Samhain Celebrations

I’ve been enjoying celebrations of the turn of the year this weekend. Started off with getting to see my Mum and take her out for a meal, then pumpkin carving & making of pumpkin soup with pubchurch: barnone friends. Really enjoyed that (first time ever done), it was quite satisfying to feel like you were using every part of the food & being so creative. (photos to follow) It was also a lot quieter than envisioned, thought it was going to be chaos & all the kids having food fights with pumpkin innards, but actually it was child free and very peaceful as we chatted & caught up!

In the evening, I went to an All Hallows party – the theme for the fancy dress was deities, so I decided to play around with it. I thought I could start with the idea of every human being as being in the image of God (capital G, one and only, Great Spirit, God), and play around with other labels and idenities that we get given & scapegoated with. So I attempted to dress as a, fairly well kempt (sporty/white trainer style), prostitute and heroin addict, with face paints for bruises and marks from thrombosed veins. I’m not sure it was that self explanatory to be honest, but the bright fluorescent labels all over me probably helped – chav, slut, junkie, whore, underclass, cheap… And then a gold crown on my head with the words IMAGO DEI . Yeah, quite a lot of time explaining that one! Ah well, I like the idea still.

Then yesterday went to a church service that had Rebecca Manley-Pippert speaking. I have to admit I was somewhat dubious, as I thought it might be an american-OTT-this-is-how-you-can-make-everyone-the-same-as-you type presentation. But actually it was a beautiful talk, the crux of whichwas that understanding that each one of us is not ‘nice’ levels us all. We show it different ways, from being controlling and organised and saccharine, to shouty and angry, to sociopathic, but at root there’s a selfishness and ‘god complex’ that leads to the behvaiour. She went on to point to Jesus death on a cross and the idea that each of us carries the nails in our pockets, that we hold responsibility for that being necessary, by our selfishness. So then the difference between people is not at stages on some kind of moral hierarchy, but between those who admit the mess and those who want to keep pretending to be ‘nice’, but by admitting the mess, we are then open to the power of God to keep transforming us.

As well as appreciating her speaking style, I felt some of the things said confirmed the themes we’d picked up in our scapegoat studies. That if you locate the problems outside of yourself in this OTHER/THEM group, then you scapegoat that group for your problems, and when they are gone, another, and another, and another. But that if you (including everyone) say this is MY/ OUR problem (as is done in the scapegoat ceremony in the OT) and state this publicly (the confession of sins – an image picked up by images of Jesus/ the messiah as sacrifice & scapegoat) then people are moved both closer together and forward towards change.

Afternoon of children and celebrating and seeing people hadn’t seen for years and birthday parties, and then the Samhain ritual with pubchurch in the evening. Somewhat different to last years because a) the file from last year is on my old computer and may/may not be irreversibly corrupted and b) we wanted to incorporate some of the scapegoat themes. A lovely evening, ending in biscuits and chatting, and planning how we can grow our own food more.

Finished off the evening with some baking, watched QI – Inequalities – interestingly scapegoat mentioned, though I think the communal aspect of this was missed.

So, and the reason I started writing this post, here are a couple of Samhain ceremony links – from pubchurch: barnone and from one I found that sounds a lovely All Hallows Ritual.

Privatisation of Health

As the recent grilling of Andrew Lansley by GPs demonstrates, those pushing forward this bill are working with a completely different definition of the term to that of, for example, the World Health Organisation. They also therefore seem to be attempting to use that difference of definition to avoid answering questions related to the plethora of evidence that market based healthcare (however labelled) reduces efficiency and increases inequalities. As time is limited tonight and there are plenty of papers to read, thought I’d share a few links that join up the dots on this line of thinking.

Further Privatisation under The Bill

The Role of EU Competition Law

An Extreme Example, using lighting

Vultures Circling?

I have to say, the more I read international development research, the more depressing I find the detail of this bill. As an antidote, to at least map out an alternative thinking pattern, I have appreciated reading “Development as Freedom” by Amartya Sen.

RCGP Conference Grills Andrew Lansley

Came across this account reporting the Speech and questions session to Andrew Lansley at the RCGP annual conference in Liverpool:

The RCGP Grill Andrew Lansley

That’s what the headline should be. You won’t find it on the BBC news report, which reads like a cut and pasted soundbite from the DoH. I couldn’t see any sign of the incident on sky news, though we had been informed they were also invited. So for your information, inspiration and amusement, here’s an eyewitness account in black and white, if you care to read.

Today, Saturday the 22/10/2011 was the last day of the annual conference of the Royal College of GPs. The conference had been full of research, discussion and inspiration, centring on making general practice work for the benefit of all patients, particularly the poorest and those in vulnerable circumstances. It focused in on tackling inequalities and public health needs in sustainable and innovative ways. There had also been plenty of debate about the health and social care bill (currently at committee stage in the Lords), especially on the idea of GP commissioning. While the mood regarding the idea of GP commissioning was mixed, the resounding tone to the bill itself was a firm rejection.

Come the last day of the conference and the secretary of state was invited to speak. In recognition of the desire of delegates, effort was made to set aside additional time for questions afterwards. Of the 20 people asking these, only one had anything positive to say about this bill, all the rest were very clear in outlining their concerns and the reasons for those concerns, in dynamic and sometimes entertaining ways.

One particular highlight for me was the GP who asked for Mr Lansley’s definition of privatisation, on the basis that unclear definitions can really get a person into trouble, using Bill Clinton’s definition of not having sex with Monica Lewinski as an example. The question was answered (eventually, with much pressing) that he means healthcare being free at point of provision, but DID NOT exclude in any sense private companies and corporations competing with public services to provide care. The forthright response from the chair of the RCGP, Clare Gerada, was that this is not the manner in which any of the GPs present were using it & certainly not the definition usually used in literature of healthcare.

One key theme behind the grilling was that “choice” in the form of competition for healthcare provision, and the introduction of markets into healthcare, have been shown repeatedly to be more (not less) costly, associated with poorer health outcomes, and particularly bad at tackling healthcare inequalities. The questions reiterated that not only is there evidence that structural change is not required, but that the specific change proposed would break that line of the Hippocratic oath, “first, do no harm.” Poignantly, one GP took the words from his own speech as her inspiration, “You have told us that where we see wrong, we should say something and do something about it; well this bill is wrong. So I would like everyone in this room, who agrees that it is wrong, to raise their hands.” A sea of hands was raised, mirroring the results of a survey of all members of the college.

After the speech, the president of the college, Iona Heath, made her closing address, which afforded her the opportunity to complete a quote, only partially quoted by Mr Lansley in his speech, “it’s interesting what gets edited out”. It is from a paper which appeared in the peer reviewed journal, The Lancet, in 1971, written by JT Hart, and I can do no better than quote it here, “The availability of good medical care tends to vary inversely with the need for it in the population served. This inverse care law operates more completely where medical care is most exposed to market forces, and less so where such exposure is reduced. The market distribution of medical care is a primitive and historically outdated social form, and any return to it would further exaggerate the maldistribution of medical resources.”

But I have misled you; I promised entertainment as well as information & inspiration, so I shall leave you with two closing snapshots. One of a GP with welsh wit, asking whether the secretary of state would be as happy meeting with and listening to the purveyors of cannabis and ecstasy, as he was with the alcohol industry leaders, given that drug’s greater associated morbidity and mortality. And a final one, Mr Lansley, attempting to justify the reasoning behind obliterating practice boundaries (and therefore as the patient representative pointed out, removing the clear lines of responsibility for care for patients that are sometimes deemed, difficult, and are often with great healthcare needs), explains that in these mobile times, many people do essentially live in two places. “You mean, have second homes?” quipped Clare Gerada.

Also found this link to the inaugaral speech by Clare Gerada:

Health & Social Care Bill

Well I was going to write a scathing and exciting blog about the Health and Welfare Bill being debated in the Lords now, but I realised that pretty much everything I could want to say is already written elsewhere, so I really just want to direct people to these links- most particularly the very first one! SIGN THE PETITION! (If you don’t know enough yet, have a look at the other links, listen to the lyrics of the rap and then SIGN THE PETITION). Thank you.

Explanation of Blog Name

Out of a fired ship, which by no way
But drowning could be rescued from the flame,
Some men leap’d forth, and ever as they came
Near the foes’ ships, did by their shot decay;
So all were lost, which in the ship were found,
      They in the sea being burnt, they in the burnt ship drown’d.
By John Donne