Monday, 28 February 2011

Images of our protest on 26th February 2011

In the wet pouring rain around 30 protesters made it to Hyde Park!

Guest Speaker Bob Archer (Redbridge NUT) gave a rousing address to warm up the brave and faithful warriors!

Cold and wet yet still enthralled by Dr Saible De's Speech on the ludicrous nature of the Equity and Excellence - Liberating the NHS Bill!

Derek Wall from the Green Party spoke next and again delivered a strong rallying call!

Cold and miserable as it was campaigners were ready for the fight!

Andy Burgin from Coalition of Resistance could not make the protest, but sent a very capable advocate in Bronywn. She advised us of the DAY X March to be held on the 9th March and another protest on the 16th March.

Small in number loud in voice and heart we trawled through Hyde Park calling for a repeal of the Bill.

Brollies out nothing could stop us!

People collected our leaflets and many learned for the first time about the dastardly government proposal.

Two doctors were in our protest and two joined midway.

Old and young (child in pushchair) represented in the protest.

Nothing was going to stop this determined lot!

Cars and vans honked their approval for our protest as we shouted out our slogans.

The rain persisted....

We made a decision to stop the protest early and to make our way to 10 Downing street for a rally and petition submission to make best use of our numbers.

We set up banner and handed our leaflets to any passerby

The scene outside 10 Downing street was a good one thanks to large banners.

After setting up we started shouting our slogans using the PA to great effect.

Kill the Bill, kill the Bill, it will make you very ill!

Bob Archer (NUT) explained what the protest was about.

Campaigners enjoyed each others company.

While Dr Saible spoke to the public we took a shot of our petition envelope with over 1000 signatures.

Wilson (event organiser), Brian Cross and Rajeshri Chouhan outside the gates of 10 Downing Street.

Wilson and Brian outside 10 Downing Street.

Knocking on the door to number 10 seeking an audience.

Petition successfully delivered!

Campaigners waited patiently for return of petition submitters!

A job well done!

Found some more images...

This one is good...

Cane in hand and standing proud!

The rain did not stop play!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Where to spend a penny?

In the recent budget proposals Redbridge Council plan to close down 4 public toilets and make cuts to 12 more: changing opening, reducing cleaning, possibly reductions to just part-time use.

The 4 public toilets set to be completely closed are:

• Eastwood Close, E18 1BX off George Lane, South Woodford
• Horns Road, IG2 6BE Ilford
• Aldborough Road South, IG3 8JE Seven Kings
• The Wash, IG1 4DJ by Valentines Park, Ilford

The Council proposes spending more in 2011/12 to close those toilets than to keep them open.

Concerns raised by local groups include the need for such services particularly for vulnerable residents and visitors as well as the general public, especially:
• Prostate cancer patients
• Those with other prostate-related problems
• Multiple sclerosis patients
• Those with diabetes
• Some women at the menopause
• Some patients with heart conditions whose medicines have a diuretic effect
• The elderly
• Mothers with young children (The Council shows The Wash has “baby change” facilities)
• The homeless
• Those with bladder or bowel conditions
• Some with post-operative issues

As well as public toilets being so important for those listed, the potential budget savings the council is claiming equate to annual amounts which Councillors have previously described as insignificant in budget discussions. Therefore Redbridge Council may be in breach of Disability Discrimination legislation?

The reduction in cleaning etc (council ref: CDS302) shows “spending reductions” of £217,000 per year (£651,000 over 3 years), yet once you take into account setting up a new scheme, which the Council admits will cost £391,000 and redundancies costed at £200,000, this leaves an overall “saving” of just £60,000 over 3 years. Equivalent to just £20k per year, this amount could quickly be eaten up by anti-social behaviour issues and dealing with complaints - which the Council recognises as resource implications, but for which we have not seen the costings, and which the Council appears to have ignored as it showed “N/A” under “other resource implications” in the budget paperwork.

The immediate costs are huge, have severe implications for the disabled and disadvantaged and do not appear to offer real benefit?

Latest Council-figures show the closures are purported to save £92,000 p.a. (not £100,000 as in initial Budget report CDS309), yet redundancy costs amount to more: £102,000, thus costing more in 2011/12 to close those toilets than to keep them open.

There would be further costs which are not accounted for by the Council, but which it acknowledges such as: security costs, vandalism, anti-social behaviour, public urination, defecation etc. What will be the costs of dealing with those things and repairing damage to property etc? Existing contracts run till July 2012 so what are the contractor costs? What about the increased cost of home care services for those prevented from going out due to issues around lack of toilet facilities?

An on-line petition can be signed below:

British Medical Association confirm opposition to Equity and Excellence Bill!

image from Walthamstow ant-cuts protest on Saturday 19th February 2011.

A protest organised by Keep the NHS Public was held outside the BMA headquarters last night. The event was visited by around 40 die hard protesters including a number of medical students, who were gobsmacked by the proposals for the abolition of the PCT. I led the chants with my usual megaphone antics!

Students highlighted grave concerns that the training for doctors in this country - currently designed and coordinated by the NHS, would be placed into the hands of the private sector, reducing the quality and reciprocally doctor performance.

Many students were also concerned that the bursary that pays for the last 2 years of the course for British students on the 6 years medical course, might be scrapped!

In a tightly run debate in which discussion was limited and tension was high hundreds of doctor's voted to oppose the dastardly bill, that is seem by most as a stealth privatisation programme. Only 3 Doctors voted in favour of the bill!

Word spread quickly of the result and as Doctor's left the BMA headquarters they were met with cheers of praise and loud clapping. I led a chant that encouraged all those involved with the protest:

Thank you BMA -The NHS is here to stay! It seemed a small gesture then but a majot decison was made in the eerie halls of the BMA building.

Join us on our protest against the Equity and Excellence bill that threatens to decimate our beloved NHS.

Date: 26th February 2011
Time: 12:00
Start: North Carriage Drive entrance to Hyde Park
End: 10 Downing Street

Speakers include:

Rabia Zia - Pakistan-e-Tehreek Insaaf
Dr Ron Singer - Medical Practitioner Union Rep for Unite a role which he represents with Keep the NHS Public and the British Medical Association
Derek Wall - Former Principal of the Green Party

Romayne Phoenix - Chair of Coalition of resistence
Bob Archer - NUT
Barry Cross - Keep Our NHS Public
Upkar Rai - British Sikh Council
Wilson Chowdhry - British Pakistani Christian Association

Please sign our essential on-line petition:

Defend the NHS!

THE Tory-led coalition lie, that the NHS is safe in their hands, has been exploded by the announcement that over 1,630 frontline jobs are to be axed at major London hospitals.

The propaganda, repeated ad nauseam by Cameron and Clegg, that the NHS has been ringfenced from the cuts and that frontline services would somehow be protected despite the £20bn in ‘savings’ that had to be made, were exposed by the announcement that St George’s hospital in South London and Kingston Hospital are both set to scrap 500 jobs each. This follows the announcement that over 630 jobs are to be axed at the Barts and London hospital in Whitechapel. Two hundred of these jobs are nursing posts!

St George’s also announced on Wednesday that the 500 jobs going include nurses and consultants!

In addition, three wards representing 100 beds are earmarked for closure, while the number of births allowed at the hospital will be reduced by 1,200 in the next year as part of the drive by the Hospital trust to save £50 million.

Kingston Hospital in south-west London similarly announced plans to sack 486 staff over the next five years.

Commenting on this bombshell announcement, the British Medical Association stated: ‘The scale of the financial challenge facing the service is such that this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.’

The BMA are not kidding, it is a very big iceberg indeed.

These 1,630 jobs to go, take the total of redundancies in the NHS up to 3,053 since January 1st, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

This horror story is not confined to London. Frontline posts are being axed across the country from Southampton – 400 jobs and six ward closures – to North Lincolnshire with 440 jobs going.

In all, the RCN estimates that 27,000 frontline NHS jobs are set to go as a result of the coalition cuts.

Sackings on this scale amongst nurses and doctors, along with ward closures, and indeed the closure of entire departments and hospitals, confirms that the object of the coalition is to destroy the NHS.

The Welfare State, of which the NHS is a vital part, is to be destroyed in order to keep the bankrupt banks going on state aid.

The position of the leaders of the main TUC health union, Unison, to this prospect was spelt out in a press release, where its general secretary, Dave Prentis, boldly stated: ‘This is a terrible day for patients in London.’

As a statement of the obvious this is hard to fault, but it begs the question what does the largest union in the NHS intend to do to protect its members’ jobs and the very existence of the NHS?

The answer is to be found in Unison statements regarding the job losses at St George’s where they state: ‘Unison is seeking meetings with management to try and minimise job losses and protect patients.’

Apart from the bureaucrats who lead Unison and the other unions, no one in their right mind believes that negotiating with management will achieve anything except waste time and divert attention from the real issue – that of using the full strength of the trade union movement to defend every single job, every single bed and every single hospital.

This means that the unions must launch an immediate campaign of strike action and occupation of hospitals and wards to stop the sackings and the closures.

Members of the TUC trade unions must emulate the members of the BMA doctors’ union. They have forced through a special conference of the BMA, to be held later this month, at which members are determined to push through a resolution opposing and refusing to collaborate with the Tory NHS plans, and instead fight them.

The NHS was won in the late 1940s. It has saved millions of lives and transformed health care in the UK. The Tories must not be allowed to destroy it.

The TUC and all health trade unions must state boldly and publicly that they are prepared to defend the NHS with a general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government.

Written by Dr Anna Athow

Decide on action to defeat Tory NHS Bill – urges BMA London Regional Assembly

Health workers march through the centre of London to defend the National Health Service - by Dr Anna Athow

London doctors have made it clear they are opposed to the government’s plan to slash and privatise the NHS – and want action to defend it.

This was confirmed by a motion carried, with just three against, at a 200-strong BMA London Regional Assembly meeting on Thursday evening, 17th February, on the new Health and Social Care Bill.

The motion stated: ‘This meeting calls on the BMA to move from a policy of critical engagement to a policy of complete opposition to the Health Bill.

‘The BMA should call on the membership to decide what forms of action doctors might take to oppose the implementation of the Bill.’

The membership managed to get this vital motion accepted and voted on with just seconds to go at the end of the meeting.

The London Regional Assembly comes in the run up to the BMA Special Representative Meeting to discuss the Health and Social Care Bill on March 15th.

A number of doctors, including BMA council member and consultant oncologist Dr Clive Peedell, have drawn up motions for the SRM urging the BMA to reject the Bill.

His motion slams the ‘market-based policies enshrined within the health and social care Bill’.

The motion adds: ‘We call upon the BMA to oppose the Bill in its entirety.’

Interviewed by the Today programme on Thursday morning, Dr Peedell said: ‘I’ve been against the reforms from the beginning; it is a privatisation agenda, it undermines the founding principles of the NHS.

‘Mr Lansley doesn’t have a democratic mandate to do that. Doctors up and down the country are beginning to see this now. Most doctors are opposed to the direction of the reforms.’

Asked what he wanted the BMA to do, Peedell said: ‘There are various motions going forward to a meeting next month. We’ve managed to get a Special Representative Meeting to get grassroots opinions.

‘I’ve put a motion myself to oppose the Bill outright. The reason I want to oppose the Bill outright is because the market-based policies within the Bill are mutually reinforcing policies.

‘They all rely on each other, so you can’t just pick and choose to oppose or amend one or two of them, you’ve got to oppose the whole thing.’

He added: ‘The overall range of it is to reduce public sector provision of healthcare in the UK.’

Asked about the Bill transferring funds to ‘GP Consortia’, he also warned that ‘GPs are beginning to realise that they won’t be gaining power’ and the £20bn of NHS ‘efficiency savings’ will mean GPs ‘coming under huge pressure to make financial decisions’.

Warning that the Bill will have hospitals competing with each other, Peedell stressed that evidence shows that ‘market-based systems damage healthcare and are extremely expensive’.

Doctors’ concerns have been heightened by news of thousands of NHS frontline job cuts in south and west London over the past few days.

St George’s Hospital, Tooting, has announced 500 job cuts, and Kingston Hospital 486 – both include nursing posts being axed.

Two weeks ago, Barts and The London NHS Trust announced 630 job losses, including 250 nurses and 100 beds cut.

The London job cuts take the total of NHS jobs in England earmarked to disappear since January 1st to at least 3,053, with another 360 personnel put at risk of redundancy, according to research by the RCN.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Redbridge School's chorally the best!

The triumphant SS Peters and Paul's Infant School Choir (Hannah Chowdhry girl left of Trophy holder in white tights!)
The 125th Stratford and East London Music Festival Infant School Competition was hotly contested yesterday Afternoon.

3 Redbridge Schools took part in what were some delightful, well conducted singing productions:

  • Churchfields Junior School - Woodford
  • Gearies School - Gants Hill
  • SS Peter's and Paul's School - Ilford

This years two trophies were up for grabs and all 5 participating schools were gunning for them. In a close fought race however, SS Peters and Paul's School and Churchfield's emerged as the overall champions - with equal points set at 85 out of 100. Winning a trophy in this tournament is extremely difficult as the minimum standard is 84 points - a very high margin. So this excellent result deserves much credit as two Redbridge Schools, performing that well at a choral event evidences that Redbridge has talent!

My daughter was performing with SS Peter's and Paul's School and hence my bias with the photographs (coupled with permission rights). However, all the young performers put on an outstanding and dazzling performance.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Drug rehabilitation through football

Colm Whitty speaking about Air Football and its impact on the local community

His work attracted the attention of Sky Sports and in one of it's most well known pundits Ex-Premiership and England Footballer Garreth Southgate.
Garreth Southgate a very welcoming and warm individual.

I recently attended the AGM for Air Football a Redbridge Charity (held at Redbridge Sports centre) focused on bringing community change through sports. Colm Whitty the leader of the organisation is a welcoming and passionate man, who has transformed lives through his dedication and commitment.
Colm has been working with the Police, ASBO, Local authorities and other agencies to put young people on the road to recovery. By using the discipline of football to improve the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of end users of his service in tandem with pathway guidance to other services he has had great impact.
He was applauded by Footballers, the Police, Local authority drug teams, pupil referral groups and many of the victims, for his work that is being used as a benchmark for good practice. The AGM was featured on Sky Sports.
Ex-drug users spoke of their refirmed character and the encouragement and persistence that Colm showed when working with them. It made Colm almost choke with tears - their could be few others in the room that were not moved by the testimonies these young people gave.
An overriding theme from those speaking at the event was the remarkable difference his group has had, when compared to other similar organisations. Having known Colm in a personal capacity especially through his help with organising a football tournament for Redbridge Carnival in 2009 I have to say that I confer with the majority of his fans - his success is much due to his personality and passion.
I wish him great success in the future - if anyone would like to learn more about his group please view his website: