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WE NEED MORE HOSPITALS

By Norman Thomas

It costs £150 to get a cab from St Thomas’s Hospital, London, to Broadstairs, east Kent where I live.

I had to get one after my recent heart attack.

My partner and I eventually got home at half hour past midnight driven by an ex-boxer with a dodgy hip who distracted himself by occasionally stopping and strolling along the hard shoulder in the pouring rain.

Time was the hospital might have sent us home in an ambulance or car especially for patients.

Now this service is run by G4S, the world’s largest security company, and purveyor of private soldiers.

Our car was delayed for hours, then mysteriously cancelled, then broke down.

You won’t be surprised to find out that G4S, who also runs private prisons, received over 1500 complaints in just a year of running patient transport in west Kent.

Don’t get me wrong. St Thomas’s hospital performed a miracle in saving my life — for which I will be forever grateful.

But is having to travel almost a hundred miles from your home into one of the most congested cities in the world the best option for your treatment?

I don’t think it is — not for a pile of reasons.

And I don’t think it has to be like that.

I remember what a bunch of enthusiastic people at a health service “listening event”were chorusing to me.

They were saying: “Do you want the best service possible?”

I didn’t quite get it to begin with.

Of course I want the best service possible.

Who wouldn’t?

Then the penny dropped.

They meant — do you want your health service either as NEAR to you as possible —or as GOOD as possible?

Which is when the con in this consultation sinks it

They want, of course, for you to say you want the best possible — and that’s because they have a very obvious agenda which, as it happens, fits snugly with the government agenda.

And that’s to have fewer hospitals, fewer facililities, more centralisation, more specialisation.

This, too, is what’s at the heart of the much hyped “sustainable transformation partnerships” being entered into by health and local authorities, gps and assorted medicos across the country.

Strip everything back to the mininumum, merge what you can and privatise what you can’t.

You’ll get the best service money can buy, the experts reckon.

You (and your visitors) will just have to travel further and further to get to it.

 

 

But what I believe is rather than fewer hospitals we need MORE.

And many of our existing hospitals, like Thanet, need to be be bigger and better.

Of course, there’s always going to be a place for specialisation — but there has to be a balance, too.

After all, the way the NHS works now is that hospital staff are constantly learning from other staff. I saw it all around me.

They eagerly watch pieces of technology being used in the white heat of Ward emergencies, working out to solve vital problems on the job. From beginner nurses to the most advanced surgeons, they’re all always learning, growing, absorbing every bit of experience that comes their way.

Rob a hospital of too much of that experience, of that variety of work and you increasingly rob staff of the goldust they need to grow.

Of course, say this kind of thing too loudly and someone will almost certainly hit you with the “bottomless pit argument” — as in “we haven’t got a bottomless pit you know.”

But a hospital isn’t a bottomless pit.

On the contrary, a hospital is probably the most important thing a community can invest in.

But we have to invest in the right KIND of hospital.

Not just the kind of hospital that can perform the kinds of life saving miracles like St Thomas’s performed on me.

But the kind that will form a health service dedicated to stopping us getting sick in the first place.

It’s like what they set out to do in Cuba.

You take your medicine to the people.

You make people’s well-being your number one priority.

You build up unparalleled medical skills, the envy of much of the world.

But you also end up with a population whose standard of health so high that they need far less treatment.

It’s what we really need — a true national health service instead of what it’s fast becoming — a national sickness service.

And a hospital down the road, maybe, rather than a 200 mile round drive away.

 

 

 

 

 

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MY LABOUR PARTY HEART ATTACK

BY NORMAN THOMAS

A funny thing happened to me during the Labour Party conference.

I had a heart attack.

I didn’t realise I’d actually had one. Believe it or believe it not, I thought it was food poisoning. Or violent indigestion. Or something.

No huge chest pains, nothing.

Later I found out out it’s what they call a silent heart attack. Who’d have known?

Anyway, having gone all the way to Brighton as a delegate for the constituency of South Thanet Labour Party, down east Kent, I decided to stick it out.

And it was absolututely fantastic. Because what we saw in Brighton was nothing less than the Labour Party conference beginning to change.

Changing from a top down, all power at the top organisation, into an outfit where the grass roots are starting to get power.

It was a big contrast to last year’s affair, where the ranks of disbelieving, angry MPs and the other assorted malcontents skulked around waiting for what they felt was the inevitable fall of Jeremy Corbyn.

There were far fewer moments of breathtaking hypocrisy, too. The most spectactucular was that of deputy leader Tom Watson, who even tried to drudge up a gag with a pun on Momentum’s name – after the vile things the man had called the group in the past.

Jeremy’s closing speech, I have to admit, was pretty good. And I was still listening to it while suffering from the after effects of my heart attack. But maybe that helped!

His trick was in devoting his words to the people who helped him achieve what he’s achieved rather than making it about himself. That way he allowed his essential niceness to come out in classic Corbyn fashion.

Anyway, a few days later, like a cartoon character who notices that that he’s run out of cliff to run on and now is going to plummet to certain destruction, I went to my GP, who packed me off to Margate hospital who packed me off to Ashford hospital who in turn packed me off to St Thomas’s in London.

Then began the most amazing battle to save my life. The heart attack had managed to blow a hole in my heart and a team of skillled and dedicated people set out out to patch it up. A doctor said I had a 50-50 chance of surviving.

The hospital people, from the top (Italian) surgeon to the nurses, just gave everything they had to save me. More than once I felt like crying.

Why shouldn’t you when you’re surrounded by people doing their absolute everything for you?

I saw them unleash the most incredible energy and dedication not just for me of course but for all in their care.

And I saw in those days a vision which, strangely enough, took me right back to the Labour Party conference.

A vision of teamwork, unity, commitment.

A vision of what we need to do to turn the world of work around us into something new and different.

Because here’s the problem. We can have a wonderful Labour Party conference. We can a successful Labour Party. We can have Jeremy Corbyn at his best.

But without a new motor for our society, for our community, we’re going nowhere.

And that’s what I saw in those strange and semi-lit hours while the hospital ranks kept alive – that motor.

Far fetched? A post operative hallucination?

No.

In our free market, post industrial world we’ve got used to the idea that everyone does something because they’re paid to do it. That everything is about profit and that money controls everything.

The relationship that says I do this to save your life is altogether different.

And that doesn’t just mean what happens in St Thomas’s Hospital.

Grow somebody food. Produce them clothes. Protect them from the cold. In countless ways help them achieve a better life.

It may not be as drastic as mending their heart, but it is still the commitment of us all to look after each other.

A community devoting its talents to the most important things there are – our fellow human beings.

Farfetched? Wild?

How’s it all going to be paid for? Where’s the money going to come from? Isn’t the NHS already crumbling?

Yes, but those who will tell you the NHS is crumbling are the same who said the banks were going bust.

The same who used to say that there was no alternative the free market economy, who saw a future of increasing privatisation and capitalism triumphant.

But all that, like they say, is yesterday’s dirty shirt.

We’re starting again.

And it’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure.

It’s going to take the most radical transformation of our world.

And there’s no way round it — because I believe the Jeremy Corbyn Project simply going to happen, except in its most radical version.

Socialism is not about about just changing a government, or changing the political party, but changing SOCIETY — and all of us along with it.

And that’s exactly what we have set out to do.

 

 

 

Shhh! Don’t tell anyone – it’s Jackie’s secret play at the Labour Party conference!

jackie walker subtle

Crowds flocking to the Labour Party conference in Brighton this weekend will have a novelty alternative to long winded speeches – a play – and a play so incendiary that the organisers won’t tell anyone where it’s happening!

Controversial Corbynista Jackie Walker is bringing a one woman show called The Lynching to town on Monday 25 September. It starts at 9pm and it’s within easy walking distance of the conference centre – but, as yet, that’s all she’ll say.

Why all the cloak and dagger? It’s because The Lynching show is about the notoriously inflammable topic of  alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party which is why pro-Israel campaigners have already scared venues off hosting the drama.

So people hoping to go will now only be alerted on the day – and then only if they’re on an approved list.

One of the drama’s organisers said: “It’s ludricous that’s we’re having to go to such lengths to stage this play. But the people threatening to disrupt things are serious menaces – they’ve got a track record in this sort of thing and we can’t take any chances of them spoiling the evening for the rest of the audience.”
He added: “At the end of the day it’s a a battle for free speech – that’s what it’s all about!”
The star of the show Jackie Walker hit the headlines last year when, following allegations of antisemitism, she was twice suspended from the Labour Party as well as being removed from her position as vice-chair of the Momentum group.
Ms Walker vehemently denies being antisemitic and claims she has been victim of a concerted campaign to smear Mr Corbyn and his supporters
She said: “Of course I’m not antisemitic. I am critical of Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestine. This is a huge issue which Labour must debate – and false claims of antisemitism are being used to try to shut the debate down.”
The opening of Jackie’s show comes at a critical time as pro-Israel members are attempting to tighten rules over alleged antisemitism in the party.
But she has received strong support from well known figures on the left including Noam Chomsky and Ken Loach. At the recent London premiere of the show Ken described it as a “great achievement.”
Ken said: “ What Jackie has done in her way is to say this subject is open for discussion…I think it is absolutely incumbent on all of us, everyone’s that in the Labour Party, or in Momentum, that we take this up, because if you give way on one issue then they come back for more.”
Earlier in the year, the award-winning director condemned an attempt to stop Jackie speaking in Scotland as a “serious breach of freedom of speech”.

Jackie’s show, which was greeted at the Edinburgh Fringe with cheers and a standing ovation, tells how her Caribbean mother and Jewish father during the civil rights protests in 1950s America.

Her mother fell foul of the CIA, was accused of unAmerican activities and was deported back to Jamaica.
Now, the show suggests, history is repeating itself. Jackie said: “My mother refused to be silent in her time, I refuse to be silent in mine. We must be free to speak about the rights of all people, however inconvenient this might be to those in power.”
After Brighton the show will go on a short nationwide show including two performances in London on October 2 and 3. More information on 07989070843 or email inmeds@yahoo.co.uk. And email the same address if you want to book in to see Jackie’s special show in Brighton. Who knows – you might get on the list!

 

 

 

KEN LOACH AT THE LYNCHING

Award winning film maker Ken Loach speaks after a performance of “The Lynching”‘ Jackie Walker’s one woman show. In the show Jackie tells her extraordinary family history and how she came to be suspended from the Labour Party following false allegations of antisemitism. There will be two performances of “The Lynching” on October 2 and 3 at 7.30pm at Theatro Technis in Camden, London. There will also be a special performance in Brighton during the Labour Party conference on September 25, at a venue yet to be disclosed. For further information or to book, email inmeds@yahoo.co.uk or ring 07989070843. Or

THE LYNCHING IN LONDON: JACKIE IS JOINED BY KEN LOACH

 

jackie walker subtle


Jackie Walker’s one woman show, The Lynching, gets its London premiere on Wednesday 13 September.  Jackie plays her black mother and Jewish father who come together fighting for civil rights in 1950s America. Her mother falls victim to a McCarthyite witch hunt. Now history repeats itself with Jackie facing an antisemitic witch hunt launched, she says, against the entire Jeremy Corbyn project. The show will be followed by a panel discussion including award winning film maker Ken Loach. Takes place at 6pm, Wed 13 September at Khalili Theatre in SOAS, University of London, Torrington Square, London WC1H 0XG.
Admission is free, but booking is essential. Contact 07989 070843  or inmeds@yahoo.co.uk

THE LYNCHING AT THE FRINGE

A short extract from Jackie Walker’s new one woman show, The Lynching, which was premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe on August 4. The show tells how Jackie fell victim of a vicious witch hunt because of false claims of antisemitism.
On the first night she received cheers and a standing ovation. The show will now be taken to other parts of Britain, including a special performance in Brighton in September during the Labour Party conference.
For more details email inmeds@yahoo.co.uk