The Obligatory “Predictions for 2012” Post

So….what’s going to happen in 2012? I thought I’d try my hand at crystal-ball gazing.

At least some of  the following predictions may be no more informed than those of the next pub bore, so feel free to agree or disagree in the comments threads.  Also feel free to add your own predictions. In December 2012 I may well dig up this thread and find out whether these forecasts were accurate or not.

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The (Political) Spirit of Christmas and New Year

As we all begin to relax following the stressful build up to yet another Christmas – yes it comes around quicker every year, sometime in-between celebrations many of us might ponder a while on the meaning of the whole event. It would be a very brave if not fully certified miserable person who would refuse to waste money that they probably have not got on the commercial ideologies of the festive period. What is it exactly that we are celebrating this year? The birth of a new (way of) life, or the growth of a society that cares more about owning the latest gadget/toy than where they are going to find the money for the next fuel/food bill.

Of course getting into the spirit of Christmas means giving something of ourselves to others in celebration of life but when did this centre on money as the sole exchange? For many people time is the most important gift and honesty, both of which cost nothing. However in a society that cares very little for people (care workers being some of the lowest paid/trained people in the country) and more about power, then people will always be at the bottom of the giving list.

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Recovering at Home

Yesterday Mike Farrar, the Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation made the news by claiming that 1 in 4 patients in hospital beds could be cared for and could recover at home.

The difficulties of arranging appropriate discharges from hospitals is a matter that’s particularly close to my heart. Not least because I’ve been involved in the process for over a decade through my work. I’ve seen many changes (notably the Community Care (Delayed Discharge) Act 2003). Some steps forward. Some hefty leaps backwards.

And who are these ‘1 in 4’ that Farrar mentions. Well, unsurprisingly, he is referring to older adults.

The Guardian article says

One big issue is elderly care. Farrar said NHS leaders believed that at least 25% of patients in hospital beds could be better looked after in the community or could look after themselves at home rather than in the “outdated hospital model of care”.

With money short, there has been increasing concern that support for vulnerable patients from social care, paid for by councils, or from NHS-funded nursing in the community, has been cut back. The result is bed-blocking as patients face increasing delays in being discharged from hospital.

I have no doubt that better care could be potentially provided in the community but the block is very much services and more importantly access to appropriate services both from NHS primary care and from social care which are both being cut at the moment. Continue reading

Creating a Two Tier NHS

Reports trickled through yesterday that Lansley has slipped a sneaky potential amendment through in the pre-Christmas rush that allows NHS Foundation Trusts to increase potential provisions for private patients from a current average of  2%  to a maximum 49%.  This post on Though Cowards Flinch sharply points out the this is a total income rather than based on the number of beds which is an important distinction.

The details are explained well in this post at NHS Vault which I recommend highly because there is a lot more detail than I’ve garnered. My response is a undoubtably less erudite than both the previous posts but based unapologetically on my gut instincts and experiences of working in and around the NHS. Continue reading

Those Evil Argie-Lefty-EU-Miliband-Occupy-Feminist Aggressors!

It’s Christmas Eve, so let’s have an off-topic giggle.

Yesterday, the Daily Mail published an absolutely hilarious alternative history article, supposedly looking back from 2012 when Argentina have…yes, you’ve guessed it…re-invaded the Falklands. Along the way they manage to come across every right-wing bugbear and nightmare. Our Brave Boys and *shock* Prince Harry are defeated and humiliated, not just by those dastardly Argies, but also the EU, Barack Obama, the Occupy Movement and feminists.

Ah well, it’s Christmas, so I guess they wanted to serve their readers with every bit of fear they ever wanted, and also give the rest of us a good laugh. So, let’s dive in to this “terrifyingly plausible” dystopia.

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A Musical Merry Christmas from the Not So Big Society

Since starting this blog three months ago, it’d probably be fair say that we’ve been gloomy souls at times. So, to cheer you all up, here’s a delightful Christmas anthem from Gruff Rhys, entitled Post-Apocalypse Christmas.

The infrastructure lies in pieces, you got me through with hugs and kisses…


What are you all listening to this Christmas? Feel free to embed videos in the comments threads.

Compulsive Hoarding

Last night, I watched a programme on Channel 4 ‘Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder’. I wasn’t planning particularly to sit down and watch it  but I was too curious in the end. While this isn’t a review of the programme, I wanted to write about my experiences of people who become ‘hoarders’.

Trash house, October 2003

I was concerned the programme would evolve into some kind of ‘freak show’ to show the world, with little understanding, how ‘odd’ this phenomenon is. It was more sensitively treated than I expected with the reactions of the neighbours – from horror to help – presenting one of the more interesting aspects.

I’ve seen a fair bit of ‘hoarding’ through my work. I don’t work in a leafy Surrey ‘commuter-belt’ town. I work in an inner city location. Most of the people I work with are older and we come across, what we call ‘Diogenes Syndrome’ relatively frequently although at different levels. Continue reading

The Not So Big Society – Lessons from Greece

As regular readers will now, I’ve been using the title of this blog as an excuse to ponder the kind of social changes we’re going through, and what it will mean for the most vulnerable in society.

I’ve been reading a fascinating article about a Greek island, and how it’s been affected by the economic collapse in that country. I suspect that we’ve got further hardships to come here in the UK, so I was left wondering whether it might have any lessons for us in the near future.

The article describes the island of Samos, and it’s clearly been hit hard.

Evidence of the crisis, the lack of jobs and the absence of money in people’s pockets is everywhere. In the two major towns of the island, Vathi and Karlovassi, approximately a quarter of the shops are now closed. Most of those that remain open are offering such discounts that we assume it is a matter of time before they shut too.

A friend who has a tourist shop in Vathi thinks at least another six shops will close by Christmas, with more to follow soon after. In our village we have two tavernas – and they only survive because their owners take no income. What income can you take from only selling a few Greek coffees and some beer and ouzo in the evening?  Continue reading

#Suey2y and My Nostradamus-Like Powers of Prediction

Yesterday, in response to Sue Marsh’s shocking and heartless loss of Disability Living Allowance, I made the following prediction.

My guess is that there’ll be a chin-stroking news report from the Guardian, and a deafening silence from the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Times, the Telegraph…Sorry, but to a wide section of the media and the general public, this isn’t the benefits story to get outraged about. The real injustice (apparently) is when somebody manages to scrounge a few quid they’re not entitled to.

So, what does Google News say today?

Sometimes I hate being right.

Policing and Mental Health

[Guest Post by Mental Health Cop]

The police service is key to the delivery of effective community based mental health care. There is an inevitability of police officers being called to incidents involving service-users, carers and professionals because some will occur unpredictably and because a few involve responding to significant risks.

 A fact of law: it is the police who must take certain decisions and exercise certain functions required by the Mental Health Act 1983. It is a matter of ethics and law: that the police should support colleagues in the health & social care professions as they administer the Mental Health Act, in order to keep everyone safe as they do so. Continue reading