Monday, 25 June 2018

Armed Forces Day 2018 in Neath

For those who have fought, those who are fighting now, and for those who will have to fight for us in the future.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Nurses without borders

Much has rightly been made of the threat to the NHS in the UK caused by the departure of continental nurses and the reluctance of trained nurses to come to this country, because of the climate of hostility to migrants. But there is another danger, in the short term at least. British-trained nurses who have recognised certification have the right to work throughout the EU with no questions asked.

Under EU law, the training requirements for nursing staff in general care were harmonised across all EU countries. To prove you are qualified to work as a nurse in your new country of choice, you only need to apply to the relevant authorities in that EU country. Within a few months, these should be recognised automatically, and you can start looking for work.
two medical professionals talking in the hallway
© auremar / Fotolia
To further ease your move, the authorities in the EU country where you choose to move cannot ask you for certified translations of your professional qualifications, nor may they require certified translations of standard documents, such as identity cards, or passports. Obtaining a European Professional Card enables you to communicate with the authorities within a secure network. The card is electronic proof that your professional qualifications have been recognised. Finally, the EU also introduced Europass, a tool that helps you to present your skills and qualifications clearly and easily, to help you move for work throughout Europe.

One can picture a scenario in which a nurse qualifies in Wales, obtains employment on the continent attracted by the better working conditions and (probably) pay, then finds that her new country of residence is willing to grant citizenship or at least permission to stay while she or he works for that country's health service. So there would be a net loss to our NHS.


Friday, 22 June 2018

Brexit seer's prophesies coming to pass

Doyen of Brexit economists, Patrick Minford, wrote in The Sun in 2016 "Over time, if we left the EU, it seems likely that we would mostly eliminate manufacturing, [my emphasis - FHL] leaving mainly industries such as design, marketing and hi-tech. But this shouldn’t scare us.

"Around half of young adults now go to university, ending up in professions such as finance or law, while the making of things such as car parts or carpentry has hugely shrunk — but there will always be jobs for people without sophisticated skills."

Professor Minford is not only the most qualified of the people behind the Brexit movement, it seems he is the only one prepared to tell it straight. Today, after months of discreet lobbying of Mrs May's government, Airbus finally lost patience and went public with its reluctance to invest further in the UK if the company were unable to move components between its factories here and on the continent as easily as it has done hitherto.

This does not mean that Airbus workers in Broughton would all be sacked in March 2019 in the event of a bad trade agreement between Mrs May and the EU 27. Clearly, a sophisticated wing manufacturing operation cannot be moved overnight. But it does mean that Airbus will set up wing-building for its next generation of aircraft on the continent, presumably in Poland where there is skilled labour and costs are lower than in the EU heartland. Therefore, no new jobs will be created and the old ones will be phased out as the current production lines end.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Belgrade - Budapest rail upgrade

This analysis of the planned revitalisation of the railway between two of the old  Soviet bloc states appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of all places. I guess that the Australians are particularly sensitive to the spread of influence on the part of China, which is funding the upgrade through loans to the Hungarian government.

The article suggests that the project is attractive to the Orban administration, and has therefore been rushed through, because of the opportunities for graft. The appeal to the Chinese is that it would improve a link through Greece and FYROM (soon to be North Macedonia) from the port of Piraeus, which it has bought, to northern Europe. Greece will presumably welcome increased economic activity. Railway enthusiasts will be happy at another rail infrastructure improvement. One imagines that the Russians will be less happy, as an axis of trade will be turned more north-south than east-west, weakening her links with her former satellite nations.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The ills of the NHS/GIG: an outsider's view

A correspondent in Uruguay writes:

Juan Maleplate (my GP) had an expensive divorce in 2008 so applied for and 
got a job GP-ing in Liverpool. The salary was 6 times greater in Liverpool 
than here in Colonia Valdense. 

His contract was for one year renewable at 6 monthly intervals and after 
18 months of Liverpool he had amassed sufficient dosh to pay off his 
former missus so he packed in the job and returned to sunny Colonia.

Later I asked him about his Liverpudlian GP-ing experiences. He said that 
he felt that he was unable to do his job properly because of the excessive 
workload and the high stress levels imposed on GPs by the UK authorities. 
Because he loved doctoring, he returned to Colonia where he could enjoy 
doing his job once more.

The ministers of health on both sides of the Dyke must break this vicious cycle of doctors reluctant to become GPs because of the workload which results from too few doctors wanting to become GPs.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The need for an upskirting law

It seems that government time will be made available to pass legislation criminalising this offensive and intrusive act. However, knowing the gap between the words and deeds of Mrs May, I feel that declaring victory is a little premature.

When Gina Martin started the campaign which led to Wera Hobhouse's Bill, it occurred to me that this behaviour (not with digital cameras, obviously, but with film cameras or even mirrors) would once have been treated as a common law offence. I wondered whether the police and the DPP were more reluctant to use the common law in these days when so much criminal behaviour is specified in statute. Thanks to The Secret Barrister web site, I learn that the situation is rather more complex:

Upskirting often takes place in populated public places. Outraging public decency, a common law offence which requires two or more people (other than the defendant) to be capable of seeing the act, is therefore available to prosecute most upskirting. But it is neither an adequate nor appropriate solution.
First, the offence does not provide full protection to women. If the prosecution cannot prove that two persons other than the defendant could have seen him take the “upskirt” photo, the offence cannot be used. So, for example, that if upskirting takes place when a woman is on a street or in another public place alone, no prosecution is possible. That is not acceptable.
Second, the offence does not reflect the wrongdoing. Upskirting is a sexual offence with a victim. The public are rightly outraged by upskirting but this outrage is secondary to the harm it causes. A charge of outraging public decency fails to acknowledge the harm to the victim, and fails also to recognise upskirters for what they are – sexual offenders.
The more appropriate offence of voyeurism is, in contrast, not generally available to prosecute upskirters. The reason: to prosecute for voyeurism the upskirting victim needs to have been observed doing a “private act”, which is not normally the case. This is why the Scottish Parliament modelled the Scottish offence of voyeurism on the English one but added extra provisions to that offence in 2010 to ensure it would cover upskirting.

Monday, 18 June 2018

NHS uplift: GIG consequentials

Mrs May has committed her government to an extra 3.4% per year for the NHS in England. How much of this can be achieved by leaving the EU is very much open to doubt (see and but the commitment is there and Wales should get an extra £1.2bn yearly as a result.

I am aware of HL Mencken's stricture about simple solutions, but it seems to me that the best application of this money would be to improve nurses' pay scales. At present, Welsh nurses are the worst-paid in mainland Britain. Bringing them up to English levels would help retain experienced nurses, who so often find that work outside the NHS is not only less stressful but can also be better paid. There would be positive feedback from such a move. Bringing staff up to strength would reduce stress caused by overwork and overtime. Reducing the need for expensive contract nurses would ease the pressure on hospital budgets. And GPs would see one of their headaches reduced.