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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

When in Rome...!

Celtic Bishops visit the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.                Source: Twitter

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, unless you are among the "Celtic Bishops" visiting the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Then you continue doing your own thing regardless.

Not just one representative but the entire bench of bishops of the Church in Wales is in Rome for another Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which began in 1908 as the Octave of Christian Unity and takes place from 18 to 25 January.

Celtic spirituality has long since given way to secularism in the hierarchies of the "Celtic" churches where bishops masquerade as bishops of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church despite going their own way in defiance of the wishes of the Roman Catholic and Holy Orthodox churches who warned of the consequences for unity when women were admitted to the priesthood.

The Celtic bishops would have done better getting on their knees in the cathedrals of their ailing churches, begging for forgiveness for what they have done.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Dental extraction

An unusually expensive extraction!

Dental extraction has become the cheaper option for many UK citizens unable to obtain NHS treatment despite paying their NHS contributions.

 Private treatment including root fillings and crowns quickly adds up to bills for many hundreds of pounds. It is hardly surprising that extraction, often not the preferred option, is necessitated by cost.

 A report last year claimed that patients were having to pull out their own teeth because NHS dental practices are refusing to register new patients. The figures have prompted concerns of an “emerging crisis” in dental care in England, with the British Dental Association (BDA) accusing the Government of commissioning only enough dentistry to treat about half the adult population.

News broke in 2008 that the Government's contract with NHS dentists, introduced in 2006, had been such a failure that nearly a million fewer patients were visiting the dentist, and the number of crowns, bridges and dentures being fitted had fallen by more than half, while the number of extractions had risen. An estimated 7.4 million people cannot find an NHS dentist to do elementary dental work such as fillings.

Recent findings show that "Tooth decay is the number one reason for child hospital admissions, but communities across England have been "left hamstrung without resources or leadership". There have been calls for a crackdown on unhealthy foods and soft drinks to combat "spiralling cases of tooth decay" with an "urgent need" to introduce measures to curb our sugar addiction which is causing children's teeth to rot.

The food and drinks industry is of course motivated by profit. That sounds familiar. In many areas it is not difficult to find a dentist but it is very difficult if you want NHS treatment.

A debate on children's dental examinations and treatment is due to take place in the House of Lords on January 18. It shouldn't be too difficult for their Lordships to come to a conclusion.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Social care crisis

Source: ASCC

 Funding social care was the subject of Key Issues for the New Parliament 2010. It read:

In 1997 Tony Blair told the Labour Party conference “I don’t want [our children] brought up in a country where the only way pensioners can get long-term care is by selling their home.” Local authorities have been able to require people to sell their homes to pay for residential care since 1948. Thirteen years after Tony Blair’s speech, local authorities continue to do so. 

The system was seen as inherently unfair, penalising those who have saved for their old age, whilst those who have been less prudent are eligible for state-funded care.

The Money Advice Service web page includes a  table: Local authority funding for care costs – do you qualify?

Source: money Advice Service

 Age UK has a useful explanation of the means test when paying for care. The NHS also has a guide to care and support. Health and social services in Wales are explained here and here.

No comfort there for the frugal. Anyone who has saved for their old-age hoping to pass on their property to their children, especially now that it is so difficult to get onto the property ladder, is likely to regret the fact when the profligate are rewarded.

The Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England (also known as the Barker Commission) was asked whether the post-war settlement, which established separate systems for health and social care, remains fit for purpose. Three problems were identified:

Problem 1: the system is unfair  Most health care (major and minor) is free at the point of use. Social care is heavily rationed and means tested. This leads to situations where people with dementia have to pay for their own care while people with cancer don’t. Both cases involve significant care needs but they get very different levels of assistance from the state. There is not equal treatment of equal needs.

Problem 2: the funding is separate  The NHS budget is ring-fenced, comes mostly from national taxation and must be spent on health. Publicly funded social care is paid for by local authorities through a mixture of central government grant, council tax and user charges. Levels of spending vary across the country. Deciding who pays for what is a constant source of friction which can impact on people who are caught between the two systems.

Problem 3: the system is not co-ordinated  The organisations that commission health and social care - 211 clinical commissioning groups for hospital care, emergency care, community care and mental health; 152 local authorities for social care; and NHS England for primary and specialist care - are not aligned. This creates inefficiencies with financial and human costs. For example, 3,000 beds a day are occupied by people who are fit to leave but are stuck in hospital while funding or assessment is resolved.

The current system is unfair, unjust and unsustainable. Bed-blocking up by 52 per cent in three years, NHS figures show. For example, Patients in England experienced some 177,000 days-worth of delays paffecting more than 5,900 beds a day in April 2027. "The problem was projected to cost the NHS £169m directly for the 2016-17 financial year, but the National Audit Office believes the overall related cost may reach some £820m annually, according to David Hare, the chief executive of NHS Partners Network."

Last January, YouGov research showed 53 per cent of people supported the idea of a 1p-in-the-pound rise in National Insurance, from 12 to 13 per cent, if it was used to fund healthcare, while 26 per cent opposed it—down from 37 per cent in 2014.

The Illustrated summary of the Barker Commission's final report posed the question 'How can we afford it?' giving examples of how almost £6 billion could be saved and suggesting a review of taxes on wealth and consider reforms to inheritance tax, wealth transfer tax, capital gains, property tax, etc.

They conclude, "Overall, the government should assume that public spending on health and social care will increase from 9.6% to 11–12% by 2025. The commission believes that in the long run this is affordable and sustainable" pointing out that it "sounds like a lot of extra money but it’s still less than other similar countries spend on health care alone."

Source: King's Fund

A report in the Telegraph shows that "the growing NHS crisis has been fuelled by the closure of almost 1,000 care homes housing more than 30,000 pensioners."

It comes as NHS figures show the worst Accident & Emergency crisis on record, amid a 37 per cent rise in the numbers stuck in hospital for want of social care, since 2010. Experts said hospitals were being overwhelmed by the spread of flu because they had almost no spare capacity to cope with surges in demand.

The report by industry analysts shows that in the last decade, 929 care homes housing 31,201 pensioners have closed, at a time when the population is ageing rapidly. The research from LaingBuisson show care homes going out of business at an ever increasing rate, with 224 care homes closed between March 2016 and March 2017, amounting to more than 2,000 beds."

For far too long Local Authorities have regarded care providers as charities resulting in business closures or demeaning 15 Min home care visits.

It is over twenty years since Tony Blair told the Labour Party conference in 1997 “I don’t want [our children] brought up in a country where the only way pensioners can get long-term care is by selling their home".

We can't wait another twenty years. Action to integrate health and social care is needed urgently, free at the point of delivery, raising revenue as necessary to assure equity. It could even be a vote winner.

Postscript [16.01.2018]

Revolution in health and social care urged in Wales

Nine leading international experts, chaired by the former chief medical officer for Wales Dr Ruth Hussey, have been looking at ways to try to put the health and social care system on a stronger footing. Ministers say a new plan will take into account the review's recommendations.

Without "significantly accelerated" change, services which are already not fit for the future, will further decline, the expert panel warns.

The NHS and social care will be expected to work "seamlessly" together to respond to a person's needs and to deliver care closer to home.

Friday, 12 January 2018

How queer does the Church in Wales have to get?

A year of Open Table with the LGBTQIA+ chaplaincy in St Asaph            Source: Church in Wales

Those of us who look regularly at the Church in Wales web site to see what we no longer miss may have been struck by the paucity on news items lately. If the latest dollop of what ought not to be, "A year of Open Table with the LGBTQIA+ chaplaincy in St Asaph", is a reflection of the church in Wales today perhaps it is just as well.

The UK’s first LGBTQIA+ chaplaincy in the Diocese of St Asaph is celebrating a year of holding regular monthly meetings. "Our monthly meetings, called Open Table, involve worship and Eucharist but also an opportunity to learn from God and each other and socialise together" says the LGBTQIA+ chaplain, the Revd Sarah Hildreth Osborn.

She says, "the chaplaincy was set up to create a safe, sacred space as the Christian faith has something to offer everyone, including the LGBTQIA+ community." Have they not heard of the daily Eucharist when everyone is welcome without question. Perhaps they would prefer someone to be stationed  at the door to enquire if the worshipper is queer so that they can be given special attention.

Why can't they be honest? Their aim is to normalise homosexuality. The number of gay clergy is already disproportionate to society in general and we have priests in monastic orders who ignore the rules.

The Church in Wales we loved is in danger of becoming a feminist cult and refuge for sexual licence. The Church in Wales as we knew her is finished.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Minority mania

British Army recruitment drive.  Source: Telegraph                               CREDIT: ARMY/PA WIRE  

It has afflicted politics. It has afflicted the Church. It has afflicted schools. - the latest example here. Now it is afflicting the British Army. The advancement of minorities has reached absurd levels.

The latest government reshuffle boasted of fairness to women and fairness to ethnic minorities. With merit giving way to political correctness, some junior and middle ranking appointees must be wondering if, by upping the numbers of women in government and new ministers from ethnic minorities, their success had more to do with their colour or gender than merit. Selection should be based on merit not positive discrimination for political correctness.

Anglicanism is obsessed with sex and minorities while some schools seem set on confusing children even more than they need be when growing up by encouraging transgenderism which has resulted in alarming increases in gender dysphoria.  Toilet facilities which have stood the test of time are being changed to satisfy the sensitivities of a few transgender people and gender-neutral language has been introduced in place of gender specific pronouns to avoid making assumptions.

A new politically correct Army recruitment drive includes a series of films which ask "Can I be gay in the Army?" and "What if I get emotional in the Army?", in a bid to appeal to potential soldiers from different backgrounds. There is a clip explaining how space can be made available to allow Muslims to pray.

Retired Army officer Major General Tim Cross commented on the recruitment drive saying, "It happens to focus on the Muslim community; my point is we have Gurkhas, we have Sikhs, all faiths represented in the British Army, and what we don't want to be doing is isolating other people by focusing on these particular communities."

Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said it was "neglecting the main group of people who are interested in joining" and will not solve the "recruiting crisis".

The head of the Army, General Sir Nick Carter, said that the rethink was forced by the fact that there are 25% fewer white 16 to 25-year-old males - a group that traditionally formed the force's recruitment base. He said: "Our traditional cohort would have been white, male, Caucasian 16 to 25-year-olds and there are not as many of those around as there once were, and our society is changing and I think it's entirely appropriate for us therefore to try and reach out to a much broader base to get the talent we need in order to stay in that combat effectiveness."

That sounds very much like today's Anglican Church. Ignore the main group and advance minorities regardless of the consequences. There is a wider issue here. One of normalisation, currently being used by progressives in the Church, familiarity brings acceptance.

Islam is a supremacist ideology. Anyone who watched 'House of Saud: A Family at War' on BBC2 last night should be left in no doubt of the seriousness of the problem of funding so-called 'extremists', often fighting each other for being perceived as the wrong sort of Muslim. They are not extremists. They are following their faith to the letter as they understand it. For many it is what they have been led to believe.

According to a UN study, "Young men who leave their homes to fight for terrorist groups in Syria mainly come from disadvantaged backgrounds, have low levels of education and 'lack any basic understanding of the true meaning of jihad or even the Islamic faith'."

Ironically the Quran cannot be verified and questioning the Quran is not allowed. In his article What, Indeed, Is the Quran? (H/T Anglican Mainstream)  the Rev James V. Achall, SJ writes:

"The Quran is a book that tells us of the life and mission of Muhammad, the prophet. The book specifically denies that Christ was the Son of God or that there is otherness in the Godhead. Yahweh and Allah is not the same God. In the Quran, Christianity as such is simply rejected as having no validity. It need not be totally suppressed if its members accept second-class citizenship and pay a tax. We may not like to hear this teaching, but no good Muslim, unless he is trying to deceive us, has any doubt that Allah is exactly as he is described in the Quran. The Quran is a book about man’s complete submission to Allah. It will gladly overturn the world to make this submission prevail. It will only fail if it is prevented."

By constantly embracing Islam's supremacist ideology it is being validated when it should be contested, explaining that it is Islam that has no validity and that failure to scrutinise the ideology condemns about a fifth of the world’s population to unnecessary servitude rather than God's mercy.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Hunt hunting

Jeremy Hunt stays as health secretary with added responsibilities for social care. Source: Guardian
Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

It has been reported that Prime Minister Theresa May has "dropped a manifesto pledge" to hold a vote on the fox-hunting ban during this parliament.

It is a peculiarity of the British people that many appear to care more for animals than they do for people. Large legacies left to animal charities emphasise the point.

Some readers may recall Brumas, a baby Polar bear from the 1950s. An endearing ball of fluff to be hugged and cuddled. All changes when Polar bears mature into adulthood. Then a hug is likely to prove fatal. The 'Brumas complex' was applied to opponents of fox hunting who could identify only with the little balls of fluff, apparently oblivious to a carnivorous adulthood. Little has changed as 'pro' and 'anti' continue to square up over the issue.

There is no such contention over social care, only that HM government gets on with it. Jeremy Hunt has, according to reports, convinced the Prime Minister that he should remain in post as Secretary of State for Health with added responsibility for Social Care. The Sun says "Jeremy Hunt’s refusal to leave Health Secretary shows his dedication to NHS. Jeremy Hunt has shown he is hell-bent on improving the NHS despite the endless flak and financial woes,"

The Telegraph takes a different view: "Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, successfully faced down the Prime Minister when she asked him to become business secretary, forcing Mrs May to tear up her plans to promote or move other ministers who were already penciled in."

Whatever one's views, despite the endless flak and financial woes as the Sun puts, Hunt appears to want to do something about it rather then take the easy option and move.

That the two areas of responsibility, health and social care, should be joined up has been obvious to most for some time. In the current system each service is fouling the other creating blockages which cause misery and waste. Simplistically, the health system needs to get more patients out and fewer in.

Some of us have been through the hoop already, trying to arrive at a sustainable solution for parents, relatives and friends who are no longer able to care for themselves. Often they have been admitted to hospital out of medical necessity but when that has been dealt with they remain in hospital, bed blocking because of administrative procedures such as a social worker has not reviewed the case.

Even when appropriate care arrangements have been made because there is no alternative, the official stamp of approval is needed from someone who seems to work according to their own timescale even if it takes weeks.

That is not to say that the solution is always easy. Some patients will be able to return home only if appropriate domiciliary care is available. Others will prefer to move into a care home while others will need the more specialised care provided in nursing homes. Many people who could be cared for at home do not have sufficient private means to pay for their care. Inadequate Local Authority funding forces them to remain in hospital for no valid medical reason while they await suitable accommodation in care homes causing further blockages.

Carers do amazing work for little financial reward. Without their dedicated hard work the system would be in an even worse mess but local Authorities continue to undervalue carers. Last year it was reported that thousands of disabled and older people were receiving 15 minute homecare visits in England because almost a quarter of councils (22 per cent) – 34 - were ignoring Care Act guidance to stop the practice. That is unfair to both. If animals were treated the same there would be an outcry.

At the opposite end of the system too many people are using hospital Accident and Emergency units as primary care facilities. Millions of patients have been putting unnecessary strain on the NHS by seeking medical help for minor complaints such as colds, insect bites and dandruff, according to a report.

The crisis in general practice is said to be unprecedented: "Anyone who has visited their GP recently will be aware of the pressures: the struggle to get an appointment, the difficulty of seeing the same GP more than once, the rush to get you out of the door for the next patient."

The system is not working as it should. While there are individual pockets of excellence there are constant crises. Jeremy Hunt must not be tempted to kick the problem into the long grass with another inquiry. It is identified in his new title, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care - a joined up system with proper funding.

His smooth talk will not get Hunt out of this one. Delivery will prove Mrs May right. Failure will make them both the quarry.