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Pass Me That Scalpel and a Damp Squib!

December 5, 2011

Public sector squabble branded a Damp Squib by Cameron as thousands lose out on NHS treatment and Police Service’s are drafted in to bail out London Ambulance Service.

On Wednesday the 30th of November Nurses, Teachers, Council workers and many more marched around the UK or stayed off work in protest over public sector pensions.

Coalition proposals would see a rise in the age of retirement meaning workers will have to pay into their pension schemes for longer. Increase the amount of money workers pay into their pension; an increase of 3.2% will see workers paying more into a pension they might lose out on in retirement. Plans to redesign how a final pension is calculated will also be implemented. The current system calculates a person’s pension based on their final salary e.g. the amount a person was earning before they retired, Coalition changes would mean that a person’s pension would be calculated based on an average salary meaning a lower pay out for anybody who progresses in their career a few years before retirement.

Industrial action called for by unions saw wide spread disruption to services with the closure of most schools and thousands of patients losing out on hospital treatment. The Strike was later branded a “Damp Squib” by Prime Minister David Cameron after a figures row with union bosses.

Though provisions were made to protect emergency and critical care from strike action around a quarter of non-emergency operations were cancelled with thousands of diagnostic tests and outpatient appointments cancelled or rescheduled adding pressure to waiting lists.

Unison figures show around 400,000 NHS workers took part in the protest. Despite boasting full ambulance cover Mayor of London Boris Johnson was forced to call 999 himself asking Police services to provide support for the ambulance service due to low levels of staffing. London ambulance service felt enormous pressure after nearly half of its employees involved in strike action as well as an increase of 30% in 999 calls. Both Ambulance and Police services were forced to admit that calls had to be prioritised meaning delays for people deemed to be at low risk, though neither service commented on whether delays affected people needing urgent medical attention. A message was broadcast across the UK urging people not to phone 999 unless in emergencies and to attend local A&E departments or walk in centres instead.

The Coalition changes could see nurses working until the age of 70, in an aging population this could mean that a nurse of 70 is responsible for the care of a patient of the same age. In a society where older people are demonised as being frail, cute or too old to work how can the current government expect the NHS to function with an older, poorer work force?


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