Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Oh how I hate Windows 8

Oh how I hate
Windows 8.
As set-up unfurled
I called PC World,
Who give support, for a substantial fee.
They slammed the phone down on me.

Talktalk won't,
Tiscali don't,
Microsoft can't

Then there's the hell
That is Dell.

I tried helplines
Time after press-two time
It's all mirrors and smoke,
A rip-off, a joke.

And as for the IPad
It drives you mad.
It is, I fear,
Over-priced, over-hyped and over here.

PS Have just sent this to Tiscali (aka TalkTalk): I have downloaded Mozilla Thunderbird because, no thanks to you, I have discovered this works with Tiscali and Windows 8 even though you have not bothered to upgrade to make it work with Outlook. However, it will no longer send e-mails (though it still receives them). As this is a regular problem with Tiscali, I assume the problem is somehow your fault. Can you explain how to correct it please? Your website claims "no known outages" and later says you do have a problem. Which is it?

So the reply says:

Email - Known Issues & Outages

We are currently experiencing an issue with our email service and you may be unable to view, send or receive emails. Our engineers are working on this as a high priority in order to restore your service as soon as possible. We apologise for any inconvenience. More information can be found on the following page: Email - Known Issues & Outages

You click on the link and it announces:

Email - Known Issues & Outages

Currently, there are no known reported issues affecting our email services

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours

Astonishing. The discredited boss of the NHS, “Sir” David Nicholson, has made “Dame” Barbara Hakin his deputy. Talk about corruption in high places. 

This woman was head of the NHS in the West Midlands and we all know what a success that has been with 800 to 1,200 deaths at Stafford Hospital alone. 

She is being accused of blocking an external review of mortality rates at United Lincolnshire NHS Trust, and forcing the resignation of the hospital’s chief executive after he raised concerns. 

She is understood to be facing a General Medical Council investigation into her conduct. Yet she has been promoted to one of the most senior roles in the health service. 

This is a disgusting insult to everyone who has ever used, or fears they may ever have to use, the National Heath Service. 

At its very apex is a cosy little club of highly-paid individuals who seem to sail serenely on in spite of the collapse in public confidence in their activities. 

My own theory about why “Sir” Dave has not quit yet is that his pay-off would be so huge the Government would be more embarrassed about that than it is by keeping on this leper quangocrat.

Meanwhile Dr Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, says politicians should be supporting NHS staff. She says: "The constant publicity about how bad the NHS is has the potential to frighten the people who need it most, who might think it's not a safe place to get the care they need."

Sorry Clare but the truth is that only if patients are sufficiently frightened that they demand improvements will the NHS ever be brought up to Third World standard. We are right to be worried. The health service is run by its employees for its employees.

Patients are so-called because they have to wait so long for anyone to bother to treat them.

(I have put their titles in inverted commas because they were clearly awarded for incompetence above and beyond the call of duty and only go to quangocrats or other civil servants competent to squander our money in sufficient quantities to earn them this order of merit).

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Nicholson should not resign, he should be put on trial

If a private company were responsible for the deaths of up to 1,200 people there would be a national outcry and demands to jail those responsible.

Yet, after no fewer than five investigations into what happened at Stafford Hospital, no individual has received so much as a slapped wrist.

How can this be?

The police have begun an investigation into what must be the biggest scandal in the history of the NHS.

Years after the event, they have finally stirred themselves.

Matthew Ellis, the police and crime commissioner for Staffordshire, claims they have “information not in the public domain”.

How they came by it should itself be the subject of a public inquiry.

Why do the police have information which has not been declared even to tribunals set up by the Government?

The latest inquiry by Robert Francis QC uncovered years of abuse and neglect at the hospital leading to the unnecessary deaths of between 400 and 1,200 people.

These aren’t statistics, they’re individuals who placed their trust in a system which ended up killing them – horrific for the victims and their loved ones.

This isn’t a case of an individual nurse or doctor. Mr Francis concludes the failings go right to the top of the health service.

The police investigation is no doubt being staged mainly for political reasons.

Everyone from David Cameron down believes scapegoats must be found, heads must roll and someone should pay.

He says: “One of the important points about the Mid-Staffordshire inquiry is to make sure, when a failure like this takes place, there is proper accountability.

"In the report, you can see exactly what happened to the people who were involved. Some of them were allowed to retire, some were allowed to move within the health service. There wasn't proper accountability, there wasn't proper consequences and that is not acceptable."

Actually Dave, some of them didn’t move or retire, they were promoted, given more money, more power and more responsibility.

And it is not too late to insist on “proper accountability and proper consequences”.

It’s highly likely the police will content themselves with digging out a few especially shocking cases of neglect involving a heartless nurse or two.

But let’s hope they are mounting a major prosecution of people at the very top of the NHS on a charge of corporate manslaughter.

The health service as a whole is guilty of causing unnecessary deaths as a result of several layers of mismanagement, indifference and neglect.

The doctors and consultants must take much of the blame. They saw what was going on but “kept their heads down”, according to Mr Francis.

But the real defendants should be among the £200,000-a-year bureaucrats in whom we mistakenly place our trust.

Chief among these is Sir David Nicholson.

In 2003 he was Chief Executive of Birmingham and The Black Country Strategic Health Authority. In 2005 he took on Shropshire and Staffordshire as well, at about the time people started needlessly dying at Stafford Hospital.

He did so well in the West Midlands he became chief executive of the entire NHS in England in 2006.

He is paid over £200,000 a year, claims £50,000 a year in expenses and enjoys benefits-in-kind worth £37,600.

There haven’t been any successful corporate manslaughter prosecutions against individuals.

But the charge was introduced after a series of disasters including the 1987 “Herald of Free Enterprise” tragedy when 193 passengers and crew died and the 1999 Ladbroke Grove rail crash which killed 31 people.

Corporate manslaughter cases usually end up in large fines for the businesses involved.

There’s absolutely no point in similar penalties for the NHS because the whole case would involve the re-cycling of our money.

But where does the buck stop in a scandal like Stafford Hospital? Surely it must stop somewhere.

Or is the health service such a rambling and unwieldy organisation that officially nobody can be held to account for anything? Is the NHS so big it is always someone else’s fault?

That cannot be acceptable.

We rightly condemn top bankers for bringing the nation to the brink of bankruptcy and some of them, like Sir Fred Goodwin of RBS, even had to quit (albeit with hefty pay-offs).

That was only money. When it comes to lives, it seems no individual is to blame – just a “culture”.

The Francis report says: “The negative aspects of culture in the system were identified as including: lack of openness to criticism; lack of consideration for patients; defensiveness; looking inwards not outwards; secrecy; misplaced assumptions about the judgements and actions of others; acceptance of poor standards; a failure to put the patient first in everything that is done.”

And it’s clear the culture is dictated from the top – Sir David’s department “has not always put patients first”.

So where does the buck stop? Who sets the tone for an organisation? Who is responsible for its corporate culture?

It’s time Sir David was made to face up to his personal responsibility for this national tragedy. But he’s probably so lost in NHS bureaucracy he thinks culture is something they grow in a test tube.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Cameron's jam

The result of the Eastleigh by-election leaves UKIP holding a gun to David Cameron’s head. If he refuses a referendum on EU membership before the next General Election then his party will lose.

The choice is simple. Nobody believes Cameron’s promise of jam tomorrow any more than they believe his promised referendum will be a straightforward in-out choice.

The Prime Minister himself is a committed European. He has often said he does not believe Britain should withdraw from the EU so he will do everything in his power to ensure the people never get a straightforward chance to decide the question.

Unless he holds an early referendum, UKIP will scoop up votes at a General Election in constituencies across the country. And that will deprive several Tory MPs – Eurosceptics among them – of their seats and their party of any chance of forming the next Government.

It will allow Ed Miliband to form the next Government, probably without the assistance of his friends among the Liberal Democrats.

That is not an outcome many people would relish but it looks highly probable unless the Tories can neutralise the threat of UKIP.

There is only one way of doing so. Cameron has his fate in his own hands.