Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Ambulance crew 'let patient die'


By Geneviève Roberts
Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Two Ambulance workers have been arrested on suspicion of neglecting a dying man.

They were detained after detectives were given a tape recording of them in the dying patient's house, in which they were allegedly heard discussing not bothering to try to revive him.

The two men, aged 35 and 44, both employees of South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust, had been sent to the home of a disabled man, Barry Baker, who dialled 999 saying he thought he was having a heart attack.

Ambulance controllers kept Mr Baker, from Brighton, talking on the phone as they ordered the paramedic and ambulance technician to get to him.

But the 59-year-old, who lived alone, collapsed unconscious while talking on the phone, leaving the line open to the control centre as he lay on the floor.

Minutes later, dispatch centre staff heard their crew enter the house, making disparaging comments about the state of the home. A police source said the crew were then heard discussing Mr Baker and saying "words the effect that he was not worth saving".

Both men have been suspended and bailed until next month while a police investigation is carried out. No charges have yet been made. A police source said: "Apparently, the paramedics' first reaction was to comment on the untidy and unkempt state of the house. Then they are heard to comment on seeing Mr Baker and saying that it was not worth bothering to try to carry out resuscitation to try to save him.

"They then are heard discussing what to tell ambulance control and decide to say that he was already dead when they arrived.

"Obviously the crew did not realise the phone was still connected and the 999 call was all recorded on tape."

"The controllers were so shocked they contacted senior managers and the police were called in."
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Source: The Independent

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

NHS doctor Bilal Abdulla found guilty of terror campaign

The NHS doctor who tried to murder thousands of people in the London and Glasgow car bombings had been part of a terrorist cell in Iraq, counter-terrorism sources have told The Times.

Bilal Abdulla came to Britain to open a “new front” in the Islamist jihad after he had been refused permission to carry out a suicide attack in Baghdad.

The car bombs he tried to detonate outside the Tiger, Tiger nightclub and at Glasgow airport were the first terrorist attacks in Britain to have been inspired – but not directed — by al-Qaeda in Iraq. Previous Islamist plots have had connections to al-Qaeda and Kashmiri extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Abdulla, a 29-year-old Iraqi born in Aylesbury, showed no emotion as he was convicted yesterday at Woolwich Crown Court of conspiracy to murder and cause explosions. He faces life imprisonment and will be sentenced today.

Full article here

£1.7bn NHS surplus 'should have been spent on patients'

The £1.7bn surplus made by the NHS in England in 2007-08 has come under fire from parliament's spending watchdog.

Edward Leigh, chairman of the public accounts committee, said last night that at least part of the money should have been spent on patients who were denied access to life-saving drugs or were provided with low-quality care.

It was reasonable for the health service to build up a contingency reserve, but the 2007-08 surplus was twice what NHS chiefs had planned, he added.

Leigh, the Tory MP for Gainsborough, was responding to a joint study by the National Audit Office and Audit Commission, which concluded that the surplus "reflected good use of resources rather than a failure to deliver healthcare".

The auditors said the NHS had made good progress in meeting national healthcare targets, including reducing waiting times and hospital acquired infections.

Steve Bundred, chief executive of the Audit Commission, said: "The surplus is equivalent to about one week's funding for the whole NHS. The organisations in the NHS are performing better financially and this surplus has created an element of certainty for financial planning that has not existed in recent years. This is especially reassuring given current financial pressures throughout the economy."

Tim Burr, head of the National Audit Office, said: "The surplus was generated through good financial management: NHS bodies delivered more cost savings than expected while still delivering against targets and improving the quality of healthcare. But better forecasting of the outcome could enable resources to be deployed more flexibly in-year."

Leigh, whose committee supervises the NAO, was more critical. He said: "The surplus represents a large amount of money that could have been spent on NHS patients and wasn't. While national targets were met, there are still examples of local organisations which are falling below standard, both medical and financial, and which might have benefited from additional cash.

"The Department of Health does not plan for the NHS to spend the surplus until at least 2009-2010. It is good to build in contingency, but it is a lot of contingency when, in certain parts of the country, patients are still being denied access to drugs and receiving low quality care."

Source: Guardian

Cancer patient given less than two months to live is told she must wait 25 days for drugs

A cancer patient given less than two months to live has been refused a life-prolonging drug until an NHS trust finishes a month-long investigation.

Margaret Jones hopes to be treated with Revlimid for myeloma, an incurable cancer of the bone marrow.

Her consultant says the drug, which costs around £4,300 for each cycle, could extend the 72-year-old's life without debilitating side effects.

But bosses at her primary care trust ruled they would not pay for Revlimid because it was not 'cost effective', even though other PCTs prescribe it for myeloma sufferers.

Mother-of-three Mrs Jones - backed by her family, MP, doctor and cancer charities - appealed on the grounds that another patient living nearby successfully overturned the trust's decision to block the same drug treatment in September.

But on December 5 Anne Walker, chief executive of East and North Hertfordshire PCT, said her case was still being investigated and said a response would be sent 'within 25 working days' - about half of Mrs Jones's life expectancy.

The case reignites the controversy over the 'postcode lottery' for NHS care and the time taken by the Government's rationing body to approve new cancer drugs.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) ruled last month that it would deny Revlimid to patients with myeloma despite admitting that it could extend life by up to three years.

Mrs Jones, of Welwyn, Hertfordshire, was diagnosed with myeloma just before Easter 2006. She had been using the controversial drug thalidomide to fight the cancer but recently began to suffer damaging side-effects, including loss of feeling in her hands and feet, and excruciating pain elsewhere in her body.

Following advice from her consultant-haematologist at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, backed by the charity Myeloma UK, she applied to the trust to use Revlimid - but was declined.

Yesterday she said: 'It seems wrong that there is a drug that can help people and yet the authorities put it beyond the reach of them. It is like being in a cage and somebody putting a piece of bread just out of reach. It is cruel.'

Full article here

Monday, 8 December 2008

Mystery American man funds life saving drugs denied by NHS

A terminally ill dad who thought he would never see his baby daughter start school may live to see the special day after a mystery American offered to fund treatment denied by the NHS.

Jack Rosser, 57, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in his kidneys just days after his daughter Emma was born.

He was told he might only have two years to live - unless he took a drug called Sutent, which could help him to live for several months more.

However, at 3,000 pounds a month, Mr Rosser's Primary Care Trust refused to pay for the drug, saying the cost did not justify the little time he stood to gain from treatment.

"I've actually fought for my country in the navy, I've never been sick or on the dole," Mr Rosser told Sky News.

"The first time you want to claim anything back from the country and it gets thrown in your face."

Mr Rosser's plight was highlighted by a postcode lottery cancer campaign group - a move which had life-changing consequences for the Gloucestershire man.

An anonymous benefactor from New York, said to be a hedge fund manager, contacted the group offering to pay for Mr Rosser's treatment.

Mr Rosser's wife Jenny told Sky News she was moved when she learnt of the man's generosity.

"I felt very humble and quite tearful," she said.

"It's been such a fight and all I can say is thank you. He's given my daughter the opportunity to get to know her dad."

Mr Rosser's illness is terminal, but he says he has been given the gift of extra life.

In the extra months he hopes to live, Mr Rosser said: "Some time I could see this gentleman and thank him."

Source: Sky News

Monday, 1 December 2008

NHS must learn lessons from Haringey Baby P case, says Healthcare Commission

Lessons from the Baby P case must be learnt within Haringey and the wider NHS, according to the Healthcare Commission.

The warning follows the publication of a joint Healthcare Commission review into Haringey Council's arrangements for safeguarding children and young people after the death of a 17-month-old boy, known as Baby P.

The Haringey review, also conducted by Ofsted and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, found systemic failings within the service which cared for Baby P.

Anna Walker, Healthcare Commission chief executive, said: 'From a healthcare perspective, we were particularly concerned about the inadequacy of systems necessary to enable agencies to work together effectively on behalf of children.'

'The lessons must be fully understood and fully acted upon, both in Haringey and more widely including by the NHS.'

The commission will now carry out a review of every NHS trust in England to ensure they are meeting safeguarding children obligations.

NHS gravy train drives six figure salaries


The Sunday Times has revealed that a ‘nurse consultant’ (nurses able to carry out minor operations) in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, earned over £100,000 last year thanks to overtime bonuses for helping to reduce hospital waiting lists.

And some proper consultants, one in Devon and Exeter and one in Greater Manchester for starters, are earning over £220,000 for the same heroic commitment to achieving the Government’s 18-week waiting list target.

This raises a number of questions.

The most obvious is how on earth can a nurse, even a nurse consultant, more than double her basic earnings (£50,000) through overtime? How many extra hours is she doing and what rate is she being paid for them? The same clearly applies to the consultants.

More fundamentally, if reducing waiting lists is a National Health Service target (and it has been ever since Labour took power in 1997) why is it necessary to pay people extra to do what they’re supposed to be doing in the first place?

The Government (chiefly former chancellor Gordon Brown and a succession of health ministers) has chucked countless extra billions at the NHS over the past few years and achieved precious little extra for it.

All that’s that’s happened is that consultants and general practitioners (neither of whom were underpaid) have been given monumental pay rises for doing the same job and further monumental bonuses if they do a bit more.

Some fortunate nurses (no doubt very capable) have also been given a second class ticket on this particular gravy train too, although the great majority of nurses (unlike GPs and consultants) remain underpaid.

I can feel a fever coming on, doctor.
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Link to article here
NHS nurse takes home £100000 salary thanks to overtime

Sunday, 23 November 2008

NHS want to close smoking room for terminally ill patients

POLITICALLY correct NHS bosses in Birmingham are battling to ban a smoking room for terminally ill patients – forcing them to be turfed out into the cold to enjoy their final cigarettes.

(Smoking ban doesn't apply in House of Commons)

Complete article here: Sunday Mercury

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

More than 400 NHS staff sacked in Wales for sexual abuse and Fraud

More than 400 NHS staff in Wales have been sacked or suspended in the past two years, according to figures obtained by an assembly member.

The alleged offences involved included abuse of patients, sexual harassment, drug thefts and fraud.

Chris Franks AM warned suspensions for a year or more in some cases put extra pressure on others working in the NHS.

Trusts stressed suspension was a "neutral act" often taken to protect the staff member involved.

The figures, obtained using the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), showed the costs of paying staff while they were suspended was more than £850,000 over two years.

They indicated 78 staff were suspended in 2006/07 and 121 in 2007/08 - a total of 199.

Over the same period there were 87 dismissals in the first year and 115 in the second - 202 altogether.

The statistics also indicated that one staff member in north Wales was suspended for 19 months in the 2006/07 financial year.

More than 90,000 people are directly employed by the health service in Wales, around five per cent of the working age population

Plaid Cymru AM Mr Franks said he accepted the numbers suspended "represents a very small proportion of NHS staff but it is important that those who fall below the standards expected are weeded out which is clearly happening".

"I do have concerns at the length of time that some staff are suspended before a decision on their future is made.

"This can be for a year or more and during that time staff are paid.

Complete article here

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

NHS Doctor, Sabah al-Zayyat, failed to identify Baby P's broken back and ribs


Sabah al-Zayyat

The consultant paediatrician was the last doctor to see Baby P alive, two days before his death. She failed to identify his broken back and ribs, recording that the examination could not be completed because the baby was “miserable and cranky”. She said she thought that Baby P had a cold. Dr Al-Zayyat, from Ilford, Essex, trained in Saudi Arabia and moved to Ireland in 1997 to study a master’s degree. Worked as a locum consultant paediatrician between 2002 and 2006 before moving to Great Ormond Street trust, based at St Ann’s Hospital. She has been banned from working unsupervised with children until the inquiry is complete and may face a GMC hearing.



Source: Mailonline

Monday, 10 November 2008

Almost as many patients die from bedsores as MRSA



EXCLUSIVE: Toll from bed ulcers near 5,000 £2bn cost of treating victims

By Nigel Nelson Political Editor Nigel.Nelson@People.Co.Uk

Bed sores are today revealed as the NHS's hidden killer.

New figures show they have caused nearly 5,000 deaths over five years, almost as many as hospital superbug MRSA.

Now a campaign has begun to press Health Secretary Alan Johnson to act.

Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow obtained figures showing untreated pressure ulcers were a factor in the deaths of 4,708 patients.

By comparison MRSA, which has had a much higher profile, killed 6,200.

Ex-health spokesman Mr Burstow, who was approached by victims' families, said: "These painful and grotesque sores can cause premature death. It is vital there is a national prevention programme."

Sores develop when the blood supply is cut off and strike those who are immobile or cannot feel pain suchas the old and paralysed.

They destroy tissue, allowing infection to spread, but can be prevented by checking and turning patients.

Superman actor Christopher Reeve died from a pressure sore at 52 in 2004, nine years after breaking his neck horse-riding.

Hospitals do not have to report sores, so patients are NOT checked frequently enough and there is NO way of knowing where they are most at risk.

There are estimated to be 800,000 cases a year costing the NHS £2billion.

Now the campaign group Your Turn wants records to become mandatory to name the worst hospitals.

David Stonehouse, of Guisborough, North Yorks, complained to PM Gordon Brown after his father was killed by a sore.

The Health Department said: "We provide clear guidance to hospitals on prevention."

Source: People.co.uk

Sunday, 9 November 2008

You live or die - who chooses?

This woman got the life-saving cancer drug she needed. Thousands more have been sentenced to an early death by bureaucrats. Russell Miller investigates.
Photographs by Larry Dunstan


At the age of 29, Toral Shah was warned she faced losing both her breasts to avoid death from an aggressive cancer. The disease had affected both her mother and her aunt. Devastated by the news, she asked for time to come to terms with the prospect of surgery that could disfigure her for life — and chemo or radiotherapy that could prevent her from ever having children. In a matter of weeks, the tumour had grown to the size of a mango. It was on the verge of invading other tissues — and the prognosis was bad. The surgeons removed a substantial amount of tissue with the tumour and she was given a synthetic implant. In common with thousands of women, Toral faced a stark choice: have both breasts removed, and endure the harrowing ordeal of chemo or radiotherapy, or somehow find an alternative. Toral comes from a medical background and she herself came across the alternative — Tamoxifen, a drug that had been mired in controversy, considered an expensive and unproven cure, offered to only a handful of NHS patients. On the advice of Macmillan Cancer Support, she asked to be given the drug. She was told by her doctors that her tumour was a localised variety. Such tumours grow in the presence of the female hormone oestrogen, which can be blocked by Tamoxifen. She was determined to get it.

Complete article here

Thursday, 6 November 2008

MUM found dead a week after ambulance sent to pick her up was cancelled because of NHS cuts

Ruth Hedge, 60, dialled 999 suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

But Dr Alan Stevenson, brought in to reduce call-outs, sent back the ambulance after speaking to Ruth, an inquest heard.

He told her to call the out-of-hours line. Ruth, of Borth, West Wales, tried but had the wrong number.

Coroner Michael Howells in Aberystwyth said it was “a failure by the NHS”, that her death was “avoidable” and recorded she died of natural causes aggravated by neglect.

Source: The Sun

Friday, 31 October 2008

Nine out of ten preventable deaths in the NHS are never reported to officials, it has emerged.

Of the estimated 72,000 annual deaths in the NHS, just 3,200 are recorded by the National Patient Safety Agency, MPs were told.

The Commons Health Select Committee heard evidence from experts in its first evidence session on its investigation into patient safety.

The NPSA runs a system where all NHS staff can report incidents or near misses so patterns can be spotted and the wider health community warned.

Incidents can include drugs administered in the wrong way or the wrong dose, medicines mixed up, the wrong operation carried out, a patient wrongly identified and broken or malfunctioning equipment.

Howard Stoate, a practising GP and Labour MP for Dartford, said the National Patient Safety Agency's own estimates suggest there are 72,000 preventable deaths in the NHS each year.

However, the incident recording database had collected just 3,200 reports of patient deaths, in 2007/8.

He said: "That is not just under-reporting, that is an extra-ordinary figure.

"If the public realised that only between five and ten per cent of preventable deaths are being reported they would have something to say about that.

Source: Telegraph

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Baby refused NHS treatment

Baby Byron was born with a condition called plagiocephaly - also known as flat-head-syndrome - which means his skull dents and becomes mis-shapen even when just slight pressure is put on it.

Even just laying on the same part of his head can cause it to change shape.

Hi family say he was fine when he was born, but as time went by they noticed there was a dent appearing in one side of his head and a bump growing on the opposite side.

His aunt Leanne Aspinnal who lives in Eastfield described it.

"It looks like he's been hit in the head with a brick on one side, but raised up on the other."

Byron was taken to hospital to see a paediatrician and they confirmed he had the condition.

Leanne continued, "All they did was make sure he could turn his neck, as sometimes babies can get stiff necks because of it."

"We were told not to worry about it and that his hair would grow over it, but the thing is it's not just a little bit of a funny shape...it's awful."

They were also told there shouldn't be any health worries for them to worry about, but Leanne isn't so sure.

"I spoke to another mother who has a child with the same condition and he now has to have specially made glasses because his eyes don't align because of the shape. At the very least he'll get bullied and then what happens when he goes bald when he's older?"

To re-shape his head back to normal a special helmet's needed that Byron would wear for twenty-three hours a day - without NHS help it's going to cost the family £2000 which they're desperately trying to raise.

But time is of the essence because the treatment needs to be done before Byron's 1-year-old, as that's when his skull will harden permanently into whatever shape it is at the time.

Leanne doesn't see why they can't have it done on the NHS.

"It's just a lottery and depends on what postcode you live in. If you live in Leeds the hospitals will do it. In Peterborough they're not willing to."

"At the end of the day the NHS fund a whole lot of things that's caused by what people have done to themselves, but a baby's born with a condition it can do nothing about - it is going to affect the way it lives and looks - and they won't do anything about it."

When asked why the treatment couldn't be provided, Peterborough's NHS Trust released the following statement:

The use of specialist helmets for the treatment of plagiocephaly is not standard practice within the NHS and is not routinely commissioned by primary care trusts. In the absence of NHS guidelines on their application, NHS Peterborough reviews each request through its Exceptional Cases panel on an individual case by case basis.

To date NHS Peterborough has not funded an application for specialist helmets for the treatment of plagiocephaly as there has been no specialist clinical support for these individual applications. Clinical support would need to come, for example, from an NHS consultant paediatrician.


If you would like to donate anything to the family to help with Byron's treatment, please call his aunt Leanne on 01733 315 386 or 07857 346 573.

Source: Hereward FM

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

NHS Postcode Lottery: Diagnosis murder

GPs paid £1 a time not to refer patients to hospital

Family doctors are receiving cash bonuses not to send patients to hospital despite National Health Service research that suggests incentive payments can reduce the quality of care.

GPs are paid £1 per patient to spend time reviewing their decision to send someone to hospital and a further £1 for every name on their surgeries’ list if they reduce their previous year’s referral rate. An average surgery with 10,000 patients will receive up to £20,000 for taking part in the scheme.

Eighty out of 82 practices in the Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust area signed up for it this month. Similar incentive schemes have been set up across the country despite the NHS’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) giving a warning about the risks. “Financial incentives to encourage GPs to reduce referral rates can be effective, but this is a high risk,” it says. It concludes that reduction “may apply to both necessary and unnecessary referrals”.

Oxfordshire PCT introduced cash incentives after a rise of 8 per cent last year in the number of referrals to Oxford Radcliffe Hospital NHS Trust and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust. Nationally, hospital referral rates increased by 16 per cent.

If doctors hit their targets, then the PCT will be left with a bill of £1.2 million. However, the trust believes that the expense is justified because the increasing amount of patients being sent to hospital is estimated to cost £6 million.

GP surgeries across London, Essex, Oxfordshire, Devon and Wiltshire are said to have signed up to incentive schemes that are at least partly based on reducing hospital referrals.

Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, said: “I don’t think patients’ services should be treated as a commodity which is incentivised if you don’t do something. A large number of patients are referred to hospital for investigation. If you don’t know what’s wrong, you cannot know how to handle the problem.”

Martin Roland, who led the NIHR investigators, said yesterday that patients were right to be worried about payments to GPs simply for meeting quotas on reducing referrals.

“If [the payment] triggers some sort of thoughtful process, such as talking to a more experienced colleague, then that is commendable and may save unnecessary referrals,” said Professor Roland, director of the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre. “But I would be cautious about incentives simply to reduce numbers if they are not tied to some sort of clinical review. The danger is that patients who would benefit from referral to hospital would no longer be referred.”

Sue Woollacott, chairman of the Patient Support Group at Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, said: “It seems to imply that GPs aren’t making good judgments and need financial incentives in order to do that. If I were a GP and getting payments for the practice, it would seem like some sort of bribe.”

Andrew Lansley, the Shadow Health Secretary, said that it was “inefficient and unethical” to pay GPs to refer fewer patients to hospital. “If patients find out that their local health bureaucracy is paying their GP not to refer them to hospital they will be rightly outraged,” he said.

The schemes come after the Government’s admission that the average GP now earns more than £103,000 but that two thirds of NHS patients cannot see their doctor within 48 hours.

Stephen Richards, chairman of the clinical executive for Oxfordshire PCT, said its research on 120 patients referred to hospital dermatology clinics found that at least half could have safely been seen by community-based services. “Junior, less experienced doctors do have higher referral rates than their more experienced colleagues and one of the focuses of our schemes is to encourage discussion with senior doctors with these relatively less experienced doctors,” he said. “By insisting that a senior colleague is doing a review of the decision-making progress, we are extremely unlikely not to refer someone who needs to be referred.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Most people prefer to be treated at home or in the community rather than in hospital if possible. GPs should base their referral decisions on what is clinically appropriate.”

Article here
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29/6/08 Gordon Brown promises to end the Postcode Lottery

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Friday, 17 October 2008

£30m bill for NHS negligence claims

Almost £30 million has been spent on settling NHS clinical negligence claims made in the last year.

Health Minister Ann Keen said more than £18 million had been paid out in damages, with a further £10 million on legal costs, to the end of September.

A total of £18,217,815 went on settling 2,262 cases - an average payout of just over £8,000.

But £7,878,866 was spent on claimants' legal costs, and £2,272,334 on defence legal costs.

And over half of the cases 4,593 formally claimed in 2007-08 have yet to be settled, with 2,331 outstanding.

In a written Commons answer to shadow health minister Mike Penning, Ms Keen said the claims were made against the NHS body providing the care.

The information was from the NHS Litigation Authority, she added, and did not include claims against self-employed contractors in primary care.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

NHS trust to spend £400,000 on yacht for unemployed teenagers

The chief executive of NHS Hull, Chris Long, said that the yacht, which would cost £400,000, would account for just 0.1 per cent of the PCT's annual budget. "I said we would never sort out health problems in Hull until we sorted out the employment issues facing the city. There is an absolute link between good education, good employment and good health."

But Steve Brady, leader of the Labour group on the city council, said the spending plans were unacceptable. "In the current economic climate, I'm amazed our local PCT is even thinking about doing something like this."

All stories on this topic here

Breast cancer patients should be denied a life-prolonging treatment on the NHS

Women should be refused the "last-ditch" drug even though the firm which manufactures it has offered to pay for the first doses, with the NHS only paying for further courses if it is shown to work.

Trials of the drug lapatinib, also known as Tyverb, have shown it can reduce the size of a tumour by 60 per cent and extend life by an average of two months, compared to standard treatment.

But the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence says it does not extend life by long enough to justify the extra cost.

The drug, which costs £1,068 for a four-week supply, has received its European licence, making it available on private prescription to patients in the UK.

Lapatinib works on a type of breast cancer known as HER-2 positive, so called because the tumour produces the protein HER 2 which fuels its growth.

This form of the disease accounts for around a fifth of the 45,000 cases of breast cancer each year.

The treatment is for women who have already received chemotherapy and the drug Herceptin, which is regarded as the gold standard treatment to stop the cancer returning, but whose cancer is still growing. It is thought 2,000 women each year could benefit from the drug.

The makers GlaxoSmithKline have offered to provide the treatment free for the first 12 weeks and the NHS would only pay for extra doses if it is still working after that.

But Nice has ruled in draft guidance that even with this offer the treatment is still not cost effective.

The drug is being given to patients in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Jane Tomlinson, the cancer campaigner who died of the illness last year at the age of 43, was told by her NHS drug that she could not have the drug.

She was eventually given access to the drug as part of clinical trials.

Because the drug must be given in combination with another treatment and it provides only a limited extra survival, it breaches the cost effectiveness threshold set by Nice, three times over.

The row is over the fact that women in the late stages of breast cancer are receiving Herceptin even when it has stopped working for them and GlaxoSmithKline has argued it is this group who should be switched to lapatinib, which costs about the same and has been shown to work.

But because patients should not be receiving Herceptin in these circumstances anyway, Nice has argued that lapatinib cannot be compared to it in this way.

Simon Jose, General Manager for GSK UK Pharmaceuticals said: "Given our involvement, it is difficult to comment without the appearance of self interest, however we strongly believe that the wrong decision has been made for patients, doctors and the NHS.

"For patients with Her2-positive advanced breast cancer and who have few treatment options left, Tyverb (lapatinib) offers real hope of slowing the disease. We therefore remain wholly committed to working with the NHS and NICE to make this innovative medicine available."

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "We are disappointed that the clinical evidence presented to Nice does not appear to be sufficient for them to recommend lapatinib on the NHS.

"Nice often has extremely difficult decisions to make, but we believe a negative decision from Nice should lead to positive action. This is an area where the Government can work closely with Nice, the pharmaceutical industry and funding bodies such as ourselves to carry out further research into the true role of lapatinib."

The guidance from NICE is still in the draft stages and is open for consultation.

article here

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Dentists 'giving patients pointless check-ups to exploit NHS payouts'

Dentists are 'exploiting' the NHS by inviting healthy patients for needless check-ups to maximise their profits, the Government has said.
Chief dental officer Dr Barry Cockroft accused dentists of advising patients to return every six months when official guidance says check-ups are only required every two years.
He also said some were routinely splitting up treatment that could be given in one session, in order to receive the NHS appointment payment more times.
Dr Cockcroft said unnecessary check-ups were unfairly inflating dentists' salaries - already pushing £100,000 - and were clogging up waiting lists.
Officials have ordered a crackdown on the practice, which they say could free up 800,000 appointments a year and hundreds of thousands of pounds for the NHS.
Dentists' pay shot up after a new contract was introduced in 2006, but over the time since then the number of people seeing an NHS dentist has fallen by a million.
The average dentist's salary in 2006-07 was £96,135 - an 11 per cent increase on the last year of the old contract. Guidance from NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, recommends patients have a check-up every two years, unless they are at risk of a life-threatening illness.
A Department of Health spokesman said: 'It is a contractual requirement for dentists to apply the NICE guidance.

'However, it is clear from new data available to primary care trusts that many patients are being seen every six months or so, effectively preventing new patients from getting access to NHS dentistry.
'PCTs now have contract based data to enable them to address this.' Some invitations to check-ups have come in the form of ' threatening' letters, warning that failure to attend could cost a patient their NHS place.
Dr Anthony Halperin, a dentist and a trustee of the Patients' Association, said: 'There is no doubt that some dentists are abusing the system. It is entirely inappropriate to see healthy patients so often.'
But Peter Ward, chief executive of the British Dental Association, said there was no evidence to back up the Government claims.
'The interval between patients being recalled by their NHS dentist is, according to NICE guidelines, a matter for the practitioner's clinical judgment in consultation with the patient,' he said.
'The BDA supports this guideline, as we do not believe a one-size-fits-all approach is clinically appropriate.
'Dentists develop treatment plans in conjunction with the patient, ensuring they are clinically appropriate and fit with the individual's wishes.'

article here

Sunday, 12 October 2008

'It's like having a death sentence hanging over me'

Sam Khan, 42, from London, has suffered from pulmonary hypertension – high blood pressure in the lungs – since the age of 25. This potentially fatal condition causes extreme breathlessness in around 1,500 people in the UK. In March 2008, Nice ruled against a whole class of existing drugs called prostacyclins, leaving Sam with a two-month supply of hers, which cost £37,000 per year.

Ms Khan said: "My condition has reached the stage that the tablets alone are not enough. I need the inhaler six times a day, but then I can work and contribute to society. Without it, I can barely walk three or four steps. When Nice decided the drug wasn't cost effective, I was devastated. The fact it could be taken away is like having a death sentence hanging over me. I know I won't be able to work any more if Nice doesn't reverse the decision as my PCT [primary care trust] has refused to pay for it. I understand the reality behind what Nice has to do, but when you're in the middle of it, it is difficult. I don't want to live for ever, or even to 75 with this illness, but I want to be an active member of society while I reasonably can."

Article in The Independent: The price of life – it was £20,000. Now NHS drugs body recalculates here

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

NHS child loses out as surgeon gives liver transplant to private patient from the Gulf

A senior surgeon broke NHS guidelines by transplanting part of a donated liver into a private overseas patient instead of saving it for someone on Britain’s waiting list.

Professor Nigel Heaton, head of the transplant unit at King’s College Hospital in London, transplanted part of the liver into a boy from one of the Gulf states.

The surgeon was the subject of a formal investigation after other doctors said that a child on the NHS organ waiting list should have been given priority. National guidelines state that, because of the acute shortage of donor organs in Britain, livers must be offered to all other NHS centres before they can be given to a patient from outside the EU.

There are about 400 NHS patients on the liver transplant waiting list – 20 per cent of whom will die before a suitable organ can be found.

The incident sparked fury among surgeons at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds, which first received the liver from a 40-year-old donor. After instructions from UK Transplant, which co-ordinates NHS transplant services, the Leeds surgeons sent the liver to King’s for a ‘super-urgent’ adult NHS patient on the understanding that it was to be used solely for that person.

Complete article here

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Professor Paul Goddard: Political correctness means dire care for patients

Labour's record on the NHS came under unprecedented attack yesterday from one of Britain's most senior doctors.

Professor Paul Goddard, a former president of the Royal Society of Medicine, accused the Government of leading the NHS into 'catastrophic meltdown'.

The award-winning professor directed particular anger at the drugs-rationing body Nice, which he accused of virtually killing patients to save money.

He said Labour's obsession with bureaucracy and political correctness had resulted in dire care for patients.

Money-saving practices, introduced to meet strict Whitehall targets, had contributed greatly to the rise of superbugs killing patients on hospital wards.

Professor Goddard said he became so disillusioned he ended his 30-year career as a consultant radiologist in disgust.

He had been head of training for ten hospitals across south west England, but felt the most effective way he could challenge the 'shocking incompetence' and mess of the NHS was to speak out.

Professor Goddard, 58, said: 'The NHS was built on the foundation of caring for the community. It was designed to help those who needed help, care for those who needed care, and treat those who needed treatment.

complete article here

Friday, 26 September 2008

Elderly hospital patients restrained with braces and bedsheets

Carers who restrained elderly hospital patients with braces and bed sheets have been blasted in a report.

The practice by untrained staff posed a "significant safety risk" to the five pensioners, investigators said.

Cops were called but found insufficient evidence to prosecute. No staff were sacked.

The report, produced after a probe by Harrow Primary Care Trust in North London, found the human rights of five patients had been breached in one month.

The Fletcher Ward at Northwick Park Hospital, where 42 per cent of patients suffer dementia, was at "minimum staffing levels" at the time.

Pct Chief Executive Dr Sarah Crowther said: "This was unacceptable. Disciplinary action has been taken and training introduced."

Gordon Lishman, of Age Concern, said: "It's horrendous that people are abused while in the care of the NHS."

article here

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Gordon Brown extends the Postcode Lottery to include the new "Illness Lottery"

Rochdale /health campaigner, Councillor Jean Ashworth, has slammed Gordon Brown’s decision to allow free prescriptions for cancer patients in England but not all patients suffering from long-term illness. The Prime Minister announced in his speech at the Labour conference that as of next year this new policy would be put in place. Currently Scotland is the only country in the UK that enjoys free prescriptions for all.

Councillor Ashworth said: “I welcome the decision for free prescriptions for cancer patients but I think Gordon Brown has missed a golden opportunity to help many others suffering from life threatening conditions. Take asthma for example. At the moment one in four children suffer from asthma in the UK and when they reach 16, many of them can’t afford to pay for their prescriptions.

"Asthma is a life threatening disease. If people do not receive the medication they need they will die. Nobody should have to pay to breathe."

Read the rest of this article here

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Cumbria Primary Care Trust condemn Michael Kennett to death to save money

A WHITEHAVEN man battling cancer has had a lifeline appeal for treatment turned down by health bosses.

Already denied NHS funding for the drug Avastin, Cumbria Primary Care Trust (PCT) has now turned Michael Kennett down again on appeal despite it being the only remaining avenue open to the 66-year-old, of Springfield Avenue, to potentially prolong his life.

Michael was denied the drug because it is not deemed to be “cost effective”. Now the family faces footing the £20,000 to £40,000 bill themselves.

Avastin can slow down tumours’ growth but the drug is not recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for treatment of certain types of cancer.

Michael was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2001 and underwent an operation. But the cancer spread to his liver and gall bladder, requiring a further operation. Six months later the cancer was found in Michael’s lungs and he was more recently told it has returned to his liver.

The family are frustrated that they were not allowed to attend and make representation at last week’s appeal – in fact, they were only told the exact date it was taking place the day before.

Leanne Graham, Michael’s daughter, says the family have not had a fair hearing and is considering court action. They are also set to re-appeal but in the meantime Michael’s need for the drug cannot wait any longer.

“This has dragged my dad down something chronic,” said Leanne, of Cleator Moor. “It’s been 10 weeks but we can’t wait any longer.

“By some means we are going to try and fund this drug for as long as we can. They said there wasn’t enough evidence to fit the exceptional criteria. But the primary care trust won’t tell us what the exceptional criteria are.

“No one has ever had funding for this drug from Cumbria PCT,” said Leanne.

“We weren’t even allowed to attend the appeal so we don’t know what was discussed and we have not had a chance to put a case together. Some PCTs allow people to attend.

“We will re-appeal but I don’t know if it will do any good. It is very frustrating. We have had brilliant support from people locally but I can totally understand why people give up fighting – I have never felt so defeated by something ever.”

Michael’s situation, which was revealed by The Whitehaven News some weeks ago, was this week also featured in The Times.

Leanne would like people to write to the Primary Care Trust with their views on the subject and to pledge their support for people to be given a fair hearing.

A spokesman for Cumbria Primary Care Trust said this week: “We cannot comment on individual cases for reasons of confidentially but appreciate that for patients, families, carers and the public the decision over the use of different drugs can be highly emotional.

“NHS Cumbria operates under a framework set by the Department of Health. The trust has to take account of guidance from NICE and other professional advisory bodies when making decisions about which drugs to fund.

“In order to assess each treatment fairly, NICE has to look at the benefit of these treatments and at the effectiveness of getting this benefit in the long-term.

“NICE, the Scottish Medicines Consortium and both of the local NHS cancer networks which cover Cumbria do not recommend the use of Avastin for specific types of cancer.”

Read this sickening article here

Monday, 22 September 2008

Leicester Royal Infirmary's catalogue of deadly blunders killed former member of staff

Hospital staff have apologised for errors in treating a dying patient – including thinking she was another woman of the same name.

Lynda Greatorex, from Wigston, died aged 59 at Leicester Royal Infirmary after being admitted with heart problems.

The grandmother had been a medical secretary at the hospital for nine years before retiring a year before her death.

Her daughter, Gaynor, also works at the hospital and said she was appalled by the distress her mother suffered in the run-up to her death, on April 19, from heart failure.

Gaynor, of Anstey Lane, Leicester, said the worst error was that doctors used another woman's file while treating her mother, which meant they went to the wrong GP to inquire about her medical records.

She said her mother was also denied heart drugs early in her treatment and that medical staff left her unattended and failed to notice when her blood sugar levels became dangerously low.

She should have been checked every two hours, but was not seen from 8pm on April 16 until 7am the next day.

Gaynor said: "They never asked her details properly so they were always confusing her with another woman with the same name.

"She was put in a side room and left with minimal nursing contact. Every day on the ward there were errors and she suffered because of them.

"It's not about compensation for me and I don't claim my mum would have lived much longer if treatment had been better.

"But she worked for the hospital for nine years and to repay her with such dismal treatment was terrible.

"It's a shame the last week of her life had to be so traumatic."

Gaynor made an official complaint to the hospital in July and has received an apology.

In a statement, a hospital spokesman said: "An investigation was undertaken and a written response provided.

"We deeply regret Miss Greatorex had to raise concerns at such a difficult time.

"We have previously extended an invitation to Miss Greatorex to meet with senior staff and would extend that invitation once again should she have continuing concerns."

Sunday, 21 September 2008

NHS complaints system 'pointless'

More than two thirds of patients believe the NHS complaints procedure is pointless, a survey said.

The latest Patients Association (PA) report, in which the survey was published, has described the NHS complaints system as "cumbersome, variable and takes too long."

Of the patients polled, 69% said they had wanted to complain about the healthcare they had received in the last five years.

For those who complained, 29% described the process as "totally pointless" and only 2% said the experience had been "very useful".

More than three quarters (81%) believe that there is not a culture of openness in the NHS when errors occur and that staff are not encouraged to report mistakes.

The PA report concluded: "While patients will always accept that errors will occur in any health service, what they will not accept is the fact that staff are not open about admitting such errors occur."

On the matter of recent MRSA outbreaks and other healthcare acquired infections 47% of patients pointed the finger of blame at the NHS trust managers.

Both nurses and cleaning staff were blamed by 16% of respondents, whilst only 10% thought doctors were responsible.

Three quarters (75%) of respondents believe trust in doctors and nurses has decreased compared to five years ago.

As a result, 96% said they believed patients question the actions of doctors and nurses more than they used to half a decade ago.

article here

Dying woman spent last days fighting for cancer drugs

Next month, the Government will publish its review of NHS policy on cancer drugs, determining whether the health service will pay towards the care of patients who pay for medications the state refuses to fund. Ministers were forced to examine the issue after a public outcry over the death of Linda O'Boyle, who was denied free NHS care after paying for a life-extending bowel cancer drug. Since then, the whole system of drug rationing has become the subject of intense public debate.

Sarah Perez, who died in June aged 40, five days before the review was announced, was also denied drugs which could have extended her life. Campaigners believe her story is one of the "most inhumane" examples of the way the health service bureaucracy takes decisions about life and death.

Sarah Jane Perez was 33-years-old and just back from her honeymoon with her husband James when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2001.

Within a year, her hopes of having a family had been dashed. A hysterectomy was followed by an operation on her bowel, and, a year later, a stem cell transplant when she was diagnosed with leukaemia.

For six years she underwent repeated courses of chemotherapy and treatment as tumours spread to her liver. Mrs Perez, from Enfield in North London, tried to live as normal a life as possible, running a jewellery business she had set up in London's Hatton Garden before she fell ill.

But by January of this year, her cancer had spread further. Mrs Perez' consultant said there was only one hope left to secure her some extra time; a drug called cetuximab, shown to have given patients an average of four extra months of life in cases which responded to treatment.

The previous year, the NHS rationing body, the National Insitute of Health and Clinical Excellence, had ruled against widespread use of the drug, which it said was not "cost effective" at £700 a week. However, primary care trusts are not allowed to institute blanket bans on any treatment, and Mrs Perez's consultant hoped to secure the treatment for her as an exceptional case, particularly given his patient's youthful age which meant that the cancer was progressing aggressively, but might also respond more quickly to treatment.

When Enfield PCT refused to fund the drug, branded Erbitux, Mrs Perez asked to invoke her right to appeal against the decision, setting out why she should be treated under exceptional circumstances. Instead, in March, she was told that the PCT had already held the appeal, maintaining its original decision, despite the fact neither she nor her consultant had been given the chance to submit any evidence stating her case.

Read the rest of this shocking article here

Friday, 19 September 2008

Ambulances running late for emergencies

RESPONSE times to emergencies in Ledbury and Colwall are so poor the West Midlands Ambulance Service has been called to account by Herefordshire Council.

With other areas of the county faring better, the situation is being called “a postcode lottery”.

Category A emergencies are those classed as immediately life threatening.

The official target is for ambulances to get to 75 per cent of these in eight minutes. Last month, ambulances got to 89.5 per cent of Category A emergencies in Bromyard within eight minutes. The figure for the Colwall area was just 20 per cent.

The Ledbury figures were 72.7 per cent in August, 57.9 per cent in July, 57.1 per cent in June and 50 per cent in May. The statistics will be examined at a health scrutiny committee meeting at the council chambers in Brockington, Hereford, on Tuesday at 10am. All are welcome to speak at the meeting.

Committee chairman and Ledbury councillor Kay Swinburne said: “The ambulance service will be genuinely scrutinised.

“They have been briefed that they will need to justify not having more vehicles available here and they will be asked to explain the data.

“They can tell me they’ve had problems with Colwall Bridge but the data is appalling.”

Coun Peter Watts, who also represents Ledbury, said: “It’s a postcode lottery and the ambulance service needs to raise its game.”

The situation has added urgency following the death in July of Ledbury pensioner Alfred ‘Pip’ Parry.

He had to wait for an ambulance for at least 17 minutes, although his family say it was a lot longer. Mr Watts said: “That recent tragic occurence made people aware of how vulnerable they could be.”

Chris Kowalik of West Midlands Ambulance service, said: “We always have and always will send the nearest available resource to an emergency call.

“However, it is a fact of life that in rural areas it will take longer for ambulance crews to get to a patient.”

article here

NHS HITS TARGET TO CUT MRSA, BUT C.DIFF IS SOARING

OFFICIAL figures show the target to cut cases of MRSA has been reached – but almost 10 people a day are still being struck down with the hospital superbug, Tories said last night.

They also criticised the Government for its failure to tackle rates of Clostridium difficile, another infection that has spiralled.

Over the last four years the number of people struck down with MRSA in English hospitals has fallen from almost 2,000 to 836 per quarter.

The achievement was yesterday hailed by the Prime Minister as testament to the hard work of NHS staff.

But critics immediately accused Gordon Brown of patting himself on the back as rates of the far more common killer bug C.diff were on the rise.

In a break with tradition the latest figures for C.diff were not released, leading the Tories to accuse the Government of only issuing positive data.

Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary, said: “It is a disgrace that there have been more than 800 cases of MRSA in our hospitals in just three months.

“Labour have let down patients by caring more about spin than doing what it takes to root out infections.

“It’s telling that they changed the publication date of MRSA statistics for political gain, that they only met their target by moving the goalposts and that the best they could come up with have been gimmicks like Gordon Brown’s deep cleaning programme.”

The most recent figures for rates of C.diff showed a six per cent increase in hospital infections, hitting 10,500 in the first three months of the year.

article here

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Patient who fought for life-saving transplant has died, after being told his life-saving treatment was not cost effective

Published Date: 18 September 2008
By Laura Rands

A West Hallam leukaemia patient who fought the NHS for a life-saving bone marrow transplant has died.

Peter Lord was denied the £70,000 stem cell transplant at the end of last year because of where he lived. He moved in with his sister in Nottingham and the treatment was agreed.

The 52-year-old, who lived on Scargill Walk, underwent the transplant at Nottingham City Hospital in January with a 50/50 chance of it extending his life. But four months later he was left devastated after it failed. He had aggressive chemotherapy treatment in June in a last attempt to keep him alive, but it failed.

Mr Lord, a design engineer, was originally denied potentially live-saving treatment for his leukaemia as his local health authority, Derbyshire County Primary Care Trust, said it was not cost effective.

He appealed against the decision but was turned down and moved into his sister's house to beat the 'postcode lottery' of health funding. Derbyshire PCT and Nottingham University Hospitals Trust then came to an agreement that the operation should go ahead.

When Derbyshire PCT denied him the treatment, Mr Lord told the Advertiser: "If I don't get funding before the leukaemia, I die. I would move to save my life."

Mr Lord was first diagnosed with leukaemia after a blood test. After six months of chemotherapy, he spent 13 months at work in remission before the disease returned in October last year, and had to have a bone marrow transplant.

Peter Lord died at Nottingham City Hospital on Tuesday and his funeral is being held this Friday at Bramcote Crematorium, Nottingham at 2.45pm.

article here

Friday, 12 September 2008

NHS bill from solicitors doubles

The NHS bill to pay solicitors acting for patients in compensation claims has more than doubled in four years.

The annual bill in England now tops £90m - a 122% increase in four years, despite the fact the number of cases has remained similar.

The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) told the BBC the rise was due to an increase in no win, no fee claims, which has led to some solicitors doubling their rates to £600 an hour.

About half of the cases the NHSLA sees now are brought by solicitors on a no win, no fee basis as opposed to under a fifth in 2000.

Chief executive Steve Walker said the trend had been caused by the tightening eligibility criteria for legal aid. Only children or those cases deemed in the public interest get state funding.

He told the BBC: "Solicitors are not doing anything illegal, but it is pretty unattractive that these fees are being charged. There is no reason why they should be vastly different from what we pay our own legal teams, but they are.

"Their argument is that they have a higher mark up because there is a risk they will end up with nothing, but in reality they cherry-pick the cases they are most likely to win."

Four years ago, the NHS paid out £40.9m to the solicitors of patients in costs under the clinical negligence scheme for trusts, but by 2007/08 that had risen to £90.7m. In comparison, the fees charged by the NHS's own lawyers was £29.3m in 2003/04, but had only risen by 48% to £43.3m last year. The number of cases resolved each year has stayed at around 6,000.

Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, criticised the solicitors.

"These organisations are encouraging a compensation culture and making a lot of money out of it. All the money that is going to lawyers is money being taken away from patient care. Obviously there is a need for the system, it is just that solicitors should do more to keep their costs in order like the NHS is doing."

-----

Can't the NHS just be less negligent in the first place and stop treating their patients so appallingly so that compensation claims wouldn't be necessary? If you didn't need to pay compensation for mistreating your patients then you'd have more money to spend on saving lives instead of letting them die. It works both ways.

Cancer drugs only given to those 'who make the most noise'

Expensive cancer drugs are only available to patients who "make the most noise" under a "patently unfair" system, a leading cancer doctor has warned.

By Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:25PM BST 11 Sep 2008

Unless sufferers are allowed to buy the medication without losing the rest of their NHS care a "black market" in the drugs will open up, Professor Karol Sikora told Mike Richards, the Government's cancer Tsar, who is carrying out a review into controversial "top up" payments.

Support for top ups has been echoed by the King's Fund, the influential think tank, which said that the current system was "untenable".

The Government ordered Mr Richard's review following widespread outrage over cases of cancer sufferers who were charged as private patients after they bought potentially life extending drugs.

However, doctors have expressed concern that allowing "top ups" could lead to a two-tier NHS, where some patients get drugs which others cannot afford.

During a debate designed to inform Mr Richard's review, Prof Sikora, medical director of CancerPartnersUK, said that there was already an unfair system when it came to expensive cancer drugs: "If you look at the cases it seems that if you make a fuss you tend to get.

"If you don't make a fuss then you don't get.

"It is patently unfair that if you make a noise then you will get these drugs."

He went on: "If we leave the status quo, if we leave this typical British muddle, then an underground market (in these drugs) will develop."

He also called on the Government to "abolish" the Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) decision panels, which critics claim are leading to a "post code lottery" in cancer care.

NHS bosses can refuse to provide drugs if they have been rejected as too expensive by the Government's drugs watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

If a drug has yet to be assessed by Nice then local PCTs can choose to give the drug in what it deems "exceptional" circumstances.

The call comes just 24 hours after a patient won access to a £4,000-a-course blood cancer drug after taking his local PCT to court.

Colin Ross, 55, was given just two months to live if he did not receive the drug, Revlimid.

The King's Fund, which hosted the debate, described the current system as "untenable" and said that under "certain circumstances" patients should be able to pay for their own drugs without losing the rest of their NHS care.

However, the Fund believes that those patients should also pay the extra costs associated with the drugs, such as the price of administering them, so that other NHS patients did not lose out.

Mr Richard's review is expected to report sometime in October.

Last month the Telegraph revealed that Nice was drawing up plans to provide patients with independent medical advice on drugs, including those which it had deemed too expensive, which could be offered to patients if a U-turn on top ups is announced.

The Conservatives have said that they are against introducing new charges into the NHS and have proposed a system where drug companies would be paid only if treatments work.

Monday, 8 September 2008

NHS Fails to Diagnose 500 000 Brits with Diabetes

Half a million Brits are unaware that they are living with Type 2 diabetes, due to the failure of the NHS, claims a new study.

According to the charity Diabetes UK more than 500, 000 people in England are unknowingly living with Type 2 diabetes- leaving them at risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputations.

The research claims that NHS services in England are failing to diagnose the condition which can go undetected up to a staggering 12 years.

Unfortunately the quality and quantity for diagnosis of type 2 diabetes across the UK is not equal, with some regions across the UK receiving better diagnoses than others, says the study. For example figures reveal that there is around 100 percent diagnosis for the people of Birmingham and just 50 percent for those in London- with regions including Kensington, Chelsea, Westminster and Camden having the worse detection rates.

“Some PCTs (Primary Care Trusts) have done an excellent job in diagnosing Type 2 diabetes,” says Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK.

“It is extremely worrying that hundreds of thousands of people in other areas are going about their daily lives unaware they have a condition that puts them at greater risk of devastating complications.”

Smallwood adds that early identification is key for those with Type 2 diabetes but unfortunately by the time half a million Brits are finally diagnosed with having the condition, most will already show signs of complications.

The Department of Health National Service Framework for Diabetes made it a priority to improve Type 2 diabetes diagnosis in England back in 2001. However the charity believes barely a dent has been made in the detection process of type 2 diabetes. What’s more 1 in 3 PCTs do not even have a specific strategy for preventing the condition.

The charity is warning specialists that all communities must be examined for Type 2 diabetes, especially those in deprived communities who are 2.5 times more likely to have diabetes. Those who do not have regular access to health services must also be reached by the VRAM programme- responsible for Type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

Those at risk of diabetes are those with a large waist, people aged over 40 (or over 25 for people of Black or South Asian origin), those who are overweight and lastly individuals with a family history of the condition.

For more information on diabetes go to: Information on Diabetes

article here

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Sky's health correspondent Thomas Moore gives you an introduction to the virtual hospital

click image to activate video

Exclusive: Sky News has uncovered evidence that NHS staff are coming under political pressure to spin the headlines


We have obtained a letter, written by a senior representative of the Department of Health, which strongly criticises England's largest primary care trust for failing to "manage" the media.

North Yorkshire and York PCT had been singled out for its handling of so-called exceptional cases, in which patients ask to be treated with medicines that have yet to be approved for use on the NHS.

Newspapers highlighted cancer patients who had been denied expensive new drugs.

Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority, which ensures Department of Health policy is followed in the region, wrote to the PCTs chief executive demanding urgent action.

"This has resulted in damage to the reputation of the NHS. The PCT needs to look at how the media messages can be managed more effectively... to stem the national harm to the NHS profile that this constant publicity is creating."

But Dr Peter Brambleby, the director of public health for the PCT, is so angry about the letter that he has blown the whistle.

Speaking exclusively to Sky News, he said: "It is our general responsibility to protect the NHS brand, but we shouldn't be driven as a first consideration by what will this look like in the headlines in the local newspaper.

"Our first consideration has to be the health of the population, the evidence base behind which the decision is going to be made, and showing that we're responsible stewards of public funds. That's our job and that's what protects the NHS brand."

He said politicians should keep clear of clinical decisions over patients' treatment.

"The easy way out of managing adverse headlines in the short term is to simple to say yes to every request that has caught the media attention. But I don't think for a moment that any member of the public would recognise that as a legitimate criterion for prioritising funding," he said.

His comments are hugely embarrassing for the Department of Health, which has insisted that local health managers are free to make their own decisions over how they spend money for local patients.

The Tories said the Department of Health's bureaucrats were wrong to send the letter. Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley MP said they missed the point.

"Everybody else in Europe seems to be able to get access to these drugs, but we don't. That's what I want to see them working on. How they can ensure that primary care trusts are using their resources to ensure patients get the treatment they need, not trying to cover up the bad stories when they don't."

Some of the negative headlines involved the Velcade Three. Jacky Pickles, Janice Wrigglesworth and Marie Morton all have multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer.

They have campaigned for treatment with Velcade, and encourage patients who have been denied the drug to go to the papers.

They make no apology for embarrassing the PCT.

Jacky Pickles said: "If someone says to you you can be quiet and die, or you can challenge and maybe live longer...you want to see your children grow up, don't you?

"We've all got children and we want to see them grow up. You'd challenge anybody to see your children grow up."

Even the government's cancer csar is critical of the local variations in access to new medicines. He says PCTs don't have the expertise to judge complex drugs. He wants regional panels of specialists to take over the role.

"I am extremely keen that there is equal access to treatment across the whole of the NHS, because that I believe is one of the founding principles of the NHS," he said.

The Department of Health turned down our request for an interview.

The Strategic Health Authority said all PCTs must be open and transparent about their procedures and explain their decisions: "There has never been any question of political interference in any decision," it said.

article here

Revealed: NHS cash lottery

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Postcode lottery fight for cancer sufferer

By Emily-Ann Elliott

A cancer sufferer has launched a legal battle against a postcode lottery that threatens to shorten his life.

Colin Ross, 55, believes he would be given a life-prolonging drug if he lived just 12 miles from his home.

A barrister for Mr Ross told a judge it was an "end of road" legal challenge that could mean death in the next couple of months if he fails or his life being extended by up to three years if he wins.

Mr Ross was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood cells, in May 2004.

He has been told by doctors that unless he is given Revlimid he will not survive beyond the autumn.

It would cost £5,000 per course of Revlimid and his medical team have requested funding for an initial three to four courses.

But in March West Sussex Primary Care Trust refused to fund the drug, even though leading cancer specialist Professor Karol Sikora has said he is “eminently suitable” for treatment.

Richard Clayton QC, representing Mr Ross, told Judge Simon Grenfell at London's High Court, the trust’s decision was “irrational” and it had erred in its estimate of the cost effectiveness of Revlimid.

He said: “This application for this drug is the end of the road for him.

“Either he gets the drug and is able to have life-prolonging treatment, or he doesn’t and treatment ceases, with inevitable consequences.”

He told the court that in a recent survey, 60% of the applications made for exceptional funding with the drug in England and Scotland had succeeded but the trust did not consider Mr Ross’ case was exceptional.

He said the case raised the “random and disquieting” problem of treatment depending on a patient’s postcode.

Arriving at court Mr Ross, from Horsham, described how he had become the victim of an “East-West” divide a postcode lottery between East Sussex and West Sussex.

He said he had spoken to another cancer patient at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London four weeks ago.

He said: “We got chatting and the subject of Revlimid came up.

“She told me she had applied for the same drug earlier this year and had been put on it.

“I live in West Sussex, and she lives 12 miles down the road in East Sussex.

“She was astonished when I told her I had been refused. How can it be that, in such a little distance, one can have it and one cannot?

“It should not be like that. It is not right that I should have to go to these lengths to get such an important, life-extending drug.”

Mr Ross was accompanied to court by his long-term companion Wendy Forbes-Newbegin, 52.

She said: “The mental anguish he has been going through is nothing short of appalling.

“The stress of his illness is bad enough, but to have to fight for this treatment has just been disgusting.

“I have been suffering from breast cancer, and he was supposed to be looking after me.”

Mr Ross, who has two children and four grandchildren, said: “If I don’t win and I get no further treatment I won’t be here for Christmas, it is as simple as that.”

He acknowledged that Revlimid is not a cheap drug.

But he expressed his frustration that “the Royal Marsden are sitting there with the drug in their fridges”.

Mr Ross has so far had six complete courses of chemotherapy and also received stem cell treatment at the Royal Marsden.

He responded well to the two other drugs currently being prescribed on the NHS for myeloma patients, Thalidomide and Velcade, but was forced to stop taking them because of painful side effects.

However, while Revlimid is readily available to patients across Europe and in the US, it has not yet been granted approval by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) and so is currently only being provided by some Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) on the NHS in exceptional circumstances.

Mr Clayton accused the trust of misunderstanding the evidence of the survival benefits of Revlimid.

He said the trust had failed to take into account “the slim but important chance” that the drug could prolong Mr Ross's life by more than a few months and it had made a fundamental error “when balancing clinical efficacy and cost”.

Martin Forde QC, appearing for the trust, said its officials had “every sympathy” for Mr Ross’s predicament.

The trust had, to some extent, been roundly criticised over its decision that it would not be cost-effective to fund Mr Ross’s treatment.

But it was having to make “agonising decisions” and considered some 600 similar cases every year.

It was doing its level best to use limited NHS funds “in the most efficient manner to benefit the largest number of patients”.

In Mr Ross’s case, the trust did not accept that it had adopted an irrational funding policy - “nor do we accept the policy was implemented in the course of this agonising decision in a perverse or irrational manner”.

The hearing continues on Monday.

The judge indicated that he hopes to give his ruling by the middle of next week.

article here

Sunday, 31 August 2008

University Hospitals Leicester links directly to McCanns fraudulent Find Madeleine Fund


British sniffer dogs detected blood and the scent of death in McCanns apartment


One of the Directors of this fraudulent Fund is Dr Doug Skehan, a cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital. The Fund, which has raised over £1million from publicly donated money, has been used to help pay Dr Gerry McCanns mortgage.
article here

Link Drs Gerry and Kate McCann: Maddie died in apartment, there was no abduction says Portugese Police.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

NHS admit pregnancy test mistakes

An NHS laboratory in Sheffield has admitted it failed to properly carry out blood tests on pregnant women.

More than 50 women had to be re-tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI) when infections were not picked up by the laboratory in Sheffield.

Six women from Sheffield were re-tested and a smaller number from Rotherham.

An investigation revealed the mistake after a pregnant woman tested positive for HIV at a clinic at Hallamshire Hospital in 2006.

article here

Friday, 29 August 2008

NHS scientist, Martin Hatcher from Exeter, accused of paedophilia

Details can be found here

NHS C.diff deaths up 30% in year

DEATHS linked to the C.diff superbug have soared almost 30 per cent in a year, official figures revealed yesterday.

Last year 8,324 people had clostridium difficile when they died — up from 6,480.

The figure is more than twice the 3,757 C.diff mentions on death certificates in 2005 — and four times the 1,804 in 2001.

More than nine in ten died in an NHS hospital, with most of the rest in nursing homes.

But deaths linked to MRSA fell from 1,652 in 2006 to 1,593 last year, the Office for National Statistics said. It was the first time they have dropped since 1993.

The ONS pointed out that some of the C.diff increase may be due to more complete reporting on death certificates.

But shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley blasted the rise, calling PM Gordon Brown’s £50million hospital deep clean programme a “gimmick”.

He said: “The vast majority of these deaths could have been avoided if the Government had taken action at the right time.”

Lib Dem Norman Lamb called the toll “dreadful”.

article here

Monday, 25 August 2008

Shock Report Warns Elderly Going Hungry In Hospital

Elderly people are going hungry in hospital because staff fail to ensure they are fed, a charity has said.

An Age Concern study of 110 English and Welsh NHS trusts found 43% did not run protected mealtimes - where non-urgent work stops to make sure patients eat.

Age Concern's Patrick South said: "Tackling malnutrition should be a top priority for all NHS trusts."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We recognise that protected mealtimes are an issue."

'Unacceptable inconsistencies'

The study found that one in three NHS Trusts in England had not yet introduced a so-called red tray system, where meal trays are colour-coded to show which patients need help with eating.

It reported cases of patients being taken to the toilet and routine examinations being carried out during mealtimes, resulting in people missing out on food.

NHS trusts have not been specifically instructed by the government to introduce protected mealtimes or red tray systems.

And Age Concern argued that Healthcare Commission standards on nutrition did not go far enough.

Mr South, Age Concern's head of public affairs, said tackling malnutrition should be a priority for all trusts.

He added: "Our evidence shows unacceptable inconsistencies across the country.

"It's shocking that many older people still find themselves trapped within a 'postcode lottery of commitment' to improve nutritional standards on hospital wards."

The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) received more than 29,000 reports of incidents concerning patient nutrition in 2007.

These included badly-fitted feeding tubes, frail patients unable to reach their food, people who had trouble swallowing being given incorrect meals and poor nutrition contributing towards deaths.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We know that good nutrition is central to people's good health and ability to recover from illness, which is why in October 2007 we launched the Nutrition Action Plan, in conjunction with over 25 leading stakeholders.

"This aims to outline how nutritional care and hydration can be improved amongst vulnerable adults in all health and social care settings.

"In addition to this, the National Patient Safety Agency has already produced three Nutrition Fact Sheets as part of a series of 10 for clinical staff in the NHS."

article here