Friday, 27 March 2015

The Dedicated Suburbanites who work out Before Dawn

Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of photographing the students of Annie Deadman’s fitness classes in Hampton Hill for her new website.  And I’m rather ashamed to admit that I’ve pretty much considered the lifting & lugging of my camera equipment and the stretching & contorting of shooting to be sufficient in terms of physical exercise for me.  But truth be told, I’ve been put to shame by the amazing students of Annie’s circuit training, boxing, firming, Pilates and Boot Camp classes.  These often happen at 6am while the majority of country is still warm under their duvets.  

I’ve truly been inspired to get out more and push myself further, especially when I would otherwise have tended to call it a day.  The other thing that I noticed was that Annie’s classes are tough – if one is willing to work, one will get fit.  In fact, the class with the most groaning was Pilates – the one which had the most subtle movements and was easiest to photograph.  Go figure.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Pushing Through Ideological Change by Stealth

Since the Health and Social Care Act was passed in 2012, it has significantly grown the role of private companies in delivering health care services in the UK.  Today Clinical Commissioning Groups are responsible for purchasing NHS services for patients in England.  As such, they may commission services from any qualified provider via commercial contracts subject to competition law.  But because certain private services operate under the NHS logo, it’s difficult for a patient to know whether their treatment is provided by the actual NHS or a private company.

Why does it matter? Cost and coverage.  Estimates of regulating and administering the market range from £4.5bn - £10bn per year.  Administration costs have risen from 5% of the NHS budget in 1979 to over 14% in 2010. Furthermore, the Act removes the obligation to provide comprehensive and universal health care. 

My daughter and I participated in the enormous demonstration back in September 2014 and more recently I assisted 38 Degrees’ efforts locally on George Street in Richmond.  For every person that walked past, there was another – often with children – who signed the petition on the spot.  I applaud the wonderful 38 Degrees activists who have gone out every weekend since the end of February.  They’re highly inspiring.