Socialist Worker

Sold across the Channel

Issue No. 1729

EAST KENT health authority bosses are trying to ship the sick abroad for treatment. Around 195 people in the area have been waiting over 12 months for NHS operations.

In a sign of the backdoor privatisation taking place in the NHS, local health bosses are looking to send the patients to private hospitals and hand over NHS money to the private health companies. But NHS bosses are complaining about the ripoff prices of private treatment in this country. So they want to send patients for private treatment in France and Belgium instead, where prices are cheaper.


Buy a chad

ELECTIONS ARE big business in the US, and now Florida may even be selling its votes. In a bizarre twist in the US presidential election, some of the 67 counties in Florida are considering selling the infamous disputed 'chads', the pieces of paper punched out of ballot papers. The money from the sale of the ballots is needed to clear the bills from the legal battle to stop the votes being counted.


Mean queen

THE QUEEN is one of Britain's worst bosses. Not only does she pay most of her staff the minimum wage of £3.70 an hour, but she is now trying to discourage people from working for her for more than five years so she can to get out of pension payments. Sir Michael Peat, the queen's £150,000 a year senior manager, told staff who had worked for the queen for more than 25 years, 'It is unhealthy to be in your job for more than 20 years.'


THE END of the Cold War has seen a bizarre reshuffling of what the US government considers are threats to its national security, according to a report from the Pentagon US military HQ. The 'Red menace' of Communism has been replaced at the top of the list by 'militia groups, religious extremists, eco-terrorists, cybercriminals'.

Next come those well known threats to the 'free world': 'Hollywood producers and angry drivers'. At 96 on the list of threats comes 'rap-metal bands', while at 202 is 'escaped zoo animals'.

'Communism' now only manages place number 238 on the US threat list. The good citizens of Belgium must be wondering what they have done. 'Belgians' are rated a greater security threat to the US than 'Reds', coming in one place higher at 237!


Drug company's very sick record

AN INSIGHT into the way drugs companies operate has come to light. In 1996 the drug firm Pfizer was trying to test its new drug, Trovan, on meningitis sufferers. It was hoping to earn $1 billion a year from its use. The drug was not approved in the US so Pfizer moved to Nigeria. Pfizer set up a clinic in a medical camp next to a clinic run by the humanitarian group Médicins Sans Frontières.

A ten year old girl suffering from meningitis entered the camp in April 1996. Unfortunately for her she was taken into Pfizer's clinic and treated with the Trovan antibiotic. She died three days later. She is recorded as No 6587-0069 and her records say, 'Action taken: 'Dose remained unchanged.' Outcome: 'Death'.'

The student wing of the Tory party, Conservative Future, launched a new group called Fast Track last year. Fast Track is 'an exclusive members club for younger people '. The events include meetings with 'leading politicians, businessmen and other distinguished influencers'. The membership of Fast Track is still in single figures.


Lunch box

'NOBODY will admit it, but the food and drink are a serious business. 'It sends the right message to the clients, and doing it properly in-house prevents the senior guys disappearing down to the Savoy Grill for half of the afternoon.' That's how one banker summed up the boom in private dining rooms owned by top companies in the City. One banking firm, UBS Warburg, has 25 dining rooms in London. Butlers are on hand to meet diners' every need, and company logos are on the best china used for only the most lucrative clients.


Things they say

'SEVEN hundred and twenty chief executives seem to run George W Bush and the 'globalised' world.'
WILLIAM KEEGAN, business editor of the Observer

'SINCE the collapse of Soviet-style Communism Marxism has gradually faded from the mindset of thinking Westerners, apart from those in Islington and Hackney.'
JOHN CHARLTON, journalist with e.business Review magazine

'SINCE Seattle there hasn't been a single international summit without a huge demonstration.'
BELGIAN GOVERNMENT official worrying about the agreement that all European Union council meetings will now take place in Brussels

'THERE IS a laddish culture. Some of the most laddish people are the richer public schoolboys who have been to all-boy schools-they're always talking about which trainee has nice breasts.'
CITY LAWYER revealing the sexism that is rife in the City

'IF bodies opposed to the South African tour plan to interfere with cricket matches this might lay them and their chairman Peter Hain open to prosecution for conspiracy. We must separate off those who are in touch with extremist coloured organisations.'
LABOUR CABINET committee minutes from 1970 published this week

'I AM intrigued and amused by these revelations.'
PETER HAIN, now a Labour minister, on Monday

'WHAT A ridiculous thing to do.'
PRINCESS ANNE to a woman offering the Queen Mother a basket of flowers on Christmas Day

'WITH THE benefit of hindsight it can be seen that rail privatisation did not provide all the answers.'
TORIES' new document on railways


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 6 Jan 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1729
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