Waffling on Wednesday

July already! Half way through the year and what a year it has been so far – surreal. I began writing a reflective diary in the first days of lockdown but abandoned it when it became to depressingly similar day on day. I’m sure that, in time, there will be a plethora of novels set during 2020 but I think it will be  along time before I’d feel like reading one.  I’ve just discovered author Elizabeth Noble and enjoyed reading The Family Holiday. I’ve downloaded another to see how I like that. I’ve read a lot lately but will save the rest for another post.

The sunshine and warmth of last week has retreated leaving us with cool, windy and overcast days so far this week, though we have had a few brief sunny episodes today. According to my young grandson it has been ‘freezing’! We should have been off to Devon in two days time but cancelled. I’m glad we did for despite the relaxing of travel restrictions, I don’t think we’d have had a great time without the freedoms we’re used to. We’ve tentatively arranged something for September but certainly won’t be jetting off to sunnier climes, and I’m resigned to the fact that it may not take place at all.

Garden flowers

 

I tried bringing sweet peas into the house again – it wasn’t a good idea. The smell was back. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, Click here. I need to try other flowers but feel wary, so for the time being I’m putting garden flowers on the outside table where, even on cooler days when the doors are closed, they can still be enjoyed.

What have you been watching on television? Having looked forward to Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads I confess to being a little disappointed. Imelda Staunton’s A Lady of Letters has been my favourite so far. There is a dearth of good drama at the moment and this may not be addressed for some time with filming halted. I always look forward to seeing what the Autumn offers but I guess that this year there will be a lot of repeats shown since they normally make those programmes earlier in the year. I have caught up with the odd episode of Escape to the Country and have particularly enjoyed seeing familiar places in Devon.

Needing to speak to my doctor, I booked an online consultation. In the past I’d thought that it would be a very unsatisfactory way to consult  but I was pleasantly surprised. The discussion was very thorough and, though it should never replace face-to-face appointments when necessary, I have changed my mind and now think that for minor issues, this arrangement would speed up the service and save a lot of time. I hope they continue with it.

Boris’s Promises are much in the news today. Amid his vision for the future is the Irish sea bridge – Oh, how I hope this possibility could become a reality. I detest flying but since I (who can happily spend a fortnight on a cruise ship – though with no desire to do so presently) succumb to debilitating seasickness on a ferry, I have no choice but to don the mantel of the proverbial quivering wreck at Birmingham Airport when I wish to visit my family. I’d happily drive to Ireland instead.

I am less excited about the proposal for forty new hospitals. Given that there are 100,000 vacancies in the NHS and numerous hospitals have closed wards due to staff shortages, I wonder how we’d staff four, never mind ten times as many. In January concerns were raised about stoke units across the country which faced closure, and last year it was reported that a children’s mental health ward had closed in Ellingham, and a community hospital temporarily shut its doors because there were insufficient nurses. This picture is replicated all over the country. How about putting the funds that would be used for the new hospitals towards improving what we already have. My local hospital doesn’t even offer maternity services when the town has a population of 90,000, and our A&E department is under constant threat. We have, in any case, failed for years to invest enough in training for the construction trade so the building of these hospitals would be a long time being fulfilled.

The desire to create opportunities for training is an admirable one, but to promise that every young person has an apprenticeship or an in-work placement will be a hard one to deliver on. Having spent many years in workforce development, managing large-scale apprentice training programmes, I know first hand that it is not just about finding places – there has to be a strong core of people who are capable of, and have thew right temperament for the training and mentoring of youngsters. This, unfortunately is where ambition can come unstuck. Even the most dedicated worker is not necessarily the right person for the role and furthermore, a business cannot afford to have all its best workers involved in training others when it can significantly slow production.

The building of 180,000 affordable homes over the next eight years would be a tremendous achievement, though these (and more) have already been included in the unfulfilled promises of successive Governments. We are repeatedly let down when it comes to housing. In 2015 we were promised 200,000 new starter homes by 2020. It didn’t happen; the number built is minimal – the tiniest fraction. On the outskirts of my home town vast swathes of countryside have been built on but the majority of houses are detached four and five bedroomed, way beyond the reach of those in need of starter homes. The newly built smaller, two bedroomed properties cost EIGHT times the national average wage and we are considered one of the cheaper areas!  The term ‘Affordable Housing’ really is a poor joke. No-one seems to have grasped the fact that without truly affordable housing there will be no first time buyers and without them, there is no housing market.

Austerity beckons and I hope very much that it can be overcome, but until we get realistic about what can be achieved, I fear that Boris’s rallying cry for positivity may become little more than another set of abandoned promises.

 

8 comments

  1. Interesting about your sweet pea smell _ I have been feeling a bit unwell from a smell which has been “following” me. Actually, getting really neurotic about it. Now I have realised that it is my laundry washing liquid….. One of my kids is a nurse – she trained during the recession which started in 2007 in New Zealand. When she graduated, there were over 600 unemployed nurses due to government cut backs. A few years on and we had to get nurses from overseas, there was such a shortage. Swnigs and roundabouts with health professionals’ jobs, I think.

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    • In year 2000, it was decided that all nurses must have degrees. This stopped many, who would have made good nurses, but did not reach the admission level, from training. Then we stopped paying bursaries and made them take student loans like other students. Now we have a terrible shortage even though we take many from overseas but we still have far too few. A lack of investment in the NHS has been a long term problem, but poor financial management in the sector is also to blame. At least you have worked out that your laundry liquid is the culprit of the smell – it would be so frustrating not to have realised

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      • Canada has two levels of nurses. The degree gives you an RN designation. Two years at college gives the LPN designation (your old SEN). I did the LPN because I was looking at educating two children after my graduation. I wound up owing $14K in student loans, The degree is incredibly competitive to get in, usually requiring mid 90s in the science marks department.

        We are facing lay offs when Corona subsides. Nursing is a hard, thankless job, that requires guts and stamina to do. The most difficult nurses to work with are those who feel it’s a “calling”.

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      • My mother was an SRN ( I think they are RGNs nowadays). She said it was wrong to phase out the SEN level. She said a good SEN was worth their weight in gold!

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  2. Affordable housing really is an insult to most people’s ability to buy or rent. Here in Scotland it’s a sop to the planners so that house builders will get permission for building maximum houses on minimum land. An enormous new estate is being built here and there are no plans for any amenities or a school and certainly no public transport. We can’t understand where the people are coming from who are buying them as there is no well paid employment in the area at all. Today Boris has tried to cause a row with our FM by saying there’s no border between the two countries and people from England can come if they want. As we are not yet allowed to go further than five miles, it is making a nonsense of the long period of isolation we have stuck to. It’s all so worrying and I am so glad that we are retired and I am not worrying myself about the ever changing messages of schools open or closed. Scottish schools are now on holiday until 11th August so there are scores of young people roaming about in large groups. The weather has been poor for the last two days which has killed my mojo for doing anything. Keep safe. Catriona

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    • There is no affordable housing anywhere, it seems, and now the mortgage lenders are demanding even higher deposits. But because rents are so high, few can afford to save up the deposit. It’s a horrible situation. So far as quarantine and travel go, all in all, it’s a mess, Catriona. I feel sorry for all ministers who are criticised if they do something, and criticised by others if they don’t. As for being PM – what a poisoned chalice that is!

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  3. Yes, the first six months have been interesting to say the least, haven’t they? The next six months also look to be as interesting, at least from my perspective. New virus cases are on the upswing after we began to open up and hardly anyone followed the guidelines for reopening and turned public health protocols into political statements. We are starting to close up, again. I am still sheltering at home, opting for curbside pick up and deliveries. Hope all is well with you and your loved ones.

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    • WE are seeing the same pattern here, Bless. One of our cities has already re-entered lockdown and others are at risk. Our pubs, restaurants and holiday parks re-open on saturday 4th July and unfortunately I think this will fuel the rise in virus cases. Stay safe.

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