News from Nowhere 97 April 2021

Even the memory of Fascism is bad for babies

Of course it is. Fascism is bad for most people. Even Fascists can suffer from it. What’s less obvious is that stimulating memories of fascism has bodily consequences. A Spanish study of the consequences of the short-lived Francoist coup of February 23rd, 1981, showed the event had an effect on birth weight. The study compared babies born before and after the coup, in strongly Republican areas which had suffered during the civil war (1936-9) and the subsequent repression, and in Fascist areas. Babies born after the coup in the historically more repressed areas were significantly lighter, especially if they were exposed to the coup in the first or second trimester of pregnancy.  

Source: Ainoa Aparicio Fenoll & Libertad González. “Political instability and birth outcomes: Evidence from the 1981 military coup in Spain,” Health Economics, 2021; 30(2), 328-341.

The Apprentice will see you now

Health Education England is thinking about developing an apprenticeship programme for doctors as part of plans to improve access to medical training, according to the Health Service Journal. 

The apprenticeship programme would allow trainee doctors to earn while they train. It is likely to be aimed at people who have already worked “for some time” but whose work commitments and financial circumstances have stopped them from considering a six year full-time medical degree. This is one of a number of ways in which Health Education England is attempting to widen access to medicine.

The proposed medical apprenticeship scheme will be funded through the apprenticeship levy, a government pot of cash introduced in 2017 to fund apprenticeships for all employers in England with a pay bill of more than £3m. It’s been used in the NHS to train people for a number of roles, including nurses, medical technicians and trust managers, but the health service has until now not made full use of the scheme.

NfN moles with long memories remind us that in the 1980s there was a proposal to run an Open University course in Medicine, with undergraduates learning theory in their spare time, recording lectures on video (remember VHS?) and being attached to ‘firms’ (remember them?) in District General Hospitals to gain clinical experience. The idea did not go far, partly because of the outrage expressed by the professions, which were not really sure they wanted wider access to their disciplines.

Source: Jasmine Rapson   Doctors could qualify without doing traditional degree course under HEE ‘apprenticeship’ plan HSJ  12 March 2021

Knives Out! (1)

According to the Financial Times, Cleveland Clinic, the US based healthcare group, is to employ its own doctors when it opens its first British hospital later this year, marking a major shift for the UK’s health sector and triggering a war for top talent. Unlike the US, where doctors are routinely employed on fixed salaries, private hospitals in the UK generally use doctors who work on a fee-for- service basis.

Cleveland will open a six-storey out-patient centre near Harley Street in London in September. Next Spring it plans to open a 184-bed general hospital on a central London site which, once operational, will be one of the largest private hospitals in London. It claims to have already signed up 200 consultants on part-time, fixed salaries. The move to directly employ doctors will add to the pressure on the already restricted pool of doctors in Britain.

Is it really a threat, ask NfN moles? They can see the attraction it might have for the 55+ age group of doctors who are fed up with/burned out  by the NHS, and want to get out but would look at some secure private work (fixed rates of pay seem very relevant).  But their departure makes room for the rising generations who can expect rapid promotion and a wider choice of NHS posts. Another private hospital in central London is unlikely to make much difference to the city’s health services. After all, the private sector’s big problem is a shortage of private patients (leaving out the NHS patients being treated in the private sector), so Cleveland will add to the competition. Watch out for market shrinkage and some departures from the private sector.

Source: Gill Plimmer Private hospital’s hiring plan set to trigger war for top medics Financial Times 13/3/21

Knives Out! (2)

The long agony of the Socialist Health Association continued last month when its Annual General Meeting dispensed with the entire previous leadership. None of the candidates on the Labour First slate was elected. The previous leadership had used its Annual Report to explain what had happened to the SHA and point out who the bad guys were. Here are some choice snippets.

“When the current leadership took over, the SHA was in a very poor state. The SHA constitution was not being adhered to, finances were in a mess and the previous leadership were unwilling to assist in the transition….There were financial irregularities and unconstitutional branches”.

“We entered the year with the previous administration.. having no contact with the Shadow Team, having alienated the unions who had disaffiliated, and having missed an AGM”….

“After repeated warnings about unconstitutional behaviour and formal advice from solicitors, the previous Treasurer continued to refuse to work within the constitution.  She refused to allow the Officers onto the bank account and blocked the account, making it impossible to run the organisation. As a result, following her refusal of mediation, her membership ceased…”

But the organisation was turned round, in part and at least for a while.

“We now have a revived relationship with the Shadow Health Team, most of whom are now SHA members”. 

News from Nowhere will watch events in the SHA as they evolve; keep the stories coming…

Source: Socialist Health Association Annual Report 2021

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