Posts Tagged ‘Waiting lists’

Saturday News Review

18/06/2011, 06:52:11 AM

Unison flexes its muscles

Britain’s biggest wave of industrial action since the 1926 general strike will be sparked by Government pension reforms, the largest public sector union’s leader has said. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, issued the warning as angry unions threatened to walk away from talks over plans to pay more for reduced entitlements. He told the Guardian newspaper: “It will be the biggest since the general strike. It won’t be the miners’ strike. We are going to win.” It comes after Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told public sector workers it would be a “colossal mistake” to reject a deal that was the best they could hope for. Under the reforms, the general retirement age in the public sector will rise from 60 to 66, in line with the state pension. – Sky News

The leader of the largest public sector union promises to mount the most sustained campaign of industrial action the country has seen since the general strike of 1926, vowing not to back down until the government has dropped its controversial pension changes. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison – which has 1.4 million members employed by the state – described plans for waves of strike action, with public services shut down on a daily basis, rolling from one region to the next and from sector to sector. He said there was growing anger over a public sector pay freeze that could trigger more disputes further down the line and that the changes would unfairly penalise women, who form the majority of low-paid public sector workers. “It will be the biggest since the general strike. It won’t be the miners’ strike. We are going to win.” In an interview with the Guardian, Prentis – who also chairs the public sector group at the TUC – repeatedly insisted that he still hopes to negotiate a settlement with the government through talks that are currently under way. – the Guardian

They are still the nasty party

A Tory MP has sparked outrage after saying disabled people should work for less than the minimum wage. Right-winger Philip Davies said if employers had to pay the same wage they would always choose to hire an able-bodied job candidate over a disabled rival. The Shipley MP told the Commons yesterday: “People with a learning disability can’t be as productive in their work as somebody who hasn’t got a disability.” He added: “They (disabled people) accept an employer would take on a person without mental health problems if they were both having to be paid the same rate.” His comments came during the second reading debate of Tory Christopher Chope’s Employment Opportunities Bill, which opens up the possibility of workers “opting” to work for less than the £5.93 minimum wage. But Dame Anne Begg, chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “To suggest that disabled people should be treated as second class citizens is shocking and shows just what a warped world some Tories inhabit.” – Daily Mirror

Downing Street has moved to protect the Prime Minister from a torrent of criticism after a senior Conservative suggested that people with disabilities should be paid less than the minimum wage. Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, claimed people with disabilities or mental health problems were at a disadvantage because they could not offer to work for less money. Relaxing the law would help some disabled people to compete more effectively for jobs in “the real world” in which they are “by definition” less productive than workers without disabilities, he claimed. The remarks stunned both Labour and Tory MPs and provoked a furious response from charities and equality campaigners, who condemned Mr Davies’s “insulting” suggestion as “absolutely outrageous”. During a Parliamentary debate, Mr Davies told MPs that the minimum wage of £5.93 per hour meant disabled people who wanted to work found the door being “closed in their face”. Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope, said Mr Davies had “got it seriously wrong”, adding: “We need to challenge employers’ prejudices – not pander to them.” The MP was also warned that he will be questioned over his remarks by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is conducting an inquiry into disability-related harassment. – Daily Telegraph

Waiting lists rocket

Longer waiting lists nail David Cameron’s lie that the NHS is safe in his Tory hands. Behind the bald Whitehall statistics are real people unnecessarily suffering for longer and, in some cases, probably dying. Over the past few weeks I’ve had to listen to the PM denying that waiting lists are rising. He can’t do that any more – although I wouldn’t put it past someone so slippery as him trying. The quack doctor in Downing Street deserves to pay a political price for his misdiagnosis and botched operations. I can’t pretend I’m surprised that he is dismantling the NHS as we know it. I wasn’t convinced five years ago when he declared: “The NHS is safe in my hands – of course it will be.” Tony Blair, he added, used one word three times to explain that education was his priority. Mr One Upmanship said he could better that: “I can do it in three letters – NHS.” Really, Prime Minister? You’ve an unhealthy way of proving that to those who rely on an NHS you’re harming. – Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror

Ed on the campaign trail again

Scots are feeling the pinch from “reckless” Conservative policies, according to Labour leader Ed Miliband. Mr Miliband joined candidate Iain McKenzie campaigning for the Westminster Inverclyde by-election seat yesterday. He said: “Iain McKenzie is a superb local candidate, a man who knows this community like the back of his hand because he has lived here all his life and fought for the area. People deserve well-paid, secure jobs, and Iain will work hard to make that happen for the communities he knows so well. But I know many families and pensioners here in Inverclyde are hurting, and hurting in the face of risky and unfair Tory cuts. We need a plan B on the economy to help people right across the country. There is now no coherent plan for growth. David Cameron’s plan to cut spending too far and too fast is a reckless gamble with people’s jobs and livelihoods, and it is making things worse, not better.” – the Scotsman

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Friday News Review

15/04/2011, 06:53:20 AM

A modern triple entente

President Obama today signals the return of America to the forefront of the international effort in Libya, writing a joint article with David Cameronand Nicolas Sarkozy in which the three leaders commit their countries to pursue military action until Colonel Gaddafi has been removed. In the joint article, Obama reverses America’s earlier cautious approach to the conflict – which saw the US hand control to Nato and withdraw fighter planes just days after the intervention began – and signs up his country to the more muscular intervention of his European colleagues. Obama’s new interest could transform the efforts of the international community after three days of talks in the Gulf state of Qatar in effect came to nothing. – the Guardian

Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy have stated their determination to keep bombing Libya until Muammar Gaddafi steps down or is deposed. The leaders of the United States, Britain and France said, in a jointly written article, it would be an “unconscionable betrayal” of the populations of rebel towns to cease operations with Colonel Gaddafi still in place. It was “unthinkable” that a leader who has “tried to massacre his own people” could be allowed to continue in government, they said. “So long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds.” – the Independent

Immigration policy chaos

The Lib Dem Business Secretary, was speaking in Manchester following the Prime Minister’s speech on mass immigration which Mr Cable had said was “very unwise” suggesting they could fuel extremism over immigration. “The reference to the tens of thousands of immigrants rather than hundreds of thousands is not part of the coalition agreement, it is Tory party policy only,” Mr Cable had told the BBC before Mr Cameron’s speech. Questioned about his comments to the BBC Mr Cable said: “I don’t want to develop that, and I think I have said what I wanted to say. – the Telegraph

Vince Cable insisted the government was ‘completely united’ on immigration after earlier claiming David Cameron’s comments on the subject were ‘unwise’. The Lib Dem business secretary was greeted by angry protesters as he arrived for a visit in Greater Manchester at the centre of a political storm. The protesters – complaining about government cuts – disrupted a campaign visit to Levenshulme by Mr Cable. One was arrested. Mr Cable had appeared to criticise Mr Cameron’s keynote speech on immigration – in which the prime minister said the numbers coming into Britain were ‘too high’ and were dividing communities. The business secretary said the speech risked ‘inflaming extremism’ and was ‘unwise’. But Mr Cable, who was touring businesses in the north west, said later there was ‘no division’ between him and the prime minister on the issue. – Manchester Evening News

More people waiting longer for treatment

David Cameron’s pledge to protect the NHS was in tatters last night after official figures revealed a shock increase in hospital waiting times. The devastating blow, in a week where Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was ¬humiliated by nurses, ¬undermines the Premier’s -promises to patients. Less than 90% get their treatment within 18 weeks – the worst performance in almost three years, said the Department of Health. And some patients are even being made to wait for more than 39 weeks. Shadow Health Secretary John Healey said: “Cameron should say sorry to patients for breaking his promise. “He said he wanted waiting times to come down but these figures will further add to people’s concerns the NHS is starting to go backwards.” – the Mirror

Official figures show that some people have endured gaps of more than five months between being seen by their GP and being admitted to hospital, with the average wait lengthening by a full week over the past year alone. Waiting lists lengthened over the winter as NHS trusts cancelled planned operations to care for critically ill flu patients, but are likely to increase still further as health authorities begin in earnest to make savings of £20billion over the next four years. It represents the latest in a series of figures that have called into question ministers’ claims that the health budget and front-line services are being protected. Waiting times in A&E have increased by 63 per cent over the past year while more than half of 10,000 planned job cuts are said to be hitting doctors, nurses and midwives. Labour, which introduced the targets for treatment within 18 weeks, highlighted David Cameron’s claim at a recent Prime Minister’s Questions that the Government wanted “to see waiting times and waiting lists come down”. – the Telegraph

First class cover up

Labour leader Ed Miliband has been caught out trying to cover up his first-class train journey to the regions to reconnect with voters. Aides of Mr Miliband’s were spotted taking away the ‘First Class’ seat covers just as the leader arrived on the London to Coventry train with cameras in tow. The leader, who elbowed older brother David out of the way to seize the top Labour job, has repeatedly tried to launch a class war with the Tories, emphasising Prime Minister David Cameron’s privileged upbringing. But yesterday his class-war tactics backfired when Mr Miliband was filmed in the first class compartment of a Virgin train on his way to a local election campaign visit in Lancashire. Asked why he thought he should travel first class when he was trying to pitch himself as a man of the people, he said: ‘We travel standard class and we travel first class at different times… I don’t think any politician should claim that they are leading an ordinary life. – Daily Mail

So it was with mild surprise that I watched Ed Miliband step into a first class carriage on his way to Preston at the outset of a day of pre-local election events to which I and my Sky News crew had been invited. His team is evidently aware of the potential pitfalls of being seen to travel apart from the hoi polloi, as the first thing they did was to remove the “First Class” head covers from all the surrounding seats. When I questioned the Labour leader, he said: “We travel standard class and first class at different times.”I don’t think any politician should claim that they are leading a normal life because talking to you, being in the public eye is not a normal life.” The important thing, he said was to be able to “put yourself in other people’s shoes”. – Sky News

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