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Posts Tagged ‘NHS’

After Gosport let’s rip up the NHS

Dr Jane Barton was in charge of prescribing medicine on the wards of Gosport War Memorial Hospital, Hampshire. The Sunday Times say she was “found responsible last week for the deaths of up to 650 people and a culture in which powerful opiates were routinely and recklessly prescribed”. Tough words. Surely her work “potentially contributed to the early deaths of hundreds of patients”? One thing is certain: this a scandal for the NHS to deal with. Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt goes on the record:

“The basic problem is that if you are a doctor or a nurse and you see something going wrong – even if you are perhaps responsible for a mistake yourself – the most important thing, the thing that families want if they are bereaved or if they have a tragedy, is to know that the NHS isn’t going to make that mistake again.”

Is this to be an other story which ends with the line “lessons have been learned”?

“We make it much too hard for doctors and nurses to do that – they are worried that there will be litigation, they will go up in front of the GMC or NMC, the reputation of their unit – in some places they are worried they might get fired, so we do have to tackle that blame culture and turn that into a learning culture.”

The stand -out part of his address to the scandal is that “the lives of over 450 patients were shortened by clinically inappropriate use of opioid analgesics”. Live were shortened sounds like a euphemism. The Sun puts it on balder terms: their lives were “snuffed out”. Thinks ,less of the ignored whistleblower and families of the dead and marvel at how many people must have said nothing or worse. Says the Sun: “The health service is, in the main, an admirable institution. But it also gave us serial killer Harold Shipman, the Mid-Staffs ­outrage, the baby deaths at Bristol and Morecambe, and now hundreds killed in Gosport as staff closed ranks.” Anyone using the word “systemic” should be removed from the debate. This is about people. “Scandals like Gosport will be repeated until government targets are banned,” says one Guardian writer. Blame the system and everyone escapes.

Professor Sir Brian Jarman, director of the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College London, says what happened at Gosport could be occurring elsewhere, because whistleblowers are “fired, gagged and blacklisted… nobody dare whistleblow in the NHS”.

The obvious question, then: why not blame the NHS and question its role? Why blame the system and not the body? Catherine Bennett wonders:

If the propensity to sanctify the NHS, to the point of worshipping it at the Olympics ceremony, helps explain occasional unwillingness to recognise its fallibility, and correspondingly exaggerated self-belief on the part of some practitioners, the Jones report doubles as a 370-page case for deconsecration. Although just a quick reading of Learning From Tragedy, p25, “a new approach to complaints and concerns”, would be a start.

And what of the technology? The Sunday Times has focused a report on the “cheap, faulty syringe pumps” used in palliative care.

The pumps, or drivers, used in the NHS for at least 30 years, led to the rapid infusion of dangerous doses of drugs into the bloodstream and made the behaviour of Dr Jane Barton — in charge of prescribing medicine on the Gosport wards — even more dangerous than had been thought

Would you put a member of you own family on such a pump – one you didn’t want to bump off?

The whistleblower said: “This could be one of the biggest cover- ups in NHS history. Anyone who has lost their granny over the past 30 years when opiates were administered by this equipment will be asking themselves, ‘Is that what killed Granny?’”

Amazing, no, how many old people can have “their lives shortened” before the rest of us take notice.

And what of the money all politicians of every stripe want to toss at the NHS? Is the NHS snow so big and bloated it can’t be questioned? If MPs and ministers can’t excerpt power over it, what chance does a nurse or hospital porter have of exposing serious wrongdoing?

A private word now: had I relied on the NHS I’d be living in a wheelchair or much worse. The NHS does much great work, but it was the sixth opinion – the first from a private doctor – that saved me. Our leaders venerate the NHS. It is beyond blame. But an organisation which has to cancel 50,000 operations to handle winter flu is not best serving the people.

Tim Black notes that questioning the NHS is heresy:

Few politicians question whether simply throwing money at the NHS is the best way forward. Or dare suggest that there are some things the NHS does, especially its intrusions into people’s lifestyles, that are detrimental to our political and social health. Or point out that its excessive managerialism and target-setting lead to routinised carelessness. Because, in the estranged world of the political class, invoking the NHS is seen as just about the only way to speak to us with any authority. The NHS is now the answer to nearly every party-political question. Why are we raising taxes? To support the NHS. Why are we leaving the EU? To benefit the NHS. Why are we better than them? Because we love the NHS more.

A final thought: if there were no NHS and we needed a body to provide medical care at the point of need at no extra cost, would anyone design the NHS as is it now? Surely not. It’s time to rethink the enterprise and come up with something that serves us all better.

Posted: 24th, June 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment

The NHS needs £2,000 more per household

There’s a report out insisting that to keep the NHS angels treating our woes we’ll all have to stump up £2,000 more a year. Or at least, we need more taxes of about £2,000 per household to pay for it all. It’s not entirely obvious that this is actually so:

Taxes will “almost certainly” have to rise over the coming years simply to prevent the National Health Service and social care system from slipping further into crisis, a major new report concludes.

It needs a lot of cash:

Funding the projected increases in health spending through the tax system would need taxes to rise by between 1.6 and 2.6% of GDP – the equivalent of between £1,200 and £2,000 per household, the experts said.

There’s a problem with the report.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies and Health Foundation said the NHS would need an extra 4% a year – or £2,000 per UK household – for the next 15 years.

It said the only realistic way this could be paid for was by tax rises.

A detailed report of how they’ve gone wrong is here. A simple one is as follows.

Ever since it started the NHS has had a higher inflation rate than the rest of the economy. This isn’t a surprise, we expect services to rise in cost relative to manufactures. No, don’t worry about why (“Baumol’s Cost Disease”) but it’s something that we have seen is true for hundreds of years and we expect it to continue to be true. Except, except – this is only true if we don’t try to change the manner in which we do things. If we attempt reform then it is possible that we’ll prevent that rise in costs.

What have we been doing since 2010? Yup, that’s right, we’ve been “destroying” the NHS by bringing in all those market and competition ideas, haven’t we? And a remarkable thing has happened. Since 2010 is the only time that the NHS hasn’t had a higher inflation rate than the rest of the economy. Quite the contrary in fact, prices for the same output have been falling in the NHS relative to those prices in the rest of the economy. Since 2010. Since we started to reform the NHS. By having those markets and competition.

That is, NHS reform actually works to solve this problem in this report. So, it isn’t – necessarily at least – that we need more tax money for the NHS. We could continue what we’re doing, which is to continue to reform the NHS, more markets, more competition, and deal with the problem that way. After all, we’ve got the proof of the past 8 years that it does actually work.

What’s bad about this report is that all of the information I’ve just used is in that very report. They just don’t manage to piece it together.

Posted: 25th, May 2018 | In: News | Comment

To all the fat nurses everywhere: keep taking the sugar

After a lengthy stay in hospital, I was advised by a charming, caring and professional nurse to go out for ice-cream and champagne. She told me this as we chatted over a huge plate of biscuits and sugary tea. I felt instantly better. But sugar is taboo at an NHS hospital in Greater Manchester. Staff are being weaned off the stuff.

Karen James, Chief Executive Tameside hospital, says: “My staff work very hard. Long hours and shift patterns often make it very difficult for people to make healthy choices, so they opt for the instant sweet fixes, which until now have been readily available. These are dedicated healthcare professionals who believe they should be role models for their patients but the food environment has been working against them.”

Role models? I just wanted the nurses to give me the right drugs at the right time and stay wake.

“We’ve taken away the sugary drinks, we’ve taken sugary snacks out of vending machines, we’ve taken away cookies and muffins and replaced them with fruit,” thunders Amanda Bromley, director of human resources at Tameside “You’d go to the till and there’d be a Twix and a Bounty bar staring back at you. People are working long shifts and if things are in front of them we know they are going to reach for them.” Adding: “Nurses and other health professionals need to be leading by example. They need to be role models for patients.”

“If someone is visibly overweight people don’t necessarily trust that advice. The public expect nurses to be role models,” says Richard Kyle, of Edinburgh Napier University, who led a recent study to find measurements on people working in health professions, and found them to be as obese as the rest of us. “It’s a priority of Simon Stevens [head of NHS England] that the NHS should be an exemplar, have a better proportion than the general population.”

So the vending machines have been cleansed.

The Times has more:

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, is planning to ban the sale of sugary drinks in hospitals this summer if on-site shops cannot get them down to under 10 per cent of sales.

Maybe the shops can sell other stuff to get the higher-spending punters in, like running machines and cannabis, say.

He is also imposing calorie caps on sandwiches, crisps and chocolate to fight a “snack culture that is causing an epidemic of obesity, preventable diseases, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer”.

After so much PR guff – and the message to nurses to buy cheaper multi-pack of snacks at the supermarket – one thing is missing for the table: hospital food is disgusting. On my first night on the ward I was fed a baked potato with more ‘eyes’ than a Piers Morgan column. Thankfully, I had a someone who bring in fresh and edible food. And when I felt like a pick me up, well, the nurse was always there with biscuits. I can’t recall her weight, BMI or vital statistics, largely because I didn’t give a shit. But next time I’ll be sure to check as I seek her views on religion, politics, investment strategies and other things that I need from her to make sense of my own life.

Posted: 10th, January 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment

Same-sex couple win NHS IVF case

Here’s a story in the Telegraph about IVF and same-sex couple seeking children.

Laura Hineson and Rachel Morgan were told by their local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group they would have to spend £6,000 on six rounds of intrauterine insemination due to unexplained infertility.

Go on…

However, under Barnsley CCG’s policy, a heterosexual couple with similarly unexplained infertility would not need to undergo the same procedure before being granted access to IVF treatment.

Er, can a heterosexual partnership experience the same fertility issues as a same-sex partnership? Discuss.

The actual story is one of people looking to share love and parent a child. Laura Hineson and Rachel Morgan have been trying to have a baby via the emotionally and physically taxing method of artificial insemination. Having paid for private IVF, the couple explored getting help through the NHS. p

Pink News notes:

This week the couple, who had perused legal action against NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group on the grounds of unlawful discrimination, were successful in securing access to IVF treatment.

The couple say: “For us, this is about fighting for LGBT equality. We should have equal access to IVF treatment and a family, irrespective of the gender of the person we fall in love with.”

Seems fair enough, no? To borrow the words of bioethicist Dominic Wilkinson, “it is profoundly unjust to apply restrictions to reproduction only on those who are unable to conceive by natural means”. IVF is parenting just it is by any other method. He adds: “‘If the state is going to interfere in couples’ decisions about whether to have children or the number of children that they have, it should do so fairly and equally.”

Pink ads:

The couple, who struggled with unexplained infertility, had been told that they would be required to undergo a total of six rounds of private intrauterine insemination (IUI) – at a cost of approximately £6,000 – before being able to access funded IVF treatment.

Under NHS Barnsley CCG’s policy, a heterosexual couple with similarly unexplained infertility does not need to undergo clinical IUI before being granted access to IVF treatment.

The policy stated that heterosexual couples would be offered IVF treatment if they had been unsuccessful after trying to conceive for two years, among other criteria.

Good for them. Most of us can have a child without seeking State approval and being means tested if the bits aren’t working. If you start licensing parenthood, at least be consistent. To have the State investigate not only your relationship but also your reproductive organs is a trial. If you are going to afford same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, to make them pay a surcharge for their love is wholly wrong.

Posted: 14th, December 2017 | In: News | Comment

NHS wages: multiplier effect v opportunity costs

If you pay the NHS’s legion of workers more money, they’ll spend it and everyone will be better off. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of economics will recognise that as only partly true. But in the Guardian, it’s just a magical fact. Faiza Shaheen tells readers about the “muliplier effect”. She does not mention opportunity cost, of which more later:

Putting the direct costs of the pay cap to public services aside, there is also the so-called multiplier effect to consider. This means when you give someone a pay rise, there are larger positive implications for the economy because it can stimulate further rounds of spending. For example, if there is a £2bn increase in wages for NHS workers and they spend just half of this in shops, then shopkeepers will also receive income.

True. But why not just cut taxes and rates for shopkeepers. Same result, no? Around 2.7 million people work in retail in the UK. It is the nation’s biggest employer. Around 1.2 million of us work for the NHS.

In turn, this increase in income will mean shopkeepers are more likely to employ more people and increase salaries themselves.

Shopkeepers are booming. Will others want to get in on the boom and open their own shops, perhaps undercutting the existing outfits? Indeed, in May 2017 Chris Hopson, NHS Providers’ chief executive, told the Guardian: “Years of pay restraint and stressful working conditions are taking their toll,” he said. “Pay is becoming uncompetitive. Significant numbers of trusts say lower paid staff are leaving to stack shelves in supermarkets rather than carry on with the NHS.”

Back to Shaheen:

The treasury would then not just receive more taxes from higher wages among NHS staff, but also the VAT on extra goods sold, and on higher income taxes from jobs created elsewhere.

Of course, some of the State’ investment in NHS staff will return to central Government. But that misses the point.

The multiplier effect is thought to be higher for those on low-middle incomes, as they are much more likely to spend it than save it or put it in a tax haven. According to a Unison study based on International Monetary Fund figures, every 1% increase in public sector pay would generate between £710m and £820m for the government in increased income tax.

Tim Worstall notes:

That money has come from someone. Might be tax, might be borrowing, but those who had it would have also spent some portion of it into the economy. Even if we say that borrowing means it is obviously only coming from savings if those savings weren’t put into gilts then it would have been invested elsewhere instead.

What we actually want to know is what is the effect after this? This is known as the marginal propensity to spend (or save, the inverse). If we take tax off low paid people and give it to low paid people then the net effect is nothing. Because whatever the marginal propensity to spend of the poor is, it’ll be the same or those who lose money as those who gain it. If we take money off the rich then there will be a change. But that change is not the amount of money itself. It’s the difference between what the rich would have spent and the poor do spend. A useful rule of thumb here is some 15%. Upper middle classes might save 15% of any marginal income, the poor 0%, that’s the amount that spending rises by.

Do also note that this only applies to tax funded increases in such wages. If it’s from what is already being saved well, those savings would have been used to invest in some other thing if not borrowed by government.

Spotter: The Guardian



Posted: 19th, September 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment

Shropshire Hospital rejects donations from fund-raising transvestites

Many men like dressing up as women: sailors, rugby players, the headmistress at St Trinian’s school, East German athletes and Glamour magazine’s woman of the year. So too men on a fundraising drive for Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust. The lads dressed up as female nurses and shook their tins in the streets of Ludlow, Shropshire. People dug deep in their pockets and donated a none-too-shabby £2,500.

But the money is no good. It’s dirty. The hospital has rejected the cash, saying the way  it was earned was “highly-sexualised” and “demeaning”.

The Trust’s letter to the Ludlow Hospital League of Friends, which raised the cash, opines: “The presentation of men dressed as female nurses in a highly-sexualised and demeaning way is wrong, very outdated and insulting to the profession.”

Indeed. If nurses are to be demeaned by anyone it will be by pen pushers, male doctors and MPs, which is far more modern and progressive.

Posted: 23rd, August 2017 | In: Money, News | Comment

Blaming fat kids for the NHS ‘crisis’ is absurd

More new on fat people, society’s pariahs. The Telegraph has news:

Fat children, not the elderly, are fuelling the NHS crisis, a leading doctor has said.

Has anyone whose attended an NHS clinic or hospital been confronted by pods of fat children waiting to be treated? No, me neither. But Lord McColl of Dulwich, a  middle-aged non-fat former surgeon, thinks fat kids are to blame.

Th paper has form with fat-blaming. These are just two recent stories it’s featured:

If your child is fat then you are a bad parent

Why you never get over a fat childhood 

The Tele’s not alone in its assault on fat children. The Mail told its readers: “Fat children will ‘collapse the NHS’: Number of 11-year-olds weighing more than 15st DOUBLES in a year.”

The latest barb aimed at young bloaters is rooted in Lord McColl’s words to the Lords:

“It’s not so much the old people getting older – because old people have always been getting older. The difference in the last 30 years is the grotesque increase in young people getting fatter and fatter.”

What can be done? Narrow the hospital doors? Maybe we can wonder why at a time when lo-cal diets are all the rage and  TV news routinely features dire warnings on fat, people are getting fatter?

Lord McColl has repeatedly warned of an obesity epidemic, telling peers last year it was “killing millions, costing billions and the cure is free – just eat fewer calories”.

Eat less and the NHS will be saved billions. No need to invest at all, then. you need to starve them.

Posted: 10th, February 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment

NHS complaint letter of the year

When Yael Biran fell and broke her elbow, the mother of two sought treatment at her nearest NHS hospital in Lewisham, London. Her experience led to a bought to letter writing:


jael NHS letter




NHS letter epic

Posted: 3rd, January 2016 | In: Reviews | Comment

NHS balls: Margate Hospital fast-tracked RAF man in ‘ofensive uniform’ for cultural reasons

Mr Prendeville RAFWhen RAF aircraft engineer Mark Prendeville, 38, was injured at work he was taken to A&E at Margate’s Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent.

What happened next is little unclear.

The Sun: “AttenSHUN!EXCLUSIVE: Hospital moves RAF man over ‘offensive’ uniform”

AN RAF sergeant taken to A&E after a training accident was moved by hospital staff who said his uniform would upset other patients… workers twice ushered him into empty corners, claiming his camouflage fatigues may offend other patients

The source of the story appears to be Mark’s father Jim, 63, a former Sgt Major with the Irish Guards:

“Mark was moved because of his uniform — he was told that twice. The first time, they asked him to move around the corner. Then someone else came out and took him around another corner so no one would see him. They said they didn’t want to upset people in the hospital. The words they used were, ‘We’ve lots of different cultures’ coming in. Mark was quite annoyed, but he’s a quiet lad and he didn’t want to kick up a fuss.”

Well, that desire not to cause a fuss is today’s front-page news.

Comrades took the married 38-year-old — a war veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan — to A&E, where a member of staff ushered him to an empty corner of the waiting room. Dad-of-one Mark, wearing camouflage fatigues, was then moved again round a corner by another worker.

He was sat away from all other patients.

Well, maybe.

Daily Mirror:

Aircraft engineer Mark Prendeville, 38, was taken to an empty corner of the waiting room before being moved behind a corner by hospital staff – form fear of upsetting the “different cultures coming in”

The Mail:

Staff moved him to sit in a corner before asking him to sit behind a wall.

Daily Express: “Outrage as hospital moves injured RAF veteran out of A&E because he was wearing uniform”

A spokesman for East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust apologised to Sgt Prendeville for “any embarrassment”.“A member of the armed forces in uniform attended our A&E and was asked by a member of staff if he wanted to sit inside the department rather than the waiting room. This employee was acting in good faith because previously, there had been an altercation between a member of the public and a different member of the armed forces in uniform.”

Rather than having to sit with the riffraff in A&E, Mr Prendeville was taken inside the department.

And there can be nutters in A&E. Take these stories from July 2015:

A hospital patient threatened to “kill” staff as he assaulted two nurses, a court heard. Aaron Stewart, of Bentick Court in Manvers Road, Sneinton, also grabbed one of the nurses in a headlock, clenched his fist and said he would “smash you all up” after being admitted to the Queen’s Medical Centre with a cut hand.


A doctor and nurse were attacked by a violent patient high on drugs. Jennifer Coxon, 25, also shouted vile abuse at other patients waiting to be assessed at the Accident and Emergency Department of Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Might it be that Mr Prendeville was given treatment faster than those not in uniform?

Posted: 26th, September 2015 | In: Reviews | Comments (3)

The truth about dentistry at the ‘gleaming’ Dover immigration removal centre

dover centre


In “DEPORTATION SCNADAL”, the Sun focuses on dentistry at Dover immigration removal centre, aka The Citadel.

“£4m Dental Suite Built For Illegals”


Deportation scandal sees migrants leave with gleaming teeth

As the deported bare their new teeth, the Sun reports:

They are seen within six days at the surgery at Dover Immigration Removal Centre. But locals face a six-week wait at nearby public surgeries. The suite is run by five NHS dentists backed up by over-the-phone interpreters. It was built after detainees complained it was too much hassle being cuffed and escorted to off-site appointments…

Sharon McNeill, 46, waited weeks to have a tooth out. She said: “The way we cater to their needs is out of control.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 9th, February 2015 | In: Reviews | Comment

Daily Mail story on foreign nurses is utter balls

News in the Daily Mail of nurses and foreigners: come over here, saving our lives:


mail nurses




The truth, you will not all surprised to learn, is somewhat different.

The Health and Social Care Information Service (HSCIS) notes:

Of all the joiners with a known nationality between April 2013 to April 2014, 20.8 per cent (6,704 out of 32,251) were non-British; Similarly, of all the joiners with a known nationality between September 2013 to September 2014, 22.0 per cent (7,449 out of 33,838) were non-British.

Such are the facts…


Posted: 19th, December 2014 | In: Reviews | Comment (1)

Daily Express Scares Readers With NHS Norovirus Horror Story

THE Daily Express leads with chilling news:




daily express warning



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Posted: 7th, November 2014 | In: Reviews | Comment

Viagra To Be Used To Treat Heart Disease

You and I might think that giving blokes with weak hearts Viagra so that they stride around with stiffies might not be all that good an idea. Which shows how much we know, eh? For the medical profession is urging exactly that: got a weak heart, get a stiffie!

A daily dose of Viagra could become a safe treatment for heart disease, researchers have said, after finding it improved blood flow.

The drug, normally used to treat erectile dysfunction, was found to prevent changes to the heart associated with disease.

Because it is already on the market and known to be safe, the researchers said there was no reason it could not be used immediately but said larger trials would be beneficial.

It’s not actually quite as stupid as we’ve made it sound. for there is a certain section of heart muscle that is very similar indeed to the muscles used to gain an erection. And Viagra works on those extremely similar muscles in exactly the same way, beneficially in both cases. So, for that particular kind of heart problem it’s not a bad idea at all.

But the real joy of this finding is that it brings the whole story full circle. For Viagra was originally designed as a drug to treat heart disease (a very slightly different kind that it’s now being touted for). And they found out, when they tested it on various groups of both male and female pensioners that the men didn’t want to give their extra tablets back at the end of the trial while the women didn’t are a hoot about that. At which point a little more investigation was done into why the men didn’t want to give the pills back and thus was found the effect. That the drug didn’t do all that much for the heart but it provided those stiffies that the older male can find so elusive. Especially, given the way that erections work, those that have heart problems find so difficult to attain.

Of course, Viagra has actually been treating heart disease all these years anyway. Even a few minutes now and then of gentle and stimulative exercise is known to have a beneficial effect upon the heart so those stiffies have been put to good use in the treatment of the more general condition.

Posted: 21st, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment

No More Boob Jobs On The NHS!



NO more breast augmentation operations will be available on the NHS. At least that’s the promise, that there should be no more fittings of Bulgarian Airbags, or boob jobs, on the NHS.

Cosmetic surgery should not be paid for by the taxpayer, Jeremy Hunt said today in a clampdown on NHS spending.

The Health Secretary said he could understand public anger at high profile cases of breast enlargements, dental work and slimming treatments being offered by the health service.

Mr Hunt insisted that all decisions must be taken on ‘clinical need’ and public money must not be used to pay for surgery just to improve someone’s looks.

Of course, this doesn’t cover women getting reconstruction work after surgery for breast cancer. Or anyone at all who the doctor says is being made really miserable by not having the cosmetic surgery done. Which means that this changes absolutely nothing in fact for the NHS doesn’t do purely cosmetic surgery anyway.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 18th, June 2014 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

Obesity, Booze And Fags Don’t Cost The NHS Money: They Save It



IT’S rather sad to see the people who actually run the NHS being so confused about the realities of that very NHS. The latest being this idea that all of us becoming fat lardbuckets will mean that the NHS runs out of money. So, therefore, we’ve all got to be dragooned into eating less so as to save the taxpayer.

The problem with this is that fatties don’t cost the NHS cash, they save it. Here’s the standard story:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 9th, June 2014 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment (1)

How Excellent: The NHS To Start Charging For Doctor’s Appointments

New facilities for St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London: The demonstration room for the new nurses home. Date: 30/05/1961

New facilities for St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London: The demonstration room for the new nurses home.
Date: 30/05/1961


THIS is going to cause an awful lot of shouting around and about the place but it’s also an excellent idea. That the NHS should start charging people when they make a doctor’s appointment. The shouting will come from those who insist that the NHS must be free at the point of use. The excellent part comes from the way in which the NHS should not be free at the point of use.

Here’s the report:

GPs are to hold a vote on charging for appointments.

The idea is to deter patients from missing consultations – a problem that costs £160million a year. The fees – possibly between £10 and £25 – would be the first since the NHS was founded in 1948.

One GP said an entire morning’s work was lost when 14 patients failed to turn up. Others believe the free care offered by the Health Service is unsustainable in the face of an aging and increasingly obese population.

It is feared however that charging would stop patients seeking help or encourage them to go to overstretched casualty units.

The proposal is to be debated at the British Medical Association’s local medical committee conference in York on May 22.

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Posted: 7th, May 2014 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment (1)

Why The Hell Do We Have Markets Now In The NHS?

A NOT uncommon question: why the hell do we have markets now in the NHS? Given that everything is being paid for by the taxpayer, shouldn’t we have the politicians, those representatives of the taxpayer, organising and running the NHS? Why should we let some private firm come in and skim some profit out of such a vital national resource?

The answer comes from something very few understand. Here’s a complaint about how much money the NHS needs as against how much it is getting:

The insatiable growth of the NHS’s demands for cash have never been more graphically illustrated than under the present government. Though “ringfenced” from the coalition’s spending cuts, the NHS is widely believed to be deteriorating to the point of collapse because it needs an annual budget increase of at least 4% (in real terms) to meet rising expectations. It probably needs more, as cuts in care services put extra burdens on GPs and hospitals.

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Posted: 6th, May 2014 | In: Money | Comment

1959: A Nurse Injects A Dummy At The Nursing & Health Exhibition

FLASHBACK to March 2 959:

Nursing & Health Exhibition at County Hall: A nursing sister shows how an injection is given. The exhibition was organised by the London County Council.

(Because dummies are terrifying.)

PA-5969763 (1)

Posted: 18th, March 2014 | In: Flashback, Photojournalism | Comment (1)

Maybe It’s Just Because The NHS Is Rubbish? Obamacare, Listen Up

ANOTHER report out, another report insisting that it’s the inequality that’s killing people:

Women and children in the UK would have longer and healthier lives if they lived in Cyprus, Italy or Spain, and Britain is facing “a public health timebomb”, according to a study by an expert on inequality and health.

Sir Michael Marmot, who is known worldwide for his work on the social determinants of health, says much of the rest of Europe takes better care of its families. Life expectancy for women and death rates among the under-fives are worse in the UK, where there is also more child poverty.

The public health time bomb Marmot describes is caused by the large number of so-called Neets – young adults who are not in education, employment or training.

Well, it could be that. But there is a problem with Marmot and his research. He just never does look properly for all of the various things that could be causing the problems he notes.

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Posted: 31st, October 2013 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

We’re all getting diesel generators to beat climate change – WTF!

THIS has to be the most insane side effect of the hysteria over climate change yet: we’re all supposed to kit ourselves out with diesel generators:

NHS hospitals are being asked to cut their power demand from the National Grid as part of a government attempt to stave off power blackouts, which the energy watchdog Ofgem warns could arrive as early as 2015.

According to one energy company, four hospitals have already signed up to a deal under which they will reduce demand at peak times by using diesel-fired generators.

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Posted: 3rd, July 2013 | In: Money | Comment

Daily Mail takes on Mumsnet and loses horribly

HOW media works: Zoe Brennan wants readers of Mumsnet to help her with a story:

I am writing a feature for The Daily Mail about the increase in the number of children being sent to A&E. Figures released earlier this week show an increasing number of youngsters are sent direct to hospital, because GPs are reluctant to treat children. Babies in particular. This means long waits, and inappropriate care. Has your child been sent to A&E with a common infection or minor injury by your GP or NHS Direct? Have you an opinion on this subject, as a parent?

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Posted: 25th, February 2013 | In: Reviews | Comment (1)

The Puritan anti-fat health Nazis have lied to us it on BMI

THE BMI measure is wrong:

Dr Katherine Flegal, of the National Centre for Health Statistics in the United States, found that people who are overweight had a six per cent lower risk of death than normal weight people.

The risk for those with a BMI (body mass index) of between 30 and 35 fell by five per cent. But those grossly obese with a BMI above 35 were 29 per cent more likely to die than slim people of the same age.

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Posted: 2nd, January 2013 | In: Reviews | Comment

‘Reasonably good’ Bolton doctors produce a cracking website

THE website of Bolton’s Dr. Surinder Singh and Dr. Stephen James Authe is a gem. They say of their surgeries on Halliwell Rd and Wyresdale Rd:

Hello, and welcome to our surgeries.

We operate a friendly 2-doctor 2-site (Wyresdale Road and Halliwell Road) practice, where we hope to provide a reasonably good standard of medical care. We do not pretend to be the best NHS surgery under the sun…

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Posted: 19th, November 2012 | In: The Consumer | Comment

How can we measure the result of privatising NHS England?

HOW surprising to see in The Guardian the usual moan about how flogging off the NHS is a very bad idea indeed. Which it might actually be but the really interesting question is how would we find out?

As for public accountability, there is none. Commercial contracts are redacted so that crucial financial information is not in the public domain. Government departments and companies refuse to release the necessary information on the grounds of commercial confidentiality and allow companies to sequester their profits in offshore tax havens. NHS staff transferred from the public to the private sector see their wages and benefits eroded. But all this is nothing compared with what is in store for patients.

In the new world it will no longer be possible to measure coverage or fairness. Former NHS hospitals, free to generate half their income from private patients, will dedicate their staff and facilities to that end, making it impossible to monitor what is public and what people are paying for.

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Posted: 29th, August 2012 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Why we really do want to decentralise the NHS – national does not work

SO. What do we think is the best system then? Taking all the people to dim to go into banking, sticking them in the Department of Health and giving them 10% of GDP, one tenth of all the gelt that the nation produces each year, to buy our health care for us?

Or perhas a slightly more decentalised system in which the tax money is still spent on scraping us up off the roads after an accident but we don’t rely on all those really celver people or the way that it’s spent? You know, perhas we allow people who actually know what they’re doing to spend it instead?

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Posted: 6th, August 2012 | In: Money | Comments (4)