Monday, 24 October 2016

Still angry today.

Yesterday about 1976, punk and about how angry I was.

This is a Daily Mirror special report about admissions to hospital for people suffering from malnutrition and about the increasing poverty which means that people are unable to afford food after they have found the money for rent, transport and other essentials.

It's one of many reasons why I'm still just as angry as I was all those years ago;

 22 Oct 2016
By Nicola Fifield
Daily Mirror

More than 16,000 cases of malnutrition were reported in hospitals in England last year

The number of people so ­malnourished they need hospital treatment has QUADRUPLED in 10 years.

In a shocking indictment of the nation’s food poverty , more than 16,000 cases of malnutrition were reported in hospitals in England last year, an average of 45 every day.

More than 900 of these cases were classed as severe – meaning patients were in danger of starving to death.

But these alarming NHS figures are just the extreme tip of an iceberg of misery and deprivation as GPs treat thousands more poverty-stricken patients for malnutrition.

Campaigners blame spiralling food prices, falling wages and ruthless benefits cuts and sanctions.

Simon Capewell, professor of public health at Liverpool University and vice president of the Faculty of Public Health, said: “It is a national scandal.

Mark Wood's sister says he starved to death after having his benefits cut

“The fifth wealthiest country on the planet is now suffering from Victorian diseases such as malnutrition, rickets, scurvy. These figures are shocking and need to be a real wake up call.
“Severe malnutrition is very serious and can be fatal. And what is really worrying is that for every person admitted to hospital, there will be five times that number getting care in out-patient clinics, and another 50 times that number getting care from their GP.
“These figures are only the absolute tip of the iceberg.
“It is a further burden on an already over-burdened NHS and it is absolutely avoidable and preventable.”

Prof Capewell added: “More and more people in England are living in food poverty.

“Between 2007 and 2014 food prices rose 12 per cent in real terms, while wages fell by seven per cent.
“For people in low paid work and on benefits it is a real struggle to put food on the table.

“Last year more than a million people accessed food banks – it is a heartbreaking sign of the inequality in this country.”

Stuart Vance / Daily Mirror 

Increasing numbers of people are relying on foodbanks

Figures provided to the Sunday Mirror by NHS Digital, a public ­information service, show that last year 16,314 hospital cases were diagnosed with protein energy malnutrition – a condition more usually seen in developing countries.

And in 1,557 of these cases the ­malnutrition was severe enough for them to be admitted to hospital, four times the number from a decade ago.

Labour MP Frank Field, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on hunger, said: “This new data on malnutrition, as well as the data we have uncovered on the numbers of ­children who are underweight and anaemic, paints a grim picture of life at the bottom of the pile.

"The Government has two tasks: help push up family incomes and help local ­communities divert the huge amounts of nutritious, good quality food ‘waste’ to the hungry.”

The UK’s biggest food bank network, the Trussell Trust, provided more than 1.1 million three-day food packages last year, up from just 25,899 seven years ago.
Benefits delays were the No 1 reason for people needing help from the food banks, followed by low income and benefit changes.

Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror 

Frank Field says the data paints a grim picture
Adrian Curtis, the charity’s foodbank network director, said: “Today’s malnutrition numbers are worrying.

"Every day we meet families who are struggling to put enough food on the table and hear from parents who go hungry so their children have enough to eat.
“Skipping meals for days at a time is dangerous, and could lead to malnutrition.

"This is why we’re working to engage the public, other charities and politicians from all parties to find solutions to the ­underlying causes of food poverty.”

The average age of patients admitted to hospital last year was 64, suggesting pensioners are hit hardest by food poverty. But 284 of the cases treated in hospital were children under-18.

Patients with severe protein energy malnutrition (PEM), the result of inadequate calorie or protein intake, have usually lost more than 20 per cent of their body weight.

It can lead to the swollen abdomens and loss of skin pigment more usually seen in famine victims.

Lesley Wood, Age UK’s malnutrition expert, said: “When an elderly person is malnourished they will be very frail and much more likely to fall and end up on a roundabout of constant hospital readmissions because their malnourishment is not always flagged up as a risk in their discharge notes. It is a huge problem.”

Increasing numbers of people are relying on food banks

Just this week Tesco’s UK chief executive Matt Davies warned that spiralling food prices, triggered by the plunge in the value of the pound, will be “lethal” for already struggling families.

A report by the Food Foundation think tank published earlier this year found an estimated four million people in Britain regularly go a whole day without eating.

The research, based on UN data, showed one in 10 adults suffered moderate levels of hunger in 2014, placing the UK in the bottom half of European countries below Hungary, Estonia, Slovakia and Malta.

A Department for Work and Pension spokeswoman said: “Work is the best route out of poverty.

"There are record numbers in employment and 557,000 fewer children in workless households than in 2010.

“We’re determined to move to a higher wage society, introducing the new National Living Wage and spending £90billion on working age benefits to ensure a strong safety net for those who need it most.”

Benefits cuts killed my brotherAsperger’s sufferer Mark Wood died of starvation five months after having his benefits cut.

He had wasted away to just five-and-a-half stone.

Food banks have multiplied, but many are still struggling to feed themselves Mark, 44, had a number of disabilities and mental health conditions, but was still assessed as being fit to work by staff from Government contractor Atos.

His housing benefit and employment and support allowance were all stopped and he was unable to survive on the £40-a-week disability allowance that remained.

His sister Cathie Wood said: “Mark’s BMI when he died was just 11.

The pathologist said it was incompatible with life. He had starved to death. He was a victim of the Government’s benefits cuts.”

Mark, from Bampton, Oxfordshire, was fiercely independent and was reluctant to seek help from his family, who were unaware of his plight until just before he died in August 2013.

Cathie said: “When he lost his benefits he didn’t really understand. "He had £40 a week to live off and there was no money left for food once he’d paid other bills – and he couldn’t even pay them.

"The benefits were stopped in March, and by April/May time he had run out of money completely.”

The Department for Work and Pensions admitted the decision to axe Mark’s benefits was wrong and ordered a review.

But Cathie, 50, from Oxford, said rising hospital cases of malnutrition was proof nothing has changed.

She said: “It is beating up the vulnerable when they are down.”

“People like my brother are seen as indispensable and that’s going to happen more and more as the government makes more savings.”
A doctor has told how he has resorted to prescribing nutritional drinks to patients who can’t afford to eat.

Plymouth GP Dr Richard Ayres took the drastic measure after seeing more patients suffering from malnutrition.

He said the high-calorie drinks– typically given to people who need building up post-surgery – were a lifeline.

“Over the past two to three years there has been a definite increase in the number of patients suffering from malnutrition,” he told a local newspaper.

“I am noticing patients who come in and are underweight say it’s because they simply can’t afford to eat. That’s where the nutrition drinks come in.

“They’re around 400 calories and they have all the vitamins a person needs.

“It’s not going to solve the underlying problems of food poverty but it’s one of the few things I can do to help.”

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Sunday, 23 October 2016

40 years on and still angry!

I'm still not well enough to go out, which is a shame as I missed a great night out watching my favourite Punk band, 'No Lip', last night.

It's been a very strange day for me because 40 years ago (22nd October 1976) the first Punk single came out - 'New Rose' by 'The Damned'. I wasn't the greatest 'Damned' fan in the world and it was just by luck that they got a single out first, really.

But hey!, it still sounds good all these years later, see for yourself here;

I spent some time watching clips and reading stuff about 1976, full of memories. I remember the summer of 1976, on holiday in Devon and hanging around a music venue as the band (it could  have been anything, I wasn't going to hear them) was setting up. I was actually killing time watching the roadies and noticed one wearing a razor blade necklace and thinking to myself:

"What is that - I have to check that out".

Actually, I lived about as far away from anywhere where anything was happening as you could and didn't have the money to get there anyway.

So another memory is looking at The Damned's new single at 'Our Price Records' in Slough, not having the money to buy it and not having a record player to play it on anyway.

The radio wasn't helping either - this was before John Peel discovered Punk.

So it's fair to say it took a while before I could do anything much about the new music that was making such a noise.

The next memory is watching Janet Street-Porter interviewing 'The Sex Pistols' on LWT - before (I think) the more infamous Bill Grundy interview, which I also watched in December that year.

By which time, 'Anarchy in the UK' had been released.

Life was never going to be the same again!

40 years on and everything turned out much worse than we ever imagined it would - the bad guys won and got rich at our expense.

We really were right to be angry at what was happening to us and I for one still am.

All these years later there are fewer and fewer people still alive who remember that things can and should be different.  

But they can be - it's up to us.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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