Sanika shows that public pressure can get results
Sanika Ahmed, a ten-month old baby, is recovering after an operation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in north London.
Sanika has Erb’s palsy and was at risk of growing paralysis. She was initially refused treatment because her parents’ immigration status meant she had no right to NHS care.
My solicitors’ firm had planned to begin legal action over the decision. But it generated a lot of very favourable publicity over Sanika’s plight.
Many people said that it wasn’t right to refuse her treatment, and this pressure meant that she was provided with surgery.
The paediatrician who saw Sanika expressed concern about the way she had fallen through the cracks in the system. He said that should never have happened.
I think from a humanitarian point of view, it’s unacceptable to say we won’t treat people. We have a moral responsibility to look after people in our care.
We’re over the moon that Sanika got the treatment that she needed. But it’s worrying, as a parent and as a solicitor, that this could still happen to other children.
If other people are in this situation and can’t get help anywhere else, they can come to me and I will assist them. The lesson is that public pressure can make a difference.
Patrick Oliver, Solicitor, Swain & Co. Solicitors
Draconian operation for the G8
Chief Constable Matt Baggott, along with political parties in Northern Ireland, are ratcheting up security for next month’s G8 summit in Fermanagh.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland has bought drones. Figures suggest that there will be 7,000 “personnel” to help with security. This includes 3,500 Metropolitan Police from London.
And an entire block has been set aside in Maghaberry prison for protesters.
This is not so much about the G8 but about normalising this kind of security operation. So the next time there is a protest the same undemocratic processes can be wheeled out and seem more “normal”.
Both the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein have accepted this draconian operation.
The DUP once opposed play parks being open on Sundays. Now it backs the opening of courts on the holy day to prosecute protesters.
The real criminals are the G8 leaders—from Barack Obama and his drone wars to Vladimir Putin’s locking up of Pussy Riot protesters to David Cameron’s austerity.
Socialists and the trade union movement must defend the right to protest against the G8—and over all the issues we feel passionately about.
Gerry Carroll, Belfast
Let’s attack inequality, not Angelina Jolie
When a woman makes the decision to have her breasts removed to prevent a fatal cancer, it may seem like a no-brainer.
But in our sexist society women’s bodies are valued more for what they look like than what they can do.
In that context Angelina Jolie’s decision to make her double mastectomy public last week was quite brave.
It has laid her bare to all kinds of ridicule and scorn—some of it from the left.
It is true that Jolie is privileged and can afford the best medical care. But the real scandal is not that Jolie can access this care, but that it is unavailable to most of the world’s women.
Women must pay up to £2,000 for breast cancer treatment in the US alone.
The NHS, in contrast, provides free genetic testing for women who have a history of breast cancer in their immediate family. It’s a reason to fight the cuts and privatisation of the NHS.
But ultimately we need to fight for a society where scientific research and development is driven by the needs of all people—not profit.
Xanthe Whittaker, South London
Poor tenants do not cause poor housing
I’ve heard several comments about the bedroom tax along the lines of, “There are families with children who are desperate for three-bedroomed accommodation. But they can’t have them because people live in houses with two spare bedrooms.”
People living in social housing have little say in which flat they live in. They are on a waiting list and when they get to the top, they are offered a flat. If they turn it down, they go back to the bottom of the list.
It is a lie that this is about getting overcrowded families into larger accomodation. If it was they’d build more houses!
They sold off council houses and haven’t replaced them. And there aren’t anywhere near enough one-bedroom flats.
This is an ideological attack on the poor, it is divide and rule. Don’t fall for it.
The Spark, on Facebook
Cops use too much force
A horrible report last week showed up how the police see people with mental health problems.
People reported that police used too much force on people with mental health problems. The report criticised police attitudes.
Austerity means more people will develop mental health problems. The report is a worry.
Angela Ross, Sheffield
Nurses facing parking peril
St John's Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, wants nurses to park at Livingston FC’s football ground instead of outside the hospital.
The nurses, mainly women, will walk from there to the hospital—often in the dark.
This is currently being trialled. Unfortunately the Unison union seems to have endorsed the trial.
As a staff member, I’m concerned and see this as a huge safety issue.
John Randall, West Lothian
Ukip’s call is a little familiar
A Ukip candidate had a catchy line recently—“It’s not about race, it’s about space”.
Hitler had a similar slogan—“Lebensraum”, which meant living space.
Ukip pretends that the housing shortage and high rents are imported.
But they are home grown—by greedy landlords, zombie banks and malevolent government.
Nigel Coward, West London
Protests must involve people
The Unite union has written to all councils asking them not to sign contracts with firms that blacklist their activists.
I joined a protest organised by Unite at Waltham Forest town hall last week. It was lively but made up mainly of full time organisers of the union.
It would have had more impact if they had recruited workers to take part. This would also have given confidence to workers.
Joel Hirsch, East London