Category Archives: Health

Sandwell stitches up City hospital

Press Statement
For immediate release
WE WILL CONTINUE THE FIGHT TO SAVE CITY HOSPITAL ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY WARD IN 2008
Local residents are shocked at the announcement by Health Minister Alan Johnson that he would uphold the decision to close the Accident and Emergency Ward in City Hospital.
How dare Alan Johnson claim “I am satisfied that the proposals are in the interests of the local health services and users.”
Let him come to Birmingham and ask the public what we think. The public meeting held by the Evening Mail clearly showed the opinion of the public, as did the thousands of signatures collected against the closure.
One of the campaign organisers, Raghib Ahsan, says “we should be able to expect our Labour government to listen to the people in our area, not turn their backs on us. We will continue to campaign to save the A&E ward.”
Campaigners have called a protest for 2pm on Tuesday 1st January 2008.
Raghib says “we have called the protest on New Year’s day to make it clear we will campaign every day of the year if necessary to stop this closure”.
For more information call
Raghib Ahsan on 07941 284 617
John Tyrrell on 0121 241 7896
Pete Jackson on 07977 057 902
As an early Christmas present Alan Johnson has announced that Birmingham’s City Road Hospital’s A & E department will move to Sandwell. This is a prelude to the closure of both hospitals to build a new single hospital in Sandwell. Actually it’s not likely to please Sandwell constituents either since the proposed site is well away from the centre of the borough.
All this is in spite of public meetings where there has been massive opposition from Birmingham residents and hospital staff. One meeting I went to, when the joint trust board decided on the move, members of the board just sat there without saying anything. It appears to be dominated by Sandwell. And who should come into the room late but Bill Thomas, Leader of Sandwell Council, who turned out to be a board member too. He promptly fell asleep. There is no representative from Birmingham City Council as far as I’m aware. Trying to get information through the “freedom of information” on the trust’s website is like trying to get blood out of a stone. Looking for details in the glossy self-congratulatory Annual Report like finding a needle in a haystack. Transparent they’re not. This lot are paid, I think it was £5,000 a year last I heard. Doubtless it’s gone up by now. I get sweet FA for being a governor of a school which entails far more than sitting in on meetings once or twice a year and dozing. That’s New Labour.
There’s a group of people here who are influential in New Labour, some of them being members of the notorious “Labour First” that ganged up to support Khalid Mahmood as MP for Perry Barr.
Khalid was at another public meeting organised by Birmingham Post and Mail. He was asked directly what his position was to which he replied “I will do whatever my constituents decide”. So what will he do now. Over to you Khalid!

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The injured. The statistics.

Going to war has a price. Added up it must be colossal, but much of the price just isn’t counted. Injuries to personnel are expected beforehand, but according to a report in The Independent (15/7/2007) the long term care of those injured physically and mentally is unprepared. In 2007 injuries are increasing. Advances in treatment in the field have improved so more serously injured survive.
The more revelations about what is going on the more revulsion, the more futility is revealed. As combatants reveal their feelings and report on the reality the more the case is made for stopping it Now. In America the surge goes on with Bush increasingly embattled as members of his own party cross the floor with the Democrats. In U.K. the Great and the Good have meet to decide what should be done. It’s the “Iraq Commission” No can’t cut and run. Can’t give a timetable either.

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Service or profit?

As the supermarket chains hold more and more influence over us as consumers, what at the end of the day is the more important, the service they give us or the sustenance of huge profit? A Guardian report (22/5/2007) raised the question. What are the messages their staff are getting if they flout health standards in order to pass on out-of-date products or take short cuts in day to day practice?
Suppliers are also put forward for question with bins of dead maggot-infested carcasses next to live birds. We have already seen something of the Bernard Matthews operation where the practice of rearing live birds intensively is a pandemic waiting to happen. One of our leadership hopefuls, David Milliband, was at pains to blame wild birds and protect suspect business practice. New Labour’s priorities in practice.

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City Hospital plans remain

At this afternoon’s meeting of the Sandwell and Hospital Trust a presentation was given on the findings following consultation. The written comments were from a very small sample with many more women than men responding. Older people were more likely to respond than the young, and, most worrying, the majority who responded were white British. This indicates that the Trust has failed to connect with large sections of our diverse community whose health needs are so great.
The composition of the Trust Board seems odd too. Its chair is a Sandwell Councillor, and later the Leader of Sandwell Council arrived to take his seat on the board. He appeared to sleep through most of the proceedings. This means that there appears to be little representation of Birmingham. Sandwell will end up with a brand new hospital while Birmingham’s will close.
My point that this is a hospital closure was confirmed by the chair who felt that having new facilities and closing down 150 year old buildings justified this. One speaker confirmed that a number of specialisms had already gone to University and Heartland Hospitals. Health is now like virtually everything else part of a competitive culture rather than one based on need.

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Mental Health Bill

The Independent (15/4/2007) is pleading with MPs and others to look at the case of a 16 year old who needed treatment for mental illness before the Mental Health Bill is debated tomorrow.
The inhumanity exhibited by New Labour is a major factor in my decision to get out. Time after time draconian measures are put into force which rather than remedying a bad situation frequently make it worse. Reactions to “terrorism”, drugs, asylum seekers criminalises the vulnerable, likely to be victims themselves of criminal gangs. The Observer leads with the futile attempts to stem an endemic drug taking culture. This is the subject of a report due out this week.
We know that prisons are overcrowded, filled with people who self-harm and are suicidal. The Unicef report tells us that the young are failed badly in the U.K., more than any industrialised country.
While all this is happening the Observer is reporting on Tesco’s £5,000 a minute profits about to break all records. I noted earlier that Philip Gould, one time ally of Blair, together with others close to government, had decamped to advise Tesco on their voracious appetite for land – either to use themselves or prevent competitors moving in. Generally speaking those at the top are looking after themselves and their friends very nicely.

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Why have we lost it with our children?

The Unicef Report on the state of the world’s children is scathing on Britain. It has made us all catch our breath. The feeling I get working with children in care (recently subject to a fairly damning report) is that as collective parents a poor example is shown. The information about Britain is only a part of this report which emphasises that where gender equality is practised it is the child who benefits.
As far as the situation in Britain goes it is interesting to hear views expressed by our continental neighbours. When we say proudly that our 4 years are reading they respond with “why aren’t they out playing?”. The hot house of examinations, bad enough at 16+, is replicated at 7, 11 and 14 with SATs. Why? It clearly isn’t helping our young, quite the reverse.
Regrettably the situation is a reflection of the society where a number of issues preoccupy us taking our eye off focussing what is important. Headlines are filled with alerts on crime, terrorism, gambling and other ideas which are doing great harm to us as a nation. Our responses to them have all received considerable criticism: prisons are stuffed full and are in inhuman; dealing with terrorism has lead to the stigmatisation of sections of the community and grave injustice and casinos are being promoted at every turn.

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Dumping our Values

Don’t get me wrong, I’m British, English with a touch of Irish here and there. While I didn’t have any choice in the matter there are many things I enjoy about it. Once again the Government instructs us that we are supposed to feel good about it and need to teach children it’s a good thing, never mind where their origins. Jack Straw adds to his (usually bad) ideas having already made it clear what he tnings about Islamic practices. Alan Johnson has now joined the fray. (I had hoped better after he, alone amongst the New Labour bunch, seemed to have been saying something sensible about children in care).
What I didn’t enjoy was reading about what happens to the waste we make. There has been news about the power of supermarkets who seem to have a lot of power: over their suppliers, over the high street, over us. What we don’t see or know about, one aspect at least is the subject of today’s Independent (26.1.2007). Dumping our waste in China.
“Lianjiao, a remote Chinese village in the booming southern province of Guangdong, is a long way for a plastic bag to travel; but it is where almost all British supermarket carrier bags end up. And the foil-lined crisp packets. And the triangular hard plastic packaging for your bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches from a top high-street chain. Because China is rapidly becoming Britain’s biggest rubbish dump.” (Source Independent 26.1.2007).

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Hospital proposals in Birmingham

City Road Hospital in Birmingham and Sandwell Hospital have already joined together within the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust, Now there are radical plans to rationalise services in the mid term with plans to build a new hospital on a new site in Sandwell between the two in the longer term. The Trust has embarked on a series of consultation meetings, although the impression left is that decisions have already been made.
The Birmingham Evening Mail set up a meeting at the Afro-Caribbean Millenium Centre last night (16/1/2007) with the difference that there were two panels with opposing views. About 200 people attended and most were unconvinced by the Chief Executive’s explanation. It appears that this is a top down exercise.
Some of those who worked at the hospitals, particularly the nearby City Hospital in Dudley Road, were critical of services which had already been cut. Facilities for children and young people have disappeared. Recent job losses have left people demoralised. Having waited in A and E for four hours for a young person to be admitted I had to wonder what was going on, particularly when the sign board was saying that waiting was due to a shortage of staff. The presentation announced the building of new up-to-date facilities (no dissent on that) but there appeared to be uncertainty of what could be provided given the budget available.

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