Thursday, 15 October 2009


According to a letter printed in a Romford free paper, there will be new dispensing regulations from January 2010. Pharmacies, will apparently, be expected to replace a brand drug named on a prescription with one that is cheaper.

According to that correspondent, this is part of the Department of Health's 2009 pharmaceutical regulations scheme agreement.

Again. quoting from this letter, pharmacists will not have to consult the patient or the doctor who wrote the prescription. This, the NHS estimate will save £40m a year.

The correspondent goes on to outline the fact that there are many people for example, who suffer from serious heart conditions and who rely upon their prescribed drug to provide them with some quality of life. Without that drug, their condition would deteriorate.

The correspondent goes on:-"If a pharmacist decides on his own volition to change the prescription drug to one that is cheaper, how will he/she know whether or not it could create serious side effects that could prove detrimental to the patient's well being?"

The writer goes on to state that it is the doctor who should specify the patient's medication, not a pharmacist or a government economist. The government should think again.

We think most pensioners would be most grateful for the report above and agree entirely with the correspondent's fears.

Once again, we are faced with a Government apparently willing to save costs at the likely expense of the patient. This is a feature found in privatization schemes where costs become paramount above the safety and health of the patient.

We thank Mr. Cyril North most sincerely for voicing his very appropriate concerns.

This is a matter of which Pensioners should be made fully aware. The fact that a pensioner's health could be gambled with in this way must be fully recognised and challenged at all levels. A Pensioner's health is more delicate than that of a younger person and is much more vulnerable to change and therefore must not be placed at risk just because the Government wish to cut a few corners. Let the savings be applied elsewhere.

While on the subject of Prescriptions, pensioners may have found that their pharmacist appears to change the manufacturer of their regular pills. For instance blood pressure pills may be provided and coloured pink but the next month's prescription may contain pills of a different colour and size. This happens to the Writer quite often.

We feel that this is a bad practice since some elderly folk are often susceptible to change and become confused by seeing a tablet of a different colour or size.

We believe this practice stems from the fact that the chemist may have different arrangements with different suppliers.

So it is a good idea for patients to watch carefully the boxes and medications they receive from the chemists, and carers should also be wary on their charge's behalf and ensure that the same type of pill and dosage is being proffered.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Utilities, Expenses & Scams

This morning a young lady Community Police Officer called on me to discuss safety issues, so I invited her in, having first established she was genuine. Several matters came up and I mentioned my recent interview with ITN regarding British Gas Prices.

She told me that her Grandmother had been very upset over British Gas prices including termination fees. I had never heard of penalties being applied for termination with them. So it seems that if you wish to change your supplier, you should be aware of unforeseen charges.

I rang British Gas and although the advice was a bit more reassuring, there is indeed a cancellation fee for certain tariffs.

These are:- Fixed price Tariff: £70 for gas
................. ...... ......... £30 for electricity.

Price Protection Tariff : these vary between £30 - £45

These are for year 2010 since there is only the December quarter left for 2009 and there is no cancellation fee.

Track and save Tariff for 2010: the cancellation fee is £30 each for Gas or electricity


We are being advised by the Police and other agencies to be very careful before letting anyone in. It is NOT GOOD ENOUGH that they flash an identity tag or badge at you since they could manufacture or get these anywhere.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS TO TELEPHONE YOUR GAS OR ELECTRICITY SUPPLIER and arrange a security word which is specific to you and which you can easily remember. Any caller from the utility concerned must then be able to tell you that word before you let him in.

The utility companies are very helpful in this respect and will happily make this arrangement for you.


At present in the London Borough of Havering we have a scam going on. One of our members happened to be with an elderly friend when there was a knock on the door and these two chaps said they were from the Water Board and practically pushed their way in. It was fortunate that my friend was in the house as she was able to challenge their claim that they were from the Water Board. She told them her son was a builder and had done plumbing and there was no way the Board would check in the way in which they were behaving. One tried to keep her talking while the other tried to get upstairs. It didn't work and they soon cleared off. There was coincidently some building work going on further up the road and it seemed they were trying to use that fact in order to convince the householder of their genuineness. One wonders what would have happened if my friend had not been there. As it was they must have been shocked and dismayed to find the proposed victim had company. I was told that one was Irish and the other had a middle European accent.

So friends be warned.

By the way the nice young lady Community Policeman wanted to take details from me which in the normal way I would have been quite happy to divulge but on my asking, she confirmed my details would go on a computer. Well, no way. Once on a computer it is very hard for you to get them taken off. So do ask what will happen to any information provided. It is quite likely all of us have our details on computers already but I see no reason for us to submit our private information to anyone, even if they are a Community Police Officers.

Be warned.

Monday, 20 July 2009


At a recent meeting of the GLPA, we were informed by our Speaker, an Assembly Member of the Greater London Authority, that our information was wrong regarding the reserve power.

In order to clarify matters, we copy below an edited version of a letter received by one of our colleagues from his Member, (representing the London Borough of Brent), Mr. Navin Shah, which summarizes the history and details under which the Pass is and was issued:-

"....The Freedom Pass provides free travel for Londoners over 60. It started as free bus travel in 1973 which was extended to London Underground by the GLC in the 1980s. Following the abolition of the GLC the Freedom Pass became administered by London Councils (previously the Association of London Government), the umbrella organisation for London's 33 local authorities.London Councils is a politically represenative body whose make-up reflects the balance of power between parties across the London Boroughs.Following 2006 local elections London Councils is currently controlled by a conservative administration.

"Following establishment of the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London (TfL) in 2000 the Act of Parliament stated that TfL would make a contribution alongside the Boroughs. This Act also gave the Mayor the reserve power of arbitration should a stand-off between the Boroughs, or between the boroughs and TfL occur.The purpose of this was to guarantee the Freedom Pass as if one borough wished to opt out, it would not be able to.

"Ken Livingstone used this power repeatedly. Following a particularly fraught round of negotiations in 2007 Conservative members of the London Councils began to lobby against this power and some against the Freedom Pass itself. Cllr. Daniel Moylan (Kensington & Chelsea) accused the Mayor of "using the Freedom Pass as a stealth tax on Londoners" London Councils then lobbied strongly as England and Wales' Concessionary Bus Travel Bill was going through Parliament, sponsoring amendments that would have removed the reserve power codified in the Greater London Authority Act (1999). THE CURRENT MAYOR WHO WAS AN MP AT THE TIME, DID NOT VOTE ON THAT BILL.

"As candidate for Mayor of London,Boris Johnson promised "a new relationship with the boroughs" -and was lobbied strongly by some Conservative politicians in London - including members of the London Assembly to devolve powers to the boroughs. I am(Mr.Shah) of the belief this is a somewhat meaningless request. considering the powers of the Mayor are enshrined in an Act of Parliament. Any substantial devolution would require amendments in parliament.

"The Mayor has only weakened his powers in relation to the Boroughs in one respect- the Freedom Pass reserve Power. In February 2009 HE ANNOUNCED HE WAS AGREEING TO LONDON COUNCILS' WISHES BY PASSING THE POWER OF RESOLVING FREEMOM PASS DISPUTES TO AN INDEPENDENT ARBITER. THIS IS AGAINST THE WISHES OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT, who have stated the reserve power was designed to ensure the continued existence of the Freedom Pass. While an independent arbiter is a model suitable to industrial relations, the reserve power was given to the Mayor as it was felt such a power should be held by someone with democratic accountability.

"I have discussed the history of the politics of the Freedom Pass before the election of this Mayor as I believe it is also important to note that Boris Johnson appointed Cllr Moylan to the Board of TfL. It is therefore unsurprising Boris Johnson devolved the reserve power away from himself.

"I do not think the chances of negotiations going to the arbiter are reduced by the devolution of this power. As part of the negotiations, London Councils agreed that Transport for London's contribtions could be capped until 2015. Therefore any rise in costs before that date will have to be covered by borough contributions, and so the scope for disagreement is somewhat larger.ONE BOROUGH CAN STILL HOLD THE WHOLE OF LONDON TO RANSOM, AND THE MAYOR NOW CANNOT OVERRIDE THIS PROTEST. It should also be remembered that the Mayor has extended the Freedom Pass for 24 hour usage. While I welcome this move for the benefits it brings, it must be noted this will increase the COST PRESSURES ON BOROUGHS.

"I felt it important to discuss the background to this change as I feel this is not an isolated attempt to alter concessionary travel in London.Nevertheless, this is a matter between the boroughs at London Councils, rather than between London Councils and TfL.

"There has been general agreement at London Councils that a move towards actual usage was favourable and fair. Each authority's contribution has always theoretically been based on usage.The introduction of the Oyster Card system allows London Councils and TfL to gain a more realistic measure of 'usage'.

"There are winners and losers from this new arrangement. Theoretically, boroughs with large elderly populations, and where a large number of the over 60s cannot afford to drive, will see their contributions increase significantly. Boroughs with large elderly populations, but where the over 60s are more reliant on cars are likely to be the winners from the transition to this new arrangement.

"It has been claimed that this will benefit the outer London Boroughs at the expense of the inner. However, the results will be a bit more nuanced than this in that only the outer London Boroughs with a low level of TfL services will benefit, while others with a high level of public transport provision are likely to see increased bills. For example, it is predicted the London Borough of Bromley, which only benefits from bus and tram TfL services, will gain £4.4m through the new arrangement, while Brent will lose £2.5m.The Majority of inner London Boroughs will see increases, e.g. Haringey are set to lose £2.5m. In the long run,costs are likely to rise for all, as we have an ageing population. I consider this a long term threat to the will of boroughs to provide the Freedom Pass, and the benefits the Pass brings to London's over 60 population therefore must not be forgotten.

"While I accept there is an argument where areas with fewer TfL services should pay less, I am concerned at both this fractured approach to transport in London and the effects of the transferred costs to some of the most strained boroughs in London...................................

"I do remain deeply concerned that the Mayor has relinquished his power of guarantee, and the unlikelihood of any future Mayor clamouring it back. The London Labour Party has long been greatly concerned at the appearance of a concerted threat to the Freeom Pass, and it is determined to maintain concessionary travel in Greater London."

We are grateful to Mr. Shah for this detailed information and appreciate how much work has gone into producing it. We hope that if Mr. Shah reads this edited version of his account and advice, he is happy with it. We shall of course be pleased to make any amendments he deems fair.

Monday, 13 July 2009


The Headings below were kindly provided by the Pensions Service, a representative of which came along to Havering Retired Persons Association.
It is worth checking with your local Pension Service and/or Age Concern to see whether you can be or are, without prejudice,entitled to any of the above items.


We set out below the symptoms to be looked for and the following actions which should be taken.

THESE ARE PROVIDED FOR US BY THE NHS LINK serving the London Borough of Havering for which we are grateful.

Some of the signs are obviously self evident, nevertheless it is useful to bring these points to Pensioners' attention.

  • feeling faint,
  • dizziness,
  • nausea,
  • headache,
  • rapid heart beat,
  • confusion,
  • vomiting.
If you or someone else have the signs of heat exhaustion take the following actions:-
  • Move out of the sun to a cool shady spot or air conditioned room,
  • Lay the person down on their back and elevate their feet,
  • Slightly loosen or remove clothing,
  • Get the person to drink cold water (NOT ICED) to replace lost fluids,
  • Monitor the person closely and if they show signs of confusion,
  • fainting, or if they have a fever, call 999 to get medical assistance.
To speak to a NHS Direct Health Advisor, CALL 0845 4647


At the recent LOPSG Participants' meeting (Seventh London Older People's Assembly) a suggestion from the Chair was made regarding this payment.

On further enquiry it transpired that many of the better off pensioners may be of the view that this payment should be means tested. The reason for this was that many recipients are now living in Spain and other countries where heating one's home in the winter months is not such a priority because the climate of these countries is such in winter that heating problems are generally precluded.

However, the GLPA is totally opposed to any form of means testing regarding these payments.

If any of the public feel that pensioners are benefiting from a payment which is not utterly necessary because of where they are domiciled, the GLPA believes that the Government can easily redress the situation with the imposition of tax. If an enquiry was put to residents abroad, which is surely ascertained when the Ministry of Pensions despatches or arranges payment, the location of the recipients would indicate whether or not such a payment is necessary. In this case perhaps an adjustment could be made.

The argument was put to the Writer that the Government could save money by withholding payments to residents abroad and this savings would, in turn, be ploughed back into the systems for the benefit of less well-off pensioners.

This idea seems to be pie in the sky, since there has yet to be an instance that any savings the Government makes on Pensioner Benefits is directly put into the system for the benefit of less well off pensioners, and identifiable.

The GLPA remains utterly opposed to means testing of any kind.

The fuel payment is the only benefit which is given to Pensioners without any form of means testing. The Freedom Pass is not completely national so this cannot be said to fall into the category of a non-means tested gratuity.

It smacks of betrayal when other Pensioners invite the Government to means test a benefit. One can only conclude that Pensioners of this mind, must be particularly well off.

Friday, 12 June 2009


The Daily Express on Thursday 11th June gave a report that MIDDLE-CLASS pensioners should be taxed on their winter fuel allowance or even banned from claiming it altogether, MPs allegedly said on the 10th June. (Read the article here).

Isn't this typical? We have a banking crisis in which the Bankers, the very people responsible for the catastrophe, received millions of pounds in pay-offs. Worse, the Banks were bailed out to the tune of not, millions friends, not billions friends, but in some cases trillions of pounds.

Yet when we asked for the link with earnings to be restored, we were told that it was not affordable.

It is clear that the money was there and very affordable but not for the Pensioners.

It is MPs who have milked their own system (65% of them at least) in getting benefits by the most, in many cases, fraudulent means and yet MPs now say middle-class pensioners should be taxed on their fuel allowance. Perhaps our memories are at fault here, so forgive us for observing that it was the middle-class pensioners (the better off of the elderly in the UK) who had their pension funds raided or penalised by the Inland Revenue new tax laws.

It is the same old story, when in trouble hit the old. The old cannot hit back. The old cannot riot or protest very easily. IT IS TODAY'S OLD who have paid more than any other section of society. By virtue of their age it follows they have paid over a longer period and therefore have contributed more than any other section of our society. They have also fought and endured two world wars but this is of no account.

The fact that this nasty idea is levelled at the perhaps better off pensioner is totally irrelevant. Middle-class Pensioners feel the cold just like any other and have to pay for it.

It is an iniquitous idea, this of taxing the elderly and shows a total lack of honour but should we expect anything else from a house of representatives who fiddle and claim for non-existent mortgages, pornographic films and duck ponds. They have no real conception of the word. It is greed, pure greed, which appears to reign in the House of Commons. Honour does not come into it.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Jack Jones

Today is a very sad one for Pensioners nationwide. Last night, 21st April, this genuine and honest man passed away to what we hope will be a peaceful rest.

Jack Jones was a prime mover in the Pensioner movement and played a major role in the inception of the National Pensioners Convention. We are proud to say that Jack was a patron of this Association, the Greater London Pensioners Association.

His life was a dedication to the working man but more than this it was a dedication interwoven with compassion and decency and these qualities manifested, notably when taking up the issues and plight of Britain's pensioners.

He never stinted to use his voice and reputation on our behalf, although, like many great men, his innate honesty and uprightness often worked against him.

We understand he refused entry to the House of Lords because he wanted to keep his feet on the ground. He nevertheless maintained his goodwill and efforts and even though old age was making it more and more difficult, he still attended our rallies and marches when his failing health allowed. He supported us, he inspired us, he was a living example of what a public figure should be

So we thank this cheerful man who was our figurehead at all times. In the words of the song, which were his perennial wave of goodbye to us whenever we met, he kept right on to the end of the road.

We are sure there will be a light waiting for you. Farewell, Jack.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

The Freedom Pass

A great number of voices have been raised over this Pass and the great fear was that Boris Johnson would do something to jeopardise its existence. Instead he has extended it to 24 hours, 7 days a week and we have in this blog advertised our gratitude and thanks. If our fears were unfounded then we are the first to admit it.

However, it appears to be a little known fact that Mr. Johnson has dropped the reserve scheme.

Most campaigning pensioners are aware that if certain Councils drop out of the Scheme, namely Westminster, Barnet, Bromley and possibly Havering, then the scheme will collapse and the Pass will be no more. This situation has been an ever-constant worry to the watchdog Pensioners. But our buffer to despair was the existence of the Reserve Power which, incidentally, last year was under threat from certain Lib Dem Lords.

Should the scheme collapse in this way, then Ken Livingstone had the reserve power brought into being so that a Pass of sorts could be substituted. It would not be so comprehensive and indeed may only cover bus routes, but it was a safety net for Pensioners.

One of the contributors to this blog was told that the scheme was based on usage because of the expense and we do not pretend to understand the ins and outs of this answer. What we do understand is that if finance is the pivotal point of the Pass's existence, then it certainly (in the present day financial crisis), is in jeopardy. It comes down as ever, to money.

The Pensioners get precious little but the Freedom Pass is their jewel in their somewhat tawdry crown.

The Pass enables movement, and thus averts dementia, boredom and depression. It enables pensioners to shop and spend, and their money is real cash, not airy-fairy credit card exchange, the very things which contributed to the current crisis and bankruptcy. So the pensioners moving about are the very folk who encourage commerce and keep the towns and boroughs alive and afloat.

So please all you good people out there get in touch with your Greater London Assembly Councillor, your local Councillors and your MP's voicing your concerns that should there be any chance of the scheme collapsing a RESERVE scheme WILL BE PUT IN PLACE to protect the one thing which is a breath of life to us, keeps us healthy and by so doing prevents us becoming a burden on the NHS.

Mr. Johnson please take note.

A footnote: We have been told that the sum allocated to Councils to assist them in their contributions to the Bus Pass is not ring-fenced and so (if this assertion is true) are able to raid it for their own purposes, not necessarily connected to Pensioners' travel. Correct us if we are wrong please.

Margaret Haywood

The registration of nurses is a condition which protects patients and ensures that only nurses registered by the Nursing and Midwifery Council are allowed to practise. This condition guarantees a safe and reliable nursing profession.

The existence of this Council is to our great benefit and prevents the employment of unqualified and charlatan nurses who, without this safeguard, could otherwise endanger the health, and indeed the life, of those vulnerable and sick; particularly post operative patients and those in critical conditions.

However, in the case of Margaret Haywood whose recent actions of whistleblowing and allowing a TV programme, namely Panorama, to film the dire conditions of apparent neglect of elderly patients in care homes, it would appear that the Council has acted AGAINST the interests of those whom it should be protecting.

There is a fine line here between someone breaking a disciplinary code out of mischievousness, neglect or malice, and one flouting the rules because their conscience and concern for those patients in their care demand that they do so. Margaret Haywood quite clearly had the welfare and well-being of her patients at heart and it was a brave action on her part to put her own job at risk.

Technically, she may have been wrong, and, in the view of the Council, guilty of misconduct but surely this is a case where a discretionary and compassionate caution should have been applied.

How many people must suffer and in the case of the elderly sick, in fear and loneliness before anyone raises a hand to help them.

The Council have displayed a great lack of intelligence in their unrelenting attitude. Hamfistedness is a term which springs to mind. This is one instance where the Council should have initiated some investigation so that the well-being of patients is paramount; where a liberal and benevolent conclusion should have been reached, not solely governed by the code which was in place originally to protect those unable to protect themselves.

Margaret Haywood deserves to be reinstated and the Council will be doing themselves a great favour by acting to redress the great wrong they have committed. Patients must come first not codes, in this case thoroughly misapplied.

Next Meeting

Our next meeting is at Camden Town Hall on Friday 3st July 2009 2009. Our
May meeting was due to hear a representative from TFL. Do come along, listen and air your views. See you then. See our latest item on the Freedom Pass.

Saturday, 14 March 2009


This is scheduled for Saturday 18th April at Somers Town Community Centre 150 Ossulston Street, Kings Cross, London NW1 1EE commencing at 10.30 a.m. with registration at 10.00 a.m. Lunch will be provided. Nominations and Motions no later than 7th April please.

This is the most important meeting of the year so try and make it if you can.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Pensioners' Parliament

The 17th National Pensioners' Parliament is scheduled for 2nd to 4th June (inclusive) 2009 and will be held at Blackpool, Winter Gardens.

The programme includes "Question Time" with Prof Alan Walker (Chair), Nigel Waterson (Con), Rosie Winterton (Lab), Paul Rowen (Lib Dem) and Joe Harris (NPC).

Debates for Wednesday cover 'Age Equality', 'Pensioners and the General Election' and 'Understanding Local Area Agreements'. Also scheduled for Wednesday is a discussion on 'Dignity in Care' - Holding NHS to account and the role of Links, Pensioners and the economy.

After close of sessions at 7pm. there is social evening with The Bachelors.

Workshops on Thursday include 'Building Pensioner Movement', the ongoing campaign for free travel and working with the media.  Speeches are from: Sir Michael Parkinson (Care Ambassador), Rodney Bickerstaffe and Sarah Stone (Deputy Commissioner for Older People in Wales).

Get in touch with your local organisation and/or the NPC.   The GLPA office is always ready to help with details.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Keep the Post Public

Do you want the Royal Mail privatised?

If not, sign our petition organised by:
   CWU London District Council 
   34/41 Dallington Street 
   London EC1V OBB

Find out more and sign the petition online  at

It may be April Fools but we're No Fools

The British Pensioners Trade Unions Association Action Day has been organised for April lst  under the banner of:

      "WE'RE NO FOOLS!"

Let the GLPA know what action your organisation is taking by use of our contacts on the right or by making a comment here.

Monday, 2 February 2009


An NHS nurse has apparently found herself in trouble for offering to say a prayer for one of her patients.

What are we coming to? We feel certain that if a nurse volunteered to pray for us we'd be jolly glad.  It wouldn't matter if the nurse was Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Chinese, Buddhist or Hindu, or of any other belief for that matter. Surely if someone offers to pray for you, it should be accepted in the kind manner in which it was made.

A Peer's Claims & a Pensioner's Income - Taste the Difference!!!

We set out below an item published by the Daily Express on Wednesday 26th January:-


A PEER who allegedly offered to bend laws in return for large amounts of cash has claimed nearly £400,000 of taxpayers' money in expenses.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn took the cash between 2001 and 2008, claiming nearly £168,000 for overnight stays at up to £165.50 a night.

He also claimed nearly £72,000 for day subsistence to cover meals and cab fares at up to £82.50 a day. His main travel bill totalled £70,500 including £9,722 in 2006-07 for flights.

He is one of four Labour peers who deny operating a cash-for-influence racket at the Lords.

A tape has him saying that he could earn up to £100,000 a year from working for companies. Justice Secretary Jack Straw was criticised by sleaze watchdogs for delaying declaring a £3,000 donation from an energy firm, made via Taylor."