Saturday, 24 August 2019

Where are Llanelli's reparations? We need compensation for the mismanagement of Carmarthenshire County Council

For the last 2 decades Carmarthenshire County Council has been led by senior officers and complicit county councillors who have imposed ridiculous schemes on the area, some of which continue to cause harm to the residents. The last scheme, the Wellness Development at Delta Lakes, is, at the time of writing, still under police investigation as there appears to be evidence of some fraud and bribery related to the project which failed to attract the millions in City Deal funding required to deliver the scheme.

 However, senior council officer Llinos Quelch has just approved planning for the whole scheme under "delegated powers", bypassing any open discussion by County Councillors on the future of the project. No doubt senior councillors and the new chief executive, Wendy Walters, will have been consulted.

This decision to go ahead with the project happened on the 6th August 2019 .Unusually, no triumphant press release was evident from the Carmarthenshire Council that the multi million pound super project was apparently "back on track" and that new money has been found.

Carmarthenshire's chief executive officer has retired and taken with him the "unlawful" pay increase and legal fees that the Wales Audit Office declared should never have been given to him. The Wellness project is currently under police investigation, which may also involve a former Council Leader as well as the former chief executive.

But what happens to the Residents of Carmarthenshire?. County Hall has been said to have a number of spectacularly lumpy carpets where the embarrassing failures have been swept underneath. But shouldn't they now be exposed, explained and. as much as possible, put right?

Plenty of empty shops in Llanelli 
LLANELLI HAS BEEN NEGLECTED

Carmarthenshire's largest town, Llanelli , has been relatively neglected in recent years. The funding of the Scarlets Rugby Club and their new stadium has taken priority. A new Eastgate town centre leisure /entertainment development was not as successful as hoped, and the Wellness Development has been promising "up to 2000 new jobs" for some time but the public have never even seen the business case, so have no idea of how viable the scheme is or what these jobs are? The Council's Executive board decided not to release these details and the business plan itself may be under investigation.

A place to walk through rather than shop?

Llanelli town Centre has been “in trouble” for some time and like many other similar towns has become dominated by banks, food outlets and charity shops while local small businesses have struggled. More recently established larger businesses such as Wilkinsons and Holland and Barrett are leaving. There have been various local initiatives which have brought flats above shops back into use and tried to support local businesses and give temporary free parking. This has helped in several areas but not enough to turn around the decline.

OUT OF TOWN RETAIL USED TO FUND RUGBY STADIUM

The problems of the town centre are exacerbated by the existence of the large out of town retail sites at Parc Trostre and Parc Pemberton, both sites having extensive free parking and easy road access. Also, comparatively rents have been generally cheaper, with the offer of attractive deals and rates for the big companies. Many major retail businesses have relocated from Llanelli Town centre to the out of town retail parks over the years. However, in recent years even some of these large companies have failed to make a success of their units outside town and some totally failed commercially and closed.

It was clearly a tactical mistake to expand the out of town sites but the development of some of this area. Parc Pemberton, in the form of the sale of land to Morrison's, was also part of the plan to help finance and build a new stadium for the Scarlets and so arguments that there was not enough  retail capacity in the area to support it without harm elsewhere fell on deaf ears. Carmarthenshire County Councillors and their former chief executive, Mark James, were so committed to the future success of the Scarlets’ Rugby Club that little else mattered. Their scheme, along with the building of Parc Y Strade Housing Estate on a floodplain, was supposed to pay for the new Stadium and clear the Rugby Club’s debts but failed to do so  The Scarlets have been unable to make a profit ever since the move, and remain in debt years later, despite the original optimistic predictions. Full marks to Elli Councillor John Jenkins who pointed out the futility of excess retail outlets, to deaf ears in County Hall at the time. After all, Rugby Club Sponsorship was surely more important to councillors than anything else?

NEW EASTGATE DEVELOPMENT COST US MILLIONS THEN GIVEN AWAY TO DEVELOPER

The business case for the new Eastgate new town centre development was that the new theatre , hotel, cinema, restaurants and pubs would attract shoppers from the out of town shopping areas some 2 miles, away,into the town itself. They would enjoy themselves so much that they would stay and patronise the older town centre every time they shopped out of town, despite the lack of parking. Personally, after shopping out of town, I would probably go home before the ice cream melted rather than go a further 2 miles out of my way and spend an evening of culture and dining in a town , which most people can't afford anyway. The Eastgate itself was gifted by the council to the developers? why? This means we don't even own the buildings and the Council pay £250,000 per year in rent for the council offices there. The area has since been sold on to a FTSE company for £12million. 

One big obstacle to revitalising the town centre is the lack of money in Llanelli. It is not a prosperous enough town to support enough spending in the shops in and out of town, for all of the outlets to survive. Many people would love all of the County Council town parking to be free all the time. The Council could also help by reducing Business Rates and Rents of their properties. It is only right that those who caused the problem should put it right.? Millions spent on the Scarlets failed to wipe out the club debts, and impoverished the County Council, which itself is impressively in debt.

IN WHOSE INTEREST HAS THE COUNCIL BEEN ACTING?  .

 County Councils are not just for building Stadiums and giving grants and loans to privately owned rugby clubs,and giving free land and assets to developers.As well as being generous to the wealthy, they are supposed to look after the people who pay, through national and local taxation, for the Council and all its services.

I certainly agree that although the Council would lose out on some income if parking was free.But as  the County Councillors voted to build these out of town sites, give away the Eastgate, and suck the blood out of the remaining town centre, surely they should make amends? Free parking every day in Llanelli Town Centre would surely give back some advantage to our town centre!

THE COUNCIL SHOULD STOP AND REFLECT BEFORE MORE SCHEMES FAIL 

And rather than continue spending on a scheme at Delta Lakes without even a business case, why not wait before they spend more millions there?  .Council money is our money, from our taxes, and such a shame that our elected councillors have been encouraged to throw it away on dubious schemes. Much of it is borrowed and we residents are paying interest on it every day.

Hollnd and Barrett store now closed in Llanelli

 Siân Caiach,

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

STOPPING THE ROT : PLAIDS ELECTORAL PACT Siân Caiach, writing as the elections co-ordinator for Gwlad.

We now know that Plaid Cymru has decided not to field a candidate in  the Brecon and Radnor, Westminster By Election, being held on August 1st, urging their supporters to vote instead for the Liberal Democrats. 

This state of affairs, with Plaid withdrawing and advising its members to vote for a Unionist Party, is not acceptable - either to ourselves or to the many ordinary Welsh voters for which the health and independence of our nation is their prime political desire. Plaid's Leader, Adam Price, has already stated that he is a Socialist First and Nationalist second, Now his deal with the the Liberal Democrats, His pact with a Unionist Party supposedly to stop Brexit, suggests that Nationalism is now firmly in 3rd place. I'm sure that Plaid,,s Leader has weighed the pros and cons of  stopping Brexit in a Country where most people voted to Leave, including 37% of his own supporters. In Adams constituency of Carmarthen East, Leave won by a good margin 53.7% vs 46.3%.

 The number of Plaid voters in the Brecon and Radnorshire Constituency is small, only  1,299, 3,7% of the vote in 2017.  Whether the Plaid  constituency party were consulted is unclear.  Plaid's local following seem to have been expendable.

                                      Adam Price, Plaid's leader. A Remainer, a socialist and Nationalist 

Whether the E.U. or the Lib Dems have promised any goodies to Plaid is unknown.

Our current Gwlad Gwlad policy is to not stand in Westminster elections, but had we known that this was about to happen in Brecon and Radnorshire then we would have gladly put our hat in the ring to represent the Welsh patriots in that area, in Plaid Cymru’s absence. We will not allow, in future. Plaid to unilaterally withdraw from seats in this way, leaving no Nationalist candidate to vote for.

Nevertheless, their decision was announced last minute and therefore even if we had wished to stand, it would have been impossible to do so with no time for formal candidate selection and submission of the application.

In order that this never happens again we will look again at our policy to not stand for Westminster seats, and may well decide to stand in every parliamentary by-election in Wales in the near future to prevent similar events. We are determined that voters who wish to express their support for a pro-independence party shall not be denied the opportunity to do so. I doubt that Plaid will wish to gift  Gwlad the votes of their members who cannot stomach voting Liberal Democrat.

Our steering committee, which holds executive power over policy will meet in Llanelli on August 3rd to make a formal decision on the matter. It is expected the policy of not standing for Westminster seats will be revised, We will not allow the people of Wales to be denied their democratic right to vote for a Welsh Nationalist Party.

The Monster Raving Loony Party is standing in  Brecon and Radnorshire in the guise of Lady Lilly the Pink.  The Party of Wales is not.


 GWLAD, GWLAD was officially registered as a new political party for
 Wales with the Electoral Commission earlier this year.
It is an umbrella group for all Welsh Nationalists favouring Independence.

 Although the party has not adopted a Brexit policy as such,  they believe that 'the Welsh vote in 2016 should be respected.

Gwlad policies include a Basic Welsh Citizens Income, Fairer and simpler taxation, Expansion of Welsh Language Education,  the preservation of our traditional landscapes, favouring offshore rather than onshore wind power, and the creation of transport infrastructure to make North-South  Links in Wales'a reality.

Siân Caiach, .

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Is it still necessary to feed NHS doctors a Private diet of Gold?

Aneurin Bevan   Pic. Wikipedia
The NHS was set up largely from a solely private health service, and needed to recruit many private doctors and did so. The NHS still encourages private medicine and private provision.today  Some private services used by the NHS today such as contract cleaners and groundsmen may not worry us, but others should. Greed is great incentive, especially when a system feeds you "easy money".

Aneurin Bevan set up the NHS in 1948 after demands for reform and contributions from other politicians. It was to be a single tier system, providing adequate health care for all, and free at the point of delivery.

When the NHS was set up doctors were allowed and encouraged to see patients privately as well as being given generous NHS salaries. This was to get them all on side and persuade them they would not lose out financially.

The “stuff their mouths with gold” strategy as it was known is, I believe, now destroying parts of the NHS as there is a perverse incentive to encourage private practice, theoretically leaving private practitioners free to engineer longer waiting lists to encourage business and also to use the NHS to "fish for patients" eg. by advising them that they may only get timely treatment if they pay extra for it. 
.
 When I was a young doctor in the 1980s Consultants who worked privately were paid 1/11 th less than full time consultants, often abandoning their private work for the 2 years before they retired to get a full final salary pension, many then continuing  private work in retirement.

Nowadays newer staff contracts give private senior doctors working in the NHS a full NHS salary and no deductions for working privately.

 I lost my own career some years ago for objecting to my private colleagues using NHS time and facilities for free to treat private patients at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli, all approved by the management. I thought it was appalling, especially when my own urgent patients were discharged home before getting their operations, to make way for those paying privately who mostly had waited a very short time and had less serious conditions.

 Ironically their private treatment was then subsidised further by the NHS management who provided the consultants with free use of hospital facilities and equipment for their private patients. I suspect the private patients did not get this discount and paid the market price for their operations, further packing the wallets of my colleagues. Of course not all doctors work privately but in some branches of medicine such as Orthopaedics, Ophthalmology, General Surgery and Anaesthetics, participation in the private sector is very common. 

I fear sometimes that little has changed since I was forced out of my job following my whistle blowing and I wonder about the supposed core promise of the NHS “free at the point of delivery”. I think that is much more important  than the "stuff their mouths with gold" principle, necessary to bribe the medical profession in 1948 but really? Do we still need to bribe very well paid public sector workers ?

A while back a friend asked me to “take a look” at her elderly dad who had had a knee replacement some years before and now was in terrible pain. I did not have his medical records but could see that the knee replacement he had was not functioning properly at all. I advised him to seek help from the local orthopaedic department who did the operation, but he has been continually “fobbed off” and nothing was done to actually solve the problem of his malfunctioning and painful knee joint.




Recently he turned to the private sector in desperation. He saw a new consultant surgeon, who he tells me, looked at his knee and medical records and declared that the “wrong type” of knee replacement was put in originally and he needed this worn out joint removed and a complete new artificial joint put in . It would cost him £20,000.

I don’t have £20,000” said the man. “Well, you can borrow it”, said the surgeon. The gentleman indicated the pile of notes he had put on the table for the consultation, £180.

 “I had to borrow all of that to see you today.” he said The surgeon took £40 off the pile and handed it back to him. A small discount, but no resolution to his problems of pain and mobility.

The NHS has failed this man by not treating him for his serious and life changing problem . For him there was no “delivery” of the proper treatment the NHS should be giving him and as he can’t afford private surgery. His only options currently are to put up with his pain and discomfort for good or go back yet again to the hospital doctors who have so far failed to offer him curative treatment. in the hope they will eventually offer him the operation he needs on the NHS.




Now that is surely not what Aneurin Bevan had in mind?  The NHS is a mature and much loved organisation. Its time to change the diet of private practitioners from public funding support to healthy independence. Surely all private practice can be housed in private hospitals and clinics and doctors paid by the NHS only for NHS sessions actually worked? 

Dr Siân Caiach. 



Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Strategies For Welsh Independence. How Do We Get There?

It is difficult to follow the path when our Nation's Party and its supposedly Pro Independence stance seem to regularly U turn and lose sight of the destination,

No Clear Strategy

Political strategies for Welsh Independence have varied over time. Our country was conquered by its neighbour, England, in medieval times and although it has kept a fair amount of its culture and identity, no recent clear strategy for getting back national freedom has emerged other than trying to follow the Scottish example, yet to be fulfilled.

Muddied Waters & the Dreaded ‘I’ Word



The choice on Leaving the EU has muddied the water. How should Independence supporting Nationalists play the UK/ EU Referendum? What , if any was the plan?
Plaid Cymru had dropped the policy of independence in 1999, ostensibly to boost its numbers to the new National Assembly. Dafydd Wigley, the party leader had simply announced that the party was not for independence and the party had never been so. Whether this had any influence on the vote for Plaid is unclear but they did have their best Assembly result ever to date on that first election.
Over the years independence had crept back, but was pretty aspirational, without a clear pathway or deadlines Plaid Cymru supported Remain, ostensibly for the Grant monies administered by the EU for Wales which following Brexit they did not trust the UK to continue paying. and were concerned about any impacts on business. . Fair points, but nothing likely to explain abandoning Independence. Other welsh nationalists could see the possibilities of Brexit opening up a road to Independence.
In Scotland, former SNP depute Leader, Jim Sillars has eloquently set out the reason for his “out and out” policy.
In surely a regressive policy move against independence, the “I” word has again disappeared from Plaid’s literature in the leaflets for the European Elections. Presumably in a move to capture the Labour Remain vote. The narrative is just the nice generous EU with whom we will be far better off. No mention of the real issues of Wales, which is not primarily the money “from Europe” but the more pressing economic, structural, environmental and health service problems which threaten us all. These more due to the chronic problems of governmental neglect,  maladministration and the horrific waste of public money we see so often.

Leaving the EU Itself Is Not a New Idea


The original Treaty of Rome 1957, was signed in Perpetuity, but events have since forced the EU to allow countries to Leave.
First was Algeria after the declaration of Independence of the former French Algeria. Greenland became independent in 1979 after winning an independence referendum but as their only sizeable industry was fisheries they were severely economically disadvantaged by membership of the Common Fisheries policy. After winning a referendum to exit the EU in 1985 they were allowed to leave. As these areas were – in theory – territories of member countries (when the EU was formed) that had gained independence, a blind eye could be turned to the treaty of Rome as the legal issues were blurred.
In 2004 the EU expanded and the accession countries demanded a change in the constitution to allow whole states to leave. Obviously a treaty in perpetuity is a big ask, as there could come a time for any members when leaving was desirable.

Article 50

This was drawn up at the request of those new members by UK Peer Lord Kerr of Kinlochlard. It was difficult to get the original EU members to agree to it and Article 50 was incorporated into EU law only after the clause was inserted into the Treaty of Lisbon, which came into force in 2009.
Since then Saint Barthelemy, a French Caribbean Island which seceded by poplar vote from the community of Guadeloupe and France, has also left the EU in 2012. greatly improving its tourism economy
However Greenland and St Barts have accepted the position of becoming “Overseas Countries and Territories” of the EU. This means they have a far looser situation, a soft Brexit type position. They have the Euro, follow basic EU regulations, have EU citizenship and even have limited access to development grants, but also have a have strong degree of National Autonomy. They are not in the single market so do not have freedom of movement of workers, but do accept the EU workers rights and other directives.

UK - The First Big Fish To Try And Escape?

As the only countries who have left the EU so far, have been those who succeeded from existing member states,the UK is the first “complete” state to try to get out of the EU. The precedent is set for stateless nations and autonomous territories of larger states who democratically decided to claim their independence,.but not for big fish.
Suddenly the EU pulls out all the stops to keep the UK. Of course it’s the money. With the UK and Germany as the main countries bankrolling the whole of EU subsidies for Farming, development grants etc., many of the smaller countries and weaker economies are seriously concerned at the loss of a huge portion of their “aid money” on which they rely. Little problem getting out of the EU if you are Greenland or St. Barts and have practically no impact on the economy of the EU. But richer nations No Way! Of course it has to be hard and preferably blocked for as long as possible while the UK £millions are still donated to the EU coffers.

Frankfurt's Financial District
Are We Too Valuable To Lose?
And unfortunately even Scotland and Wales are probably too valuable to the EU to let go of easily. The loss of 10.000 former French citizens in St, Barts were not worth arguing over, but the EU seems less keen to encourage Independence in richer, populous provinces such as Cataluña.,
The evidence of that in 2014 during the Scottish Referendum were the huge efforts made by EU leaders to tell the Scottish people that leaving the UK meant economic disaster, a hard border with England, catastrophic loss of trade and a decade to get back in. The current policy in Scotland is now to demand a second referendum on the EU decision and whether they get it or not, go for Indyref2, preferably in 2020 .
This will honour the landmark historic Declaration of Arbroath., the emphatic last statement of the Flower of Scotland. and a timely reminder that there was a time when large English armies were driven by force from the soil of Scotland, not by force of numbers but by superior strategy and unwavering determination to be free, as the Declaration of Arbroath makes clear.

What About Wales?

Plaid's MEP Jill Evans at SNP National Conference 2017

Are Plaid just copying Scotland, waiting for step one, to win a majority in the Senedd? Then they persuade a UK Government to hold a referendum and then we fight for it and win it – probably in the face of a great deal of opposition from all of the powerful interests who benefit so much from the status quo? 
If Scotland win Independence would the rump UK to be nice to Wales? If they don’t win, its a great excuse to refuse even starting the Indy ref. process in Wales. The UK is unlikely to play the game. There may be lots of sweets for Scotland’s Ugly Little Sister (as Blair’s Cabinet allegedly called us) to persuade her to stay, as the last colony. It may work. If economic comfort is the first priority, we may never be free to build our own future .
But what are we doing now to keep the desire for Independence alive and the people of Wales properly educated about the advantages of leaving the UK? Independence of any country is always likely to lead to transient economic problems and various realignments and new alliances. If it is Plaid's view that the EU cannot be exited because of this possibility, are Plaid Cymru confirming that Dafydd Wigley was in fact correct in 1999? and despite the pro Independence Credentials voiced by Adam Price in his campaign for Plaid's Leadership, his actions are equally suspect. 
Personally, as a radical nationalist, I’ve never thought that staying in the EU will advance Independence for Wales. I was a leaver – like most Welsh voters.


But I do accept that for many welsh people, a promise of more certain economic security in the near future currently trumps a longer term project for Independence, even in Plaid Cymru.

The advantage the Scots have is that they won their national freedom in the past, and are only a part of the UK due to a king of Scotland inheriting the English throne. They have more confidence and other advantages such as a separate legal code.Our history does not make us lesser people, we can still chose our own course and not accept the status quo.If we are second rate it is because we allow ourselves to be treated as such . 

I believe personally that every day we fail to promote our own Welsh Independence we shall lose more of our people, more of our culture, and more of our National Heritage. Its a choice that should not be made by Welsh Politicians secretly and quietly in small rooms as now, but publicly and openly.discussed by all. What are we so afraid of ?

The question is “If not now, when?”. Supporting Remain for short term political gain may have a heavy price, if abandoning Independence long term is the practical result.

 Siân Caiach

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Historical note: The Declaration of Arbroath - a letter to the Pope
Back in 1320, the king of England  asked the pope to find out his chances of persuading the nobles of Scotland to submit to English Rule. the Scottish King had been excommunicated from the church for some years and there was both a campaign from Scotland to have Robert reinstated as well  as the English argument that he was not a legitimate king . The written reply, in Latin is long and rambling and contains some historical total nonsense. It is signed or had a seal attached by a representative of every noble house in Scotland.  Many of the Flower had been lost, but some are still alive and listed there and their leader, Robert 1st was also present in Arbroath to see it witnessed. After seeing the letter, The Pope advised Edward III  not to have a go at invading Scotland
Robert was no saint and had almost destroyed the Independence cause by getting himself excommunicated after accidentally murdering another claimant to the throne, John Cymyn, in a Church in Dumfries. He invited him in for a cosy chat in a sacred sanctuary. but lost his temper and stabbed him.
After this he had to be crowned in haste, before the Pope, found out and his mate the Bishop of Glasgow got him to Scone and crowned soon as possible before he was excommunicated in Avignon, his wife, daughter and some of his family were captured, the women imprisoned and the men executed, and he spent a lot of time as a fugitive, hiding from the English until the final victory  in the mud of  Bannnockburn  in 1314.

The T Shirts usually quote the stirring patriotism:
"As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself"
but the document is important politically for the assertion of the rights of all men ,and the first open rejection of the divine right of anointed kings: 
Immediately before the usual T shirt quote is this description of the king: 
 To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand. Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us, our King;

Monday, 27 May 2019

, Stealing from the Public Purse - The Scandal of Prince Philip Hospital''s "Extra Benefits in Kind"

Wales is said to be infamous for wasting public money. The Assembly, the County Councils, The National Health Service, various UK and EU grant funding bodies often find their public money is not all spent as intended. A few weeks ago I was at an international women's day event and intended to talk about my own experience of being a female surgeon, a career cut short by the greed of my male colleagues.

I had explained that after spending most of my childhood and a university education in England I finally returned to Wales. I was about to tell the story about how I was forced out of my  Consultant job by a group  of greedy scumbag consultants who used  NHS facilities , hardware, drugs and investigations etc for their private patients for free, and must have pocketed quite a few grand on a regular basis .

 The management colluded with these men who presumably made a far bigger profit from their private patients than they would otherwise. In my time at Prince Philip Hospital senior female doctors were sometimes treated quite contemptuously and one other female consultant was also forced out of her job. This left only a single female consultant in the hospital. I'm sure things must be better now?

However, as I started to speak I recalled that an earlier speaker had told a moving story of her battle with breast cancer. She needed a special test not available on the NHS which cost a thousand pounds.
Don't worry, said the kindly consultant , I'll  pay for it for you, he said, provided you don't mention it to my wife!.

This was one of doctors on the scam that had ended my career and I was going to mention him. I couldn't help but speculate how much of that £1,000 had actually been filched from the public purse. The doctor himself had sought me out when the scandal broke to explain that he was not as much of a scumbag as the others. When he was doing purely cosmetic operations he insisted , he said, on paying for the breast implants

No great pain to him, of course, as the ladies improving the size of their boobs would have paid him the going rate for the job lot anyway. He would just have got free use of the theatre, drugs, anaesthetics, etc  and less of a "profit" at public expense. His level of morality was that he would not rob quite as much from the public purse when the patient  was having cosmetic work done by him  in an NHS hospital She would pay for the implants which he could have got for free. He told me he found he was not being invoiced for the £800 silicone implants by the hospital, and had insisted on being charged for them from then on.

A theatre nurse later told me that he occasionally used the weekend "on call" theatre, where staff awaiting emergencies,(who were  not paid anything extra at the time for the private work) assisted him Emergency cases were rare at weekends in Llanelli, with a relatively few cases per day, you could get away with fitting in a short operation usually. One day, she recalled, an emergency appendectomy case came in  during a boob job. The team were said to be under considerable pressure to get the lady "ofF the table" Luckily the sick patient did get their operation before the appendix burst, but the situation was very uncomfortable.
Prince Philip Hospital

My orthopaedic colleague forced me to go public on the scam when he not only substituted his own private patients ahead of his own NHS patients ,many of whom has waited a long time in pain, but started to discharge my patients awaiting operations,  to admit his own private patients. To my shame I knew it was going on but did not know the extent if it, The medical director explained that we needed to attract private work into the hospital to help pay the bills, he just didn't specify whose bills. I assumed the  the hospital was informed where patients were private and  charging fully for all their services. Far from it.

I find greed particularly disturbing in those with already healthy salaries and good, secure jobs. Those consultants who got carried away with their greed, and especially when they displaced urgent NHS patient cases to line their own pockets were particularly deplorable. The management were totally complicit and knew all of what was happening. I was only ignorant because I never did any private practice and was happy with my salary. I never asked for extra increments on my salary nor asked for free use of NHS  facilities, goods and services. Many of colleagues, it seems, did both.
.
So I decided not to mention Mr Simon Holt in my "inspirational speech" which became quite disjointed as I self censored more than half of it. It was not the occasion, celebrating women, to "out" him as one of the many parasites I worked with in the health service, especially in the presence of lady who thought so much of him,  I hope he is "being good" now.

 The Scam was said to be quite legal because the hospital management gave the NHS implants, beds and facilities away freely in order to keep the Surgeons and anaesthetists happy  For them it was a staff retention scheme, explained to me as "undeclared benefits in kind", I bet they were not taxed so possibly not as legal as they claimed.  The chief executive of the time was asked to resign, the chair was not reappointed, but no doctors were disciplined  after the misuse of NHS services was exposed.

Auditors would surely assume all medical implants eg hip replacements, purchased by a hospital would be used on NHS patients, and all theatre cases were NHS patients. In my day I found serious deception, where private patients were not declared and extensive theatre records, the operation log books, were "lost" before the Audit Commission arrived to check out the hospital. It was hard for the authorities to find out what had actually happened and how much had been lost to the NHS.

I'd like to think that these things don't happen any more, but I am suspicious that they may. Greedy people in authority can often find ways to line their pockets. Clever doctors did persuade the management that they really need an "extra something" to stay in such a god forsaken place as West Wales and if other surrounding Health Boards had similar incentives, as claimed, it did put the management in a difficult situation.

I even think the private patients were exploited in this scam, as they were surely overcharged for operations which the NHS and their taxes were subsidising?

When I was assessed by the GMC  (the then  medical director, Dr Peter Thomas reported me as incompetent when I declined  his offer to leave quietly) the GMC assessors agreed I needed some refresher training (I had been suspended for 3 years) and advised me to leave Wales to get it, the inference being that such scams were common here and surgeons and management  in England were far more moral.

 The truth of this. I never looked into.  My father who had moved to Wales to retire was dying, my mother was not coping well, my partner and I split up, and I had 4 children in local school, I wanted to stay.  It felt like the bandits, not the sheriff running you out of town. I was severely depressed for several years following the whole unpleasant experience but I have now recovered.

 I have stayed in Wales.

Several of my colleagues had promised me I would never work again, I didn't believe them but the Health Board  and my colleagues did refuse to give me any references. I did try to find refresher training work in the Welsh NHS but found myself essentially blacklisted. Whistle blowers usually do get their careers destroyed and I was no exception.

 Now, if well payed,valued and respected workers in the public sector need extra money from quiet  and management endorsed theft , especially when it may affect the quality of  care of patients on the waiting lists, what sort of example is that to our Nation?. Some time ago our local MP was criticised for claiming a modest kettle on her  MP expenses. Clearly a £1500 hip replacement implant  disappearing from a theatre shelf was much easier to hide!.

I would like to think that these practises are long gone. I left the NHS in 2005 and I would like to think that the Hywel Dda and other health boards are now squeaky clean and these scams are a thing of the past..

If you know differently, I would be happy to confidentially hear your stories.

Siân Caiach

Parc Farm House,
Trimsaran Road,
Llanelli SA15 4RD    01554 785046    sian.caiach@gmail.com

Saturday, 27 April 2019

All Under One Banner - the first AUOB March in Wales . Cardiff, May 11th . An open invitation to all .


The Cardiff AUOB march was well attended, estimated at 2-3,000 and  I was in attendance with my own group, Gwlad Gwlad.
Apart from the public address system, (I have no idea what anyone said !) all went well and I believe the organisers plan many more events. The next one Caernarfon, is on  Saturday July 27th


ALL Under One Banner is a Scottish Organisation whose aim is to bring all the pro Independence groups in Scotland together in large inclusive marches throughout Scotland. It encourages a show of total solidarity among all in favour of Scottish Independence whatever their politics or opinions. Recent marches have been impressive with large turn outs as shown below


The 100,000 strong Edinburgh AUOB March  October 2018, their largest march to date
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The Scottish Independence movement is, at present, more popular and organised that our Independence movement in Wales.
They started organising these marches a month after the  2014 Independence referendum to keep up the momentum and the camaraderie of the independence campaign .



Below is one of their posters for a 2016 event which illustrates neatly one big  difference between the SNP  and Plaid Cymru. 

Scotland has more than one Scottish Political Party embracing the policy of  Scottish Independence. The S.N.P. would not be in charge of the Scottish Government today without the support of   Pro- Independence allies , currently the Scottish Greens.
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The First Welsh March was on May 11th March and supported by many patriotic individuals and an increasing number of organisations:
 These include, All Under One Banner Scotland, Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Cymraeg, Welsh Football Fans for Independence, Gwlad Gwlad, Ein Gwlad, Yes is More, Plaid Cymru,  Awoken Cymru, Labour for an Independent Wales and Yes Cymru. 

It would be a great thing to see more people freely and confidently expressing their Welsh Identity, Culture and Patriotism and desire for change.  It was a good day out in Cardiff !.


 Siân Caiach, 

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Brexit Promises - who promised to do what and why , how no-one delivered , and the next tactics we can expect.



Most of you were probably sick of Brexit, but with all the MP’s on holiday it does give us a chance, now things are quiet, to look back at how the Circus came into being and the possible motivations. 2017 seems ages ago but its worth looking at what we were promised before that election.
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The main Political Parties in Wales with only one exception, said in 2017, prior to the General election of that year, that they accepted the Result of the Referendum to Leave the E.U. They would deliver the best form of Brexit. Then one did a sharp U turn to demand a second referendum and  campaign for Remain the others kept their policies but then  spent years wasting our time and destroying our economy by not sorting out Brexit.

I believe that most UK politicians genuinely originally believed in 2016 that the people of the UK would not vote Leave. Still reeling with the shock many made promises to deliver Brexit that they had no real intention of fulfilling. Follow that with a misguided 2017 general election which turned the Conservatives into a minority government dependent on the DUP, and the focus of many Remain MP’s switches to delaying and/or stopping Brexit. This is complicated by what becomes a clear policy by Labour to concentrate on undermining the Conservatives and forcing another General Election to put Labour into power on a UK basis.

On the other axis is a small group of more principled MP’s who actually want a proper Brexit where we do leave the EU and between these a large number of our leaders claim to want to fulfil the decision of the people but whose antics are totally ineffective. The E.U. negotiators have done their best to thwart Brexit, They need our money [which we now know from the wording of the Withdrawal Deal is nearer £390 million a week rather than the £350m on the bus] and the E.U. Beaurocrats want to make leaving the EU a long and difficult process. They need to discourage the Eurosceptics in other E.U. Countries from taking similar action as the UK and every delay is more money for them.

Lets look at the 2017 party manifesto for each major party standing in Wales, most promised in 2017 to deliver Brexit but haven’t quite made it yet. In fact, in practice, the M.P.s have appeared to deliberately deliberately obstruct leaving the E.U.

Few M.P.s declared how they had personally voted in the 2016 referendum on their election literature when they stood in the 2017 General Election. Their party policies were all the public generally had to go on, reflected in their election literature. The result was a House of Commons where around 75% of all M.P.s had previously supported and voted Remain. Although few could be described as young, they do, in the main, fit the rest of the demographic for remain voters. Many are graduates, all have a very comfortable income, most are homeowners, and many are of middle or upper class background. What they did not realise was that they were about to expose the UK political class as seriously unfit for purpose, and change our politics radically.



The Conservative and Unionist Party.

Their manifesto opens with Theresa May’s positive statement on Brexit:

This manifesto, Forward, Together: Our Plan for a Stronger Britain and a Prosperous Future will meet the great challenges of our time, beyond Brexit. With this plan and with a strong hand through Brexit, we will build a stronger, fairer, more prosperous Britain, for all of us.
No hint of the ultra Tory Brexiteers and the determined Tory Remainers who would in fact, deliberately block her Brexit Plans. Also the Conservatives totally underestimated the EU negotiation difficulties. as the EU had no interest in an early Brexit and is quite happy to receive the generous contributions from the UK for as long as possible.



The Labour Party

 "Let's build a fairer Britain where no one is held back. A country where everybody is able to get on in life, to have security at work and at home, to be decently paid for the work they do, and to live their lives with the dignity they deserve." Jeremy Corbin


Welsh Labour have a separate manifesto. “Standing up for Wales” 116 pages long. “This is not the Brexit Election”, it states. It calls for backing to elect Westminster members to form a UK Labour government to support the Welsh Labour Government and makes Welsh promises such as the end of Severn Bridge tolls and Support for Wylfa Newydd Nuclear power.

On Brexit:
They would “give a meaningful role to Parliament and the Welsh Government through the Brexit negotiations”.
Recently, in UK’s Labour Conference, an option of a “People’s Vote” has been added to the Brexit mix by Labour but is not yet definitely adopted as a rigid policy.


The Liberal Democrats

Manifesto title “Change Britain’s Future”

Tim Farron's leader’s foreword says: "I want the Liberal Democrats to be the party that holds Theresa May to account over spending on the National Health Service; our young people's education, skills and opportunities; the protection of our precious environment; and our future relationship with Europe."

The Lib Dems are the only major party who list a second referendum as a policy prior to the 2017 Election and paint a picture of doom for any form of Brexit from then onwards. Full marks for consistency but they didn’t do too well at the General Election.



Plaid Cymru

The 2017 manifesto is titled “Defending Wales” and reminds us several times that “Plaid Cymru is the hardest working party in Westminster”.

Plaid accept the result in Wales of a pro-Brexit vote and offer to deliver a Brexit favouring Wales:

“We will fight to get the best possible Brexit deal for Welsh Industry and Agriculture.”

“We will secure all the money promised by the Leave Campaign and not a penny less”.

At some point, presumably by some internal party process I can’t find, this has morphed into a policy of reversing Brexit and having a “peoples’ vote” on any Brexit decision.
It is thought that Plaid may have just changed policy, perhaps by executive decision, to the SNP’s policy, in the hope that a second referendum in the UK will set a precedent for a second Scottish Independence referendum. There is certainly an argument that supporting the SNP in order to hasten Scottish Independence may progress Plaid’s plans for our own Independence. However, there is this little problem in that the majority of people in Wales voted out. Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards, whose Carmarthen East Constituency voted out with a similar margin as neighbouring, Llanelli, is especially cynical in taking this view.

The other Plaid M.P.s can at least claim their voters voted remain, and now hold the view that a re-run is necessary. However, I doubt that many M.P.s of all colours have any real idea of what their voters actually think today. Some media claim all leavers have changed their minds significantly but the panic about EU elections suggest that the fear of Eurosceptic Parties’ by the mainstream ones. belies that belief



UKIP

Paul Nuttall was the UKIP leader in 2017 and he presented a manifesto called “Britain Together”

A "patriotic agenda for defending our country and our way of life."
Paul Nuttall's foreword says: "We are the country's insurance policy, the guard dogs of Brexit. We have fought for Brexit all our political lives and we want to ensure that the people get the kind of Brexit they voted for on 23rd June last year.
However, the party were not successful in getting any MPs elected so could not influence Brexit at all..
Recent polls suggest that if there is an EU parliamentary election the current trends are a drop in Conservative and Labour support and an impressive showing for the new Nigel Farage led Brexit Party:

Overall, Wales 2016 referendum result of 54% leave vs 46% remain is close to the UK result of 52% Leave vs 48% remain, with 2% more Leavers in Wales and 2% less Remain supporters.
Next steps politically…..
BACKDOOR SECOND REFERENDUM?
Its been suggested in the Guardian that the EU Parliamentary Elections could be used by Remain Campaigners as a second Brexit referendum. The individual Remain parties have all rejected electoral pacts but they could still replicate a second referendum and possibly even increase the turnout for EU elections, usually pretty low in the UK. So a campaign to encourage Remain voters to vote for the Stop Brexit policy parties, it is argued, could “win” overall in the EU parliament elections and show that the people of the UK have really changed their minds.
Any vote for the Remain favouring “Reverse Brexit Parties” - Plaid Cymru, Change UK, Greens, Liberal democrats and Scottish National Party – would count as a Remain vote, a request for staying in, and presumably any vote for UKIP, Brexit Party, Labour and Conservatives etc would count as a pro Leave vote. The trick is to get more theoretically Remain supporters out to vote than supposed pro Brexit ones on the day.
However, with the great public lack of confidence and trust in our politicians would anyone bother to play this game or accept the “result”? 

In any case the current polls suggest that this particular gambit looks rocky unless Labour , as advised by Deputy Leader Tom Watson, declares for a second referendum campaigning for Remain, thereby joining the "stop Brexit club",and,  on today's figures, getting a theoretical but narrow pro Remain vote of 51% . 

However the risk of losing Labour Leave voters for the next general election would be real. Is staying in the E.U. more important to than Labour than winning a UK general election? I think not, but we are about to find out if the elections go ahead.

 Yougov results 17.4.19 below

Published by YouGov  17.4.19 
The 2 main political parties may well now try a last effort to pass the only withdrawal agreement the EU will allow, despite its flaws, as their only way of avoiding a very embarrassing European Union Parliamentary election.

 Siân Caiach