Wednesday, 27 February 2013

NHS in Wales

Aneurin Bevan
Yesterday, Judith Phillips in the Daily Post was all gloom and doom about the NHS in Wales. She does say and I quote "but it seems we have now reached a crisis point where public confidence in those running the NHS in North Wales is at an all time low."

What utter bullshit - yes complete and utter drivel....

Now what do you mean I hear you ask - well lets start with her conclusion and I quote again "but throwing the responsibility for the level of care given by community hospitals onto families and county council social services departments, is in my opinion going to open up yet another can of worms."

Which does rather show she has no clue what she is talking about, that she does not realise that the family and the local council was an integral part of our care system as envisaged when the NHS was established in the very first place.

We should be proud of the NHS, of what it has achieved, but we need also to recognise that in changing times what was the remedy of yesteryear may not be the best use of the 'limited' resources available to us now.

And in reaching those decision as to the future shape of the NHS within Wales they should be based on clear cut clinical opinion, made in the best interest of all of us. Not may I add the straw sample of a deluded correspondent of the Daily Post.

Take community hospitals....lets be honest they have had their day, they are not really the answer to our needs. Let me go further.....the moment someone comes a patient at a community hospital is in reality a sign of failure somewhere else.

We should be truly proud of the welfare system this country has, think....we are all living longer thanks to welfare, we have less infant deaths thanks to welfare.....and just on the simple fact there are more of us, will mean welfare costs will go up.

Which brings me to being old.

Think about....if put simply you have the countries GDP and from that you need to pay for children, adults and pensioners. Are we really in a society that as children demanded to be feed, then when working moaned that everyone else wanted to be fed and in our retirement demand that we are fed again?

Personal responsibility, the ability to plan and care for oneself - that is the aim we all should have. And the majority of us will live full and independent lives.

But sometime along the road we may need assistance, and sometimes we may need care, and sometimes we might even need acute care as we wait for death. Death is inevitable, but it need not be in pain.

We have plenty of care homes, the private sector in the most provide a very good service, and sometimes for some people whom cannot look after themselves that is the best place for them to be.

However what of those with acute needs - such as dementia or alzheimers, what they need is specialised palliative care in purpose built nursing homes. And that is one thing we lack, sufficient nursing homes to care for those who need specialised care, even if just means providing respite for the caring family.

Nursing homes built with the dignity of the patient in mind, with single rooms and trained staff, where someone comes to die because we cared and not because we pushed them aside.

So here in part is my prescription for the NHS:
  • We need local doctor surgeries to be in modern buildings that offer a greater range of services to their patients.
  • We need more district nurses.
  • We need more paramedics.
  • We need more pharmacists, and a consulting room in every pharmacy.
  • We need more doctors
  • We need more palliative care nurses
Now up to now I hope you will see my list is mostly more people not more buildings, if we get the prevention right we would need less buildings so to speak.

But if we need to decide as to priorities in brick and mortar then that would be the need for more acute care nursing homes, to complement and build on the excellent work done by charities such as Marie Curie.

Now I know it wont be popular, but let's be clear beating about the bush...

......Community Hospitals are not the answer. know do try an keep up....

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Save our libraries

Ynys Môn Council is currently carrying out a consultation on the future of the library services on the island.

I hope you will take part by visiting your  local library or the Councils website - Anglesey Library Survey - you have till 4 March 2013 to do so.

I think libraries are an essential community facility and more should be made of them, so the aim should be longer opening hours and  greater use of the space.

"What is more important in a library than anything else-than everything else-is the fact that it exists. Poet Archibald MacLeish"

See also: Voices for the Library

Monday, 18 February 2013

Household finance squeeze hits lowest income group hardest.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that during a economic downturn the hardest hit are most likely to be the poorest in society.

And latest findings of the Markit Household Finance Index™ (HFI™) show exactly this.

Key points being:
  • Outlook for household finances dips from January’s four-month high
  • Widening divergence in financial trends across the five household income groups
  • Households’ living costs rise at sharpest pace since September 2011
  • Cash availability perceived to have fallen at fastest rate in eight months, and incomes drop again
  • Workplace activity rises at solid pace in February

"February data showed a widening divergence across the five household income groups. The lowest income category saw the sharpest deterioration in their finances for 14 months. Those in the second-lowest group (£15,000 – £23,000) indicated the greatest squeeze on their finances in the survey’s four-year history. By contrast, the remaining three income categories registered slower rates of deterioration than in January, with the highest earners (£57,751+) noting the joint-slowest pace of contraction in a year."

Tim Moore, Senior Economist at Markit and author of the report said:

“There was no let-up in the squeeze on UK household finances during February, as higher living costs and muted wage trends combined to reduce cash availability at the fastest pace since mid-2012. Inflation expectations remain close to their highest since the survey began four years ago, echoing recent warnings from the Bank of England that price pressures will remain elevated in 2013.

“Worsening consumer finances are likely to further rein in spending on the high street and, to complete this circle, latest survey data showed that retail sector workers were the most downbeat about their job security and workplace activity in February.

“The lowest income households saw their financial situation move in an entirely different direction to the highest earners in February, and by a much greater degree than in recent years, according to the survey’s main wellbeing indicators. Widening disparities across the income groups were most prevalent in terms of savings, debt trends and the year-ahead financial outlook.”

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Hislop denies Wales exists

A copyright infringement if I ever saw one

Now I know that Ian Hislop; the most English of educated gents, denies he is in fact welsh, although he is really...though we the welsh are happy he denies it......

But as editor of Private Eye he is taking it a bit far by denying the very existence of Wales.

As in the lack of Wylfa B in the above article, unless that is he thinks it acceptable to dump on Wales....oh hold on by his very denial you could say he's done that already.

Plaid Cymru and indepenence

I see Plaid Cymru are holding a special conference in Aberystwyth to consider a new constitution. see BBC News

I hope they don't think it necessary to ditch or weaken their stance on an independent Wales, or have fallen for the argument; as trumped by the Conservatives in the Scottish independence debate - it'll be hard and painful so don't bother, a self defeating cry if there ever was one.

In my humble opinion at its heart the central goal of Plaid Cymru should be an independent Wales.

And all Plaid Cymru policies should be driven by that main objective an independent Wales.

Nor matter how hard or painful it is - if it means and ends in a independent Wales.

I see no conflict in this idea - that a truly independent Wales standing on its own two feet, a Celtic beacon with its own identity and beliefs would be welcome in the European Family of Nations.

We need to rediscover our voice, our inner strength and re-quench our desire and belief in a independent Wales. Some say it has not been done before, but with these hands we can if we so desire build that road to independence.

And at the front leading the vanguard should be Plaid Cymru.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A simple truth - too many horses

Horse meat is used as a substitute for beef because it is cheaper than beef to source. In the UK alone last year 10,000 horses were slaughtered for human consumption.

The plain and simple  fact of the matter is we breed too many horses and ponies.

Lee Hackett, senior executive of welfare at the British Horse Society said in January: “Most of the[. slaughtered horses] will be symptoms of the massive equine population problem in this country. We have simply got too many horses and ponies.”

And too many horses means low prices and poor welfare for animals, I'm sure we've all seen stories of horses been mistreated or abandoned by careless owners.

I think it important we distinguish between say beef cattle specifically breed for human consumption, to the trade in slaughtered horses as the direct consequence of too much breeding.

Time me thinks we regulated the breeding of horses, with an aim to reduce numbers and improve the condition and welfare of horses and ponies in the UK.

See Thousands of British horses slaughtered for European diners.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Wind turbines

On Wednesday I posted about supplementary planning guidance on wind turbines, and subsequently was asked whether the idea of a bond to cover the eventual decommissioning of  wind turbines was a good idea - do you front load the costs?

My answer no, and let me explain why not.

I think we are in danger of deciding that all wind turbines are bad, and then looking for all reasons why they should be bad.

So one thing that could go wrong is a slight possibility the operator could abandon the wind turbines....and who then pays for the decommissioning and return of the land back to its original state?

And some would point to Hawaii as an example of 'When Wind Farms Go Wrong', where I think a number of 1st generation wind turbines lay rusting and abandoned because they became uneconomical following the discovery of shale gas in the USA.  But the Americans do make a habit of having spectacular boom and bust enterprises, just visit Baltimore.

In the UK with the feed in tariffs I don't see the risk, you know it's a licence to print money isn't it? ... and I have a feeling that a growing business will be the salvaging of old wind turbines...for the copper alone it may be worthwhile.

On Ynys Môn we are talking of individual wind turbines mostly erected by the landowner, mostly farmers, albeit in agreement with an operator. Whether the landowner wants the operator to provide a bond to cover the eventual decommissioning is I think a matter for them. The final responsibility should lie with the landowner.

It shouldn't be of concern to the Planning Authority, as I take the view that the Planning Authority deals with the principles of land use and not the mechanics of land use....i.e. say you've applied for planning permission for a new house, you don't need to satisfy the Council you can afford to build the new house.

And the 'before you ask' disclaimer - I am not a farmer, nor do I have plans to erect a wind turbine, nor do I know of anyone planning to do so either. Personally I cant see what the fuss is about, I think them quite elegant, and in my opinion a small turbine in the wrong place is less green than a large turbine in the right place, and if it helps say make farmers more carbon neutral more the better.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

What a refreshing change.....

I think we are all fed up of negative stories about immigrants - that they are all feckless layabouts here to scrounge welfare, and how it's the fault of UK being a member of the European Union. That things would be  different if weren't in the EU, you know a bit like Norway. 

I posted about the Norway question before: Should the UK leave the EU and do a Norway?

So it was refreshing to read in The Norway Post "[Norway's] Minister of Labour Anniken Huitfeldt [say she] is pleased with the increased number of immigrant workers who choose to come to Norway. She says the country is in need of even more workers, especially engineers and people from the health sector.

The Minister thinks our growing economy combined with good salaries and working conditions are part of the reason why more workers choose to come here. Huitfeldt also says that she is pleased with the shorter processing times now offered by the UDI, and the close contact they have with the labour market."

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

I don't want to be foreboding...but....

Centrica have had cold feet over UK nuclear power, another firm that's decided  nuclear is too expensive to develop - do you think they maybe have a point? - See Centrica pulls out of new UK nuclear projects

And as we know Cumbria have had cold feet over burial of nuclear waste, and it seems we could have a bit of a problem...if we don't find somewhere we can keep the radioactive waste safe for a very long time. See: No nuclear storage = no Wylfa B?

So I think there's a possibility that Wylfa B might not be built, you know the thing that was going to transform the island...put us on a firmer footing, all them jobs etc etc

I hope therefore someone is actually thinking of a Plan B.. C.. D ....E just in case Wylfa B never happens... if Hitachi cant find the investors, or anyone in fact to run Horizon after they have built the power station - 'cause they've already said they don't want to run it in the long term.

 You know if Wylfa B doesn't get built what happens then?

How stupid are they?

I was listening this morning to Radio Cymru and Dafydd Roberts, spokesperson for EOS and of the established welsh music scene, saying that whilst negotiations are continuing they might allow their music to be played on Radio Cymru.

But sorry how stupid have they been?

They I think over estimated their self importance, that we'd miss Dafydd Iwan reminding us that he was still in that bloody valley, that some of us might actually think Radio Cymru is in fact better with less music. That for welsh music there are alternatives such as Heart FM Anglesey and Gwynedd and Kev Bach int mornings.....And that we didn't realise the reason they don't want mediation is because someone independent might say...well duh actually the BBC offer is in fact fair.

And as for the poets, who are also on a sympathy refusing to partake in Talwrn Y Beirdd....a word of advice - stop thinking the sun shines out of your collective arseses.

The future of the welsh language lies not in protecting the established welsh musac scene but in finding the next Catatonia. You know making it relevant to the 'youth'...and honestly does Mike Stevens do that...honestly?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Britannia Bridge - no third bridge necessary.

I see that the option for a third crossing of the Menai Straits is 'back on the agenda' because it can take 15 minutes to move one mile....see Daily Post.

But that's the costly wrong option.

If you want to know the theoretical capacity of a road, you study similar roads, in fact ideally more than one hundred similar roads, otherwise a thing called the T-Student distribution means the results are in effect meaningless. So you find your one hundred similar roads or more and measure them over a certain period of time, not just once but numerous occasions. And then some very clever mathematicians at TRL the Transport Research Laboratory come up with clever models that explains it all.

But it's not that simple, in studies of Pelican Crossings for instance, you know the one where you press the button and the light turns red....what they have found is that on certain roads the incidents of injury or death is actually higher where there is a pelican crossing. That could be down to we assuming because the green man is flashing it's safe to cross and we don't look or because we are old and can't judge distances that well anymore when we are the driver or pedestrian.

So let's be clear whilst the world is a complex place, sometimes a simple answer is the solution. In the pelican crossing case you realise that on certain roads the answer is to replace them with a zebra crossing, so that both pedestrian and vehicle driver share the same risk, they take more care. In other words sometimes the answer you think is right, as in pelican crossings are surely safer than zebra crossings isn't the case in all circumstances.

I specialised in roundabout design, and I found that in order to increase capacity the answer was in most cases a relative cheap tweak of the design. The solution to a complex problem wasn't necessarily a complex or expensive answer.

And let's be honest in terms of the Britannia Bridge where people take 15 minutes to travel a mile - first of all is that congestion compared to the M25, I doubt it is. And to solve the 15 minutes to travel one mile problem we apparently need a new bridge - really we've got the money to build a new bridge when we cant afford to paint our schools.

Now I've suggested the solution before, that is active traffic control, that we slow approach speeds to the bridge - it was in my post last year, Britannia Bridge and active traffic management.

Think of it as a wine bottle, and your pouring yourself a drink, there is no point rushing it, you need a gentle flow...and to do that sometimes you need to slow the speed of wine leaving the bottle- we regulate the flow, the speed. And there within lies the answer to the log jam on Britannia Bridge you need to control the approach speeds - Simples really....

Why the testing always?

Why do politician seem obsessed with audits, and getting 'Little Johnny' to sit exams, have you ever wondered why?....I was wondering why when I was looking at a Estyn Report into the state of Education on Ynys Môn back in 2012, and .....they started to talk about 'outcomes' which in my book can only mean one thing - economists, you know the people that try to turn the 'real world' into a 'model' based on 'rational decisions and thoughts.'

So I can imagine at some time in the past Estyn will have organised a seminar, and at that seminar Professor Posh Name Loads of Titles will have been invited

And Professor Posh Name will have studied some schools in a thesis which allowed him to reach a conclusion..and suppose...they just happen to agree with your already preconceived ideas. You know the 'bloody hell I knew I was right all along' moment.....And you might forget to question the validity of what Professor Posh Name is saying, you assume his conclusions are correct - take for instance the Nobel Winning Economist Milton Friedman whose ideas are in the large now discredited. So there is a possibility that might say policy was determined on preconceived ideas and a flawed model.

Now further in the report they also talked about costs per pupil, and that means 'accountants'. They are the Auditors and they measure everything. And Terry Pratchett has them spot on in his Discworld series of books.

Let me give you an example: think apple trees - Auditors will ask how does your apple tree compare with the neighbours apple tree. And they'll invent the juice ratio - how much juice per apple. Whereas we might ask how do the apples taste?

And in the world where we measure things, to justify the monies we all are spending 'Little Johnny' needs to be tested, so we can all clap yourself's on the back and say look how good they did....aren't they clever. In a way we are measuring 'success' how successful a school was compared to the 'average' success of all other schools.

But how can you quantify success? - especially if it's a common measure of success for kids, all of whom will have different abilities, who also will have different ideas what success means. It shouldn't mean that just because all the clever kids go to the clever school, the other schools are somehow less successful.

In say a world where success is quantified by height and one day a year they measure height of kids, and have the height model, to compare against to see how much the kids have grown, does is make sense that a school is said to be failing because on the day of the test the tallest kid was off ill. Not forgetting that as Head Teacher it makes sense only to encourage the tall kids to come to my school.

To me it makes no sense putting pressure on primary kids to sit exams, for us to find out something that in the real world is meaningless, you know what's the saying one size doesn't fit all. If I had kids (I don't by the way before you ask) and wanted to know how 'Little Johny' was doing I'd ask the teacher, I'd trust them more than some auditors who visit the school once a year. Or dare I say I'd actually ask 'Little Johnny'. And we know this approach works because it works in Finland, where the key to success is trust in teachers.

For the record of the subjects I talk about above, education and economics I'm an expert in neither - which to some is probably stating the 'bleeding' obvious..

Friday, 1 February 2013

Fancy a bet....

Heads you loose, tails I win

As we know WELFARE is EVIL cause it's the world of the neo-liberal at least.

But it's a sure BET for bookmakers taking advantage of the most disadvantaged in society with their biased fruit machines -see Daily Mail - Taking £1 and giving 70p back: How the fruit machine is ripping off Britain

So somehow the poor on welfare, you know the feckless layabouts are to blame, even though they are ripped off by the gambling industry - who then take the piss further by not paying their proper share in taxes, in classic Milton Friedman  economics, where we are all individuals.

But don't worry we only have to find an additional billion due to this - um we are all in this together... see The Independent.

And yes I know New Labour did relax the gambling laws - idiots.