Tag Archives: nhs

Mark Coffey – Fine Art Photographer


I first met fine art photographer Mark Coffey at Arc, where we both volunteer.

If you don’t know already, Arc is an amazing place. It’s a gallery and centre for creativity, learning, fun and wellbeing. You should pop along if you’re in the Stockport area. (They do a fabulous job for the community and a mean cafetiere of fresh coffee.)

He teaches photography, photoshop and design. Whilst I just potter about making a nuisance of myself.

Anyways, he’s been helping me with a little exhibition I’m putting together at the Oasis cafe at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport. We were chatting away, as you do, when he mentioned his website, so I went over and took a look. There’s some great work on it, so I thought I’d share it with the class.

Some shots are fun and frivolous, whilst others are mean and moody. And some, don’t involve alliteration at all. (But, are striking images, nonetheless.)

Depending on which images you’re looking at, they are reminiscent of Saul Leiter, Martin Parr and Fan ho.

Have a mosey on over to Mark’s website for a more detailed look at his work.
After, you can nip down to Arc for a nice cup of tea and a Tunnock’s teacake.

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Ewa Konior, Polish, artist, Arc gallery, Stockport

Hey! How did that get on here? To be fair, Mark did take it. (When I wasn’t looking!)

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Filed under Architecture, Art, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Education, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, mental health, Nature, Photography, Uncategorized

An impartial guide to the 2015 election.


If you live in Blighty you’ve probably been bombarded by Party Political Broadcasts and news media about the various main players in the upcoming General Election.

Blogs are a great way to get one’s personal views across, but rather than expound my own views, I thought I’d give you lucky readers an impartial look at what these nefarious Tory miscreants have achieved thus far. (Told you it would be impartial.)

FOODBANKS

The number of people using food banks has gone from circa 40,000 under Labour in 2010 to one million under the Tories, in just five years. (This graph is about a year out of date. Figures have now surpassed one million.)

foodbanks, election 2015

DEBT

Our National Debt has not reduced as the Tory charlatans claim but has, in fact, tripled under the Tories.

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IMMIGRATION

Britain has one of the lowest immigrant populations in Europe. The more the merrier I say. We’re all from Africa anyway.

Brits living abroad

Brits living abroad

Foreigners living in the UK

Foreigners living in the UK

BENEFITS

I’m sick to death of that maleficent rapscallion, Iain Duncan Smith referring to people on benefits as scroungers.

Benefit cheats account for £2 billion whilst tax avoiders account for £32 billion.

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And let’s not forget, for most people claiming benefits, they are just claiming back a fraction of what they have put into it in the first place.

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LABOUR AND BIG BUSINESS

Read ’em and weep.

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THE GREAT DEPRESSION

The current economic catastrophe was not caused by the last Labour government. It was caused by the banks. Admittedly, Labour deregulated the banks more than they should have. But financial deregulation began in 1986 under, guess who… Thatcher.

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THE NHS

Don’t get me started… 70% of NHS contracts have been awarded to private sector companies since 2013. (Most of them with connections to ConDem politicians.)

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EDUCATION

Did you know, as part of the government curriculum, primary school kids do maths every day but art only once every two weeks?

Obviously, there’s no value in the arts.

No value in creativity.

No value in imagination.

No value in self-expression.

And there’s certainly no maths in art… no fractals, no Fibonacci sequence, no Golden Ratio, no geometry, no equations, no dimensions, no fractions, no angles or shapes…

That’s not a criticism of my daughters’ school, in fact, it recently got an outstanding from OFSTED, it’s merely a criticism of the curriculum handed down by the government.

I’d also have free tertiary education for all too. (Something which Labour have not put in their manifesto.)

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So, dear readers, as you can see, I have no personal axe to grind and have been as unbiased as I possibly can.

To recap:

Under the coalition the economy has stagnated,

the national debt has tripled,

the NHS is in meltdown,

1 million people rely on food banks,

3.5 million children live in poverty (that’s a staggering third of all children in the UK),

The Tories believe the people who should pay for our country’s debts are the poor rather than their rich benefactors to whom they give tax breaks and government contracts.

All-in-all, a successful term of office, don’t you think?

All you can do is evaluate the facts laid before you and then decide who to vote for. After all, that’s why we live in a democracy.

Just remember, a vote for the Tories is a vote for the Dark Lord. And a vote for UKIP is a vote for the Dark Lord’s imbecile sibling with xenophobic tendencies.

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I must give a shout-out to a few blogs from where I’ve filched most of the above stats, graphs and images. Although, I can’t remember what I’ve nicked from where.

So thank you to:

Tom Pride at Pride’s Purge.

Kitty S. Jones at Politics and Insights.

David Hencke at David Hencke.

Mike Sivier at Vox Political.

Thomas G. Clark at Another Angry Voice.

The Guardian.

The Independent.

Channel 4.

 

If you see something of yours that I have not credited just drop me a line and I’ll amend the post and give you the credit you deserve.

 

 

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Filed under Children, community, Disability, Economy, Education, Ideas, Inspiration, Politics

Democracy – #358-363


Democracy was first invented in Yorkshire, in 1954, after three blokes, on a lads’ night out in Pontefract, couldn’t decide whether to have mild or bitter with their giant Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy. Instead of settling their differences the old-fashioned way – with a black pudding fight to the death – as was custom round those parts; they decided on a new, and novel way, to solve their dilemma: They put it to a vote, and lo, democracy was borne. (2-1 to bitter, in case you were wondering.)

Cleisthenes

Cleisthenes

Actually, democracy is attributed to Cleisthenes in Athens in about 500 B.C. (There is also some evidence that certain types of democracy existed in parts of India prior to this.)

There are loads of different types of democracy, but the two main types are: Direct Democracy358, whereby everybody who has a vote actively participates in governing. This is what Greek democracy was all about. It’s not too bad when you only have a limited number of people who can actually vote, i.e. Athenian citizens, so – no slaves, no women, no foreigners etc. It gets a bit tricky when you have 30 million potential citizens eligible to vote. That’s why Representational Democracy359 was invented, whereby we elect people to govern for us. (Sort of like we have now in the UK, except we have a Constitutional Monarchy, which isn’t a true democracy.)

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If it wasn’t for democracy, plebs like me wouldn’t have a vote. In fact, if the Tories had their way, I still wouldn’t. Which brings me on to the Labour Party360. If it wasn’t for Labour, we wouldn’t have a National Health Service to look after our citizens361 or a Welfare State362 to care for the poor and the vulnerable in society.

But… we don’t have real democracy in Britain. When you can obtain power by having less than 30% of the vote – that is not true democracy. Personally, I favour Proportional Representation363. Seems much fairer to me. Over 70% of the population didn’t vote for these nefarious Tory scoundrels. That should be testament enough.

The Tories are selling off the NHS. They’ve ostracized anyone on benefits and they’ve made a shambles of the economy by feeding the richest 1% rather than the 99% who would actually kick-start the economic recovery.

True, there are benefit fraudsters. Apparently, they cost us £1.9 billion pounds a year. How much do corporate tax fraudsters cost us? £32 billion is the answer. Go and arrest your mates, Mr. Osborne.

Here are the numbers IDS and Osborne would prefer you didn’t see:

Benefit fraud: £1.9 bn.

Unclaimed benefits: £12.3 bn.

Benefit fraud accounts for 0.7% of the total benefits budget.

Put this into context next to the £32 bn in tax evasion and avoidance.

The last time the Tories were in charge.

The last time the Tories were in charge.

The fact is, George Osborne has got the economy completely arseways. The best way to reinvigorate an economy is to make sure the people in the middle and at the bottom have some money to spend. In his wisdom, Osborne decided to give the money to the people who lost it in the first place and take it off those very people who could turn the country’s fortunes around.

That said, I’m just grumpy because I didn’t get my way. Which, I suppose, is what democracy is all about.

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Things I am grateful for #15


Stepping Hill Hospital.

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Stepping Hill Hospital, in Stockport, is my local hospital and has come in for quite a bit of stick of late due to 5 patients dying as a result of saline contaminated with insulin. I’m not going to discuss that here as it’s had its fair share of media coverage.

The NHS in general comes in for a lot of criticism. Invariably, people don’t feel compelled to write in when they have something good to say. So, the time has come to put inertia to bed.

Both of my daughters were born at Stepping Hill Hospital and the care my (ex) wife and my babies received was exceptional. For that alone, I am truly grateful.

But, I too, have had call to frequent the wards of SH as a patient having had three operations there.

The first was a cholecystectomy. (That’s having your gall bladder removed to you and me.) I recall tossing and turning on my bed at home at about 4 in the morning, letting out a low incessant groan due to a pain in the right hand side of my chest. I called NHS Direct and they promptly sent an ambulance round. I’m sure the ambulance crew were very grateful for me throwing up in their rig upon immediate entry.

Once at the hospital, an Irish doctor asked me, on a scale of 1 to 10 how much pain I was in. Being a Yorkshireman, and of sturdier stuff than most, I whimpered – 11.

This kindly Irish doctor promptly administered some morphine intravenously. Within 30 seconds I was babbling away like I’d kissed the Blarney Stone.

I was taken up to a ward and, later that day, tested for a heart attack. (Yes, you can get pain on the right hand side of the chest with a heart attack.) In the afternoon, a surgeon made an appearance and asked me a couple of questions, felt under my ribs front and back and promptly berated the junior doctor for theorizing that it might’ve been a heart attack and prognosed cholecystitis.

Suffice it to say, less than 3 months later I had it all whipped out with keyhole surgery. Top job all round, for care and treatment. I do miss that morphine though.

Next up, was for corrective surgery on a broken pinky that Trafford General made a right balls up of. I broke it whilst playing five-a-side footy. Thankfully, they have a specialist hand surgery department at Stepping Hill and they made a very tidy job of straightening my finger and enabling me to bend it once again.

Last of all, was carpal tunnel surgery. They discovered I had this while I was being treated for my broken pinky. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is when a nerve that travels through a sheath in your wrist and connects to your thumb and fingers, becomes trapped, resulting in loss of feeling in said fingers.

I was in and out in less than a brace of hours. Tidy darts all round. On the downside, my wrist was out of action for two weeks. Man, that was a long two weeks.

And, do you know what? It’s all for Free! Gawd bless the NHS.

So, a very big thank you, Stepping Hill, you are all superstars. And, for delivering my two precious babies into this world, I am eternally grateful.

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Raping the NHS


As the fiscal year draws to a close we’re seeing roadworks popping up all over the country as LGAs (Local Government Agencies) desperately try to spend their surplus budgets.

The reason why they do this is because if they don’t spend it, the government will cut their budget for the following year.

This doesn’t just occur within town councils, but other government funded organisations too, such as the NHS.

A while back I worked in the Social Marketing sector. (Not to be confused with Social Media.) Social marketing clients tend to be LGAs and PCTs, (Primary Care Trusts), which run hospitals and health services.

Campaigns they might undertake include: Smoking cessation; healthy eating; chlamydia screening; teenage pregnancy; alcohol & drug misuse; contraception; STDs; etc.

I enjoyed plying my trade as an Adman, for what I felt were, worthy causes.

Where it all started turning sour for me, was when, at this time of year, one particular SM Agency embarked on what they call an ‘Underspend’ campaign. Whereby they target PCTs surplus budgets.

The PCTs operate in the same way as the LGAs, in that, if they haven’t spent their budgets they will have it reduced for the following year.

So the PCTs frantically try to find ways to spend their surplus. So what this Social Marketing agency did was invoice the PCT before the end of the tax year for work that they hadn’t yet undertaken. But would undertake the following financial year. (Still with me?)

What’s wrong with that? I hear you ask. Particularly if the work will be undertaken at some stage.

The problem I have is two-fold.

Firstly, rather than spend the money on an ill-conceived social marketing campaign to jettison the budget, why not spend it on something else, like a life-saving piece of equipment? Or employ another couple of nurses?

Well, because that’s a different department’s budget. And what we don’t want is another dept getting their grubby little MRSA contaminated fingers on our budget.

Secondly, some of this stockpiled money that the SM agencies are holding for work they will carry out at some stage, gets, let’s say, ‘forgotten about’ by the PCT.

But the SM agency hasn’t forgotten about it. Nor have they offered to return the money to the PCT. Perhaps it was an oversight.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Social Marketing is an important aspect of improving the health and well-being of our citizens. I also believe their are many SM agencies who are doing very noble and ethical work.

But, as in most industries, there are some companies who are just in it for the dosh. It’s just another ‘revenue stream’ to be tapped into. Or milked.

What galls me, is while the SM agency sits self-righteously on its moral steed, it’s also raping the the NHS for all its worth.

What seemed like a noble endeavour to me, turned out to be more rapacious than people’s perception of the one I had left. Namely, advertising.

So, what can we do about it?

Well, we could stop punishing LGAs and PCTs for being good at budgeting, for starters.

We could allow one dept to transfer money over to another without penalising them the following year.

We could allow them a period of grace. Say, three years. If they consistently underspend, then their budget will be reduced.

And, most importantly, we need proper accounting in PCTs to make sure work paid for in one financial year, actually takes place the following year.

Maybe this practice is widespread. And that’s why I’m a terrible businessman.

Anyway, that’s my tuppence worth.

Any suggestions?

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The Emotional & Mental Cost of the Recession


One of the things that’s been playing on my mind this past while is: How will this recession affect people’s mental health in years to come?

The reason I’ve been pondering this notion is that, most people I know who are in full time employment, have had to take between 15% – 25% pay cuts and are working about 30% – 50% more hours per week.

Basically, they are having to do the jobs of the people who have been made redundant, (as well as their own), for less money.

Descent Into Hell, by Michael Hensley

I’m not having a pop at employers. I know a lot of businesses are in a very difficult situation: Trying to be more competitive; trying to hold on to staff; trying to stay afloat etc…

Some may say they are lucky to be in a job. But if these people are doing one and a half jobs then there is going to be a physical and mental consequence to this at some point in the future.

Burn out.

Longer hours, less money, the stress of potential redundancy. It is, and will continue, taking its toll on marriages and parents’ relationships with their kids.

Will we see an increase in the rate of divorce?
How many children will lose one of their parents to the recession?
More cases of depression?
Will suicide be more prevalent?
More people undertaking psychotherapy?
More people on medication?

And, most importantly for the government, who will pay for it?

Because someone will have to. Have they budgeted for it? Has it even crossed their minds?

Perhaps it has. Perhaps it’s all part of a ‘separating the wheat from the chaff’ policy.

It might even take 10 years before people’s ruined lives show up on a statistician’s spike.

But rest assured, there will be a price to be paid, and it won’t necessarily be fiscal.

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The Scream by Edvard Munch

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The ultimate convenience food


Recently, I worked on a spec campaign to entice teenage mums from low socio-economic groups to breastfeed. The idea was to position breastfeeding as the ‘ultimate convenience food’ by creating a new brand – Mum’s Milk. (Fast food being pretty high on these young women’s agenda.) These cards were to be used as prompts by mid-wives at ante-natal classes. The reverse of the cards would focus on ‘things-you-probably-didn’t-know-about-breastfeeding’ to reinforce the message.

Faye Levingston, deserves all the credit for the art direction.

Credits:

Agency: ICE

Concept: David Milligan-Croft

Art Director: Faye Levingston

Writer: David Milligan-Croft

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