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  1. I'd ignore this piece of work. It's not research or even a proper survey, rather a piece of marketing by Kellogs. The most depressing thing is that a BBC journalist has been fed the press release and believes it to be worthy of reporting. By disseminating work of this standard, they trivialise a very real problem in parental care in some problem families. This is related to poverty, but not directly caused by it; as many on here have mentioned, a healthy and nutritious diet does not have to be expensive.
  2. It's not as simple as this. The performance of a school is intimately related to the attitudes and aspirations of its local parents. Schools in deprived areas may be technically excellent with outstanding Ofsted reports, yet have fairly appalling statistics for literacy, numeracy and examination performance. I wouldn't want to send my children to such a school, but this doesn't mean that the schools are 'bad' or that the teachers are 'not very good'. In fact the opposite may be true, as teaching in such an environment is more challenging.
  3. But if we consider some of the corporate retail giants, they merely take market share from other smaller operators, who in turn are more likely to pay tax and employ more people per unit sold.
  4. Around 16 patients, the rest are to inform people of results etc. A GP consultation will generate internal records, but usually not a letter. Primary care are streets ahead with electronic records, in hospitals we usually still write in the notes.
  5. You're not serious are you? My clinic tomorrow will generate 20 letters. Each is individualised, around 300 words long and has to be of sufficient quality to defend in court. I can just about manage 50 words/ minute, so one clinic would take me around 2.5 hours to type allowing for formatting time. I can dictate a letter in 2 minutes - it is electronically returned within 2 days and takes me 30 seconds to amend and authorise. If I spend the afternoon typing, who will run the pm clinic? Back to outsourced dictation, it has been around for some time, particularly in London. Actually cost was not the only driver. The secretarial posts are very difficult to fill in London at typical salary (band 4, 18652 to 21798+a token London weighting). Private sector medical secretary posts in London at the same level pay more like 30K for the same skillset, or people can train to do legal/ financial secretarial work (probably easier than medical) for even more. Out of London it's easier to recruit.
  6. Isn't offshoring a bigger threat than automation? If a process is automated, the company becomes may become more competitive, generating more exports and tax revenue. In the longer term, the company may expand and create more jobs. If production is offshored, the jobs and tax revenue just disappear elsewhere.
  7. I've lived and worked abroad and but still like it here. My parents moved to the UK from more troubled lands in the 1950s and think it's paradise. There are problems, both immediate and long-term, but I'm still optimistic. Here are a few things that I think we have going for us: -We have lots of arable land and farming expertise. We could import less if we needed to -Plenty of fish and seafood (albeit it not every species these days), especially if fishing rights were enforced -Good climate and generally plenty of water -We still have some gas and oil, also plenty of coal. Spare land could be used for biomass production -We have lots of untapped renewable energy sources -We're an island - our borders could be defended -We have our own currency -We're still a major exporter and still have specialist manufacturing expertise that doesn't exist in China -We have some of the best universities in the world -We remain a major global finance centre; it's all gone wrong, but surely it's better for that concentration of energy and talent to be tamed and based here than abroad? -Ties with the US, another country with structural problems but still a major superpower -A long history of stability and tolerance I think we have a painful transition process ahead of us, but will emerge stronger and better. This will involve a reduction in living standards and less 'free' stuff, but is that a bad thing? Does anybody else like it here? -
  8. So what happens now? Is there another major 'event' timetabled in like the March repayment date? Will the elections make any difference?
  9. A complex issue indeed. Firstly, I don't agree that the NHS is a complete disaster. We spend less than most economically comparable nations and our healthcare outcomes are broadly comparable in most areas. Services were pretty much collapsing by the late 1990s and standards have improved enormously since. Believe it or not, the best bits are held up as an international model for integrated, low-cost healthcare! Of course there are enormous problems too. When faced with our first healthcare problem (fertility) we entirely self-funded. The cost of a happy outcome was £28 000 - way in excess of the NHS tariff for the procedures, but no wait and better hospitaliity! Has anybody looked at the Singapore healthcare model? I personally think it's an excellent example of a universal, centrally-planned and comprehensive service. I'm no expert, but can summarise the key features as I understand them: everybody has an individual, tracked saving plan that accumulates over time via compulsory individual and employer contributions. On becoming ill, the savings are billed to subsidise the cost of the healthcare expenditure, but there is always an associated charge, no matter how small the intervention. An individual can choose the level of subsidy to suit their current circumstances. Furthermore, they can chose their facility to match their budget - so if 'hotel' services are important and they have the appropriate budget then they may go for a more expensive option. This creates true competition between providers for their own 'niche', from budget to exclusive. The government subsidy varies according to the condition - for example, if somebody needs a bone marrow transplant then their savings plan just won't cover it and the subsidy would be large. The management overheads are said to be low and healthcare provision is excellent. Unfortunately I suspect that it would be impossible to implement here, but if we were starting from scratch then it looks like good value.
  10. Shocking losses. These sorts of developments were built as investments rather than homes. They sell well on the way up but fare worse than established homes on the way down. Our first place was built in 2000 and bought off-plan (in fact the whole site sold well before a single flat was completed, and I believe that some even changed hands during construction!) . It was nice enough in our 20s, but wouldn't be pleasant for a family - minimal storage, a small second bedroom, no space anywhere for a dining table and no window in the kitchen. These flats now sell for 300K! The 1960/ 70s council stock is mostly superior in terms of space and light. The construction legacy of the boom years was essentially a bunch of buy-to-let flats.
  11. Hey, thanks Zanu Bob. Can't stop now though - off to Harley Street to see some pps, then golf, then I'm heading off to my holiday cottage in Dorset!
  12. A bit of misinformation in the article. We're paid well compared to the median average, but without private practice the salary isn't phenomenal. Many GPs are salaried rather than being partners, typical income 50-60K. The income of GP partners varies; most that I know are junior partners earning around the 60-70K mark. Senior GP partners can earn much more, but it's very variable. Those that you hear of earning 250K are essentially business people who run extremely large practices or several practices, usually with associated services such as Pharmacy dispensing. They are not common. Consultant salary scales have already been posted. The starting salary is around 74K (usually aged around 35), but the salary that precedes these lofty heights whilst in training posts is rubbish. Many of us also take an income drop for several years to pursue a PhD. If you think that we're overpaid then consider the cost of our time in the private sector. In a single 'session' (ie a morning or afternoon) a physician may assess around 5 or so patients at leisure in comfortable surroundings and easily earn £1000 gross. The NHS uses bulk purchasing power to have me see 15 patients in the same time for less money. So, I'm not complaining about my income, but I'm also not super-wealthy (I don't do private practice by the way). I'd never strike and I don't think that my colleagues will either. Like many who post here, I also think that public sector pensions are not affordable. See this as a reflection of general frustration at 4 years of pay freeze, impending paycut of over 3% (pension increase), impending loss of child benefit and the regime of austerity in the NHS that is reversing many of the improvements that were made. And for the new graduates? Huge debts after 5 or 6 years of study, a system that allocates them a job anywhere in the country and the same problems affording shelter as everybody else.
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