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Camden New Journal - ROSE HACKER - The Oldest Columnist in the World
Published: 31 January 2008
Who do they think they represent?

I MET a charming young man at a concert recently. “I know you,” he said. “ You once gave me a job.”
“What was that?” I asked.
“Working with the rehabilitation of mental patients in what was then the Hacker Centre,” he said.
“Did you enjoy it?” I inquired.
“Very much,” he said.
“What are you doing now?” I continued.
His reply: “I’m a financial adviser.”
My heart sank.
This has been the story of a generation, of impoverishment of real professionals and workers. Many can’t now earn enough to pay rent or mortgages because the land and the money have been stolen by financial and political advisers.
I need a financial adviser like a hole in the head!
What I do need is finance not advice. Like most ordinary people, I don’t have enough money for it to be worth anyone giving me financial advice. From my money I have to pay for someone to clean me up when I feel dirty, not when some private agency can manage to send somebody. Most care is now privatised. More money goes in company profits and carers’ travel than actual work.
When old people’s homes were staffed by resident staff, and not the cheapest possible agency labour in­ten­ded to make profits for private com­pany shareholders, someone was on site to care 24 hours a day.
Old people need care when they need it not when they happen to fit somebody’s busy schedule. No one ever calculates time paid for travelling, trying to park, getting ready to work and go home or filling in unnecessary forms before leaving.
When these strangers turn up they know only as much as the information in the folder they are given, often nothing. There is no time to get to know the patient, no time for TLC and they may never come again.
The madness, inefficiency and potential danger affects everyone, not just the old. When doctors opted not to provide out-of-hours NHS ser­vice a few years ago, claiming it was unfair to have emergency cover provided by tired doctors who had already worked a full day, could anyone have imagined that in 2008 we would have foreign doctors doing a full day’s work in Poland, Germany or France, then commuting here to provide a few hours’ medical cover in Britain before heading back to their medical practices in those countries?
Financial advisers have told primary care trusts this makes “financial sense”. Companies they advise make good profits.
When we go for treatment of any kind there is usually a long waiting list, then we are told the service has been privatised, cut, transferred to a large hospital a long distance away, outsourced, out-thought, and replaced by some prestige building which, once opened, the trusts cannot afford to staff adequately.
Billions of pounds are wasted – and not only in health. You can tell the same story about education, social services, transport, recreation.
For all the fine talk, financial advisers’ words have nothing to do with real needs.
The best care is now provided by voluntary people, struggling to work with sufferers and ignoring the health ser­vice to provide their own care.
I can give many more examples but we still have to pay our taxes, mainly to provide sal­aries for people like my “financial adviser” rather than doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, carers for the disabled and handicapped.
Nobody in Parliament represents the needy, the elderly and disabled sufferers. Our rates and our votes are now divorced from our needs. Politicians and advisers have got their grubby, gamblers’ fingers into everything. Members of Parliament write laws to benefit Members of Parliament then break even their own lax rules while penalising the poor and disadvantaged.
We go to see people we think represent us because they were elected by us, unaware that concept doesn’t exist any more. In order to pay for financial advisers and the policies they dictate, budgets for welfare, social care, housing and community development have been cut. Which political party proposes cutting politicians’ salaries and perks to release funding for the underprivileged and set an example? None that I know of.
I’m not saying financial and political advisers serve no purpose. They may not advise the sick, the elderly, the disabled and those who cannot work but they do help some people. Look what Tony Blair’s 90 advisers did for him. I may feel Blair should earn an average salary but thanks to good advisers, he can now sell his book for £6 million or his name for a million dollars a time. His financial advisers rake it in too.
Did Tony Blair’s financial advisers find him that sinecure non-job paying a million-plus dollars for a few hours’ a year as “political adviser” to New York bank JP Morgan the same day JP Morgan bought £2.25 billion worth of Northern Rock assets, while bankers Goldman Sachs acted as Northern Rock “financial adviser” to Gordon Brown? Probably. I have heard estimates that with the right advice Blair can expect to make $80 million from judicious use of his name.
How many care workers would that money pay for?

• SINCE writing this column Rose has been admitted to hospital.
We shall keep readers informed of her progress. Cards for best wishes can be sent c/o
Newsdesk, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, NW1 9DR.

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