There are over four hundred different species of poppy. From Prickly to Pygmy, Oriental to Opium, Celandine to Californian, Icelandic, Welsh and Nepalese; to wind poppies and tree poppies; from the hopelessly unimaginative nomenclature of the Corn poppy to the ludicrously imaginative Desert Bearpaw. There can be no species more strange however, or more likely to ignite our all too dormant British passions as that which recently bloomed so precociously across the teleboxes of the nation.
Papaver rhoeas, the wartime remembrance poppy, is more commonly known as the red-flowered corn poppy but it is her ubiquitous, counterfeit cousin which excites the British public most and which has prompted this posting.
It would appear that Papaver plasticus is flowering earlier and earlier with each passing year – this year it blossomed onto the lapels of BBC journalists before the British Legion had time to launch it’s annual appeal – and it dies as suddenly as it arrives, ne’er to be seen again, or at least until it miraculously reappears the following year (blooming period to be determined entirely at the whim of whichever unfortunate has by then been shoehorned into the Director General’s chair).
I can now accede with gentle protest to this highly unusual flowering period and, with the mellowing of the years I am pleased to report, I can just about cope with the sight of the oversized, diamond encrusted, crystal-adorned silk and sequined poppies worn by our nation’s celebrities to remind us of their special brand of ‘celebrity caring’; a compassion which is quite simply, beyond our comprehension.
I have even begun to come to terms with the Facebook poppy-fascists for whom, Remembrance Sunday’s act of actual remembrance extends no further than right clicking-copy-pasting a single line of Kipling before returning to some inane chatter concerning the peculiar noises emanating from their arseholes and for whom the name George Lawrence Price means surprisingly little.
My new found serenity has been shattered however by the sight of David Cameron standing before surviving members of WWII and laying a wreath at the Cenotaph Memorial in Whitehall at the weekend, having presided over the dismantling of the National Health Service upon which, those veterans rely on so greatly. Had the Prime Minister deemed to whip out his cock and piss on the carpet of poppies lying at his feet I would have felt it entirely more in keeping with his actions throughout the rest of the year.
For those of you who don’t know, and I’m guessing given the paucity of coverage this piece of legislation has received, it is a not inconsiderable number, the HSC Act was passed on the 27th of March 2012.
Among a litany of only slightly less unseemly transgressions, the Act removes for the first time since 1946 the duty of the Secretary of State to provide or secure the provision of health services.
Furthermore, it opens the door for hospital governors to generate additional income from fee-paying private patients and places no limitation on charges applied to those services. Finally, the Act allows for up to 49% of the business within NHS hospitals to be privatised.
Make no mistake. This is not reform. This is back passage privatisation.
Only the most myopic of those among us will fail to see that this 49% total will inch inexorably upwards in years to come. Indeed when the time comes, one might consider themselves lucky if their myopia be treated at all as the Act will undoubtedly result in a two tier medical system where the ‘haves’ will be attended to while the ‘have nots’ wait sickly in line.
The Faculty of Public Health’s risk assessment has already warned of the loss of a comprehensive health service, increased costs, reduced quality of care and inevitable widening health inequalites. Almost as importantly, accountablity too will become a thing of the past as transparency is hidden behind a veil of commercial contract law.
Cameron has attempted time and again to obfuscate information surrounding the Act, particularly with relation to the associated risks. The Department of Health resisted a ruling from the Information Commissioner that it ought to release the final version of the risk register. It is not hard to understand their reluctance to do so.
Among the risks highlighted:
- Parliamentary amendments creating “unforeseen consequences for the system”;
- Costs being driven up by GP consortia using private sector organisations and staff;
- Implementation beginning before adequate planning has been done;
- Loss of financial control;
- GP consortia going bust or having to cut services for financial reasons;
- GP leaders being drawn into managerial processes which end up driving clinical behaviour;
- “NHS role in emergency preparedness/responsiveness is more difficult to manage through a more devolved organisation, and so emergencies are less well managed/mitigated”.
The reader will be unsurprised to hear that the cost of dismantling what is arguably our nation’s greatest institution will not be counted in coppers and change. Implementation of the Act will cost more than three billion pounds sterling. On the surface of it, once again, this does not appear to make much sense but continuing on the logic, a more sinister plan reveals itself with chilling rationality.
As the state takes more money out of the ailing service, and away from patient care to match the cost of the implementation of this Act, hospitals will start to run out of money. Conveniently then that there are some ready made heroes to hand. Enter the private pirates like Serco who will cherry-pick the most profitable services using the infrastructure already in place. Infrastructure bought and payed for by the taxpayer or gifted through fundraising.
Even more incredible is the fact that over two hundred of those who voted on the bill as it made it’s way through parliament have financial stakes in the same private companies that now benefit form the bill’s passing. That’s one in four.
Unsurprising also then, that some 333 donations from private healthcare sources totalling 8.3 million pounds sterling have been gifted to the Conservative party.
Forgive me David, notwithstanding your token debt of gratitude to our veterans, but the image of you by the Cenotaph, juxtaposed so uneasily with your emotionally incongruent utterances about what more we can do for those currently serving and those who have returned home injured, is hypocrisy at it’s most repugnant.