Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

DINOSAUR: Modern Times & the NHS, G4S and a cunning plan

In Dinosaur on September 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm

dinosaurSo much for Security!

Let’s face it – that lot who run G4S haven’t been having much positive publicity recently, have they? I don’t want to say anything unkind, but on recent performance they seem to have moved on from debacle to fiasco.

Let’s not mention the Olympic Games, eh? Well, if you insist. That was when the company failed to muster enough guards to provide security, and the Army had to take over. Apart from the proverbial custard in the face, no harm was done. Unlike the latest bout of bad publicity.

It’s all to do with the tagging of parole prisoners. The contract for this operation is shared between G4S and another familiar name – Serco. The two companies were initially accused of gross overcharging for the service that they provided. OK, what’s a little overcharging between friends, eh? That’s what capitalism is all about – making a decent profit.

But, it seemed, they weren’t even doing the job properly. Some of those who had been tagged seemed to have become temporarily unavailable – and some seemed to have disposed of their tags altogether. Altogether, there’s been much tut-tutting, and even some sense of outrage.

G4S has come a long way since it was formed as a merger between two top security firms – Group 4 and Securicor. Both were in the more traditional business of providing security vans to transport valuable cargoes, or guards to patrol warehouses and offices – that sort of thing. But, of course, when a whole range of formerly publicly operated services came up for grabs, then many in the private sector decided that here was a golden opportunity.

What about Ofsted? Inspecting a school or two? Money for old rope! Tendering to run a hospital or two? Count me in! As for taking over the odd prison, well, that should be a doddle.

I’m not just talking about G4S here, of course. There’s a whole range of companies now involved in tendering for what should be public sector duties. They may be making tidy profits, but are they publicly accountable – or indeed capable of doing the job properly?

A cunning plan….

The Government, it seems, is now considering a cunning plan. One so cunning, that even Baldrick would have been proud of it.

It’s one to resolve what’s sometimes referred to as “the West Lothian question” (by folk who like to show off). Basically, should those MPs who represent, let’s say, Welsh , Scottish or Northern Irish constituencies have any say over legislation that doesn’t apply in their neck of the woods?

Government ministers are now thinking of disallowing any MPs from areas with devolved powers from voting on matters that are judged not to concern them. Let’s take one contentious issue for example – the National Health Service. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the NHS is under the control of their devolved parliaments – whilst we in England have to put up with the travesty produced by the Tory/Lib Dem Health & Social Care Act.

Now Labour is committed to repealing it. But let’s consider a scenario, where the Labour wins the next election – but fails to win an overall majority of English seats? Well, stranger things have happened at sea, they tell me.

It’s much too early to do the maths, of course – but it’s a thought to concentrate the mind!

Milking the NHS:

We all know that the National Health Service is strapped for cash – even though the Government insists that its budget is “ring fenced”. What this actually means is that the service isn’t having to face the kind of massive cuts that other sections of the public and local sector are having to make – but it’ll be given not quite enough to do its job adequately.

It doesn’t help when the drug companies decide to push up the prices of medicines supplied to the NHS sometimes by as much as 2,000 per cent a year.

Basically there’s what looks suspiciously like a scam going on. There is meant to be a price regulation mechanism operating when the NHS buys in drugs. But now many drug companies wait until their exclusive patents expire, and then sell the drug on to another firm which operates outside the price regulation scheme. The name of the drug changes, the price goes up – and Bob’s Your Uncle. And all of this is costing the NHS millions and millions of pounds.

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