Saturday, 26 November 2011

A Voice from the Clouds Informs me - 'You are not an Advocate'

Firstly ( it nearly being Sunday ) I must say a huge 'AMEN' to the gentleman or lady who sent me an anonymous comment on 'Happy Birthday UHW', written by my colleague and friend Lynette.  Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to write and, please let us all have the benefit of your opinion on the NHS again soon.  Your comment is most welcome !

Now, back to the critical epistle from above.  Does anyone out there know who  Dr Graham Shortland BM, DCH, FRCPCH is ?  I didn't either, except when I managed to find the bottom of his letter and his title 'Medical Director Wales NHS'.  Phew, I nearly fainted !  For over 3 months I been waiting for his eminence the First Minister to give me his promised answer to my questions about the fact that 'The Queen of Heart's' instructions on recent consultations were deliberately ignored.  Since then, I've had my blog blocked from access by anyone working for the NHS, and my e-mails intercepted by Big Brother and the Thought Police.  I complained about this ( well who wouldn't ? ), but didn't get any response until the good Dr Shortland took the time and trouble to write to me to say that the UHB has the power to block a particular Blog, when deemed necessary.  He also goes on to describe how the "filtering process ( of e-mails ) from potential Phishing - definitition of which is an attempt to criminally and fraudulently acquire sensitive information etc etc ad nauseum", is necessary, especially when "e-mails do not comply with the UHB's Internet/Email Policy". [ Has anyone out their ever seen this policy, please ?]

I'll spare you the rest of his comments, until the bit that is just too 'peachy' to keep to myself. Verbatim, it says. "Finally, I have received information that you do not have the status of Patient Advocate and this reply is to inform you, as a member of the general public, the seriousness with which the Cardiff and Vale UHB treats communication issues".  Let's hold that thought for a moment, shall we ?  Firstly - by any definition of the word Advocate, I meet all criteria and conduct myself with 100% honesty and commitment when dealing with the many concerns I receive regarding the blatant and deliberate misrepresentation that the UHB put into writing. I am completely independent ( of any extraneous influence of the UHB or any of it's subordinate orginisations ( such as the CHCs ) and my services are provided entirely free of charge.  Secondly, this eminent doctor is completely oblivious to the total lack of seriosness which the UHB gives to communications.  Anyone who has read any of the consultation documents or so-called 'plans' for changes to our health service, will know that none of them comply with current legislation, and singularly fail to observe the accepted standards of 'Best Practice' in 'Management', 'Planning' or 'Probity'.

Everything I have written is 'the whole truth, the entire truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God', so what has a Medical Director got to do with responding to a complaint about censorship, blog-blocking, or the patient's perspective of the integrity of UHB communications ?  I am sure that he is a great doctor, worthy of every letter after his name, but, he doesn't know me, or anything about me, and obviously hasn't read any of my complaints or any of the communications made by the UHB to the Patients and public that they are bound to by a 'Duty of Care'.  So, why does he have the temerity to write to me in such terms, unless the Welsh Government have abandoned any semblence of democracy, fairness, openness or transparency ?  Perhaps if the Medical Director devoted his attention to the activities of the UHB that are of concern to their patients, he might not be so quick to judge a truly dedicated and genuine Advocate.  R.W.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Mental Health Care 'unfit for purpose'

Services for vulnerable 'unfit for purpose' - article by Nina Lakhani, 'I' News 21. 11. 2011

"Mental Health services for society's most vulnerable people are unfit for purpose, according to a damning independent enquiry published today.
Seriously ill patients are subject to assaults, taunts and overcrowding in overstretched hospital wards where containment rather than recovery is the the priority.  Meanwhile, others on the verge of suicide or a breakdown cannot access help because crisis teams are too busy, or closed outside office hours.
Rising demand and government cuts are leaving the services at breaking point in some areas.
[ More than 1.25 million people used specialist mental health services in 2009/2010 in England alone; out of those 107,765 were admitted to a psychiatric hospital in crisis ].

The year long independent inquiry by the charity MIND found huge variances in hospital and community crisis services across England and Wales. Evidence from 400 patients and staff found that innovative, humane and responsive services do exist, but only for a lucky minority.
Just over half ofall inpatients felt unsafe or threatened at some point during their stay and one in eight had been physically restrained by staff, according to figures from the Care and Quality Commission.
The number of people detained under the Mental Health Act is on the rise. Afro-Caribbean patients are still twice as likely to be detained than any one else.
The Mind report calls for an outright ban on face-down restraint after the enquiry heard evidence about the ongoing use of potentially fatal techniques.  The Government last night said that it would now be considering the use of restraint".

Case Study - "We need a 24/7 robust crisis team".
Hannah Walker, 55, from Dorchester in Dorset was diagnosed with Bi-polar affective disorder by a psychiatrist whilst serving as an R.A.F. officer.  She left after 16 years in service in 1991because of her mental illness. ( Since then, she has had 20 hospital admissions ).
"Hospitals are better now than they used to be, mainly because there are single-sex wards which make me feel safer.  I live alone, so it's the nights when I am so vulnerable.  We need a 24/7 robust crisis team. People should have access to local services that help them, when they need them".
[Transcribed verbatim by RW ]

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Happy Birthday UHW?

Have you been reading the SW Echo the last few days? Oh you really should - the stories about the fantastic University Hospital of Wales (UHW) site have warmed my cockles no end. Sigh, it sounds like a perfectly warm paradise to go, I almost WANT to be unwell just to visit...

Or not!

So UHW is 40 years old. Why should we care? The Health Board needs some good press so with a 40 year birthday celebration they probably think it's a perfect opportunity to 'big up' the 'super-hospital' and everything it stands for.

Shall we take a look at what has happened at UHW in the last year alone?

Here's one news story from March this year:

'SERIOUS concerns have been raised about the state of two wards offering specialist care to patients at the University Hospital of Wales.

Inspectors highlighted the poor fabric of the dialysis unit and neurosurgery ward during an unannounced spot check.'

So the buildings are a tad shabby.

And this news story from a few days ago:

'TWO patients died from rare infections not seen anywhere else in the world after undergoing heart surgery at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, an inquest heard yesterday.'

Oops! So there's an issue with infection/cleanliness too?

Or this one:

'Heather O’Shea, 45, of Butetown, Cardiff, who was a senior staff member in the haemotology ward at the University Hospital of Wales, had been guilty of a gross breach of trust, a judge said.'

Oh dear - not looking good is it??

From January this year:

'PATIENTS are travelling to Bristol for brain surgery because a controversial plan to centralise surgery in Wales is behind schedule, an AM has claimed.

Conservative AM Jonathan Morgan last night called on Health Minister Edwina Hart to answer questions over the provision of adult neuroscience services at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff.'

I really could go on but I won't, I'm sure you get the picture.

To be fair, one thing I cannot criticise at UHW is the (majority of) staff, the floor staff I'm talking about; the nurses, doctors, porters, cleaners etc. The management leave a lot to be desired, and, to be honest, most of them could do with a few days in the real world. Don't even get me started on the Board themselves. Bah!

There's so much more to this though, waiting lists, complaints, ward closures, cancelled operations due to dirty equipment, capacity issues, parking (or lack of).

So will you please join me in raising a dirty, cracked, probably stolen glass of cheap bubbly to UHW, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!                  Yours, Lynette Spragg

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Health Boards Warned "Stick to Your Budgets" by Ms Griffiths Minister

Re: "Health Boards warned 'stick to your budgets'

I was very interested to read that the Health Minister, Leslie Griffiths has issued this warning to all remaining Health Boards.  She said "The Government has set your targets and provided the means...etc."  However, amongst the following empty rhetoric about 'targets' and 'financial performance', there is no mention at all about what the budgets are and precisely how much of these 'provided means' have been devoted to running each health speciality, in terms of capital expenditure for developments, or the amounts of public money ( yours and mine ) which is to be spent on further rationalisations and costs of external consultants.

To be precise, What is the annual budget for each and every Health Board ?  also, What cost-savings are expected to be made by each in terms of 'targets' for each speciality within each Health Board.

The public has a right to know this information.  Also, what punishments does the Minister intend to administer should Health Boards fail to 'stick to their budgets' ( whatever they are ) ?

As I have previously stated, apart from the morgue at Llandough, no other targets have been met, except by deliberate misrepresentation of waiting times, such as orthopaedics.  Millions have been poured into our Health Service, yet front-line services are getting worse and much harder to access.  Shouldn't the Minister address the many existing failures in health governance before chucking her weight around Cardiff Stadium.  Experience over the past twenty years has shown that failing to confront the obvious managerial incompetence of the government, NHS Wales. and its' Health Boards, will only result in yet more incompetence and even poorer services being inflicted on the public.  So let us have the openness and transparancy we were promised when the Welsh Assembly first opened.  Publish the budgets and targets.   R.W.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Have you Heard This One Before ? - a joke by Leslie Griffiths Minister H&SS

'Together in Health'

I stayed up until 2.30am to listen to Leslie Griffiths, Minister for Health etc, and experienced deja vu as I listened  carefully to the meaningless and insincere summary of her 'Plan' for the next 5 years.  She stated that the plan was essential because existing services were not safe and not sustainable.  Why ? - no answer.  She also stated that there is an absolutely compelling case for change in NHS Wales.  What is it ? I asked myself, whilst watching Andrew T Davies fumbling his way through his assessment of 'Together for Health'.  He managed to point out that the document lacked any detail at all and that there was no 'Who' What', 'Where', 'How' or 'Why', or any timing in the document.  The Minister replied sharply "this is a five year plan'.  Great, I thought watching Andrew retake his seat clumsily.  Fortunately, my heroine stepped into the breach and pointed out to the Minister that she was espousing the same empty rhetoric that all previous health ministers had used in the same meaningless documents ( all of a different name ) that had been published over the last 14 years.  Who ? - Kirsty Williams, of course - a brilliant leader in every sense of the word. ( and I am a Labour voter ).  No answer at all except to say that the opposition AM's were just insulting the intelligence of the public, and that NHS Wales was doing a wonderful job.

I nearly fainted !  Since 1972, we have lost 30% of mental health beds in Cardiff and the Vale and, as the BMA stated, hundreds more throughout general services in Wales. And all of these losses over a period where the health needs of communities has increased, yet have become smaller in size and - most importantly - have become less and less accessible to all of us.
So, who does she think she's kidding ? Does she think that everyone is so dull that they have lost there memories and cannot see the evidence of their own eyes ?

If there is an issue of 'safety and sustainability' ( and I don't believe there is ), then it is because  successive health ministers have created this situation through their own sheer neglect, plus the total absence of any 'Needs Assessment' over the past 10 years.  Sully, Rookwood, the CRI and West wing have suffered neglect for over 20 years, as I and others can testify.  Contrary to this, millions of pounds have been put into the health service for back-stage services and staff with absolutely no improvement in patient services ( except Llandough Mortuary which won a best practice commendation ).

And - worst of all, to me - there will be NO PEOPLE's FORUM, that was launched on the BBC earlier this year.  Her answer for ignoring the concerns of patients and the public ( as a statutory requirement of The Health and Social Care Act 2001 ), was that "The Community Health Councils ARE the voice of the people". Successive consultations have shown this to be total fiction, as the CHC's have proven themselves to be the lap-dogs of the health authorities by completely ignoring public responses, verbal and written. So, once again she is hanging onto a falsehood, knowing that the CHC members will invariably support the Health Board in anything they plan to do, regardless of the adverse effect on the long-suffering patients, and the poor, overworked staff. 

'Together for Health' is complete fiction as it really means that we have to cure ourselves in future, whilst she and the other NHS fat-cats languish on their huge salaries, not giving a damn for the poor patient or the reduced health services.  Liars, all of them !   R.W.