Personal, Rant

Call Centres

I hate call centres. Yesterday I spent 20 minutes on hold to my bank trying to cancel a card that had bee stolen! Today, I spent half an hour on hold to a technical support line who, when they finally answered, were useless!

The technical support centre is in India as well, that’s another thing that really annoys me about call centres!

Legal System, Rant

Polish Driver Banned

This was a headline that stuck out in a newspaper yesterday. The driver had been banned for being twice the legal drink drive limit. The reason the story stuck out was the headline, I wanted to know what was so important about the drivers nationality for it to be placed in the headline. After I had read the story I could not understand what relevance the driver’s nationality had and why it even needed to be revealed, let alone feature in the headline. There were sereval other stories in the papaer about drink driving (one was over three time the limit, while another was four times), but the nationalities of these drivers were not reveleaed at all in the story, let alone the headline. Really, what was the point?

The newspaper was NOT the Daily Mail

Legal System, Rant

What?

I was listening to a talk show on the radio tonight and one of the topics being discussed was neighbour disputes. The presenter of the show, who it would appear from their profile on the radio station website is well qualified (just not in the Law) and was dishing out very dodgy advice of a legal nature.

The presenter was talking about the Human Rights Act in relation to disputes between two private citizens. This is entirely wrong! Your neighbour owes you absolutely nothing in relation to the Human Rights Act. Only public authorities are bound to act in a way that is compatible with convention rights under the Human Rights Act.

Furthermore the presenter was referring to statutory provisions that extend to England and Wales only (this show is broadcast from Scotland to Scotland). Some of what was said existed in a slightly different form north of the border from what it does south of the border, but some of it is just incorrect and the similarities are so vague that the English Law is of no use to a person engaged in a dispute within the jurisdictional boundaries of Scotland.

To top it all off, instead of directing people who were having difficulties with neighbours to Citizens Advice (their local CAB office would have the correct information relating to Scotland including any local byelaws in operation) they were being directed to a complicated website trying to handle both the English and Scottish Law (with far more on the former than the latter).

I couldn’t believe that a supposedly respectable radio station was providing information, without any disclaimer, that was incorrect.

The radio station and presenter will remain nameless.

Rant

The media on the Ambulance Service

There has been a lot of discussion about this story in the media and around Blog world so I thhought I’d add my two cents in.

Ambualnce crews do a job that can involve a number of hidden dangers, which they only find out about when it is a bit too late. Many Paramedics and Ambulance Technicians (like others in the Emergency Services) are kicked, punched, spat on, verbally abused and sometimes worse. There is absolutly no need for them to go charging into a siatuation where there is a ery real and identifiable risk of them getting killed or injured: that is not what they get paid for.

They get (under)paid for being being highly trained and skilled in the art of saving lives and do their best to try and do this. They are no good dead or injured and those skills will be no use to them and of no benefit of the public.

The paramedic in Edinburgh was quite right to wait for police assistance. In this case there was a very real risk that an offender who has already stabbed one person leaving them in a critical condition is still on the scene. Nobody knows what that person would do if a paramedic or Technician were to enter the premises to start trying to save that individuals life.

The Police have the skills, training and equipment to deal with situations like this, the Ambulance service do not. Past the very basics of how to protct themselves when things unexpectedly go wrong then Ambualnce crews shouldn’t either – they are there to do one function and the polie another and together the two work brilliantly to ensure the saety of the scene and the patient gets the best treatment possible.

There are two things about this story that I have yet to see any of the media pick up on – afterall why would you want to pick up on seemingly non-important details such as these when you have a paramedic who allegedly stoodby and watched a patient die? The first of these things is why was this paramedic solo? Nobody in any of the media reports or debates on this story that I’ve read or heard has one person mentioned the inhertally increased danger a solo responder is in. They don’t have a crewmate who can watch their back – they are on their own and this is not good for the staff or the patient.

The other issue is why did it take so long for the police to get there. This was a request for assistance from the Amblance Service. They were attending the scene of a serious stabing in which a young man could have lost his life, which was the end result. The request for assistance was put in as it was still unkown as to whether the offender was still at the scene or not. To me, such a violent incident where life is at risk should be a priority and 13 minutes for the police to turn up is unacceptable.

The overwhelming majority of those from the Scottish Ambulance Service who I have met (and believe me I’ve met a fair few) have been nothing other than kind and caring individuals who do a fantastic job that comes with so many dangers. I am sure that this represents the vast majority of ambulance staff around the United Kingdom.

Criminal Justice, Rant

A tragic Waste of Life

Two truly sick individuals were sentenced to life for Murder this week. The two teenagers (15 and 16) kicked and stamped to death a 20 year old female for no reasn other than how she was dressed.

“This was feral thuggery. It raises serious questions about the sort of society which exists in this country at the start of a new millennium which was heralded with such optimism.” This is what the Judge, Anthony Russell QC, had to say about the abhorrent crime.

Ryan Herbert (16) will serve a minimum of 16 years behind bars for his part in this crime while 15 year old Brendan Harris will serve a minimum of 18 years.

The victim of the Murder, Sophie Lancaster, was attacked as she tried to protect her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, from the pack of ferile youths. Three teenagers plead guilty to Grievous Bodily Harm with intent and those individuals took no part in the Muder of Sophie Lancaster.

Both victims fell into a coma following their attacks, but Sophie lancaster never regained consciousness and died 13 days later.

The three teenagers responsible for the attack on Robert Maltby were Daniel Mallett (17), Joseph Hulme (17) and Danny Hulme (16). Mallett was jailed for four years and four months and the Hulme brothers got five years and 10 months each.
An utterly shocking and truly horrible crime. One person died and another was injured critically all because of what they chose to wear. This represents nothing other than a tragic waste of life because of prejudice and thuggary.

Rant

It’s too hot!

I really wish that it was possible to turn down the heating in this place.  It is almost impossible to study when the heat is causing you to sweat so much that you cannot keep a hold of your pen!

Just a quick moan while I try to get to grips with the Scots Law on Bankruptcy, which is flaming complicated!

Rant

Learning to Drive

Another topic which I have strong opinions on, but have never actually blogged on (to my memory) is driving. I am a young driver with just over a years experience driving and I in no way over-estimate my ability to drive a car.

I have completed the basic L test and the Pass Plus driving course and when I finish university (or at least my first degree depending on what I end up actually doing) I fully intend to undertake the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) assessment.

Just some of the books that I have on my bookshelf relating to driving:

  • The Latest edition of the Highway Code (a must for all drivers in my opinion)
  • Roadcraft: the Police Drivers Handbook (2007 edition)
  • How to be an advanced driver (published by the IAM)

I refer to these books on a regular basis and try my utmost to put what I learn from reading these books into practice. I firmly believe that driving is a process of continuing learning and passing the very basic L test is only the beginning of the learning process.

When I was learning to drive, which was not all that long ago, I was taught by an ex-police driving instructor and before being in the police drove trucks, so all and all a very experienced driver. From talking to my friends the way I learned to drive was completely different from them. I was actually taught to drive a car, while they were simply taught how to pass the basic test. Having read up on the principles behind “Advanced Driving” and undertaking the Pass Plus lessons I have come to learn that the way in which people are taught to drive is not the most appropriate way. Another way in which I know this is that I went through the pass plus course with a different instructor from a different company and he commented on my different attitude to many drivers with my age and experience towards driving.

So, what is the point of this rambling on? Well, the point is that over the past six months I have taken a great interest in road safety and in particular driver training and the way the L test is administered. It is my opinion that it is not fit for purpose any longer.

With the exception of introducing a relatively simple theory test the driving test has not changed very much since it was initially introduced. When I’ve out this argument out before I have had responses such as “it has changed, the roads are busier now than they were then.” I personally fail to see how this means the test has changed. A drive of approximately 40 minutes is not a long enough to adequately gauge a person’s ability to drive. A longer test or a test over two separate days would, in my opinion, allow a better assessment of driving capability. Re-testing after a few years (not continuous re-testing though) would also be worth looking at.

It is fairly easy to drive following the rules for 40 minutes or so when that is not how you would normally drive. We see this from the number of young drivers who speed, drive in a reckless manner etc. Also, the first few years after passing your L test is the time in which you are likely to develop bad habits – some of which might have caused you to fail your initial L test. This is where re-testing would come in handy. It would allow an assessment to take place after the driver has built up some driving experience. This might all sound rather expensive, but can we really place a monetary value on potentially saving lives. When over 3,000 people a year die on our roads and 95% of accidents are down to driver error I think it is imperative that we try and reduce this through better driver training.

The way in which learner drivers are taught also has to change! The theory test should not just revolve around the Highway Code, but should include questions on how the car works in various different situations. The theory test should actually test you on what you should be doing when driving. Things like observation, cornering and positioning are all vitally important when driving (of course, the whole package is important; I just picked those as examples). Testing the theory in a theory and practical test should be about reinforcing one another.

I also think that adding driving theory into the latter years of secondary school education (i.e. within the Personal, social and Health Education lessons) would be beneficial. Particularly as pupils approach the age at which they can begin driving. Bringing the likes of the IAM and the Police into this would be beneficial. Presentations from the police on what happens when it all goes wrong (i.e. pictures from serious and fatal RTCs), backed up with lessons from the IAM on good driving technique is what I suggest here.

Okay, so just a quick rambling on driving skills. I’ll maybe post again in the future about this.

Personal, Rant

Another weekend from hell

All names in this entry have been changed to protect the guilty.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting very pissed off at work. Generally one of the Fresh Managers, who is often on shift for Fresh on his own on a Sunday Afternoon/Evening (last night was no different) is useless and doesn’t have a clue about how to manage.

The Staff walk over him which has a huge negative impact on the way his shifts run. He always comes up with solutions to problems that are confusing and complex or when you suggest something to solve the problem he says it can’t be done then suggest what you have in a slightly different wording.

Also, it is almost impossible to get the tools to do my job, despite us being promised a year ago (company-wide) that by November 2007 we would have the tools to do our jobs. When you can get the tools they don’t work.

Other colleagues are lazy and take every opportunity to do as little work as possible (and that is not difficult on a Sunday), which means I have to do more work and management in general are failing to solve this problem effectively (well the department management do, but what they do has no impact on their productivity when the management are not there). So, yesterday I snapped about 90 minutes before the end of my shift and wrote my notice on a piece of paper from the printer at work and handed it to this useless manager.

At first he thought I was joking and then he realised I was deadly serious and was worried looking. He then gave me a “one to one” (which lasted all of three minutes) on the shop floor and where all he spoke about was the global credit crunch! He took my notice from me and said that I needed to have a “one to one” with Frazer (my manager). I asked him to pass my letter of resignation onto Frazer (which is the standard procedure if a person hands their resignation in when their own manager is not there) and he said he would. He pinned it to the Produce notice board for all to see!

Another manager spotted this (a manager I get on with quite well) and as he passed asked me if I was alright. I told him I’d handed my resignation to Gavin (the useless manager) and he said he knew. I replied with “so he told you then” and Grant (the nice manager) said “no, he’s pinned it to the notice board, I noticed it as I passed to go to the Cash Office”. He then phoned Gavin to the produce warehouse and we discussed it.

Gavin was asked to explain why I had resigned (and he couldn’t – partly because he didn’t ask in enough detail) and tell Grant how he had dealt with it. Gavin responded that it was okay and that it was sorted. Grant then lost it (before he phoned Gavin we had a chat so he knew I was still utterly pissed off and was still waning to resign).

Grant then handed Gavin my resignation letter and asked why it had been pinned to a notice board. Gavin responded with some crap about his own communication system that he had with his department and Grant went through him again. Grant told him that this was a highly confidential piece of paper that should only have gone straight into the hands of Frazer. Gavin agreed that it was to go to Frazer, which is why it was pinned to the notice board. Grant responded, again angrily, with how I had given it to Gavin as he was the duty manager and Gavin should have put it in an envelope and straight into Frazer’s pigeonhole and that it being pinned to a notice board was like Grant taking Gavin’s payslip, opening it up and pinning it to the notice board and how much Gavin wouldn’t have liked that.

He then went on about how Gavin was going to let an excellent member of staff hand in his resignation and walk out the building feeling shitty. Once Grant had finished giving Gavin a bollocking Grant and I had another chat.  Grant gave me my notice back and told me to think about it, I’d done it in haste and he was not going to let me resign until I’d thought about my Bs and Cs (Benefits of Staying and Concerns about staying). He told me my name had been passed to the boss (store manager) and he Personnel manager as part of the scheme where management identify potential candidates for development and that a number of other managers had suggested me (some have also said to me in person that I should go or it). By this time it was the end of my shift. He said he would speak to Frazer about it and make sure that Frazer spoke to me on Friday (when I’m next at work) and he’d come and have a chat with me as well.

I have decided not to resign.

—————-
On better things I was elected as president of the debating society at university this evening with over three quarters of the vote (with there only being one other candidate standing).

Politics, Rant

Parking at Hospital

It’s not uncommon for people to be find moaning about car parking charges and fixed penalty notices issued as a result of overstaying their allotted time or what ever the reason may be. However, it is very alarming when this moaning refers to car parking charges at hospital car parks.

The Scottish Government recently placed a cap of £3 on parking at hospitals (which has reduced it from the £12 it used to be). However, it is still ridiculous that in 2008 we are having to park at Hospital car parks. I’m not aware of people who use the car parking at hospitals for any reason other than that they are attending the hospital for what ever reason: whether that be as an employee, patient or visitor.

£3 a day doesn’t sound too much, but for staff who are parking at the hospital regularly it is a huge expense – over £700 a year (especially the lower paid NHS staff without whom the NHS would simply not function).

In the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde region it has been reported that staff, instead of paying the parking charges, are parking away from the hospital and then walking to the main hospital. This, obviously, causes concern for their personal safety. This increase in the number of cars parking on the street is also causing problems for local businesses, whose customers find it difficult to park. It’s also been reported that it is causing problems for the Emergency Services who are struggling to navigate the already narrow and congested streets, now they are finding it even more difficult and frustrating to get to those who need their help or get those in need of emergency medical treatment to Accident and Emergency.

There has been serious public protest over the hospital parking charges and the Health Secretary and Depute First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, conducted a review that led to this capping at £3. However, this has done nothing to solve the problems identified (with the policy having come into effect in February 2008).

These Car parks are often built under PFI/PPP and managed by private companies on behalf of the NHS. Nicola Sturgeon claims that the money received from car parking is being put back into the NHS. Some of it may (and if it is this raises the question as to whether the NHS is free at the point of delivery), but I am not convinced that it all is. These private companies will not be managing these car parks for free and are probably either taking their cut of the parking charges or the tax payer will be paying them a set fee for managing the car parks.

There is a permit system for staff. However, either the staff or the NHS board have to pay for these permits and more are issued for the number of reserved spaces, so the spaces are not always available. It’s also quite probable that these permits will be going to hospital management, rather than the clinical staff who are there to do a job that most are already undervalued for doing.

I heard a student nurse speak about this issue and she said that while on placement she had noticed the car parks being rather empty as staff are not parking in them. So, if with staff not parking in them and there being plenty of space left is there really any need to have such charges?

Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, English Law, Human Rights, Legal System, Politics, Rant, Scots Law

The Civil Liberties of the British People

I find myself, again, blogging about Civil Liberties in the United Kingdom. I was reading The Independent during a break at work and came across this story and this story. It is really disappointing that in 2008 we must fight in order to protect and get back what we hold most dear to us: our liberties!

Since the abhorrent attacks on the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001 the Labour Government of this country has passed rafts of legislation curtailing our civil liberties under the guise of protecting us from Terrorism. Helped by the media, they’ve create a fear that need not exist in order to pass right-wing, draconian laws that aim to track and control the population of the United Kingdom. The terrorists seek to destroy our way of life and the Government is giving them what they want while telling the British people that we must not let them win and we must not let them destroy our way of living.

Britain prides itself on it’s Human Rights record and its liberal Civil liberties, it’s so proud that it acts as the democracy police (along with the USA) and exports these into countries around the world. The Government talks about the lack of Civil Liberties and Human Rights in far away countries such as China while systematically destroying OUR civil liberties.

Some in Britain talk of boycotting the Olympic Games this year; I say forget about China’s lack of Human Rights and Civil Liberties and fight to get our own ones back. Upsetting as it is that China and other such Nations do not have civil liberties and Human rights, we are heading in the same way. We allow the Government to spread its propaganda favouring its draconian measures to curtail free speech, hold all of our personal data on one big National Identity Database, and detain people for 28 days without charge because we think they may be a terrorist. It’s an outrage. There was a time that this blatant disregard for the rights and freedoms of the British People would have caused a revolt (not that I advocate a revolution), but now we just accept the continuing curtailment by the Government as a need to protect our security.

We’re descending fast into an Orwellian world and I do not want to live in that kind of world. When will the proposals for CCTV in people’s homes monitored by the state be brought forward? Don’t fool yourself by saying it’ll never happen – it’s all so close to happening!