Tuesday, 31 January 2012

'Bless 'em all' - A Hymn to Atos Medical Services

Sent to me by my friend and former Green Party Disability Spokesperson, Alan Wheatley. It is one person's account of their experience with Atos Medical Services, the company given the contract to assess disabled people who are on Incapacity Benefit.
My experience of obtaining justice as summed up by new lyrics to a well known song.

               Bless 'em all.  Bless 'em all.
               The DWP and Atos and all.
               Bless the Atos nurse who lied through her teeth.
               Bless the Atos doctor who libeled this beast.
        Verse 1:
               And I find it so hard to understand.
               Medical ethics dismissed by a wave of the hand.
               The NMC, GMC, CQC et al are asked,
               "outside our remit", we are not with this tasked.
        Repeat Chorus:
        Verse 2: 
               To the Secretary of State do we go.
               Pleading that the DWP and Atos are the foe.
               "No audit necessary", replies with a jeer.
               "No duty of care" are due to patients here.
        Repeat Chorus:
        Verse 3:
               The denied; suicides, sick, disabled and cold.
               Are left in their homes, so abused they mould.
               Confused and bewildered, called scroungers and malingerers.
               And others are here the real fraudsters and swindlers.
        Repeat Chorus:
        Verse 4:
               And as each claimant dies and returns to earth.
               Executive pay increases trigger faint distant mirth.
               And as each claimant dies and returns to earth.
               Targets met trigger faint distant mirth.
               ------- And all together now one final time
               Bless 'em all.  Bless 'em all.
               The DWP and Atos and all.
               Bless the Atos nurse who lied through her teeth.
               Bless the Atos doctor who libeled this beast.
               Bless Local Councils, never heard of Welfare Rights.
               Bless Borough and County, evading Welfare Rights.
               Bless 'em all.  Bless 'em all.
               The DWP and Atos and all.

A few councils still provide for free a "Welfare Rights Advisor" to advise you.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Return to the Future? - Krugman tells it like it is

Paul Krugman's excellent article in the New York Times tells it like  it is. As a historian, I am continually astounded by how policy makers from issues as varied as military intervention in Afghanistan to economic policies, continue to ignore the lessons of history. I suppose it must be that with most politicians having come through the portal  of political and economic studies they have no real understanding or knowledge of history. But history cannot be buried and like some horror flick, will continue to rear its head, when it is supposed to be dead. The level of ignorance and the costs of it on ordinary workers is truly astonishing. Time to send the political and economic dunces currently running global policy back to the corner and the sooner the better.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Queer Question Time - Launch of LGBT History Month

Will be there giving out leaflets for Queers against the Cuts. Queer fightback must continue!

1 February 2012 - 6:00pm - 9:30pm


The Banqueting Hall, Glaziers Hall

9 Montague Close

London SE1 9DD


SURAN DICKSON, CEO of Diversity Role Models, helps to launch LGBT History Month 2011 in Southwark with Queer Question Time at the fabulous Glaziers Hall by the river Thames on Wednesday 1 February 2011.

SUE SANDERS (Co-Chair of LGBT History Month UK and Schools Out) and Councillor ABDUL MOHAMED (Cabinet Member for Equalities and Community Engagement) will be opening the evening at 7pm followed by a performance from the PINK SINGERS, London’s LGBT community choir.
This will be followed by Queer Question Time at 7.30pm. Suran will chair an hour long public debate that promises to be 'convivial but edgy', with a formidable panel of 5 local, national, and international LGBT icons and commentators, including BOB BALLARD (Radio and TV sports broadcaster), CLAIRE HARVEY (GB Sitting Volleyball Women’s Team & Head of Corporate Responsibility, FSA), DAVE MERCHANT (Chair of Marlin Swimming, the trans swimming group), PETER TATCHELL (human rights campaigner) and KELLY SIMMONS (Head of National Game, The FA).

Doors open at 6pm and refreshments will be served. Admission is FREE but advance booking is strongly advised as places are limited. To book your place contact Helen Laker on 020 7525 0848 or Helen.Laker@southwark.gov.uk
This is the eighth year that LGBT History Month has been marked across the UK. It is an annual celebration of the lives and achievements of the LGBT community, with a special theme this year of "tackling homophobia and transphobia in the world of sport". Queer Question Time will cover this topic as well as the Olympics and the Cultural Olympiad and the broader issues facing the LGBT community.
Submit your questions before the night to askqqt@gmail.com
Doors 6 - 9.30pm, Music from the Pink Singers 7pm, Debate 7.30pm
Entrance FREE. Advance booking advised. Contact Helen Laker at Southwark Council on 0207 525 0848 or Helen.Laker@southwark.gov.uk
Get involved on facebook and join the group QQT
FACEBOOK GROUP: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=169053002441&ref=ts
Contact Details
Mike Kear

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Monday, 23 January 2012

Let's try and stop yet another war!

I will be demonstrating on Saturday at this important protest which is crucial with another war involving this country rapidly approaching.

Newsletter No.1231
21 January 2012







The first major protest against an attack on Iran and Syria is scheduled for next Saturday, January 28, outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London.

The prospect of a new war in the Middle East is growing. As well as tightening sanctions, covert operations, assassinations and cyber attacks on Iran there is clear evidence of hostile US troop movements in to the region. The right in the US is pushing hard for intervention and these kind of provocations could spark war at any time. Meanwhile calls for intervention in Syria are getting louder and, as Jonathan Steele reported in the Guardian this week, there is a NATO backed military build up on Syria's borders too.

We need to start mobilising the anti-war majority now to swing the argument away from war. We are asking our supporters to do everything possible to publicise this protest and organise other protests and meetings locally.

Invite friends on Facebook - http://on.fb.me/yR9Q3i Tweet to spread the word - http://twitter.com/#!/STWuk

For more information or to help organise in youyr area please phone the office on 0207 801 2768.



On Friday four French soldiers were shot dead by a member of the Afghan army.
Contrary to claims that the situation in Afghanistan is stabilising, the incident  highlights the growing violence in the country.

Like similar incidents where Afghan soldiers have turned ther guns on their trainers, this one also highlights the deep flaws in the US-NATO strategy of training up the Afghan army in the hope of leaving behind a pliant and effective client regime. 

France has effectively suspended operations in Afghanistan in response, and sent a probe to consider whether accelerating withdrawal of troops. This is good news amid a grim situation. Cessation of military operations and withdrawal of foreign troops is the only way to stem the bloodshed. We have to continue building pressure for withdrawal and hope the French actions will send a message to the US and UK governments.

See http://stopwar.org.uk/ for articles on the development.

Stop the War is encouraging activists and groups to get on the streets with petitions, vigils etc to mark the death of the 400th British soldier in Afghanistan, if and when that tragic figure is reached. The current total is 395.  


Saturday March 3rd, 10am - 5pm

University of London Union

Malet Street, London WC1

The conference will be a chance to discuss recent developments in the War on Terror and plan the movement's response. Speakers introducing the discussion include Tony Benn, Abbas Edalat, Lindsey German, George Galloway, Mitra Qayoom, Joe Glenton and Jeremy Corbyn MP. All Stop the War members can attend.

Those who joined before January 1st this year have voting rights. Stop the War groups and affiliates are entitled to delegates. You can join Stop the War on the door. Please contact us to book your place. Entry is £5/ £4 concessions.



In the first week we have raised an impressive £3,500 for our new year's appeal to fund the campaign against the threat of a new war in the middle east.

We need £10,000 urgently to respond to the danger of new interventions against Iran and Syria.  If you haven't given already please donate by going to http://bit.ly/x9RBne . Or call 0207 801 2768. Or send a cheque payable to ;; 'Stop the War Coalition' to: Stop the War, 231, Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 1EH.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Green Left Statement on the cuts being implemented by the Green Council in Brighton & Hove

The statement below from Green Left concerning the cuts being proposed by the Green Party led council in Brighton and Hove was issued today, following a decision reached at the Green Left general meeting last weekend.

Green Left welcomes the “Message to Unite” from the national leadership of the Green Party, which calls on Britain’s largest trade union, and the trade union movement as a whole, to back the Green Party’s programme to transform economy and society through a Green New Deal. We have always argued that the Green Party can be both radical and successful if it is seen to fight for the interests of ordinary people, and those of future generations, against the greed of deregulated financial capitalism and self seeking politicians who are in awe of it.

It is therefore particularly disturbing to learn that Green Party councillors in Brighton and Hove  intend to proceed with budget plans that will cut millions of £'s from local services. The Green Party has an opportunity to put itself at the forefront of opposition to public spending cuts. Austerity measures will do nothing to lift the economy out of recession but  threaten the very fabric of society. The first Green led council should be drawing up a budget which not only defends existing service provision but which also reverses the cuts made by previous councils, and begins to develop the high quality public services which are required. If their proposals are voted down by an unprincipled alliance of Labour and Conservatives ,and they are driven from office, then they can go into opposition with their heads held high, and lead a fight both inside and outside the council chamber.

Occupy LSX succeeded in bringing radical ideas into the news and into everyday conversation. Concerned with the current economic crisis they have been changing the debate. They now face eviction from their camp outside St Paul's Cathedral. Elected Greens and members have been actively engaged with their debates and actions. Green Left believe that the Green Party of England and Wales can play a significant role by proposing our alternative economic analysis and plans for a programme of recovery. We can effectively work to help build a mass movement against austerity measures. We have the policies. We have the philosophical basis to attract many supporters who are rejecting the traditional political parties. 

We have one Green MP. The work that we do at a local level is crucial. The actions of Brighton and Hove Greens will affect not only the local communities, but all members of the party and our supporters and potential supporters. If Brighton and Hove Green councillors take a stand against cuts they would offer an example to everyone.

 Green Left believe that Brighton and Hove councillors can show that an alternative is possible. However carefully considered the proposed cuts may be for this year or next, these follow years of previous cuts and are in addition to wage freezes, redundancies and benefit cuts. Their effects will be devastating, especially on the poorest and most disadvantaged, who as ever will be the hardest hit. Why not take advantage of our electoral success and use this opportunity to build support for an alternative economic plan , and an ecologically and socially just future ?

Green councillors in Brighton  must ask themselves now how "we will fight them all the way" as promised during the election. These are desperate times with darker days ahead. Brighton and Hove Greens have the opportunity to spearhead the political battle for a progressive and radical alternative.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith secures half a million pounds funding from Irish government

And another Irish related news story:
Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith secures £550K funding
Wednesday, Jan 18, 2012
The Board of Trustees has just announced that the Irish Government has granted £550K to the Centre to assist in securing the purchase of the freehold of the building and in recognition of the significant work carried out by the Centre to promote Irish culture in London.

In a statement this afternoon the Board of Trustees highlighted:

"We wish to publicly express our sincere gratitude to the Irish government for assisting us secure a permanent home in London that is dedicated to Irish culture, our country’s greatest resource.

The Board of Irish Cultural Centre is currently in the advanced stages of negotiations with both Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the widely respected Shepherd’s Bush Housing Association (SBHA) whereby the Irish Cultural Centre would be able to purchase the freehold of the premises and provide a lease to SBHA.

Subject to planning permission being granted, the proposed strategy is to demolish the existing structure and erect a new building incorporating a well-designed Centre with greater revenue-generation capacity and with residential accommodation to be located on the upper floors. It is anticipated that this project would take circa 18 months to complete. During this period the Centre’s services will continue to be delivered locally."

Further credit is also given to the MPs who have shown their continued support over the course of the campaign - in particular those that signed an early day motion in 2011 urging the Government to support the local Irish community in its efforts to secure the long-term future of the Irish Cultural Centre.

Andy Slaughter17/01/2011 HammersmithLabour Proposed
Jeremy Corbyn17/01/2011 Islington NorthLabour Seconded
Kelvin Hopkins17/01/2011 Luton NorthLabour Seconded
Sheila Gilmore17/01/2011 Edinburgh EastLabour Seconded
Siobhain McDonagh17/01/2011 Mitcham & MordenLabour Seconded
John McDonnell17/01/2011 Hayes & HarlingtonLabour Seconded
Kerry McCarthy17/01/2011 Bristol EastLabour Signed
Linda Riordan17/01/2011 HalifaxLabour Signed
Kate Green17/01/2011 Stretford and UrmstonLabour Signed
Lisa Nandy17/01/2011 WiganLabour Signed
Chuka Umunna17/01/2011 StreathamLabour Signed
Valerie Vaz17/01/2011 Walsall SouthLabour Signed
Keith Vaz17/01/2011 Leicester EastLabour Signed
Stephen Twigg17/01/2011 Liverpool, West DerbyLabour Signed
Barry Gardiner17/01/2011 Brent NorthLabour Signed
Mike Gapes17/01/2011 Ilford SouthLabour Signed
Frank Dobson17/01/2011 Holborn & St PancrasLabour Signed
John Cryer17/01/2011 Leyton and WansteadLabour Signed
Karen Buck17/01/2011 Westminster NorthLabour Signed
David Lammy17/01/2011 TottenhamLabour Signed
Alan Keen17/01/2011 Feltham & HestonLabour Signed
Hywel Francis18/01/2011 AberavonLabour Signed
Mark Durkan18/01/2011 FoyleSDLP Signed
Martin Caton18/01/2011 GowerLabour Signed
Alan Meale18/01/2011 MansfieldLabour Signed
Dennis Skinner18/01/2011 BolsoverLabour Signed
Ian Lavery19/01/2011 WansbeckLabour Signed
Paul Flynn19/01/2011 Newport WestLabour Signed
Jim Dobbin19/01/2011 Heywood & MiddletonLabour Signed
Tony Lloyd19/01/2011 Manchester CentralLabour Signed
Chris Ruane19/01/2011 Vale of ClwydLabour Signed
John Robertson19/01/2011 Glasgow North WestLabour Signed
Daniel Rogerson20/01/2011 North CornwallLiberal Democrat Signed
Alasdair McDonnell20/01/2011 Belfast SouthSDLP Signed
Margaret Ritchie20/01/2011 South DownSDLP Signed
Elfyn Llwyd25/01/2011 Meirionnydd Nant ConwyPlaid Cymru Signed
Marsha Singh27/01/2011 Bradford WestLabour Signed
James McGovern03/02/2011 Dundee WestLabour Signed
David Crausby10/02/2011 Bolton North EastLabour Signed
Paul Murphy15/02/2011 TorfaenLabour Signed

No to Anglo Debt

A new campaign launched in Ireland against paying back massive debts to the zombie Anglo-Irish Bank. Ireland, with its long history of the Land League and the invention of the tactic of boycott should be well able to get this campaign off the ground.

Meanwhile Occupy London have lost their case in the High Court - not altogether unexpected. We must now be ready to defend them when the forces of the City and high finance come to evict them later this month. All hands to the barricades!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Moving film about migrants trying to reach UK - Welcome

I watched a moving and amazing French film at the weekend called 'Welcome', which when you see the film, you realise the title is meant ironically. It deals with both the thriving racism and xenophobia in Sarkozy's France, and the director, in the interviews, draws sharp parallels between the laws affecting migrants in France and the role which France played, both the Vichy regime and elsewhere, in the deportation of France's Jewish population from 1940 onwards.

The film is set in Calais, where the director spent a lot of time researching the real lives of those migrants desperate to reach the UK. It tells the story of a young Kurdish boy hoping to reach London and the woman he loves who is a migrant there with her family. Hunted by both the racist French police, acting under the orders of the authorities who want not just refugees but also those who assist them criminalised, and those French who show all of the characteristics of those who supported Vichy and the 'Final Solution'.

The film caused an uproar in France and led to debates and a special screening in the French National Assembly, where a proposal to alter the immigration law was voted through by the Socialist Party, so that those, like the characters in the film, who assist migrants, will not be criminalised unless it is done for financial gain. The film was a huge success in France but is relatively unknown here. Dealing as  it does with those many thousands who risk their lives to cross the Channel and reach the UK, it is high time that it is more widely seen in the UK and that the issues behind it are more fully addressed away from the soundbites of the Daily Mail and Migration Watch.

Europe's last dictatorship - Belarus

Revealing interview with Director of Office for a Democratic Belarus - interesting comment about historical perspective, one shared by me as a historian. Human rights and democracy activists there are currently beaten up and imprisoned by regime's thugs.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Circus but no bread

How can anyone in London (or the UK) be sad this year? The caring, sharing ConDem government has a year of thrills and spills ahead for all. The rave reviews are out already - conservative historians like David Starkey are orgasmic about the return of the royal barge to the Thames, a la George I and Handel's 'Music for the Royal Fireworks'. The same Starkey who loudly proclaims the historic wisdom of sweeping London's poor and low paid out of the central areas, as they only ever lived there as servants in the past, and returning these leafy areas to their natural owners - the rich. Expect paeans of praise to the Jubillee with TV royal commentators trying to outdo each other on the splendour of the pageantry and which minor royal wore which stunning fashion creation.

This week, in the Evening Standard, Cameron, fresh from holding a cabinet meeting in an Olympic venue, berated all of those negative folk who have not yet developed Olympic fever - the so called nay sayers. For Cameron, Boris etc, the Olympics are a wonderful opportunity for London and a chance for the city to display its best to the world. The truth is that it is a hucksters and spivs gravy train. With food distribution monopolised by Mc Donalds - currently building the biggest fast food takeaway in the world here - and imported Mercs for VIPs to drive around in, a wrap around one of the principal stadia sponsored by Union Carbide (responsible for not compensating thousands of victims of industrial accident in Bhopal) the whole thing is an abomination. It is a corporate feast, where the Tories and their friends will dine off the people of London and the UK and the much talked  of legacy will be negligible.

But more importantly, both of these events fulfill the role of bread and circuses in the ancient Roman Empire - by distracting and amusing the masses, while the Caesars and senators get on with the business of fighting wars and ruling the Empire. Boris, as a classicist, will understand this well. But at least the Romans also offered the plebs bread. This lot are busily demolishing the welfare state, killing off the public sector and driving millions into unemployment and poverty. This will be a year of circuses without the bread. And the City and the government will carve up the profits, while the multitude are transported by dancing acrobats and splendid parades. As the Latin puts it: "fallaces sunt rerum species" or "appearances can be deceptive".

Thursday, 12 January 2012

One in the eye for the government on Welfare Reform Act

Good news below from Carer Watch, who are doing an excellent job as part of the campaign against the nefarious Welfare Reform Bill.

Hi there

The government was defeated three times in a row in the Lords last night on its proposals to save money by limiting the benefits paid to sick and disabled people who claim ESA.


The three main parties have until now maintained a solid wall of silence acting together on welfare reform to cut and limit benefits to disabled people. Now – at long last it is sensational to see the first crack in this wall of silence.

Lord Patel made a compelling case. It was great to hear him spelling out so clearly that people placed in the WRAG group of ESA who are being threatened with these sanctions and time limits are all people who have been assessed under the new tests as people who are not fit to be required to work. So why are these people being time limited and treated as if they are fit to work? As Lord Freud made very clear in the debate – the limits are being put on their benefits only to save money.

The deficit cannot be reduced on the backs of people who are assessed as not fit to work – some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the community.

More votes including one on DLA are coming up in the next few weeks. It is even more important now to get the details of Pat’s Petition out to people to give them a chance to register their support for campaigners where the government can see and them. Please let people know what is happening and how they can sign Pat’s Petition.

Sign Pat's Petition at -

More details about the petition and the supporters are at -

See Pat's Petition on FaceBook

and on Twitter at


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Public Involvement work by the London Ambulance Service across the capital

At a busy meeting in City Hall on Monday night, Ruth Lewis the Public and Patient Involvement Coordinator, presented a very revealing report about the public outreach work by the LAS across London over the last few months and plans for the next few. I am presenting Ruth's report in full here. The Deputy Mayor of London, Richard Barnes, also spoke about the challenges to London during this year, with both the Olympics and Queens Diamond Jubilee being held here and the challenges for London's emergency services, not least the LAS. But I will blog about that later in the week.

LAS Patients’ Forum Update / Jan 2012

At the end of December 2011:

·         We have 894 Patient & Public Involvement and public education visits/events listed on our 2011 database, of which we attended 708.

·         Of these we did 84 knife crime talks and 134 Basic Life Support/Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation sessions.

·         29 Junior Citizen Schemes – Teaching various safety messages to 10 & 11year olds.

·         21 Learning Disability events.

·         5 Safe Drive Stay Alive – Aimed at 16yrs-18yrs about driving safely and wearing a seatbelt.

·         Certificates were sent to 45 staff that have done over 25 hours of public education work, mainly in their own time. Five members of staff received a gift of a pens set for doing over 100hrs.

Some examples of events from the last 3 months:

·         12th October - Our public education work was the topic for the Services third an Evening with us event for Foundation Trust members. Around 50 people attended and heard about our work on knife crime and the dangers faced by young drivers. The presentations were delivered by members of our team and two of our community involvement officers.

·         17th & 18th October - Jewish Community Fair.  This involved setting up an information stall and showing members of the public around our ambulance.  Feedback included: “The staff engaged with hundreds of parents and children all day long. The LAS team were absolutely wonderful.  Keep up the good work!”

·         19th October - West Ealing Deaf Group.  Paramedic Richard Webb-Stevens and Programme Manager Grenville Gifford attended West Ealing deaf group and spoke to 13 members. Grenville produced some fantastic slides about our service and our role which Richard signed to the group in BSL for nearly 2 hours. Richard also signed about when to call and how to call via emergencySMS (texting). The members of the group all registered their mobiles with emergencySMS after the presentation.

·         19th October - Nicholson Court Elderly Persons Talk.  A talk to a group of pensioners about our Service and help that is available to them locally.  From this the attendees requested advice on purchasing a defibrillator and having the relevant training.

·         21st October – Stonewall recruitment fair.

·         26th October – “Big Do”.  Team Leader Jacqui Ault and Emergency Medical Technician Yvonne Chambers attended The BIG Do, an event in Hackney for people with Learning Disabilities by people with Learning Disabilities.

Some of the main themes for the day were home safety, health, employment, recreation and leisure. There was a key note address from the council, as well as other presentations and workshops, plus lots of information on services in Hackney. A nurse was doing health checks and there was advice on Individual Budgets. Last but not least, the highlight was a live show at the end by 'Access All Areas'.

Yvonne said “This was a really good day for both the visiting public and us. There were about 200 visitors, most of whom had either learning or physical disabilities. Information was given to them from a number of agencies about the help available to them, how to keep themselves safe and how to access information which would be useful to them.”

“We provided information regarding appropriate care pathways which they can access and also gave out simplified information sheets telling what to do in case of an emergency and when to call 999.”

·         17th November – Queen Elizabeth Boys School visit.  A talk to a group of year 12 students undertaking an Engineering Education Scheme project, relating to the health and safety of workers on building sites. As part of their project, they felt it would be good to find out how the Ambulance Service treats workers who have fallen ill or have been seriously injured.

·         21st November – Barnet Epilepsy Action group talk.  A talk about the Service. Feedback given included: “Many thanks for a wonderful talk to our group on Monday evening. It really covered a wide range of relevant information - both theoretical and practical - and was geared at precisely the right level for the group. I have talked to many people in the group since the talk and they all agree that it was an excellent talk. Many thanks for all the work you did for the talk and the wonderful presentation.”

·         7th December – Drink Drive Campaign at the Civic Centre in Bromley.  A talk to 50-60 attendees to raise awareness of responsible drinking over the Christmas period.

·         12th December – Prison Me No Way at Brampton Manor School in Newham. A 40-50 minute session, teaching 180 15yr olds what to do in an emergency and how to put someone in the recovery position.

Initiatives for the coming year:

·         Islington/Camden Community Event (March/April) date to be confirmed.  A chance for local communities to find out more about the Service and engage with our staff. Previously we have done health checks and hope to do this again.

·         John Wright is now the Public Education Officer who focuses on knife crime. He would like to expand his work regarding the consequences of knife crime in the following areas.

1.       Hoping to expand the anti-knife crime workshops across London into more Pupil Referral Units, Schools and Colleges.

2.       In partnership with Westminster Youth Services, we would like to deliver a weapons workshop into primary schools.

3.       Would like to become more involved with vulnerable youth groups, such as ‘young people leaving care’.

4.       Work more closely with our Safeguarding colleagues to monitor whether young people involved in youth violence are being highlighted as vulnerable.

Monday, 9 January 2012

New Report shows opposition to Coalition's Benefits reforms kept hidden by government

In a press realease issued this morning, a new report indicates that there has been considerably more opposition to the government's benefits reforms (currently being discussed in the Lords) than thought previously. The report which is a forensically researched examination of the government's proposed changest to Disaiblity Living Allowance is hard hitting and direct, and demonstrates the huge holes in the government's arguments. It is hoped, that armed with this new information, crossbench peers and some Lib Dems in the Lords will now begin to resist Lord Freud's and the government's proposals on DLA reforms. The report was entirely funded, researched and written by disabled activists and gives the lie to the a lot of the spin released by the government.

London Ambulance Service Patients Forum Tonight

For the second month in succession, the LAS Patients Forum, which I chair, will be meeting in City Hall to discuss the roles of London's emergency services in the event of a major incident. This stems from the recommendations of the Coroner's Report on the Inquest into the 7/7 bombings.

London Ambulance Service Patients Forum

‘Roles and responsibilities of the London emergency services during a Major Incident’ – Richard Barnes, Deputy Mayor of London.

Monday January 9th 2012


City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, SE1 2AA

Forum’s Officers:

CHAIR:  Dr Joseph Healy                                 j-j@freezone.co.uk or PatientsForumLAS@aol.com

VICE CHAIR: Sister Josephine Udie          Sisterjossi@hotmail.com

VICE CHAIR: Lynn Strother                        director.glf@pop3.poptel.org.uk

VICE CHAIR: Malcolm Alexander              PatientsForumLAS@aol.com  

 BSL signers will be available. Refreshments also available

  • Nearest Tube: London Bridge/Tower Hill       British Rail: London Bridge
  • Buses: 42, 47, 78, 381, RV1

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

And a happy 2012

Not much time to blog over the festive period as I was busy having a personal life, seeing friends, contacting family and seeing a friend who had come over from Ireland for the holiday. I did manage to go on a great one day trip to Ely to see the wonderful mediaeval cathedral which I saw for the first time and to visit the historic town, as well as stopping off in Cambridge for a pint or two on the way back to London.

Some of my time over the festive season was spent on considering the past year and what lies ahead in the new one. For a start, with the continuing cuts and austerity, I am not sure if I will have a job after April, as my voluntary sector organisation is at the mercy of the decisions of Lambeth Council, and prior to the Xmas holidays they had not told us what their intentions were for the financial year ahead. The battle against the cuts has been a central issue for me during 2011 and will be in 2012 and I will be continuing to play an active role in the Coalition of Resistance. This also presents me with difficult decisions regarding my political involvement and orientation during this year and I will make an announcement about that soon, following a great deal of soul searching over the New Year period.

I also will be continuing my role as Chair of the London Ambulance Service Patients Forum and we have a meeting next Monday, January 9th, in City Hall to be addresseed by the Deputy Mayor of London on the issue of the London Resilience Plan and how London's emergency services will work together in the event of an emergency - this was included in the coroner's report recommendations from the 2005 bombing inquest. It is also the year in which the London Ambulance Service hopes to become a Foundation Trust and we will have an update on that at the meeting. Clearly this will also have an impact on the Patients Forum.

It is said that everyone has a good novel in them and I did have a go at playwriting in the 80s but have been diverted by various other activities, mainly political and public since. But I have decided to pick up the pen again this year and have a play in mind about my good friends, the Irish Green Party, whose fate I followed closely over the last few years, acting as one of the Cassandras, as they beached their ship on the rocks.

I also had a call just before New Year's Eve that an older friend of mine, who is 75, had been hospitalised and went to visit him. He had been in great pain with his back and was subsequently sent home last Sunday but it has brought home to me again the lack of funding for elderly social care, which is an issue reported in today's news. With an increasing older population, me being among them, this crisis will become more and more important. And finally, this reminds me that in March I will reach the venerable age of 55 and noted in a documentary on my hero Charles Dickens on BBC last night, that he was dead by 58. So time and tide wait for no man and there remains much to be done. I will be writing more about Dickens in this his bicentary year.