Monday, November 20, 2017

Will Brexiteers apologise if Brexit does damage to our nation?

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As a Remoaner, I predict that Brexit will do Britain great economic, social and ecological harm.
As a human, I could be wrong.
So. If, as a result of Brexit, say over the next 10 years, Britain does OK economically; 
if our exports go up, if we develop full employment in a green, sustainable economy, if crops and fruit get picked, if our nurse and doctor numbers hold up, if our scientists stay here and flourish, if no major damage is done elsewhere to the fabric of our society, if Britain becomes a happier, more equal nation, showing a generous and peaceable spirit,

then yes, I will gladly apologise to every Brexiteer.
And I will continue to work for a happier Britain in a happier world, whatever happens.
Now, will you Brexiteers be prepared to stand up and make a public apology if Brexit turns into a Dog's Brexit, an economic, social and ecological mess? 

Will you?

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Like a Poppy

Perfect from root to flower.
From swollen feet,
sunk in the soft, deep mud of these raped farms
that kept you in trenches
unable to move on,

up through your leaves
dressed out in just that tone of green
that when it touched your skin
could show with certainty that death had come
to ease your suffering and take you home

up to your fragile flower
paper thin, trembling with the shock of war
and its bulls-eye, grainy and black
signing an entry wound
perfect in head or heart

that brought in sudden quiet
instant transition from the muddy hell
maybe to lightness and to Light.
Though most of you crawled off in long, slow moving pain
life slowly leaking back to earth

joining a lonely choir of screams and groans
crying for mother or for God
as you lay out in perfect agony,
hour after hour alone
waiting for death

unless some kind sharp-shooter from your side,
maddened by screaming babes,
could pin your forehead with a poppy hole
or some quiet Quaker crawled to you
to give you opium and bring you home.

Cut poppies bleed the cure for pain.
In complex shame, their head hangs down;
there's not enough in all of Flanders' fields
to meet the needs of war,
or quieten leaders' minds.

Insanity still rules the world of men
still we take perfect orders from above
' our inner selves can sense is false
still we pour out out onto the ground
a bitter sacrifice of human blood,

and trembling hearts are torn
by priests of paper power
held up to angry skies
on knives of lies and false ideas.

Still we obey.

© Richard Lawson
November 5, 2017

Friday, November 03, 2017

By how much is the NHS underfunded?


One of my patients told me Nye Bevan used to visit his house when he was a kid, and heard him say
“We have got the NHS now, but if we abuse it, we'll lose it”.

We are in the process of losing Weston A&E.
Since July, it has been closed at night, because of difficulties getting doctors.
This is a national problem, made worse by Weston's small size.

Weston always has been underfunded (and underbedded) in terms of its population relative to Bristol.

With A&E, there is always a balance to be struck between the shorter travel time of the smaller hospital,
and the more specialised treatment available in bigger units further away.
Ambulance personnel are able to make that decision - so long as they are not overworked.

Sadly, Weston's closure has done just that - put more pressure on the ambulance service.

It is all down to resources.

First, the NHS is underfunded.

In 2014 NHS spending was £3971 per capita per year

In Netherlands, Sweden and Germany the figure is five thousand odd
In France it was £4367
The EU average was £4166
and here we are, down at £3971 - £137 billion a year, seven and a half % of GDP

NHS resources have been falling since the Tories came in in 2010, and are projected to keep on falling until 2020.
This is a fall planned by Blairite and Tory politicians - so-called efficiency savings.

So far, so bad. BUT - from this level, we have further hidden cuts:

The Lansley reforms cost £3 billion - but that was just a one off. Trivial. Look at this:

Each year, the NHS loses 12% of its notional budget, because

Litigation is rising 1 billion a year
Bed Blocking (Social Care failings ) 1 billion a year
PFI 2 billion a year
Agency Staff 3 billion a year
Internal Market 4 billion a year
Health Inflation (population increase,
technology, aging) 5 billion a year

These losses add up to £16 billion a year

That is about 12% robbed from the target budget every year.
12% from a budget that is already below the EU average.

How the NHS manages to function on this level of underfunding is a huge tribute to all healthcare staff,
and a huge condemnation of the abuse that Tory politicians, especially Jeremy Hunt, have poured on the NHS.
Clearly it is not sustainable. Yet, without a milligram of irony, the current STP - Sustainability and Transformation Plans - intend to rob even more from the budget.

There is much more to be said, not least that a fifth of the NHS budget is spent trying to treat illness caused by problems like unemployment, inequality, bad housing and pollution.
Problems caused by stupid politicians doing stupid politics.

But we have enough here to know that Nye Bevan would see our leaders are abusing the NHS he created.

The question for us now is - have we got the guts to stand up and end this abuse?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

#NewYork: how we can stop these van attacks

Another van attack, this time in New York.  It is being treated as terrorism.

We do not have to wait for the present wave of terrorism to burn itself out, as it will surely do. There are things we can do to mitigate these vehicle attacks. We cannot stop them entirely, but we can make it so that after the first impact, the engine cuts out.

Here is a letter that I wrote to the National Security Council back in August. It says IN CONFIDENCE, because there might have been a slight advantage to bring this in without announcement, but they did not acknowledge or answer the letter, so I'm going public. If you see the advantage of the idea, you could send your own. It might get an answer if you send through your MP. My MP is not working for me atm, because I challenged the veracity of a statement he made about fracking.

Anyway, here's the plan:

The Secretary
National Security Council
10 Downing St
London SW1


Dear Sir or Madam

re Protecting the public against terrorist attacks using vehicles

I am writing to the NSC as you have the role of developing effective protective security policies and capabilities for government.

The recent horrific terrorist vehicle attack in Barcelona, following other such atrocities in Nice, Berlin, London Westminster, Stockholm, London Bridge, London Finsbury Park and Charlottesville are a cause of great concern, as they turn every vehicle into a potential weapon. Physical defence against such weaponry, building barriers to separate pedestrians from traffic countrywide, would be enormously expensive and disruptive.

There is a far more cost-effective way to protect the public against these attacks.

A quick patent search shows several Vehicle Collision Detectors (for example JP2015081070(A)) registered by serious actors such as Toyota, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd and Denso Corporation. These are designed to warn drivers when they have hit someone. It would be a very simple matter to link one of these warning systems to the on board computer so that the ignition was switched off immediately on impact.

The effect of this would be to prevent the vehicle from continuing to power on through a crowd of pedestrians, and so would mitigate the damage done by this modality of terrorism.

This device could be described as a Vehicle Impact Detector and Immobiliser (VIDI). It could be developed and tested in a matter of weeks.

Every innovation has a potential downside. One is that a vehicle fitted with a VIDI might hit a pedestrian and pin him or her against an immobile structure. On level or upward sloping ground the vehicle could be rolled away. On downward sloping land the situation might persist until the engine could be restarted or the vehicle pulled away. This would in any case be a rare event, so we would have to balance this rare event against the prospect of continued, multiple murders by terrorists, which could conceivably continue for a few more years, with all that means for community cohesion and confidence in Government.
I hope therefore that you will give this proposal serious consideration. Please feel free to pose any questions that you may have.

Sincerely, Richard Lawson