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Showing posts from May, 2014

Farage doesn't have a mask

No surprise that UKIP did well in the local elections. It was anticipated. It would be wrong to dismiss it as a 'simple' protest vote - something is afoot. Old party loyalties are being broken. What is striking is how easy it has been for Tory voters to switch to UKIP. The worry for Cameron is that, according to a YouGov survey so many of them will not return for the general election next year - well we will see.

Labour should be worried too but their result in the local elections has been better than many had thought in large part because they did well in London where UKIP did badly. On the basis of the local election results, and that should always be treated with caution, the Lib Dems would lose about 20 seats in the general election - hardly the stuff of what Nick Clegg likes to call 'a party of government'.

Nick Clegg has said that Nigel Farage's 'Mask has slipped'. Frankly Farage doesn't have a mask which is why he is appealing to voters who belie…

Lack of funding undermining primary medical care

General practice cannot reached its full potential in the face of continuing under-investment in the profession, the cutting of MPIG funding, the problems recruiting and retaining GPs and the lack of investment in premises, GP leaders have warned.

Backing a motion1 at the annual Local Medical Committee’s conference in York, GPs said that general practice can be the solution to many of the current problems facing the NHS, but was held back by the serious damage being done to the profession.

The calls come weeks after the British Medical Association launched its ‘Your GP cares’ campaign to support GPs and calls for long term, sustainable investment to be made in GP services across the UK, to:

· Expand the overall number of GPs to attract, retain and expand the number of GPs and ensure patients are given the time, care and services they deserve

· Expand the numbers of other practice staff so each practice has enough nurses and other staff to meet the increasing ne…

GP workload 'crisis' harming patients

Many of us are finding it difficult to get appointments to see a GP and the time a doctor can spend with a patient is ten minutes. GPs are struggling to provide the first line care their patients need. 
Now a new survey by the doctor's representative body, the British Medical Association concludes that overstretched GP practices do not have the time, support or information to explore new ways of collaborative working that could help practices deliver more effective, efficient care to their patients. .
The BMA’s Practice Collaboration Survey asked GPs their views on collaborative working including forming GP federations or networks where practices come together to pool resources and plan local services.

Results from the survey of 1,555 GPs include:

· 7 out of ten (69 per cent) cited workload pressures as a barrier to establishing a network or federation, while close to seven out of ten (66 per cent) also cited a lack of time.

· Almost half (45 per cent) were not clear o…

Peer review gobbledygook

There was more fuss in the media this week about the politics of the science of global warming. A paper by a group of researchers headed by Professor Lennart Bengtsson, a University of Reading research fellow, was turned down for publication by Environmental Research Letters. The Times had a front page headline 'Scientists in cover up of 'damaging' climate view' suggesting that the paper had been rejected for political rather  than scientific reasons. 

Yesterday the publishers of Environmental Research Letters fought back  by publishing the peer reviewers comments in full. What it reveals is more interesting than the story itself - the sloppiness of the peer review process. Consider this bit of nonsense from one of the reviews:

"The comparison between observation based estimates of [warming] … and model-based estimates is comparing apples and pears, as the models are calculating true global means, whereas the observations have limited coverage."  (my emphasis)

W…

Scotland 'no' is too negative.

I am in two minds about Scotland's Independence from the UK. On the one hand I can understand why they would wish to break free from Westminster. The politics of Scotland is a far different landscape than that represented in London - they don't get the governments they vote for. They have been out of sorts with the Tory party for some time. Independence from Westminster is attractive - a fresh start, a new politics shaping their own destiny. There are a lot of good reasons to say 'yes' to  independence. But I would like them to say 'no'. I would like Scotland to stay part of the United Kingdom and my reason is simple. It is because I believe that as part of the United Kingdom Scotland can help us change the geopolitics of the country and of Westminster. It is a somewhat selfish reason - I want Scotland to stay and help prevent continuous Tory-led government from Westminster. Also I am proud of the Scottish contribution to our culture.

The problem with the '…

Fallen idols and lost innocence

We must stop investing so much in celebrities. A person who comes to prominence through some endeavor, be it artistic, sporting or some other regarded action is not endowed ipso facto with other qualities we like to project onto them - kindness, charity, forgiveness, love, goodness. This is true even where the celebrity does 'wonderfully good' charitable acts. These are all part of the 'being' for a celebrity.

It is a media circus - the building up of celebrity status. The subsequent fall from grace where it might occur is also part of the media circus. The once idolized become demonized - gone the smiling, kind photographs substituted now for those that show the 'evil' person. These are media choices. For one fallen idol recently a news program thought it important to show a photograph of them taken when charged - he looked like a criminal was the message.

So many in the media now suggest the 'knew' there was something 'wrong' about Jimmy Savil…