Local medical politics, Google in China and Israel’s approach to Iran.

I am indebted to the Northumberland Local Medical Committee (of which I was once a member) for allowing me to have an observer’s role at their meetings in the run up to the election. This will allow me to keep on top of developments in the local healthcare field, especially in primary healthcare.
The meeting lasted more than three hours and covered a wide field of topics.
My overwhelming impression is of ever increasing managerialism and complexity. There was a time, not long ago, when some clinical matters were discussed at such meetings. Not any more. The meeting was entirely devoted to the arcana of centralised management. The degree of complexity and the burgeoning numbers of committees and acronyms is quite revealing but not in a good way. The nurses, doctors and others whose key function is caring are seriously hampered in that role by the cat’s cradle of regulation and imposed box ticking.
Allowing care to return to the top of the list of activities for healthcare professionals is not mentioned in any of the usual party manifestos. Interesting.
Local people will recall that a couple of years ago there was a major bust up between the GPs in Northumberland and the Primary Care Trust. The PCT had developed a huge deficit that it sought to recoup by slashing primary care budgets – primary care had nothing to do with the cause of the deficit, it was pure management incompetence. Further cuts are still in the pipeline from that original problem and now we discover that part of the response to the financial crisis that the UK is in will likely result in a further cutting of primary care budgets by up to one fifth – that’s twenty per cent!
Unless these cuts are reversed, for example by ending the pseudo health market that is crippling the NHS, the outcome scarcely bears thinking about.

Three cheers for Google’s decision to withdraw from China in response to the hacking of its systems. Three more cheers for Google’s decision to stop doing the net filtering that China has imposed. Breaking through the ideological barriers around China and getting democratic developments underway amongst her enormous population, that seems as hungry for change as any population anywhere, is a project to be commended. It is encouraging to learn that the net-savvy can fairly easily circumvent the official interference already.

Is Iran building nuclear weapons or not? Is Iran simply keeping it’s options open?
Opendemocracy has a good piece on the topic at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israels-shadow-over-iran.
The “serious regional instability” of which the author speaks might be taken for a mis-spelling of “conscription imminent in the UK” if the next government follows the USA in supporting Israel all the way.
In the present febrile state of the public mood on the Chilcott enquiry and AfPak I foresee major civil disturbance in the UK in response to the start of conscription.
Let’s hope that the next UK government is under no illusions about the limits to public support for warfare not directly related national security.

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