Friday, 29 June 2012

12 hour waits at A & E are "exceptional" - First Minister

This ridulous quote was made by our First Minister who stated that these waits were "unfortunate but not exceptional". His Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths, was even more direct. "The hypocrisy of the Tories knows no bounds....." ( huh ? )..."with the rapidly deteriorating situation - due to Tory mismanagement and cuts - ......." ( double huh ? ). What world is she living iin ? What has she been smoking, that she can imagine that her Labour government have NOT been responsible for ALL the cuts made to the Health Service in Wales - or did she forget that Health has been a devolved issue since the creation of her malfunctioning Welsh Assembly ?

As a father and grandfather ( nine times over ), I have spent a considerable amount of time in A & E with children who are either bleeding, running a high temperature with a rash, or trying to cope with the pain of a broken arm or leg or a dislocated elbow. In addition, I have also been taken to A&E by ambulance, only to be told that "my case wasn't urgent because my bad heart wasn't the problem". So, from 4.00pm until 7.30am the following morning I had to sit in a chair in A&E, in February, wearing only the pyjamas in which I was taken to hospital, as an emergency.
Now, to be fair, the children were always been seen within four hours, but me and a lot of other adults have spent more that 12 hours in A&E and then 24 hours, on a trolley in the Assessment unit. And, if you want to see regular 12 hour waits in a hospital unit, visit Llandough hospital any evening because, since they 'modernised' the assessment unit - by removing all the beds - patients of all ages get treated to an uncomfortable chair for at least a night. No good trying the same experiment at UHW ( University Hospital of Wales ) because the doors are blocked with ambulances waiting to unload.

"Disturbing picture" of 12 hour waits at A&E ? Absolutely correct, thanks ( for once ) to the Freedom of Information Act. "Unfortunate but exceptional ?" Sorry Carwyn, you're wrong again, and Leslie Griffiths should try to get work by queueing in line at a Job Centre in Damascus where misinformation is a way of life. R. W.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Passing the buck, but hospitals are NOT to blame

'We need NHS reform...' - ( 'i' news 27.06.2012 ) '.... just not like this.'

Master of understatement in the words "Aneurin Bevan wouldn't be too thrilled..... he might be cross" - this at the news that three South London hospitals might be forced to close. Also - to add insult to injury - a further twenty might be in the same position.

No laughing matter, this. In fact, it would appear that the death nell tolls for the entire NHS, if we are dumb enough to miss an important and extremely unfair and unjust point - their insolvency, and impending bancruptcy ( it would seem) is due principally to the fact that all of these hospitals were built under the Labour Government's completely incomprehensible P.F.I. scheme, otherwise known as the Brown/Blair 'Off the balance sheet' pantomime whereby, for instance, a hospital that could be built for a capital expenditure of £16m, is actually handed over to a private, profit-making developer for £60m+ . Further, these developers would take over the overall management of (their hospital's ) services. Let me remind you, this 'put-off-today-the financial-liability' was spread over thirty - that's THIRTY years - in order to dupe us all into believing that this was the only way to get more hospitals built.

Now - suddenly - these unacheivable liabilities are placed onto the hospital budgets which - surprise, surprise - causes them to become insolvent ( not having enough cash to pay normal bills PLUS the added repayment costs of the P.F.I. scheme ). So, a private profiteer takes of the build and management costs - at a profit - but unfortunately, the article misses the main point that the stupid Labour Government made the commitment that the hospital Trusts had absolutely no say in negotiating or agreeing, initially. Consequently, the private owner/managers increase management costs and, of course, their profits. So, how is it that the government abdicates its' responsibility in this shameful manner ? The answer ( In my opinion) is that a Labour Government made the commitment, and the current Conservative dominated coalition is using it as a gifted cost-cutting opportunity by claiming that the normally functioning hospitals are - somehow - to blame for a government-initiated scheme that they had no say, whatsoever, about accepting. It seems unbelievable ( to me ) that anyone would be daft enough to think that adding the mortgage costs and the commercial profits to the normal costs of running a hospital would create a financially viable entity. Even more incredible, is that such a daft scheme could be the product of national government and its' Treasury department imagining that any of their idea was a sane solution of the problem of idadequate inpatient care.

Clearly this is 'dirty pool', or modern-day politics, that makes damaging decisions based on deliberate misinformation. Now, the deceivers will cut these NHS 'liability' hospitals, claiming that they are merely correcting the mistakes of the former government ( of course !). And be warned that Welsh hospitals, such as Port Talbot ( a £400m+ 'liability') will inevitably face the same unearned financial knockout blows from our equally dishonest government. And, while they wait their cruel fate, the poor patients are finding smaller, centrally located health services almost impossible to access. Poorly staffed Accident and Emergency, and Midwifery services make their patients suffer longer waits for treatment of immediate symptoms only. Worse still, patients awaiting urgent operations, are told that "there are no beds" for their hospital-scheduled surgical procedures. And this situation continues to worsen - more cuts based on lies from NHS Wales and their inept Health Boards. So, as the blame approaches 'ground zero', patients suffer, with the most vulnerable ( eg The Elderly Mentally Infirm ) facing a situation where there are very few community-based services available to provide the care they most need. R. W.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

A Pot-Pourri of Health News, or, A Host of Posts

On some occasions I really am stuck for words or - like now - I simply don't know where to start. Fortunately, my 'Blog partner' and friend has such a well-ordered mind, that it's all too easy to chicken-out by asking her to write something that embraces all that I wish to say. Unfortunately, she is 'hors de combat', with being pregnant and feeling thoroughly 'horrible', making a tactical withdrawl by me essential. So, here I go...........

NHS Chaplains - a waste of money ? - surely not.

On the 15th inst., the Western Mail published an article headed £1.3m bill for NHS Chaplains slated as 'wasteful'. Don't ask me 'how' or 'why', but some Godless berk of a retired IT consultant came up with the unbelievable figure of £6.5m since 2008. Of course, various other 'glory girls and boys' in our government have jumped on the band-waggon, agreeing that such expenditure - on spiritual support - could, and should, be spent on other health services such as neo-natal care. So - as with the snowball rolling downhill - the questions about the need for chaplaincy services have grown like topsy. I can only declare that these braying donkeys haven't said how a 72 year old IT consultant arrived at any of these figures, but such detail on costs has never bothered anyone in the NHS yet - being past-masters at creating huge sums of money whenever some facility is needed - especially when they pretend to be all for new-build ventures whilst covertly being against spending any actual money on them. From my personal experience of prolonged hospitalisation, I can only testify that the only service that saw me through my experiences was the help, love and support of the hospital chaplains. Who can put a price on that ?????

Whilst writing on this subject, I must ask, "What are the costs involved in desecrating half of each of our hospital Chapels, in order to satisfy the needs of the Muslim hordes, whose champions managed to push them to the front of the queue, with cost being of secondary importance to the consideration of the needs of these pushy, non-integrating heathens ?" R. W.

Deaths of Detained Mental Health Patients - 'BBC Channel 4 - 'All in the Mind'

Detained patients - in case you don't know - are patients subject to being 'sectioned' under the 1983 Menatl Health Act ( Revised ). These patients are acutely ill and in urgent need of protective hospital care. Unfortunately there are many harrowing stories of these needy patients dying whilst ( supposedly ) being under the care of hospital staff. This is reported as being 5/6 detained patients per week, nationally, with ( as per ruddy convenient ) no separate figures provided for Wales. The vast majority of these tragic deaths are suicides, with the poor relatives getting the sad news days later, if they're lucky. Worse still, the only investigation allowed into these deaths is by way of an 'internal enquiry' conducted by the Trust or Health Board. The relatives are supposed to be involved at any, and every stage, of this enquiry, however, the majority of them record the fact that the Health Board staff have been openly obstructive about sharing any facts or findings with these distressed souls. Then, we have the Coroner's Inquest that ( amazingly ) has no powers to order an independent investigation into these untimely deaths. The result is that these 'wigless paragons of judicious conduct' (heavy sarcasm) record a narrative verdict or, as in the case of poor Jamie Antonio, conclude ( ridiculously ) that 'she did not kill herself'.
Needless to add, that the only solution to this recurring problem is to have totally independent and unbiased public enquiries into every death in detention. R. W.

Health Board bailouts are 'unsustainable'

This declaration from the Auditor General, Huw Vaughan Thomas, follows the 2011-2012 'top ups' by the Welsh Government to four Health Boards - Aneurin Bevan, Cardiff and Vale, Cwm Taf and Powys, in order to bring them to 'break even'. From some imaginary place ( Never, Never Land, probably ) the Western Mail arrived at a figure of £300m that must be saved by the NHS this year. It had already found £290m of savings in 2011-12 on top of the "unprecedented" savings of £1bn since 2011. If I added up all of these unsupported figures, I'd probably arrive at a health budget having been reduced from £5.2bn to £3.75bn by now already. So - where are these savings shown, and why haven't we been given the 'evidence' that shows why and where these savings have to be increased still further ? If the Universally Inept Health Board's budget is £1.2bn, as declared, where have all these savings gone, and why the blazes do we still need to make more ???? Brilliantly, the Auditor General concludes that "Health Boards face significant financial challenges because of the downward pressure on funding and the upward pressure on service demand."

Why do we tolerate these idiots who tell us the blindingly bloody obvious, and then let them get away without providing any evidence of what's happened to the savings already made, and WHY do we have to save a further £300m this year ??? As I have said before - "We are at the mercy of bureaucrats talking bureaucrap ." To paraphrase a statement from Rambo 3, "God must love crazy bureaucrats because he makes so many of them !" R. W.

Question of the day - Why is Tracy Myhill suddenly listed as 'acting Chief Executive of Cardiff and Vale Universally Inept Health Board', when the last quote I read was that Paul Hollard was still in that exalted position. So, where did Tracy Myhill appear from and where did the worst planner in Wales go ? Has she any experience in health - if so where ? Not that it matters, of course, as promoting women - just because they are women and regardless of their competence - has become a long-standing tradition in our Welsh Government. [ Where is that glass ceiling installer I ordered ? ]. R. W.

NHS action - do you support it?

Today is the day that NHS Doctors in the UK strike due to possible changes to their pensions. Not all doctors are involved in the dispute, and it's fair to say not all agree with the action. Where do you stand?

Personally I support the action today. Mainly due to the fact that it is only 4 years since the last pension changes were agreed and, you have to admit, it does seem as though the poor doctors have been completely short changed. They dealt with it, closed the book, moved on. Now it has been re-opened, with a large increase in not only the percentage required as pension payments but in yet another increase to retirement age also.

Their main argument is that by paying 14% into their pension, they will actually be paying TWICE what other civil servants pay into their pension schemes. Yes there's no doubt that the schemes themselves are very comfortable, but why take a larger sum from one area of employees and not from another? It could almost be viewed as discrimination.

Why is this the case though?

Apparently the 4 year old pension scheme is no longer 'affordable' - I find it hard to understand how pensions become unaffordable to be completely honest. Does anyone know? I mean, pensions are complex things and I have nowhere near enough brain power to figure out what goes on with interest rates and the like, but, surely if someone pays money into a pot then it will still be there waiting for them when they retire? No?

Also, surely the person(s) who drew up the plan 4 years ago should be joining the dole queue? Could they not foresee this happening? Not much of a 'plan'.

Anyway, today's strike action is mainly due to disrupt routine appointments such as GP's and outpatients, however, we all know what will inevitably happen - A&E departments will be over-run with people with headaches, heavy colds etc that couldn't get into their regular GP surgery. They may in fact also phone an ambulance to get them there (as people did in November when the nurses went on strike, no reason could be found for the surge in 999 calls then either).

When I was taken in hospital over Christmas just gone, the waiting room was completely full. The average wait time was 4 hours, unless you were dying a death, I could hear people complaining loudly about their wait yet they seemed perfectly well in themselves, other than coming in with pyjamas and dressing gowns on. I don't understand the mentality of people who go into hospital with minor ailments, that they can easily see their GP for, or wait an extra day. Especially if it means they'll be waiting hours and hours anyway. How unwell can you be if you're prepared to sit in a stuffy waiting room, with vending machine coffee, for hours and hours on end?

'Luckily' for me I went straight into the Assessment ward, on a trolley, with the complementary oxygen mask and all the additional wiring and testing equipment. The nursing staff were fab, as were the doctors, yet you could feel the frustration with the system, all the waiting around that is no doubt what costs the NHS so much. Get the doctor to visit you on his ward rounds, get a pharmacist to prescribe the drugs, get the doctor to sign off the drugs, get a porter to collect the drugs from the pharmacy. Ridiculous!

I guess my point is that if there were more input in the system from the people 'on the floor' then the system would no doubt be improved and costs reduced. Then there wouldn't be constant disputes about pay and pensions etc. All the Directors and administrators pushing paper around their desks not having a clue how to run a hospital, callously culling posts left, right and centre to fund their own tea and coffee funds rather than doing something about the wastage areas, or even acknowledging that anything needs changing except more culling. One day we will realise that there ARE no nurses/doctors in hospitals anymore. Only advisors, directors, suits and then where will we be? It's not so far off you know!

Lynnette Spragg

Friday, 15 June 2012

Early Birth Linked to Mental Illness

Another particularly interesting article ( to me ) in Madeleine's excellent Health Check Wales supplement, was news of the findings of this research from King's College London and Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Basically, their findings are that there is a link between premature babies and subtle disorders of brain development that cause these babies to be more susceptible to psychiatric disorders later in life. Previous research has shown an association between premature birth and an increase risk of schizophrenia, but this is the first study to report an association with a broad range of psychiatric disorders including bipolar disorder, psychosis and depression. Dr Nosarati, a senior lecturer in mental health studies at King's, emphasised that "since we considered the most severe cases that resulted in hospitalisation, it may be that in real terms this link is stronger". He contiues, " However, it is important to remember that even with the increased risk, these disorders will only affect 1% to 6% of the population. We also need to remember the majority of individuals born prematurely have no psychiatric or cognitive problems - they are healthy and well-functioning babies and young adults. By comparison, two in 1000 people who are born full-term are hospitalised with a psychiatric diagnosis, whereas that figure is doubled for individuals born pre-term - less than 37 weeks - at four in 1000. In very premature babies, the rate is six in a 1000.
The greatest risk was conferred by very premature babies at less 32 weeks; there is more than twice the likelihood of them being hospitalised with psychosis; they are seven times more likely to have bipolar and more than three times likely to be hospitalised with an eating disorder.

About one in 13 babies born in the UK every year is premature. a full term is defined as babies born at between 37 and 41 weeks of gestation; moderately pre-term is 33 and 36 weeks and very premature is before 32 weeks. Whereas 20 years ago a gestational age of 32 weeks the survival rate was extremely low, now the majority will survive. [ No doubt, my friend and colleague, Magpie, will be able to expand on these facts from her extensive knowledge of such matters. ]

"The strongest association we found was to mental health disorders known to have a strong biological basis, such as bipolar disorder, further adding to the theory neuro-developmental differences in those born prematurely may play an important role for later mental health."


In another web article on the BBC site, I was really pleased to read that two MPs - Charlie Walker and Kevan Jones - talk openly about their own experiences of mental health problems. Their openness and honest revelations will, undoubtedly, prove a tremendous boost to the campaign to eliminate the stigmatisation suffered by mentally ill patients throughout the UK. As Campaign Director, Sue Baker, of Time to Change - a mental health anti-stigma campaign run by charities MInd and Rethink Mental Illness - said, "This will go down in the history books as we have never seen our political leaders and Parliamentarians feel able to discuss their mental health problems openly without fear of discrimination. We want people from all walks of life to be able to do the same and it's great to see politicians making a stand."

I can only comment that I agree completely with Sue, and I add my thanks and congratulations to these two MPs for their bravery and openness. Well done, and good luck to this important campaign ! R.W.
P.S. Special thanks to Mike Pope for his help

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Placenta cord donation to commence at Birmingham Hospital

At 31 weeks pregnant there are a lot of thoughts in my head re labour choices, packing my hospital bag, birth plan etc. One of the things I have heard about, and would very much like to get involved in, is donation of the placenta and the cord blood for harvesting stem cells.

These stem cells are used predominantly for fighting Leukemia and other blood disorders, they are currently just discarded with the placenta, which is such a shame. These stem cells would negate the need for bone marrow transplants, which is an invasive and painful procedure for both donor and recipient.

I had contacted a hospital in London to find out if my placenta could be transported to them as there's nothing currently closer that offers these services, but sadly they have not replied.

I found a story on a new umbilical cord donor centre that will be opening in Birmingham in September whilst scouring the BBC news health pages to find something to write about - there was a story on midwifery on the news last night which I was specifically interested in, however, I cannot seem to find it.

I will be watching this story for further updates!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Less is More ( for the NHS ? ) - Are You Nuts ?

"All emergency and inpatient care in South Wales should be carried out at the University Hospiatl of Wales", a controversial plan says. Controvertial ? People from St Davids, Fishguard, Merthyr Tydfil and Caldicot, having to travel all the way to Cardiff for A&E care, or to visit sick relatives after major surgery ? This is Bevan to Bedlam, if implemented, but nobody sane could even think of such a 'plan' - could they ?

Madeleine Brindley reports ( Echo, 9th June ) that a consultant obstetrician and gynacologist, named Chris Overton drew up this 'plan' on the basis that everyone in Wales would be able to reach one of seven A&E departments within the 'Golden Hour'. Well of course they could - at 3.00am in an ambulance being driven by Louis Hamilton - maybe. Clearly, this astute West Walian has never tried to drive from Dinas Powys to Cardiff ( 8 miles ) between 7.30 and 9.00am, on any weekday. He can't possibly have travelled on the A470 or the A48 either, so maybe this is yet another an opium-induced pipe-dream from the Universally Inept Health Board's 'planner and Deputy Chief Executive' ? And, reassuringly, the Welsh Government claim "There are no plans to downgrade any hospitals in Wales ( Yeah Right ). It gives you a warm glow all over - like septacaemia from a bad infection that missed that li'l old 'Golden Hour - just hearing this garbage from our insincere government. Why, even one of their very own 'spokeswoman' ( She of no name ) is quoted as saying, "The pressing need for change is well documented ( is it - where ? ) and we are pleased consultants in Wales recognise the status quo is not an option".

Does anyone out there know which particular status quo she's talking about, or does every rationalisation and centralisation that has been made over the last 15 years count as The Status Quo of today )? And just precisely how did ONE solitary pot-head of a consultant suddenly becomes 'consultantS in Wales' ? Personally, I don't know a single consultant, or GP, that doesn't think that this current re-incarnation of NHS Wales is the worst ever. Experience shows that you'll be lucky if you see an ambulance within an hour, once you've dialled 999 for a sick relative ! If you are lucky, you then get to wait in the trolley queue, before spending 24 hrs in Assessment, waiting for a bed. And what happens when UHW is 'closed for admissions' because of the lack of beds ?
How could any sane person, even consider implementing such a plan, when the they know that deaths of patients 'in transit; will increase exponentially ? The elderly are being denied care as if the Master Plan considers them worthless in society. Perhaps the eventual purpose of this cruel, plan will result in new euthenasia clinics - The Nazis wanted a purified race, perhaps the Universally Inept Health Board and the autocrats within NHS Wales and our dictatorial government want a Welsh-speaking 'Master Race' too ? History has a habit of repeating itself and, as with the Third Reich, money became more important than lives, and these historical events occurred in times of financial collapse. How close are we to looking for a new Hitler to provide jobs in the factories of weapons of war ? It may be utter madness but, at least stop and think about how the Health Service is deliberately being degraded. Is this what 'Fit for Purpose' means ? As Stalin once said, " People are the problem so, no people, no problem" R.W.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

That's enough 'Good News' - Back to reality

Heading for the draft Board - again.

Hi there. Sorry to be a party pooper but I'm beginning to wonder whether I might not be safer enlisting for Afghanistan, than staying here watching the mounting death toll in Wales under the 'care' of NHS Wales. Of course, I'm being ridiculous - what use would a 67 year old, chronically ill short, bald man be in a war zone, except maybe for bayonet practice ?

First I read of the death of a 20 year old man ( 20 years of age ? - a child yet ) who 'Fell to his Death' from the roof of the Cardiff Business School, That really upset me, I mean to ask, what happened to the promised counsellors that were to be placed in every University ? Do we really care anymore ? All I know is that Mental Health Services have been slashed to below adequacy and children should NOT be committing suicide. ( Do remember the 36 adolescant suicides in Bridgend, that nobody thought significant or even important ).

Next day, on the 1st June, I read of the death of a 74 year old lady, Mrs Bright, who died after a head injury. The woman was taken to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital where doctors decided that, in spite of the fact that the poor lady had no recollection of what had happened, she could be sent home. At 5.00am, her poor husband called an ambulance because of her worsening pain, she was taken by 'Blue Light' to hospital where - this time - a scan showed that she had suffered a subdural haematoma ( bleeding between her brain and her skull ). Neurosurgeons at Cardiff UHW and Bristol Royal, considered operating ( to relieve the pressure ), but refused because of 'her age and condition'. Unsurprisingly, she died, the next day for want of proper care at Royal Glamorgan ( Perhaps the Neurosurgeons were on a lunch break, or decided to play God because she was old ). Well, maybe it was a good thing - after all the doctors and neurosurgeons saved their Health Boards an expsensive operation, and maybe she wouldn't have lasted long anyway, when post-op care might have added greatly to the cost ? Why don't we just agree a policy, that if your over, say, 70, you should be denied any medical treatment to cut costs - especially facing a growing population amongst the elderly.

Next, I'm treated to a tale of of 66year old woman, who was given Keyhole surgery - to remove a growth the size of a grapefruit - only to come out of surgery with a perforated bowel that, unsurprisingly, vented the contents of her bowel, causing her untimely death. [ Ok, let's reduce that no care age to 60 then ? - RW]. The coroner ruled that death was due to the hole in the bowel caused by the first operation ( that would have been symptomatic and sould have shown up on an x-ray ). A doctor friend of mine recently asked if I knew the difference between God and a Consultant. I held up my hands and she said that "God doesn't walk around with a stethoscope around his neck pretending to be a consultant". 2.1/2 staggeringly long years after this cock-up and cop-out, the coroner chickened out and recorded a narrative verdict, thereby denying the family an enquiry that the circumstances demanded.

A day later ( all in the same week ) I read that Mr Mahmood Hassan died after an epileptic seizure, after ambulance staff failed to revive him. Good old Mary Hassell, coroner, recorded yet another narrative verdict, preventing further investigation of the 43 year old's death. [ Nah - lowering the 'no care' age limit to 40 is too low - isn't it ? ].

Lastly - and near tears - I read of the death of a three year old girl who died in UHW of a 'sudden death' that neither her doctor mother, nor a patholgist, could explain. An inquest heard that poor little Megan Parsons was 'off her food, coughing and always tired'. When discovered later, her face was blue and she had vomit on her clothing. Call me, a mule, but I will not believe that an early diagnosis was not possible, which means that the child need not have died.

What a lovely ( expletive deleted ) week ! But fret not, the weekend brings us the joy of the Jubilee celebrations, and news that the Olympics is ( are ? ) only 54 days away - Whoopee piggin' do ! Maybe I could get to the relative safety of Afghanistan by lying about my age ??? Have a nice Bank Holiday ! R.W.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Let's have some good news!

Firstly I'd like to apologise for the long absence on my part. Robin has been doing a fab job keeping you all up-to-date with the latest information whilst I have been battling low blood pressure and a generally busy life.

I wanted to share some good news. Credit where credit is due, I do feel that this deserves a mention...

'A new park and ride bus service to the University Hospital of Wales is set to be launched on Monday, May 14, in a bid to ease parking problems at the site.'

Now the article doesn't state how many parking spaces will be available at the 'pick-up point' but it does say it only costs £1 to park and then a further £1 for the bus service itself which takes 7 minutes to get from Pentwyn to the UHW site.

'The service timetable takes into account staff’s shift patterns with the first bus leaving Pentwyn at 6.30am.

The service will operate every 20 minutes.'

I am aware that Eastern Avenue has recently had new bus only lanes installed, so traffic shouldn't be an issue either.

'Cardiff council’s chief officer for city management Martin Hamilton, said: “Cardiff council is delighted to see this service begin.

“Parking pressure around the hospital site has long been an issue for local residents, and this service should make a big contribution to addressing the parking pressures around the hospital.”'

I just think this is a really good idea. Although I'm not sure how Vinci will feel having less revenue from parking!