Welcome to my blog, random stuff about me and where I live, plus some bits about my jewellery.

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Sunday 30 January 2011

NHS Debate

Please copy and send this letter to your mp find their email online by typing in a search for their name. The debate takes place tomorrow this is URGENT.

I write with regard to the proposed reforms to the NHS. I understand that the new bill on health and social care is to be debated in parliament on Monday 31st January, and as a concerned constituent I hope you will take note that I, and I feel sure many others, are deeply concerned about the changes which are already going forward. I see Mr Lansley’s proposed ‘reforms’ as nothing less than privatisation by stealth. I read with deep concern Polly Toynbee’s article in the Guardian (18 January, Tory Free Market Hurricane will blow our NHS apart. ) in which she points out much of the following:

The proposal that GPs will take ownership of the £80Billion budget and ‘buy in’ services from “any willing provider” means in reality that GPs will face EU Competition Law. A GP could, for example, refer a patient to a local hospital with which s/he has had a long-standing trusted relationship, only to find that this referral could be ‘outbid’ by a private company, and the latter would win . In effect neither GP nor patient will control who is treated where - the law will decide.
Of course this might be perfectly reasonable, if the private provider could be trusted to give care to the same standard that we have come to expect from the NHS but this will not be the case. We are already aware of many botched operations which have gone ahead in ISTCs by doctors who are not obliged to perform by NHS standards. They are not members of the Royal College of Surgeons and not vetted for jobs. They are frequently foreign with a poor grasp of the English language. Under the previous Labour administration competition was introduced based on quality not financial cost and IPSO Mori reports (as reported in the Observer newspaper 30 January) that satisfaction with the NHS went up from 55 -71% under that administration, the highest percentage rise recorded by Mori.

If the proposed reforms go ahead private providers will have the potential to undercut all NHS surgery. Thus lack of funding will leave many hospitals in a very fragile and vulnerable position. NHS Hospitals could be bankrupted but also left with complex or emergency operations. If local NHS Hospitals go broke or can no longer offer unprofitable (but of course effective for the patient) services, what choice will be left to patients? They will either have to travel vast distances or be left in the hands of inexperienced doctors who neither comply with NHS standards or are accountable. Price competition ordained by the EU will decide which services survive and which die. It will also decide which patients live or die.

This process was begun under the last Tory administration in the mid 1990s and Lansley is ignoring all the evidence on the impact of price competition in the hospital sector and is endangering lives. But it seems that he is unconcerned. As long as the lobbyists for the businesses, which are angling to have a slice of the Health-care pie, continue to have the same cosy relationship which they already have with ministers and MPs in Westminster, the ordinary public stand little chance of getting a word in edgeways but, rest assured, we do not want to find ourselves in a situation where the private provider is allowed to consign us to a painful life following from a poorly performed operation, or indeed worse.

Of course surgery is only one aspect of the proposed reforms. Pharmaceuticals and other, clinical and medical services will all be up for grabs.
We also understand that many GPs are not keen on these reforms and Sarah Wollaston, a Tory MP who is also a GP, has publicly aired her misgivings, (as has former shadow health minister Stephen Dorrell). Other GPs are not against the reforms, indeed some look forward to running profitable companies, but this is not what healthcare should be about. David Cameron promised before the election that he would not tinker with the NHS – Too right – this isn’t tinkering – it’s major surgery – excuse the pun! Among the silken words he used to lull us into a false sense of security, he said ”spending on public services will actually be at the same level of GDP as it was in 2006 – 41% but in fact GDP has fallen by 6% since then. So in reality there will be a massive cut. This will lead to lengthening waiting lists, cancelled operations and hospital closures.

One comment on the Guardian blog on Polly Toynbee’s article points out that had Cameron been honest about his intentions for the NHS in his election manifesto he would most definitely have lost the election.

Please support your constituents and fight these reforms. I look forward to hearing your own views on this matter.

Yours sincerely
 Thanks if you decide to do it.

Saturday 29 January 2011


There's space for one more fan on my facebook prize draw, 199 'likes' the prize is a little sea glass pendant with malachite dangles, hung on green ribbon.

Click below to add your 'like' and we'll draw a name out of the hat, or random number generator in fact.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Some new stuff

I've always wanted to do something with recycled jewellery, I have a collection of bits of jewellery, a lot given to me by my mother, and some I've collected over the years. I started in a small way adding occasional bits to the beaded stuff as embellishments, but I actually took the plunge and made the pieces of an old brooch into pendants the other day.
These are made from a rather ugly brooch which was probably from the 1950s or thereabouts, I don't remember where it came from.

There were sparkly 'flowers' making up the brooch, three like this and two like the one below. I rather like the effect of the inadvertant flash in the right hand pic. I always turn flash off but my camera's default setting is auto, so my first shot usually uses flash, then I curse, delete it and turn the flash off! This time I kept it, it gives a good idea of the really flashy glass stones.

This is the other style of flower, the brooch was a bunch of flowers on thin metal stems emerging from a single crystal stone like the one in the centre of this flower. I have a drawing of the brooch, done from memory as I cut it up ages ago, but for some reason blogger won't let me load it.
I've just started to make a piece from the hands of an old clock, I bought three for 50p from my local collectors market, I don't think they come from the same clock although they are all made from blued steel, one is in better condition than the others and quite fancy. I've fixed two together, they turn, which is quite fun, I need to figure how to make a piece of jewellery so that they still can when worn.

I think I'll use a bead from this necklace, and maybe some other parts of it too somehow. Not sure how yet.

On a completely different subject I'm watching Agora while I write this, about the destruction of the great library at Alexandria. I work in a library which is struggling with too few staff, no lending dept manager and a ban on overtime. At a recent consultation meeting about budget cuts within the county council, a councillor was going around the groups of people voting for their ideas on what to cut, suggesting that closing the libraries would save lots of money. When he was asked what the schools would do without the library service he replied  'they have their own libraries.' It was pointed out that the county schools library service is where the schools get their library books from, he was amazed, as he didn't know that. It's very worrying that such ignorance of a service should be allowed to suggest closing it. I had a similar experience a few years ago, I ran an arts centre for young people, we offered classes in all the arts and had recently begun providing specialist assistance for young people with disabilities. The borough council responsible for it was required to make huge cuts and my centre was being offered as the sacrifice within the arts service. At a meeting with elected members I was asked to describe the services offered at the centre, when I had finished the councillors said, 'we had no idea you did so much there!' They still closed it though.
The fall of the Roman Empire began with the closing of a library.........

Friday 7 January 2011

Going back to some old designs, maybe.

For a recent, disastrous, craft fair, I unearthed some experiments that I made using polymer clay. They had been put away for a couple of years as I wasn't very happy with them. I re-strung them on ribbon rather than beads, which seemed to work well, and used a hand made T-bar clasp for one of them. I'm actually quite pleased with the results, I'd love some feedback as I think I might go back to making some of this stuff. Maybe make some beads?

This is probably my favourite piece, it's called carnival. There are layers of very thinly sliced canes and simple colours, mostly mixed with translucent clay so that they show through each other. It has a sterling silver wire bail, which is 'screwed' into the pendant by making zig zag bends in the wire and literally winding it into a hole in the pendant. This was the reason I hadn't tried to sell it as the original wire, baked into the pendant, had pulled loose. I think fitting it after the clay is baked works better in fact.

This one has needed a bit of polishing and refinishing as I think I actually over cooked it a bit, I rather like the slightly gothic look. I don't have a specific name, other than red and black heart, again it's layered slices on a red heart with a silver bail, this time just a simple loop.

This is a technique that simulates ivory. several alternating layers of white and translucent clay. The design is 'engraved' into the soft clay and then acrylic paint is rubbed into the design after baking. It has two small loops of silver wire in the top, and another at the bottom with a vintage silver heart suspended from it. The cord is hand woven from old silk thread using a medieval technique which takes FOREVER. I probably won't make any more of these cords, except for fun, as it's totally not viable to charge for the time!

This one is a large bead, about 3/4" across, using sliced canes again. The blue ribbon is quite long, probably about 30", to make a 'flapper' length pendant. The fastener is a T-bar style made from twisted silver wire, heated to fuse it and then hammered to flatten it a little

Anyway, let me know what you think, should I go back to making some of these? I'd quite like to experiment with some of the metallic powders and liquid clays that have appeared since I first started using it. I'd also like to get better at canework, although it's a bit too much planning for me, my working style is definitely organic, otherwise known as making it up as you go along!

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