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After one year of the Coronavirus pandemic, the UK public (rightly) felt gutted by the stress imposed upon them — either by suffering unprecedented illness themselves, or from watching loved ones wither and sometimes die alone in Hospital, or by living with the unnatural conditions in a ‘lockdown’ that was implemented to protect large numbers of Britons from becoming exposed to, or spreaders of, the COVID-19 pathogen.
So try to imagine what it was like for the country’s NHS (National Health Service) staff who worked all day within inches of severely ill people suffering from a largely unknown virus, while wearing ill-fitting PPE, and in Hospitals filled beyond capacity with massively ill, congested and coughing people. And the only thing that changed from month to month was ever-larger numbers of COVID-19 patients coming through the door.
Some NHS staff themselves perished from Coronavirus because it wasn’t then known that carers needed to be wearing full PPE and receive a full decontamination at the end of each shift — and later in the pandemic — at the end of each DOUBLE shift!
Other NHS staff lost family members to the disease and couldn’t be with their loved ones during their last moments on planet Earth due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
There’s no overestimating the stress that NHS staff worked under during the Coronavirus pandemic: Only soldiers who fought in the trenches of Nazi-occupied Europe during WWII, who watched their friends getting blown to pieces in front of them or cut to ribbons by IED’s every week, living in the freezing cold 24/7, with little food (and only rarely, hot food) or courageously fighting-on with multiple injuries, or who were ‘shell shocked’ (mentally numbed, as if in a trance-like state on account of all they’d seen) could understand how NHS employees have suffered over the past year.
And for all the professionalism NHS employees have displayed, for all the heroism they showed, for all the determination to keep going in the face of almost insurmountable odds… the UK government offered NHS employees… a 1% pay rise?
Wrong touch, Boris! Wrong touch.
It was interpreted by NHS staff as an insult to their core. IMHO, it was a well-meaning but clumsy attempt by an uncomprehending government to reward the hardworking NHS employees who risked their lives to protect Britons at great cost to themselves and their dependents.
Now, keep in mind that the heroic soldiers who returned home from WWI and WWII didn’t get anything more than a tiny bonus (equal to today’s £500) and then they were suddenly and unceremoniously discharged from the military (meaning; they were suddenly unemployed, with no means to provide for themselves or their families in a time of sudden and huge unemployment typical in the aftermath of war) without any government provided options like unemployment insurance, Universal Credit, or any other government helps that are considered basic human rights in the 21st-century.
Pragmatism is the watchword of governments everywhere as governments must do what’s best for their country as a whole — not what’s best for heroic soldiers, not what’s best for heroic healthcare staff, and not what’s best for unhappy citizens caught in a ‘lockdown’ situation — governments must do what’s best for the entire country.
If a country has a ‘good government’… soldiers receive a generous discharge package when they leave the military at the end of a war, and citizens get much understanding and ongoing explanations from the government as to why a civil rights infringing ‘lockdown’ is important so the public aren’t left wondering why such extreme measures are required to protect citizens.
But in the immediate aftermath of WWI and WWII, there were no generous discharge payments because the government claimed that the war impoverished the country and it was therefore unable to afford to take care of the people in its care. (!)
And in our time, the UK government claims its finances are tight and is unable to reward heroic NHS staff with a meaningful pay rise.
And it’s true that taking on more government debt to properly reward NHS employees (and military combat veterans) could bankrupt the country (but only because successive UK governments have run-up obscene levels of national debt on far less important priorities) but if every NHS employee walked off the job in the middle of a pandemic, suddenly, bankruptcy wouldn’t seem so bad now, would it?
Priorities, Boris! Priorities!
Sometimes it Isn’t About the Money
Sometimes, it’s about showing respect. Sometimes, it’s about giving all NHS staff the summer off with full pay.
(More NHS staff would need to be hired, and existing staff would need to be flexible about which 60 consecutive days off they wanted for vacation time. Fair enough!)
Where to get enough temporary staff so that NHS employees who worked the pandemic could take-off for Ibiza (or wherever) to soak up the Sun and swim in the ocean for all of May/June, or all of June/July, or July/August, or August/September?
Why, the UK military, of course!
Yes, careful scheduling of summer holidays between present NHS employees, in addition to the UK military stepping in to temporarily replace NHS staff could ensure that every position remains covered. And former NHS employees could assist by returning to work for 6-months so that fatigued, COVID-weary and traumatized NHS staff could receive 60-days of uninterrupted vacation time to recharge their spirits.
Of course, military personnel temporarily working within the NHS would need to be vaccinated prior to ‘subbing in’ for NHS staff. But that’s no dealbreaker.
My polite suggestion to the UK government is to forget about the stillborn 1% pay rise.
Cancel it and show the NHS some respect, because it isn’t about the money. It’s about showing NHS employees the proper respect and carefully working with the media to showcase the astonishingly dedicated NHS people, and about getting them the summer off with full pay so they can recharge their batteries, and then get them back to work doing what they do best: Which is… saving our lives every day of the year!
Time for a reset, Boris!
I politely urge the Prime Minister to make it Parliament’s mission to show NHS carers that not only the public, but that the government and the media too, deeply appreciate the commitment and sacrifice that each NHS employee demonstrates as they walk their patients to restored health — no matter what illness befalls us.
Written by John Brian Shannon
Image courtesy of: TopDoctors.co.uk
One would hope there will be a UK/EU trade deal signed by 2021, but there’s no reason good enough to give away the entire country as a way to obtain a trade deal — a deal that should be as important to the EU as it is to Britain.
The EU mindset seems to be to stridently ask for everything and if the Brits are incompetent enough to grant everything, then the EU won’t mind taking it.
But it seems that every time the UK government stands up for UK business and for Britons, the cries of being treated unfairly reach another record-setting crescendo.
Listen to the rhetoric that the EU side is using to force the UK to agree to their terms:
“The UK needs to take “significant steps” in the coming days to secure a trade deal with the EU, the European Council president said.”
“Charles Michel said talks were approaching a “moment of truth” ahead of a crucial EU summit…”
“The Irish PM, Micheál Martin said “movement” was required before “end-state negotiations”…”
“…Mr Michel said… the UK side needed to take “significant steps”…”
“The coming days are crucial,” he added.” — Excerpts from BBC
There’s nothing like putting all the pressure on the UK side hoping they panic and agree to sign everything away at the last minute! That’s obviously the EU tactic here.
The EU (so far) has Taught the UK that Polite Diplomacy Doesn’t Work
“Everyday, we teach others how to treat us.”
The UK side has played the entire Brexit thing very politely. In fact, too politely.
Former British Prime Minister Theresa May flew to Brussels dozens of times (often on very short notice) with no way to prepare as she wasn’t always told what was to be discussed — only to return later that day, disappointed, frustrated, empty-handed and beat-up after listening to another EU browbeating.
On top of all that, she was forced to face the then-cowed UK Parliament (not all of them, but enough to add more misery to her day) and face the then mostly pro-EU media.
She deserved better than she got.
I still feel sorry for Theresa May who was the UK’s diplomatic champion yet got nothing but disrespect from all sides. She deserves an OBE for her perseverance and for displaying almost superhuman goodwill towards the Inquisition panel over in Brussels.
Now we have Prime Minister Boris Johnson fighting for the UK and with a very capable team. Good luck, Boris! You’re going to need it.
More than anything else, were I advising UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, I would suggest he hire several of the UK’s best psychologists to explain to Boris and his team what is going on in the EU heads.
And I’m happy to inform you as to what those psychologists might say…
‘Mr. Johnson, there’s no agreement that will ever be good enough for the EU. They are suffering because their best example of what the EU is trying to attract to their bloc decided to leave and they are embarrassed and upset. And to add further pain, the UK was their 2nd-best economic contributor to the European Union annual budget.’
‘Nothing you can offer them Boris, will ever be good enough, no matter what! Therefore, trying to give them a sweet deal on fishing rights, automobile trade, energy, or anything else in an attempt to soothe their hurt feelings represents the worst kind of political folly.’
‘Therefore, please walk away Boris if they’re going to put a higher priority on their bad mood than on their future relationship with the UK and The Commonwealth of Nations.’
Let ourselves never fall into the trap the EU has set for itself.
The UK’s excellent National Health Service could save millions of pounds annually if the UK government were to bulk purchase all medicine for the entire country and thereby obtain huge discounts from pharmaceutical manufacturers.
The NHS can save itself millions of pounds sterling per year by simply purchasing a year’s worth of medicines in advance, similar to what is done in Canada where the government of Canada, using their mass-purchasing power, negotiates massive discounts on medicines from multinational pharmaceutical corporations.
In Canada, each province operates its own provincial health service and pays the entire cost of it via provincial income tax, sales tax and other fees — but they couldn’t succeed without the huge price discounts that the federal government of Canada obtains from its medicine suppliers. Not only do Canada’s healthcare systems benefit from lower drug costs, but the Canadian military and Coast Guard also benefit from those lower prices.
It’s not the whole answer to solve all NHS spending problems all the time but it could be a good part of the answer.
As the NHS constantly struggles to meet the demands placed on it by attempting to treat everyone, all the time, no matter the disease, ailment or injury; Saving millions annually on medicine costs could allow NHS funding to be better spent on treatment for patients, instead of it being consumed by drug costs.
It’s not about purchasing low quality medicines, nor is it about payoffs or patronage.
It’s about deciding how much medicine to purchase (a year in advance) and thereby obtain competitive pricing from the legitimate pharmaceutical corporations in America and Europe which appreciate knowing (in advance) how much of each medicine to manufacture and (in the case of some medicines) they are willing to offer deep discounts (usually about 50% off the listed prices, but in certain cases those discounts can reach 80% off the list price) which can help healthcare providers to lower their costs.
Using the Mass Purchasing Power of the UK Government to Lower Medicine Costs
Of course, the NHS has almost certainly looked at this model in the past.
But ‘timing is everything’ they say, and in the midst of recession, austerity, or during times of political upheaval, it isn’t practical to divert millions of pounds to prepay an entire year’s worth of medicines, nor is it likely to be done without prior approval of the UK government.
However, once we move out of the Coronavirus crisis (but while there’s still plenty of well-deserved focus on the heroic NHS workers) it might be time to have a national conversation about bulk purchasing the UK’s entire annual medicinal requirements — including purchasing on behalf of all devolved territory NHS units and the UK military. The UK government would thereby become the sole wholesale purchaser and wholesale seller of medicines in the UK, even acting as the sole supplier to every wholesale medicinal distributor in the country.
It might take a bit of UK legislation for this to happen and some money, because for all it’s merits, you must still pay for an entire year’s worth of medicine in advance in order to qualify for those quite wonderful discounts.
Also, every NHS unit including NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, NHS Northern Ireland and NHS England, and the UK military and every pharmacy supplier would need to provide a list of medicines to the UK government a year in advance so they could form an accurate picture of the pending mass purchase and consequent deep discount.
Yes, it would take some work to calculate that list and perfect it over time. But if Canada (and certain other countries and militaries) can do it; Why not the UK?
The truth is that certain global healthcare systems benefit massively from volume discount medicine purchases and the UK government needs to act now to create the requisite legislation so each NHS unit can save millions, allow the UK military to save hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling, and allow pharmacies to lower their retail prices via significant cost saving on the wholesale price they pay their suppliers.
But other than the price — as everything else would remain the same — the UK must get organized so it can obtain those astonishing discounts and benefit as other healthcare systems benefit from bulk purchasing.
The NHS Will Save Multi-Millions on Medicine Costs
You’ve got to like that.
Ditto for the UK military and for retail pharmacies.
Therefore, I respectfully submit that the UK government pass legislation to create a National Medicines Purchasing Agency (or ministry) that should thenceforth operate as the sole purchaser for all (non-homeopathic) medicines for the entire UK, including on behalf of all NHS units, the UK military, and for suppliers to pharmacies UK-wide, and provide it with generous funding to accomplish the task.
The legislation should require the agency or ministry to create a continuously updated website that is robust enough that the public and medical professionals could find relevant information on every medicine sold in the country — including general information, dosages, contraindications, along with high quality images of each pill or tablet to help counter possible fraudulent imitation pills or tablets.
Further, I believe that such an agency should be set-up — not to earn a profit from reselling medicines, but to simply recover the cost of each medicine — and that should remain true whether the agency is selling to any NHS unit, to the UK military, or to pharmacy suppliers across the UK.
However, if other national healthcare systems wish to purchase surplus UK medicines, then perhaps that UK agency could offer them to other healthcare systems at cost-plus-ten-per-cent for example, or whatever seems reasonable. No favouritism, please. Just enough to maintain a zero deficit/zero profit annual budget within the national medicines purchasing agency.
Selling Medicine that is ‘Near To Expiry Date’ & Selling Other Surplus Medicine to the UK Foreign Aid Office in Lieu of Monetary Donations to Developing Nations
The UK is highly regarded globally for its foreign aid commitment of .7% of GDP. It’s one of the most generous foreign aid budgets in the world by percentage and compares well with larger countries even when measured in total currency amounts.
However, more can always be done.
And instead of dumping ‘near to expiry date’ medicines or other surplus medicine in a landfill or incinerator; By staying current with the expiry dates, the UK could boost its foreign aid spending by sending such surpluses to developing nations once those medications are down to 6-months remaining on their batch number expiry date.
Therefore, whatever those drugs have cost the UK government, by simply reallocating them to the Foreign Aid Office for transshipment to a developing nation along with a note to the Foreign Aid Office explaining how much the National Medicines Purchasing Agency (or ministry) paid for that pallet of medications, it’s a just way to increase the UK’s foreign aid budget by that exact amount. Or to top it up to .7% during lean years.
In either case, it won’t hurt to send a truckload or two of nearly outdated medicine (annually) to the developing nations that need them and include those donations as part of the UK’s foreign aid spending.
It’s a ‘Win-Win’ when you bulk purchase an entire country’s worth of pills annually and thereby receive astonishing discounts from multinational pharmaceuticals, it’s ‘Win-Win’ when each NHS unit never again runs short of medicine and only ever pays the deeply discounted wholesale price, it’s ‘Win-Win’ for pharmacy suppliers that benefit from a much lower wholesale price than they could ever hope to negotiate themselves, the UK military wins by having lower cost medicine for its personnel, and it’s a ‘Win-Win’ for the UK foreign aid budget/developing nations.
And all that, just by getting the UK organized on its total annual medicine purchase.