Monday, 28 July 2008

The Hospital Revolution: Doctors Reveal the Crisis Engulfing Britain's Health Service

A BLUE, green and red striped tie is an unlikely totem of rebellion. A growing trend across the country, doctors are officially banned from wearing ties in North Devon District Hospital over fears they spread a deadly superbug.

But orders from above seldom sit well with John Riddington Young, a consultant surgeon with a maverick streak. When he mentions the edict, the tie-wearing 60-year-old with a wraparound moustache grimaces and pulls a pose. Arms outstretched, palms up, it is the picture of complete bemusement.

This may seem trivial, but his exasperation with the outlawed tie extends to the entire National Health Service. Mr Riddington Young, an ear, nose and throat specialist-turned-whistleblower at the Barnstaple hospital, is the co-author of a new book that “presents a vital exposé of the crisis at the heart of the NHS”.

The Hospital Revolution, as it is called, is dynamite. One of the three authors, another consultant surgeon, chose to remain anonymous. “A lot of my colleagues who work in the health service think I'm putting myself in great danger,” says Mr Riddington Young in an ay-up brogue faithful to his Sheffield upbringing.

Having read the book, you can understand their concern for him. The back-page blurb sets out its argument: “The NHS is very sick. Possibly terminally ill.” Over 242 pages, the doctors launch a remorseless attack on NHS managers and targets. It is the administrators, or the loathed “Stasi” (nicknamed after the former East Germany's secret police), that have precipitated the grindingly low morale among hospital workers, from kitchen staff to surgeons.

The management system is a “cancerous growth”, it says.

How so? (read the rest of the article here)

More spent on food for prisoners than for NHS patients

Police are given £12 a day for each inmate held at a police station, the Ministry of Justice has admitted. This is six times more than is given to primary schools to feed each child and more than the sum of £8.49 for a hospital patient and £2.69 for a soldier in Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Justice said that more than £600,000 is being spent each year on feeding inmates held in police stations due to a lack of prison places.

In 2006-07, convicted prisoners spent a total of 61,000 days in police cells under 'Operation Safeguard', the scheme brought in by John Reid, the former Home Secretary when the prisons system reached maximum capacity in 2006. It costs a total of £385 to keep a prisoner in a police cell for a night.

The situation was described as "a disgrace" by the Conservatives.

The Shadow Police Reform Minister, David Ruffley, said: "Once again money that should be spent fighting and reducing crime is being wasted. Taxpayers will be appalled at this profligacy.

"This problem has only arisen because of complete mismanagement of our prison system resulting in severe overcrowding.

"The Government's incompetence means our police are spending more time as prison jailers and less time as crime fighters."

In a written answer to the House of Commons, Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, said: "The difference arises because food in prison can be planned with much greater certainty and prison establishments are able to make use of bulk purchasing."

link to article

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


Now campaigners hope it will signal the end of a scandalous NHS postcode lottery that is allowing thousands of people to go blind.

Jubilant pensioners Raymond Liggins, Jean Middleton and Patricia Meadows, who claimed health chiefs acted ­illegally, are now entitled to the drug Lucentis.

An out-of-court agreement was reached between the manufacturers and the pensioners’ health trust.

Mr Liggins, 76, had to pay £10,000 from his life savings after Warwick­shire NHS Primary Care Trust refused to fund his ­prescription for the drug.

He could not afford further treatment and feared he would not be able to continue acting as a carer for wife Olive, 72, who has suffered a stroke.

Mr Liggins, from Nuneaton in Warwickshire, said: “I’m over the moon – I can’t stop smiling. This result means all the world to me and Olive. It has been one of the most stressful times we have had to go through and we’re so relieved it’s over.

“We can now start making plans for the future. It’s an absolutely ­fantastic result and wonderful for everyone who didn’t think they had a chance of getting treatment.”

The drug is available on the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but only in parts of England.

The patients all suffer from wet age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of sight loss in Britain. Each year 26,000 ­people in the UK develop the ­condition.

The rest of the article can be found

Thousands of heart patients could be denied life-saving NHS stents treatment 'due to cost'

Thousands of heart patients could be denied life-saving treatment because the NHS believes it is too expensive.

The decision to restrict drug-coated stents - special tubes which are fitted into arteries to prevent them from narrowing - to all but the most at-risk patients could put lives in danger, critics warned.

Around 40,000 people a year are fitted with the devices, known as 'drug-eluting stents' or DES, which are more expensive than traditional 'bare metal' varieties.

But they are more effective at keeping people out of hospital and make it less likely that people will have to undergo dangerous heart bypass operations.

The NHS rationing body, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence, admitted that DES are much more effective in preventing the re-narrowing of arteries than bare metal stents.

Despite this, their final guidance said DES should only be given to patients deemed to be the most seriously at risk of heart attacks.

The manufacturers of the stents - dubbed 'magic bullets' - said thousands of patients would lose out. The companies are now considering whether to launch a judicial review against the decision.

The rest of the article can be found

Saturday, 19 July 2008

NHS doctors, Gerry and Kate McCann guilty of neglect: Public Ministry believe Madeleine died in their apartment and abduction was staged

NHS doctors, Gerry and Kate McCann guilty of child neglect, at the very least, yet free to continue working in the NHS: The Portuguese Public Ministry believe Madeleine died in their apartment, her body concealed, and abduction was staged - thereby making their Find Madeleine fund fraudulent.

Details, with evidence, can be found here


Friday, 18 July 2008

Rhyl heart pensioner's 160-mile hospital hell

A PENSIONER with a serious heart complaint was bundled into a taxi and taken over 160 miles to a hospital in Leicester for major surgery.

Father-of-two Peter Jones, 76, travelled for over four hours in his dressing gown and slippers with a non-medically trained driver and an oxygen tank packed away in the boot.

He had already contracted MRSA during his 11-day stay at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

Medics at the Bodelwyddan hospital said no ambulance was available and refused to let Mr Jones’ family transport him to Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. Instead he was taken by private hire taxi – officials later admitted that they had “misjudged” Mr Jones’ needs. But months on and the family are still waiting for an apology.

The former Rhyl FC player was struck down by a heart attack on Christmas Day. Since then he has battled for a life-saving operation because health bosses in Wales refused to stump up £10,000.

The former Glyndwr High School caretaker suffers from aortic valve stenosis – a narrowing of a heart valve which can lead to chest pain and severe breathing problems.

After a postcode lottery row, the Health Commission Wales finally agreed to pay for Mr Jones to have a new heart valve inserted through his groin in England. It was 85 days before he was discharged because he had to have open heart surgery.

“It was a shock when I found myself travelling to Leicester in a private hire taxi rather than an ambulance,” said Mr Jones.

“I was told I was only going to be in there for seven days but there were complications during surgery and I ended up there for three months.

“I don’t remember consenting to being taken by taxi but I feel it is unfair to expect any kind of sense from a 76-year-old seriously ill patient in desperate need of heart surgery.”

He added: “My painful recollection is of the journey taking between four and five hours with no toilet break.

“I could have travelled in comfort with my family who were also making their way to Leicester.”

A internal investigation was launched after Mr Jones enlisted the help of Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones.

The Daily Post exposed his plight earlier this year after he was denied vital treatment despite it being available on the NHS.

In a letter to Ms Jones, Jill Galvani, executive director of nursing, said it is “unclear” how Mr Jones’ travel arrangements were altered despite a request for a technical crew and ambulance.

She said that the trust could not provide an ambulance on that day but admitted the taxi was “not a suitable” mode of transport.

The letter said: “It was inappropriate for Mr Jones to travel this distance in a taxi in his pyjamas and dressing gown.”

But Mr Jones added: “To this day, I don’t know what is going on with the investigation.

“Nobody has written to me personally and apologised.”

A North Wales NHS Trust spokesman last night said there were questions still to be answered.

“Clearly this did not go as well as it should have done, but hospital staff seem to have been faced with a difficult situation whereby this man needed emergency surgery and they seem to have used revised judgement.

“There are lessons to be learnt from this and we apologise to Mr Jones for suffering an ordeal he should not have had to go through.”

Jul 18 2008 by Kelly Fenna,
Daily Post

Monday, 14 July 2008

NHS 'scandal' of bonuses for bosses as ward staff face axe

Exclusive Mike Waites Health Correspondent

BUREAUCRATS at a Yorkshire health authority have been awarded performance bonuses worth £260,000 as front-line NHS staff face redundancy in drastic cuts to save cash, the Yorkshire Post can reveal today.
Angry union chiefs and MPs condemned awards to all 90 staff at the former West Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority (SHA).
The payouts come as 93 workers including nurses and midwives at four hospitals in the area were given 30 days' notice yesterday.
Staff at the health authority were given a "team reward" set at 7.83 per cent of annual pay for 2005-6, according to a document leaked to the Yorkshire Post.
Top managers picked up as much as £9,000 from the bonus, which was made after the NHS in West Yorkshire met key performance standards.
It has caused fury among other NHS staff at a time when the health service faces financial crisis. This has been further fuelled as none of the authority's staff worked on the front line and made no direct contribution to achieving targets on waiting times, access to GPs, cutting numbers of smokers or reducing levels of the superbug MRSA.
Yesterday the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust told 93 staff at Pinderfields and Clayton hospitals in Wakefield, Pontefract General Infirmary and Dewsbury and District Hospital they faced redundancy unless they could be redeployed. The trust faces huge financial difficulties with accumulated debts of £55m.
Last night Adrian O'Malley, of the union Unison at the Mid Yorkshire trust, branded the awards "scandalous" and vowed to fight compulsory redundancies.
"I've just had five A&E staff nurses in tears because their jobs are at risk," he said.
"It's scandalous NHS money is being squandered like this. The health authority is the one which is forcing trusts like ours to make these cuts. It's absolutely disgusting."
Local Labour MP Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) said: "The health service must get its priorities right and protect staff in the front line like doctors and nurses.
"It's cannot be right that when people are being made redundant others are receiving large bonuses."
Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said the awards were "bizarre".
"Most people would find it quite offensive that those people who have been delivering on the front line are getting redundancy notices while bureaucrats at the centre are cracking open the champagne," he said.
Peter Hanley, who supports patients at the regional spinal injuries centre at Pinderfields, said he feared losses of experienced staff put services "in real danger of collapse".
He said: "As an ex-patient I am deeply concerned that the trust's reaction to short-term financial pressures will have a serious effect on patient safety."
Official figures show the West Yorkshire SHA spent £3.3m on pay in 2005-6. The "team reward" of 7.83 per cent amounts to £260,000.
The organisation merged last month with two other health authorities where staff did not receive bonuses.
Last night a spokeswoman for the new Yorkshire and the Humber SHA said the bonus scheme was written into staff contracts when the authority was set up in 2002.
Final levels had been approved each year after a "rigorous" checking procedure by its remuneration committee which did not benefit.
West Yorkshire ended the financial year in balance, she added.
John Parkes, chief executive at the Mid Yorkshire trust, said it needed to reduce the pay bill by £18m – equivalent to around 450 fewer posts – to get finances in order.
Following reviews, 90 staff had been told their posts were at risk but redundancies would be a "last resort".
"The reviews looked at ways to safely deliver patient care with a reduced wage bill and make our services more efficient," he said.
There were a significant number of posts available to staff affected, he added.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Appeal over blindness drug: "It's morally wrong to let people go blind when there are treatments available"

Three pensioners are at London's high court today in a bid to force their primary care trust (PCT) to provide sight-saving treatment.

All three suffer wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - the most common cause of sight loss in the UK - and want to be treated with anti-VEGF drugs, namely Lucentis.

This drug is available in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, but national guidelines for Lucentis provision in England have yet to be finalised and it is up to PCTs to decide whether to give the treatment.

As such in England about half of PCTs offer the drug for people with wet AMD.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) claims Warwickshire PCT, which has an 'exceptional cases' policy, has denied over 50 patients funding for Lucentis.

It is three of these patients who are at the high court today and tomorrow in a bid to force Warwick PCT to provide the drug.

Lawyers for Raymond Liggins, 76, from Nuneaton; Jean Middleton, 78, from Kingsbury; and Patricia Meadows, 65, from Stratford-upon-Avon, claim that Warwickshire PCT's exceptionality policy is unlawful in that it is effectively a blanket ban on funding anti-VEGF treatments.

Mr Liggins, 76, who cares for his wife Olive after she had a stroke, said he is afraid he will not be able to look after her if he loses his sight.

"It's morally wrong to let people go blind when there are treatments available," he said.

"Olive depends on me so how can I care for her if I go blind? If I lived with my son in Scotland I'd get my treatment free on the NHS. So why is Warwickshire PCT forcing me to fight for my sight?"

78-year-old Jean Middleton commented: "There's not much time left to save my sight and I know there are many more people in Warwickshire facing the same fate. The situation is desperate."

Their case is being backed by the RNIB. It hopes this case will force Warwickshire PCT to change its policy and treat the three pensioners and other patients in Warwickshire, before they go blind.

The charity also hopes the legal action will send a strong signal to other PCTs across the country that they should not wait for final guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, expected later this year, to save the sight of patients in their care.

RNIB's head of campaigns, Steve Winyard, said: "It's a national scandal that pensioners are being forced into such a vulnerable position by a postcode lottery."

A verdict on the case is expected next week.


Saturday, 12 July 2008

NHS 'failing' multiple sclerosis patients

A report published by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the MS Trust states the NHS is failing people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The report identified that the estimated 85,000 people in the UK with MS are subject to a "postcode lottery", with access to basic services - including pain relief - a matter of geographical location.

The NHS is still failing to implement 2003 National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on the management of the condition.

An audit of services revealed that only 36% of people with MS had access to neurological rehabilitation facilities and long delays mean 50% of patients are waiting more than 20 weeks to be diagnosed after a GP referral.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the MS Society said: "It's vital that health services are held to account and this latest audit confirms what our 40,000 members tell us - people with MS need access to more and better care.

"The NICE guideline sets out a laudable range of care and support on paper but it needs to be backed up in practice."


Wednesday, 2 July 2008

NHS patients will have right to free medical treatment in Europe

NHS patients will be given the right to free medical treatment anywhere in Europe under a new blueprint for "health tourism".

The move, which will apply to all European union members, is designed to give patients greater freedom and ease congestion in countries that have long waiting lists for operations.

Previously, patients who chose to pay for better or quicker treatment abroad had to mount legal action to make the NHS reimburse them.

But an EU directive on cross-border healthcare, to be published on Wednesday, will let patients shop around freely in all 27 member states.

It means British patients would have the right to seek any treatment offered by the NHS, such as cancer care or hip replacements, anywhere which could provide it more quickly.

Patients would have to pay upfront where they were treated, but as long as the cost was lower than in the NHS, they could reclaim it in full.

A European Commission spokesman said: "In the week the NHS marks its 60th anniversary, the European Commission will publish draft legislation on the application of patient's rights in cross-border healthcare.

"The proposal will clarify and promote the right of patients to get healthcare treatment in another EU country, as well as provide a basis for increased cooperation between EU healthcare systems."

The attraction for British patients is clear as although waiting lists have fallen under Labour, they are still longer in many other countries.

NHS hospitals also have a higher incidence of superbugs and poorer survival rates for many conditions, including some cancers, than their foreign counterparts.

Experts have predicted that these reasons mean it is unlikely there will be an influx of foreigners to the NHS.

The plan could threaten the stability of NHS finances, however, as the health service will lose revenue to hospitals overseas.

There is also serious concern about Britons living abroad charging the NHS for all their medical care. Currently, many rely on private medical insurance to cover local treatment.

Under the draft proposals the NHS would be obliged to fund all overseas outpatient treatment - such as scans and minor operations - even where patients do not seek authorisation beforehand.

But Health Secretary Alan Johnson is fighting for the right to make patients obtain NHS permission in advance for major operations.

The health department said: 'We are absolutely committed to ensuring that the NHS retains the ability to decide what care it will fund.'

Doctors' leaders said the move would encourage the NHS to improve standards, but warned that "health tourism" would most likely only appeal to the wealthy and well-educated.

Dr Terry John, chairman of the BMA's international committee, said: "Standards of care for people who choose to stay in their home country, or are unable to travel abroad, must be maintained."

In 2006 the European Court of Justice first ruled that British patients who face an "undue delay'' for treatment at home can be reimbursed if doctors agree that treatment abroad is justified because of pain, disability or other pressing medical needs.

That battle was begun by Yvonne Watts, 76, who went to France for a hip replacement in 2002.

Her local health service, Bedford Primary Care Trust, had refused to pay her £4,000 bill.

By Lucy Cockcroft