Sunday, 14 January 2018

Carillion Collapse

Carillion plc was founded in 1999 at just the right time. It rode the grand ascending surf of PFI- private finance initiatives brought in by Tony Blair's Labour government as they tried to become an extremist caricature of the Conservatives they had defeated in the election two years earlier. Carillion is primarily a construction and civil engineering contractor, but it also provides management for the facilities it builds. It has thrown up many grand edifices all over the world, from a motor racing circuit in Thailand to a hotel in Abu Dhabi. In the 2000's it was brought in by the UK government to build the newest and most ambitious phase of my old hospital, the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, see: https://web.archive.org/web/20080218081523/http://www.oxfordradcliffe.nhs.uk/news/newsrecords/On%20the%20Roof%20for%20the%20Oxford%20Childrens%20Hospital%20Lord%20Drayson%20tops%20out%20the%20Oxford%20Childrens%20Hospit.aspx. As part of the deal, it took over management of the entire Facilities department; domestics, catering and, of course, portering. None of us were ever employed directly by Carillion; we retained our NHS positions, but we were completely under their control. In the background links I provide details of that period of my portering life and give you an idea about what it was like.

Last year it was revealed that all was not well at the mill. The share price of Carillion plc plunged in a steady spiraling slope broken by two catastrophic dips. They started the New Year by dropping a 1.5 billion pound debt bomb. Some financial commentators claim that the firm has simply overstretched itself, gambling on too many difficult licenses that turned out not to be profitable. It has also suffered delayed payments from some of its jobs in the Middle East. It also has a 600 million pound pension deficit that will not affect me personally, luckily; but it will cause problems for many of its twenty thousand employees, mostly skilled men in the building trades. The big fear comes from the fact that Carillion is now so integrated into public services that those very services would be threatened by the company's bankruptcy. As I said the other day, it's a network, see: http://hpanwo-hpwa.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/bransons-nhs-billion.html. The NHS, prisons, railways, the armed forces, highway maintenance and education could all be seriously hampered by the shutting down of Carillion. It might also delay the construction of the high speed railway "HS2"; a good job I say, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/stonehenge-tunnel.html. This quandary could be solved by a bailout. Sir Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat leader, has urged the government not to bail out Carillion. What he says is the perfect illustration of the stupidity of PFI. It is essentially the privatization of profits together with the nationalization of losses. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42666275, and: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42675427. I recommend that the company be allowed to tank, and then the government can repossess its assets as collateral. This would include everything it has built at the John Radcliffe, all eight hundred million pounds worth of the neurological centre, the new eye hospital, the children's hospital and everything else. It should be the perfect opportunity to relieve itself of the ridiculous loan system by which Carillion built the place and then the government bought it back at 33% APR, a rate of interest that would be... somewhat uncompetitive... if it were offered by any high street bank. The government could easily provide its own management, indeed there is a massive untapped source of skill and experience within the portering community itself. Some of the senior porters could act up for a while until the situation settles down and permanent posts can be filled. Maybe this will make the government think again about the supposed wisdom of the PFI system. If they absolutely insist on privatization as a deep-seated cultural and emotional principle, privatization for privatization's sake alone; then why not let the services set up their own small outfits and bid for the contract themselves? This was an idea I explored when I was a porter, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2007/09/copy-of-my-jrhpc-letter.html.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Branson's NHS Billion

When I was a hospital porter we used to joke about "Virgin Health". It was an exaggeration at the time; we never imagined that truth would eventually catch up with our jest. Richard Branson's Virgin Care company has just earned the biggest haul of privatization licenses ever seen in the NHS. Over four hundred separate contracts now belong to Branson's empire. Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/29/richard-branson-virgin-scoops-1bn-pounds-of-nhs-contracts. It's interesting that the article uses the word "dysfunctional" to describe the privatization procurement process. Why does it not simply say "corrupt"? The theory behind NHS privatization and the reality of its effects are separated by so vast a gulf that it makes me despair that so few people are talking about it. It was a strategy just beginning when I joined the NHS. A year into my service the porters were contracted out to a company called ISS Mediclean, an outfit that was already running the domestics there. There was a tendering period where several firms put in bids to run the portering service and the privatization committee "gave it their consideration." During this period we noticed that the Facilities director seemed to be spending a lot of his time in the company of the local Mediclean manager. They took their lunch breaks together etc. We knew then what was really going on and when Mediclean won the porters contract we were not surprised. We later found out that the Facilities manager was given a "finders fee" by somebody behind the scenes, a shareholder we imagine; which is just a euphemism for "bribe" as far as I'm concerned. Of course it's all legal and above board... which is what is so frightening about it. Through the decade Mediclean ran the porters, quality of service fell through the floor. I watched it happen; unable to do anything to stop it. We've never completely recovered from that Dark Age. No matter how many bad reports the monitoring officer, a former senior porter, submitted to the trust management nothing was done. Under Blair's Labour government privatisation accelerated past the point of no return and now the entire NHS is basically nothing more than a network of these tin pot contractors supported by another network of robotic and amoral bureaucrats. The only competition in the NHS is who is willing to grease the backhanded palm of the correct regulator the quickest with the crispest unmarked banknotes. Sorry to start 2018 with news that is so pessimistic and black pilling, but these are merely the facts. RIP the National Health Service.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Fantastic Dignity Statement

I was walking along the street today when I saw a young woman walking towards me pushing a baby in a pram. I stood aside to let her past and she said "thank you." I looked carefully at her and realized that I recognized her. It was "Miss Stuck-up Little Bitch Nurse" who I describe in the background links below... Actually there are about a dozen people to whom I've given that nickname, but this individual has probably done the most to earn it. As soon as she had passed I started singing this following porters' song at her departing back:
Porters' Dignity
Porters' Dignity
Porters' Dignity
And Porters' Dignity
Porters' Dignity
Oh, Porters' Dignity
Porters' Dignity
And Porters' Dignity

Porters' Pride
Porters' Pride
Porters' Pride
And Porters' Pride
Porters' Pride
Oh, Porters' Pride
Porters' Pride
And Porters' Pride

"Miss Stuck-up Little Bitch Nurse" did not respond and just kept walking, but her gait became more hasty and rigid, exactly like it used to when I used dignity statements against her when I served at the hospital alongside her. As I say in the background links, only ever use dignity statements in situations where your target really deserves them; and I can assure you, she does. I've not seen her since my unfair dismissal from the NHS, but I've never forgotten her. I don't know whether she called the police about my actions, but if she did I can just imagine the response: "Hello, Thames Valley Police... You'd like to report a man harassing you on the street while you had your baby child with you. That's a very serious offence. Very well, madam, what form did this harassment take... He sang a song? What kind of song?... What?... He sang a song about 'porters' dignity'? What else did he do?... Nothing?... What? Nothing at all?... Then why do you consider this harassment?" Today's experience has made me realize that I might have been out of the Hospital Portering Service for six years now, but the dignity statement still serves a purpose.
And: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/physical-dignity-statements.html.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Italian Job

Pewsey railway station is a small and very traditional outpost in the Wiltshire countryside. Its two small platforms and little stone and brick waiting room make a sweet and peaceful place to enjoy the British railway network. I went there recently after a hectic Halloween social event in Devises. I had half an hour to wait for my train home and so took a stroll around the area. I was then delighted to come across one of Wiltshire's many well-kept little secrets. Just outside the gates of Platform Two was a small black caravan with an awning. On the side was the words "The Italian Job". Inside was a very small but very comfortable cafeteria. Behind the counter was a man called Roy Messenger, and after talking to him for a while I discovered that he is a former hospital porter... And there's me thinking I could tell just by looking! He serves authentic Italian coffee brewed in Turin. It is a special blend of selected beans. I'm sure My EP&DBP Roy makes many commuters' and holiday makers' day with his special flavoured coffee. He also serves pastries and confectionary; I had one of his pains-au-chocolat. Roy spends most days at Pewsey Station, but sometimes he tows his caravan to outdoor concerts, fairs and other festivals. He is available for private hire. See here for his website: http://www.theitalianjobcoffee.co.uk/. Like my EP&DBP Roy, I am an ex-hospital porter trying to find a new life after the hospitals. It's not easy. I wish him all the success in the world and salute him as an EP&DBP. If you're ever passing through the area by train, do please pay him a visit.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

My Confession

A few days ago Stefan Molyneux did a call-in show entitled "MGTOW saved my Eggs!" He spends an hour in conversation with a man called Logan, from 1 hour 37 minutes, whose wife ran off with a male best friend of his. They talk for an entire hour and in the last third or so of the discussion Stefan lambastes his guest for being "too nice" and a "pushover", see: https://soundcloud.com/stefan-molyneux/fdr-3879-mgtow-saved-my-eggs-call-in-show-october-25th-2017. It makes uncomfortable listening because this is a criticism that has been levelled at me; although not in recent years I'm glad to say. I'm referring to a period of my life long gone, primarily my first decade at the hospital, or maybe slightly longer; there is no definitive beginning or end point for this slice of time. No particular day that I started nor any particular day I finished. However, I know that today I am a very different person and that it has been many years since I stopped being the person I was back then. This article is addressed to the people who knew me back then and not to my current friends and acquaintances. This is why I am posting it on the HPWA blog. I am still in touch with a few of those people and I'm glad because I owe them an explanation, and some of them an apology. You see, my personality in those days was almost entirely an act.

One thing Molyneux believes in very strongly is personal responsibility and he tries to instil this into Logan during their call. I understand where he is coming from and he is, as is often his custom, clearly playing for his audience with sensationalism and hyperbole, but what he said could be construed as Logan being held one hundred percent accountable for his awful experience; because that's what popular wisdom states. In any situation like Logan's the call goes out from the multitudes: "You shouldn't let them get away with treating you like that!" This is far, far more common than: "They shouldn't be treating you like that!" It can even go to the extent of: "You deserve it for being such a sucker!" Indeed when Bernie Madoff, the world's most devastating fraudster, was caught, a commentator at the time said that Madoff had millions of accomplices, "...the investors who trusted him!" See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku4uCB9pE5U. It took me a long time to understand that my feelings about this matter are why I did what I did. I really feel like I am moving through life at a ninety degree angle to the rest of the world and I always have been. I also began my charade at a time just after I had healed from my disastrous attempt to change my personality from within, see: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/nice-guys-update.html. The reason is, I have always found the idea of exploiting or abusing another person because they are vulnerable utterly obscene. If I ever committed such an offence I would feel mortally ashamed of myself and anybody telling my victim: "Well, you made it so easy for him! You need to change your ways and stop being such a mug!" would essentially be exonerating me of any blame for my brutal actions and shifting it completely onto the poor damaged and destitute individual I had just defecated on. The implications are that it is A-okay to mistreat others, so long as they're not capable of resisting. What's the difference between that and the rapist's excuse: "She was asking for it!"? It is the veto of the psychopath. However, most people accept this noxious ethical equation; I know because I put it to the test. I carried out a ten to fifteen-year live experiment with myself as the guinea pig. During that time I endured fairly universal contempt and despicable maltreatment at the hands of others. I could give you numerous examples; people borrowing money and never repaying it, people talking down to me in front of others in social gatherings for their own self-aggrandizement or simply for entertainment, money and property being stolen, nasty jokes being made about me, rumours being spread about me, lies being told about me, lies being told to me continuously as a matter of normal interaction, pub drinks being spiked, sabotage of my work, attempts to ruin my social life. It didn't do my love-life much good either, to put it mildly. Why did I do it? In truth, at the time I didn't even know it myself; it was something I decided to do on a completely subconscious level. It is only actually in the last few years, after a long process of reflection, that I realize the answer. That understanding has been an enormous liberation for me. A lot of the bitterness, self-reproach and guilt have been lifted from my shoulders. I did it because I wanted to know who my real friends were. Can you honestly call somebody a true friend if you believe that the only reason they're being virtuous towards you may be because they know you would not let them get away with anything less? It was a test, pure and simple. Who would not take advantage of me, even when they could? I'm sad to say that only three people ever passed that test; only three of the hundred a hundred and fifty individuals who came close to me during those years. One of them was my closest friend at the time, an older man called Barry who had become something of a surrogate father figure to me at the hospital; we're still in touch and on good terms although we have slowly drifted apart over the years. And there were only two others whom I shall not name here; if I meet them I might inform them of their achievement, if you can call it that.
What does my experiment reveal? That it seems I hold very unorthodox ethical values. Am I alone? Surely I can't be the only one who doesn't want to take advantage of other people just because they are easy meat. On the contrary; whenever I come across somebody and "sense that they're a pushover" to use Molyneux' words, my first instinct is to protect and defend them, to keep potential abusers away from them. I have made friends with these people with that very purpose in mind. I don't know if they appreciate me for that. Maybe some of them find it patronizing. It doesn't make any difference to me; I would still do it anyway. It's quite likely I am motivated at a gut level by my empathic disorder, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/the-dark-side-of-empath.html and the background links below. Was this false-persona I lived under for all that time the right thing to do? To be honest, no. I feel a bit guilty at the way I misled and deceived some people. I feel almost as if I were a spy in their midst. I lived a double-life and few people ever saw the real me. I should not have done it, but because it was never a conscious decision to do it in the first place, I don't feel as regretful as I would if it had been a deliberate policy I had wilfully implemented, in which case it would have been much worse. Therefore I hereby apologize to everybody I lied to, or at least to Barry and the other two people who passed my test. As for the others?... Well, I don't have much to do with them these days anyway and I will never let them back into my life again.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Hospital Porter dies at Grenfell

One of the victims of the fire at Grenfell Tower has been confirmed as a hospital porter. Abdulaziz El Wahabi served at the University College Hospital in London. The son of a hospital porter, he entered the profession in his father's footsteps. His bother-in-law said of him: "You have to have a sense of humour to work in the NHS. He never complained, he got on with the job. Being a porter, you're someone who goes to the operating theatre, to X-ray. It's a very important job; you just don't get well paid for it." He died in his home on the 21st floor along with his wife Faouzia and their three children; Yasin, aged 20; Nur Huda aged 15; and Mehdi, aged 8. I salute the memory of my EP&DBP. Rest in peace, Abdulaziz. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/Grenfell_21st_floor.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

I've got Osteoarthritis

About a month ago I discovered that I have osteoarthritis. This was after I had a number of tests at the outpatients department at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford. I decided to go to my GP because I've been finding it more and more difficult to walk over the past few months due to my legs seeming to be getting very stiff. Other people have noticed and have asked me if I'm alright. Climbing stairs, tying my shoe-laces and getting in and out of the bath are especially difficult. My doctor referred me to the rheumatology clinic where I was examined and had my legs X-rayed. The condition is in both knees, but worse in my left one. I have to have further tests on my hips, but the rheumatologist suspects I have it there as well. I probably don't have it in my back because that would be very painful. Osteoarthritis is a disorder of bone joints caused by a breakdown of the various tissues of the joint. Unfortunately it is very common and about three million people in the UK have it; mostly older people than myself, but it can strike at any age. I am in a high-risk group because of having been a hospital porter for twenty-three years. All the countless miles and miles I walked in the John Radcliffe Hospital for so long, as well as the pushing, pulling and lifting, have literally worn down my joints by mechanical fatigue. The good news is that I am not in pain, unlike many other osteoarthritis-sufferers, although my left knee sometimes hurts a bit and I need to prop it up on a pillow in bed at night. The stiffness is not so bad that I can't work. In fact the rheumatologist asked me what my job was and I told him, I am a gardener, house-cleaner and odd-job man. He told me that this was good because it gave me moderate exercise and that is beneficial for osteoarthritis. It also prevents me putting on weight which would make the condition much worse. He recommended I take up swimming; this is not something I liked doing last time I tried it, but I'll give it another go. I already do a gym workout regularly. There is no cure for osteoarthritis and for some sufferers it can be debilitating, but this is not inevitable. With the right care it can be managed and people with it can lead normal lives. I am not complaining or seeking sympathy, in fact at the hospital I have seen so many people in far worse conditions than myself; conditions I would not repeat. Also this adds another silver lining to my dismissal from the NHS, see: http://hpanwo-hpwa.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/one-year-on.html; if I had not been kicked out of hospital portering in January 2012 then my osteoarthritis would probably have developed much faster. Being still in portering I would certainly then have been forced onto a light duty regime which would involve covering reception, manning the dispatch desk or other boring activities that would drive me up the wall. So I am not too bothered by my diagnosis; it is not impinging on my normal life.