Archive | June 2018

A bit of publicity

I will apologise in advance for publicising my own work. It invariably makes me feel ashamed to do it, but if I don’t, those of you who want information about the next book, or whatever, won’t get it.

So here it goes.

Endeavour Media are in the process of putting up two new/old books on Kindle and other e-book outlets. New to them, and possibly to some of my original readers, but very old to me because they are the two oldest books I’ve written. They were published in 1985 and 1986, which was over thirty years ago and were both instant bestsellers. Those were the days!

The first one is called ‘Hearts and Farthings’ and is about an Italian immigrant, called Alberto Pelucci, who comes to London from Genoa at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, takes any job that offers and works all the hours God sends until he has saved enough to rent a shop in Tooting. And then….. Yes Tooting fans, this one’s for you. There’s a lot in it you’ll recognise.

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The second is a sequel to the first, is called ‘Kisses and Ha’pennies’ and is also set in Tooting – among other places in London. It concerns two girls, called Anna and Mary, who are sisters but don’t know it because they have been brought up in different households in different parts of London. Until one day…

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They’re available to buy on Kindle via Amazon now, so here are the links:

http://amzn.eu/6z6E3cL

http://amzn.eu/fYQKXoV

So there you are folks. The ads are over. Now for a tea break.

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This entry was posted on June 22, 2018. 2 Comments

A birthday card with a difference for our 70 year old NHS

On Thursday July 5th it will be the 70th birthday of our much beleaguered, much loved National Health Service and I’m sure there will be millions of us all over the country who will want to wish it well, and praise it for all the wonderful work it has done over those seventy years. I’ve already put in my sevenpenn’orth about how good it was – and is still struggling to be – in an interview I gave to the BBC for a broadcast that will be aired during the next two weeks, so now I’m going to send this 70 year anniversary birthday card with a difference by telling the truth about what has been and is still being done to it by our determined and untruthful government.

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Theresa May is already talking about how she is going to give it a special birthday present of twenty million pounds. What largesse! And what tosh! She doesn’t seem to realise – or perhaps she doesn’t want to realise – that her government’s spending money for the NHS comes from our National Insurance contributions and our taxes and is not hers to give or refuse to give on a whim. The NICs were introduced at the same time as the Welfare State began. The whole thing had been carefully costed and planned for and we paid the new tax willingly, knowing that among other very necessary things like unemployment benefit and pensions, it was for a health service that would look after us all and would be free for us when we needed it because we’d already paid for it.

So what’s gone wrong? Why isn’t it working now? Why have 15,000 beds been shut down? Why has the nursing bursary been axed? Why have so many A&E and Maternity units been closed or cut down from their original and necessary size? Why are we short of 40,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors? We’re still paying NICs and taxes which run to billions of pounds every year. Well, put in a nutshell, it isn’t working and is in dire straits because that is what this government, and previous governments from Thatcher on, have always intended to do to it. They have been following a determined and ruthless plan to destroy it. And no, I’m not playing Cassandra and crying ‘Woe! Woe!’ never to be believed. It’s a verifiable fact. So let me tell you some of the story.

Way back in 2010 a man called Mark Britnell, who was the Chair of KPMG Health spoke to a meeting of American private health firms. What he had to say was hideously clear and, to its eternal credit, the Guardian/Observer reported it word for word. This is what he said:-

In future, the NHS will be a state insurance provider and not a state deliverer.’

The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.’

Smart cookies the KPMG. It is now a ‘supplier of services’ to six of the nine NHS consortia which the government instructed the NHS to set up. In 2014 the Greater East Midland Commissioning Support Group, paid KPMG a quarter of a million pounds every month in the first six months of 2014 for ‘services’. Money, as they used to say when I was a kid, for old rope. And they’re not the only wealthy firms in the private health business to take advantage of this enforced privatisation, Ernst and Young are another and so is Virgin Care.

If you want to know more about the racket, tweet or google ‘OurNHS’ and read what Tamsin Cave has to say about it under the headline ‘Why are GPs being told to hand billions worth of NHS decisions to private health firms?’ Google and Twitter can give you a lot of information if you know where to dig.

When it was set up the NHS was responsible for everything to do with our health care, paying for their doctors, nurses, cleaners, ambulance men and all their other staff, the upkeep of their hospitals and surgeries, the purchase of medicines and supplies. Now it is all being siphoned off along with the money to pay for it – our money you will remember – to rapacious private companies who will milk it for as much as they can get out of it and drop it if and when it fails, as big private companies do. Nothing is sacred. Not even the blood that so many donors give for free, to help their fellows. The plasma from it has already gone to a private company.

Please, if you care about our NHS and don’t believe the government propaganda which is pumped at us daily by a nice tame press, which, with the noble exception of the Guardian, is owned by six billionaires with off shore accounts who don’t pay tax, make it your business to find out what is actually going on and spread the word. They are playing a terrible, damaging con trick on us and, like me, you may well want something better for our NHS. Ask how many of our MPs have shares in private health companies or links to them. My own MP for example worked as an accountant for KPMG and his brother is a big noise at the BBC. Give names to the billionaires who now own large parts of it. Let the cats out of the bag. And if you want me to use this blog to pass your findings on, just let me know. Vive the NHS!

This entry was posted on June 17, 2018. 2 Comments

A 70th birthday celebration for our NHS

A few days ago I had a phone call from a TV producer called Sarah Bloch-Budzier, who sounded warm and friendly and wanted to know if I would be prepared to give an interview to BBC TV on what it was like to be among the first people to be treated by the National Health Service back in 1948. The interview was to be part of a programme the BBC will be collating to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the start of the NHS, which was on July 5th 1948. Naturally I said ‘Of course’, the rescue and preservation of the NHS being very important to me.

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They arrived at midday on Monday, Sarah, who turned out to be as friendly as she sounded and is very pretty, an equally affable and handsome man called Hugh Pym, who is six foot seven inches tall and gentle, and turned out to be the same age as my younger daughter (I checked him out on Google later) and a photographer, laden with cameras and equally friendly, who told me his name which I’m afraid I’ve forgotten, because I didn’t write it down.

They decided to film in the conservatory and I was settled in my usual chair at the table and attached to a microphone and off we went. I won’t take you through the interview here because you can see it when it’s transmitted – or perhaps I should say ‘if and when’ because nothing is certain when it comes to television. The anniversary is on July 5th. I’ll give you a reminder nearer the time.

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Hugh Pym is a patient interviewer and a knowledgeable one. I was impressed by the number of books he’d read about the run up to the NHS and its history. But I think I showed him something relatively new to him when I produced my copy of William Beveridge’s report and told him how it preached revolution, which seemed amazing to us at the time, and how he’d spelt out in patient detail just how that revolution could be achieved. I think he was a bit surprised to think that it should have been read by schoolchildren – I was a grammar schoolgirl when it came out and read it avidly when I was in the fifth form. But I tried to explain how popular it was – it was a best seller within days of publication and outsold all the other current best sellers put together. We talked for a while about how the war had given people a new and unusual opportunity to meet together and talk about the sort of world we wanted. We lived in working groups during the war not isolated in our homes, and we talked wherever we were, in factories, schools, the forces, air raid shelters. And I was aware as we talked of how very different our lives are now.

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After they’d packed up their cameras and said good bye, I sat down and made a list of all the things I was thinking about, as my head was fizzing with them. It seemed to me then and it seems to me now that, if we’re going to restore our cherished and admirable NHS, we have got to tackle the lies and propaganda that this government has been pumping out about it through their tame media and, if we can, to expose what they are really doing to it behind our backs. At the moment they’re having everything their own way and that must stop.

Firstly. We should nail the lie that the NHS is ‘free’ and that people who use it are idle scroungers who are ‘taking something for nothing.’ THE NHS HAS NEVER BEEN FREE. We have always paid for it, as we intended to, week by week through our National Insurance contributions which were deducted at source from our wage packets, and also by our taxes. It was, and is, a matter of honour, which William Beveridge understood and stressed in his report. You pay in willingly so that the service – whether it be medical care, a pension or unemployment benefit to tide you over until you can get another job – is there for you and your family when you need it. That is the essence of the Welfare State.

Secondly. We should explain, over and over again, that there is a fundamental and insurmountable difference of attitude between the Health Service and the Welfare State, which do not exist to make a profit, and private services which do. The first attitude produces caring organisations, the second leads, far too often, to greed, some of it obscene. First and foremost and most importantly, these private services guys are there to make a profit, whether it be from health care, social care, railways, schools, exams. And the richer they are, the less likely they are to contribute to our society by paying taxes. You cannot serve God and Mammon.

Thirdly. We should make it our business to press for information about all the secret deals our leaders are, and have been, doing behind closed doors. They have already sold off a large proportion of our NHS to multimillionaires like Richard Branson. We need to know the names of all the people to whom they have sold these choice bits and for how much. The NHS was never theirs to sell. It was created by the people who voted in a Labour government in 1945 and it belongs to all of us.

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And fourthly. We should press our new government to bring in a law that would require our MPs to tell the truth in the House. At the moment, because of a piece of antiquated flim-flammery that assumes an MP cannot lie ‘because he is a gentleman and gentlemen do not lie’, it is impossible for outright liars to be called to account. That must stop. The task of cleansing our foul Augean stables begins there.

If you are interested in all this, you will find more detailed information in a blog I put up on January 10th 2018. ‘Our NHS is very near its final destruction’.

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This entry was posted on June 8, 2018. 2 Comments