalition government passed the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which allowed NHS hospitals to raise up to half their income from private patients, created widespread conflict of interest, and raised fears for the integrity of the commissioning process for some important contracts.

Astonishingly, family doctors can now award lucrative contracts to companies providing out-of-hours services in which they themselves have a shareholding.
In East Anglia an NHS mental health trust that is cutting services and staff has spent £1.2m in a single year on a private hospital where one of its senior consultants is a director.
Around 600 stoma nurses work in the health service – 450 are sponsored by companies that provide the products they ask to use.
Islington’s £300m budget has been queried after twenty doctors on the clinical commissioning group were shown to be involved with companies that the borough could be dealing with.
Patients in York have been told NHS doctors would no longer carry out certain procedures, which however would still be available on payment of a fee.

The Conservatives will carry all this to a more malignant and advanced stage in the next parliament. Labour says it will repeal the 2012 Act but will carry on with austerity. Both parties will stick to the failed neo-liberal economics of a late capitalist society. Their overwhelming priority is to keep bond yields low and affordable, and so state spending must remain low. They both know that tax revenues will not be going up for a long time because wages are staying low. When David Cameron encourages employers to pay higher wages, it is difficult not to laugh.

CarolineLucasandGreensatSaveNHSdemo2.11.2013webThe Green Party will bring the NHS back into full public ownership. We would make the NHS truly free at the point of need. This would cost money, but would save more money than a lot of people would expect. We would sweep aside private capital, which is proven to be repellent on many levels. In particular it is repellent of social solidarity, fairness, affordability, and the nobility that comes with public service.

A Concerning Trade Deal: TTIP

By Jean Macdonald

Jean Macdonald

Jean Macdonald

I would like to raise an issue which should concern all parties in the European elections.

I have emailed all East Midlands candidates about trade deals which are giving more power to big business at the expense of people and the environment.

War on Want is asking voters to ask candidates to sign a pledge to say that, if elected as an MEP, they will stand up for trade and investment rules that serve people and the environment and take back power from the corporations.

The main concern is with Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) which allow companies to sue governments. The tribunals take place behind closed doors.

According to the United Nations, in 2012, investor-state tribunals decided in favour of the investor in 70% of such disputes, ordering taxpayers to pay billions in compensation.

In the light of climate change, I am particularly concerned about the power that corporations have been given by ISDS to opt out of responsibility for damaging our environment.

For example, Chevron was ordered by an Ecuadorian court to pay $18 billion (US) to clean up contamination in the Amazon rainforest. Chevron is trying to avoid taking responsibility by using ISDS.

A Swedish energy firm is seeking $3.7 billion from Germany because the German government took a democratic decision to phase out nuclear energy and a US company is suing Canada for $250 million (US) after the country imposed a moratorium on fracking because of environmental concerns.

If the UK Government sets up deals with fracking companies, will the taxpayer have to compensate the companies if a future government decides to ban it?

If a future government, in the light of rising sea levels and increased flooding, decides not to go ahead with the proposed nuclear power station in Somerset, will the taxpayer end up having to compensate EDF and the Chinese investors?

The EU’s current negotiations with the US – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – will include ISDS.

At present, the UK Health and Social Care Act 2012 gives companies much greater access to the provision of NHS services.

If a future UK Government decided to change this, the ISDS clause would mean the Government could be at risk of being sued by the powerful US health industry. This would be disastrous for the people of the UK.

If we are to return power to the people and their elected representatives, MEPs must reclaim the power from big business and ensure that trade benefits people and the environment, and not just corporations and shareholders.

First published in the Derby Telegraph

 

Government taking powers to close hospitals

kat-gp-1Kat Boettge writes Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to give himself the power to close A&E Departments without full consultation.  Earlier this year his attempt to close the A&E Department at Lewisham Hospital was ruled to be illegal.  In response, he has added a clause to the Care Bill that is already before Parliament to give him the power to close hospital departments or to order the withdrawal of services. 

Hunt has lost twice over Lewisham.  After his initial attempt to close the A&E Department was ruled to be illegal he appealed, and again he lost.  So now he is resorting to changing the law to suit himself.  Not, it should be noted, in an open way, but by sneaking in a clause at the last minute to the Care Bill, that has nothing to do with the reorganisation or privatisation of the NHS but is, strangely enough, about the provision of Care.  It would seem that Hunt thinks a good way to deliver Care to vulnerable people is to take powers to close hospitals.

If this clause is passed by Parliament then the Government will have the power to close any NHS service or even a hospital without proper consultation.  The Government is claiming that they need these powers to streamline the NHS.  I do not believe this.  I say that the real motive is to accelerate privatisation by withdrawing essential services so as to force people to turn to the private sector.

Following the Government’s defeat over the Lewisham hospital, Caroline Lucas tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons to draw attention to the Hunt amendment to the Care Bill that aims to give a Government appointed administrator the powers to close NHS services.  If the Coalition Government gets these powers, then they will be able to close hospitals simply to save costs and so hit their financial targets.  No consideration will be given to local needs or to the advice of Doctors.

So much for the ConDem’s claims to be listening to the local community.  Their much trumpeted support of localism is as much a sham as their claims to be the ‘Greenest Government ever’.    But also it is shocking that only 37 MP’s have signed Caroline Lucas’s EDM.  It seems that they, like most of the public, are unaware of Jeremy Hunt’s hospital closure plan. 

The counCarolineLucasandGreensatSaveNHSdemo2.11.2013webtry desperately needs more Green MP’s and MEP’s to work for the common good of all, and not for the vested interests that influence most of our current MP’s.  We, the people, must act now to stop this reckless amendment or wake up to find our local NHS services being closed down.

 What can you do?

  • Write a letter to your local paper using the information above. 

From Kat Boettge                                                                                                Green Spokesperson for Social Care

Green Party Launches Manifesto Today

Today the Green Party launches our election manifesto. Click to download the full manifesto.

The Green Party is running in over 300 constituencies around the country (a record for the party in its 30 year history), and it is also running a full slate of general election candidates in London (for the first time ever). The key policies in our fully-costed manifesto for the general election are:

Health and the NHShttp://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/nhs_2010

We will fight for a fair deal for those needing health care by opposing cuts, closures and privatisation and by demanding a full programme of locally accessible services. We will also fight to restore free dental care and provide everyone with the choice of an NHS dentist

Opposing cuts to the public sector

When markets fail, government needs to step in and get the economy working again. You just can’t cut your way out of a recession. Greens believe that public spending cuts would harm the economy. It would impact on jobs – and hit the poorest hardest. That’s just not fair

Jobs and a living wagehttp://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/jobs_2010

Unemployment is skyrocketing, and the government is doing little about it. Our major and immediate priority is fight the economic and climate crisis together, and invest in a far-reaching programme of energy efficiency, renewable energy, social housing, public transit, and home insulation to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and training places

Pensionshttp://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/pensions_2010

We would ensure all pensioners receive a basic non-means tested £170 a week

Housinghttp://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/housing_2010/housing_detail.html

The Greens would bring back into use Britain’s 300,000 long-term empty private sector homes, and renovate Britain’s 37,000 empty council homes to help cut waiting lists.

Greens Campaign For A Fairer Derbyshire Dales

Josh Stockell, the Green Party’s general election candidate for Derbyshire Dales, joined fellow party members in Bakewell on Saturday to finalise their campaign in Derbyshire. The meeting heard Josh underline the party’s commitment to a fairer and sustainable society.

“Under this government the gap between the top earners and the average has widened. Top financiers are walking away with million pound bonuses while workers in public services face swingeing cuts. This is not our idea of fairness.”

Handing out leaflets in Bakewell with his team before the meeting, Josh said: “

I am encouraged by the response we are getting. Most of the people I have spoken to are aware of the Green Party and many are pleased to learn that we are standing in Derbyshire Dales – for the first time.”

In his leaflet, Josh, a town councillor in Wirksworth, calls for change to a fair and sustainable economic system and a stop to the ‘growth at all costs’ policies favoured by the other parties. No other party offers a ‘Green New Deal’ with a million new jobs.

Other issues that Josh highlights in his campaign are: an end to MPs’ greed; more affordable homes; local food and proper vetting of imports to support our farmers; better public transport; more renewable energy; no more privatising of the NHS; welfare not warfare.