Monday, 31 December 2012

All stick but no carrot - Minister gets her Whip Out

'Minister's break-even order to health boards' - Western Mail 31st December 2012

It's a case of 'All stick and no carrot', with the patients having ( once again ) to bear the pain of the Health Minister's lash.

First, we heard that the health boards would break even, then we're told by the Auditor General that losses could range from £30m to as high as £131m !  Next day, 'Leslie the Lash' produces a contingency fund of £82m, that will only become a bailout out if the A.G's  prediction is only half right. So, now, the Dear Minister decides to order the health boards to break-even ( again ).  If I wasn't a chronically sick pensioner, I could imagine myself sitting at the Mad Hatters' Tea Party,  Oops, another tip of the slongue as Dr Spooner would say - is it possible that we have our own Republican Tea Party that is determined to widen the gap between the rich and the poor, or the sick and the healthy ??? Perhaps, even, the use of the word General after the innocuous word  'Auditor' is a further clue to our enforced Orwellian lifestyle ?  Maybe we're being ruled by a Junta, as in some banana republics ?

The fact that the Minister and her followers are revealing the full extent of their corporate stupidity by overlooking the fact that the cost of the health service is the true cost of meeting the health needs of the country, regardless of targets or unsupportable budgets. If you haven't assessed the health needs of the growing population, in the first place, how the blazes can you convince - even other idiots -  that the cost of meeting those needs must fall within some budget-by-pipe-dream that no one else has seen ?? The nurses and the doctors rightly say that they are not about to become the 'whipping boys' for the government's incompetence, but the poor short-changed patient has no say in the matter at all !  He/she/we are right at the bottom of the stairs, being slowly choked to death by the increasing weight of dust, falling from above, as the government lamely beats about the bush seeking solutions to their own self-made problems.

For some reason the words of Sir Walter Scott, "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive", keep ringinging in my ears.  Isn't it about time that we demand that our government - particularly NHS Wales - starts telling the truth ?    R. W.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Black Friday, Christmas Maladies and New Year's Eve

May we take this opportunity to wish all readers, friends and ALL NHS staff

A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

from Magpie and Robin ( eagerly awaiting the post- New Year's day excuses for another faling of A& E and the Ambulance Trust - as predictable as the weather )

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Cardiff & Vale Universally Inept Health Board

NHS counts cost of OAP 'binge-drinkers' - Echo 17.12.2012

Olivia Goldhill must have had a chuckle writing this story.  We've heard NHS Wales and the Cardiff & Vale Universally Inept Health Board bleating on about how they haven't got any money, and that it's all OUR fault, but this latest revelation is a beaut - "it's the under 16s and over 60s binge-drinking that's to blame for poor health services." Finally, we are getting to the bottom of our health service problems.

They trot out excuses like a Gatling gun firing bullets; "We have an unusually high flu rate this year", " More and more people go to A & E Instead of their doctors", "Resources are stretched to the limit due to an abnormally high number of inpatients", "It's the bed-blocking that's ruining us ( Delayed Transfer of Care )", "We can't recruit the right numbers of doctors/nurses/technicians" in order to meet the unexpectedly high number of patients requiring our services", "Patients are bringing sickness and diarhorea into the wards, as well as M.R S A. and c-deficile and athletes foot" etc etc ad nauseum.  Every year we hear the same load of crap that is supposed to explain why the Health Board and NHS Wales couldn't organise a gang-bang in a brothel, and why no one in the Welsh Government knows what a 'Budget' or a 'Plan' is, let alone how to set one and then control the damn thing.

It's past being a farce, especially when you see the huge salaries of Directors, Board members, Managers ( well, that's what they're called, anyway ) that are nearly all in six figures. Yet, WE are told that services have to be cut back because it's our bleedin' fault !  The result being that all services have ( or are ) rationalised and centralised, in order that we shall be bestowed with a health service that is 'Fit for purpose' ( whatever that means ).  More people will die at home, or in an ambulance during the four hours it takes to reach a hospital.

We been told people are too obese, people eat too much or the wrong foods, we all drink too much - which brings me ( neatly ) to this article that, says that it's the oldies - that are going out to the Pole dance clubs and getting 'elephant's trunk' - that are costing the NHS much money and affecting services.

So then, let's put all the under 16's and over 60s in Angelsey ( sorry butt - Ynus Mon ) and make it an alcohol-free zone.  They'll be so busy trying to learn the Welsh language that they probably will lose the will to live by the time they learn the national anthem and the names of all the bilingual signs and notices.

If I wasn't crying, I'd be laughing, but the incompetence of our health services managers is well beyond a joke, by now.   R. W.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Uncaring nurses - two words that should never go together

MP Ann Clwyd condemned "indifference and contempt" of some NHS nursing staff, in an article for the BBC News after treatment received by her late husband at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

The article is very much aimed at nursing staff and how they can be uncaring and disrespectful, especially when treating older patients', however I think this is somewhat unfair, since we are all aware that nurses are overworked and often in charge of up to 5 (daytime) highly demanding patients and up to 7 at night.

I do believe that the fault lies with 'those in power', who changed the nursing profession from a compassion and 'work your way up' system, to one of University entry only. You cannot teach compassion. You also cannot teach respect.

The current degree route for nursing requires placement, hands on - on the ward, as well as theory, that is classroom based lectures. The percentage of each seems to change frequently, I believe it is currently only 1 week of theory to 8 weeks hands on.

Nursing students are provided with a mentor who oversees their learning and ensures they get to tick every box necessary to continue on to the following years' education. If a student is not competent at a certain task, they can receive further training, either on ward or in a classroom environment with use of dummies, in order to pass.

There is no denying that nursing students will receive all the necessary training and be skilled with the content of the degree course, however, how do you ensure the students have the appropriate personal skills, and then teach them if they're lacking? Can you really expect a grade A student to be a good nurse even if they refer to all patients as 'mate' or have no bedside manner?

Is it a package deal?

I think so. I do not think a nurse can be fully competant unless he/she is able to put patients at ease and offer support and compassion to their family and/or friends.

Being in hospital can be very lonely, and can leave you feeling hopeless, isolated, institutionalised. The only people around you are the other patients, who may or may not be compos mentis, or the nursing staff. We all need a friendly face, especially when we're not feeling at our best.

Do you have any personal experiences of nurses? Good or bad? Please share.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Welsh Government wouldn't do this - would they ???

What a plethora of health stories this week - it seems that nothing stays static in NHS Wales ( except the patients who are left in ambulances, or on trolleys, or patients - languishing on waiting lists - awaiting surgery, or some vital diagnostic test - for very long. No waiting at this blog, anyway.

Cameron and Hunt rebuked over NHS spending claims ( 'I' 5th December )

David Cameron and the Health Secretary have been publicly rebuked by the government's own statistics watchdog for misleadingly claiming that spending on health had risen since 2010.  Andrew Dilnot, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, concluded that spending on the NHS was actually lower in real terms than it was in 2010.  Mr C's pledge that to protect health spending from public sector cuts has been central to the government's strategy of proving it can be trusted on the NHS. But in a damning letter to Mr Hunt, after a complaint by the Labour party, Mr Dilnot concluded that the claim was untrue.    UNTRUE ? - you mean they lied to make themselves look good ??  Oh deary me, whatever next ?  If you can't trust the government, who can you believe ?

Although the UK-wide figures included Wales, surely this can't mean that the Welsh government are doing the same or, at the vety least, contributing to this deliberate misrepresentation - surely not ????

Hospital Care Scandal 

In an excellent letter to the Echo last week - commenting on the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Ann Clwyd MP's husband at UHW - Nurse Alison Spurrier gives a very balanced view of the likely cause in the lack of care received by husband Owen Roberts. After carefully stating the proper approach to such palliative care, Alison gives good reason as to why the fault lies in "A lack of leadership". Indeed her plausible explanations are eloquently stated, bravely showing that her words should be taken seriously from her, as she is is a senior nurse of some standing.  There is no doubt about the sincerity and truthfulness of her letter, but I also see that 'leadership' is not fully defined. 

In my opinion, this lack of leadership is a fault running all the way up to Board level, revealing a lamentable lack of manergerial control, from the top and down through the subordinate layers of management.  Thank goodness for the fact that, in her position as an MP, she will ensure that the proper corrective measures will be taken at every level of the hierarchy of the Cardiff and Vale Health Board, including NHS Wales.

Well done, Alison, for standing up and speaking out !  Sadly, there are too many cases where patients and/or their families complain about being badly let down by the NHS.

Health Bosses 'must ensure enough staff on wards'  - Echo December 11th 2012

In a pathetic display of 'Stating the obvious' and ' Mixed messages confusing everyone ', our Dear Leader, Leslie Griffiths, Minister for Health and Social services, tells us that "Health chiefs must make sure they have enough nurses on their wards to ensure dignity, care and compassion for patients.". Nurses say that they are under tremendous pressure due to short staffing levels causing poor morale.  But, the Dear Lady responds that "It's really important that nurses do not feel like that.  Dignity is so important in care and it is not nice to read stories where this is not happening."  Shock, Horror, Probe !!!! Is she serious, or at least a tad insincere in what she says, or does she think that we ( the public ) and the Health Boards are so monumentally stupid that we forget about her insistence that Health Boards MUST be wthin budget by the end of the year ???

So, exactly how many nurses are we short, and who the blazes is going to pick up the tab for hiring all the extra nurses needed to ensure that that these so-called standards of care and compassion are met ??? If she had half a brain or ANY meaningful experience of running a health board ( or even a ruddy clinic ), she might just twig that you can't have the penny and the bun - i.e. you can't cut costs to the bone and still run an organisation that's fully staffed.  Ergo, I'm guessing that a short-term fix will be muted ( more agency nurses, again ), before we are returned to the status quo of expecting our nurses to do more with inadequate resources, again.  Really, you couldn't run a kid's party with that mentality, much less a £1bn plus, complex organisation like a hospital the size of UHW.

Personally speaking, I'm fed up to the armpits with all this insincerity, and intolerable B.S. ( business statistics, of course ).   R.W.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Minister explains that Bailout and Contingency funding are totally different

The Echo faithfully reports anything that puts our Health Minister in a good light,without a feministic bias.

In her article 'Extra Cash for Health boards Not a Bailout,' Julia Watt allows our dear health Minister to demonstrate the meaning of Semantics.  Quite simply ( to the dear lady), the extra £82m that has been set aside for the end of the year - when the health boards fail to meet their break-even target that the Minister assured us ( only last week ) that they would not be in defecit - is a 'Contingency' "to allow the NHS to manage and maintain quality of care".   Huh ?  Now, I may be a tad slow on the uptake at times but isn't she saying that she knows the health Boards won't break even ( as promised ), so this Contingency Fund will save the NHS the embarrassment of failing to meet their targets - in other words a Bailout for budget failures isn't a actual bailout, as such, it's simply a means of money to ensure that the boards break-even. Confused ? 

Ok - it's a ruddy bailout by another name ( semantics, isn't it , see Butty ? ).  Of course, it's much easier to understand the dear lady when we have Kirsty Williams AM translating this B.S. by stating, The Minister is predictably denying that this is a bailout", adding that " The Minister has plugged a hole in the the NHS' finances by raiding the Capital Budget". Other AMs agreed but the dear lady insists that "I have made changes to the NHS finance regime, including a review of how we provide flexibility as recommended by the Auditor General"   Huh ?  Isn't this more semantics to pretend that the extra £82m isn't a 'bailout' ? Why can't politicians speak the truth, instead of persistently being guilty of a 'Terminalogical Inexactitude' ????

And - if the NHS is supposed to "manage and maintain quality of care", how can they achieve this within continually tightening financial constraints.

Incidentally, In case anyone has missed the main point, the NHS is NOT - repeat NOT a Profit and Loss commercial enterprise.  On the contrary, the NHS is a PUBLIC SERVICE, established to meet the needs of the tax and N.I. paying public !  Therefore, they are supposed to meet the growing health needs of the increasing population, and NOT to 'cut the patients to fit the service' by reducing services and making them more inaccessible than they already are !  R.W.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Live Healthier lifestyles - OR ELSE !

Satirically reporting, word has reached the 'Royal Ears' that The Welsh Government is going to attempt to introduce legislation to force us to become healthier.  Yes, I know, 1984 was nearly three decades ago, but Orwell's predictions don't seem far off the mark if this unconfirmed intelligence is true. Today, we have heard that the 'Opt out' scheme of Organ Donations, is approved and will take immediate effect.  Hardly surpising really, as the NHS thinks we'll all be forced to give up our organs, simply because we are ( collectively ) too stupid to realise that we will be able to opt out by saying 'NO !'  Rumours abound that the highest rated person, ideally suited for organ donations is........our beloved Health Minister Leslie Griffiths, whom it is further rumoured is to be part of a Cabinet reshuffle that will include the creation of a new Ministry [ Nope, nothing to do with the Richard recommendations, more to do with necessity ]. 

One scurrilous rumour-monger was heard to say that, in future, the only time that Leslie Griffiths will open her mouth will be to change feet !  Hence ( so the rumour continues ), the dear lady has reached her political summit by being appointed to this new Ministry, to be called The Ministry for Population Reduction, or simply the MPR.  This bold move comes after reports are apparently received from every conceivable consultee ( including Marcus 'I didn't do it, Guv' Longley ) - all concluding that cuts to vital health services over the past decade, have failed to achieve their target of minimal citizen usage ! 

The inevitable result of this inexcusable failure, is that some citizens in our growing population seem to be hell-bent on keeping the health service working, thus burdening our 'Tea Party' with continuing healthcare costs, albeit greatly reduced already. These right-wing-neocons have, therefore, chosen to utilise their supreme powers by introducing legislation ( in Welsh only ) to force us to; eat much less, excercise by order, and to reduce breeding as a result of unlicensed, unprotected sexual copulations.

Weekly targets of achievement are to be set by MPR and enforced by the underemployed Welsh Language Fascists. If - after a period of public consultation by the Community Health Prevention Councils - plans are approved, rumour has it that check-posts and screening centres will be established in every town hall throughout Wales. Families of the future will consist of a maximum of three persons ( two adults and one licensed child ) who will reside in studio apartments, to be built in the new Centres of Excellence which, we are assured will be 'Fit for Purpose'.   Satirically,  R. W.

Monday, 3 December 2012

More Shifts in Clinical Services - less accessible but less costly

'Matching the Best in the World' - Well, that was what the title of the Slide Show Summary was called, but I think that 'Side Show to Deception' would have been more apt.  I attended this public meeting at Llandough hospital last week ( with only six members of the public present ) to be treated to a talk by Dr Graham Shortland, Medical Director NHS Wales, that was subtitled 'What is the South Wales Programme all about ?' The four items were just the usual empty rhetoric that precedes a document of problems in five specific services as discussed and agreed by 300 clinicians ( we are reliably informed ).  These are :

Neonatal Care
Accident and Emergency
Major Trauma

Apparently, all of these services cannot continue as they are and consequently they are to be based at 4/5 specialist centres - most of these are currently being delivered from 'seven or so' sites.  Now "they need to be concentrated on fewer sites, if we are to ensure that everyone has the best care and the best possible outcomes, whatever time of day or year". Where have I heard that silly and insincere crap before ?    Oh - I remember - it was on every occasion over the past decade that the NHS and Local Health Boards wanted to centralise services in order to cut costs.  Needless to say, consultations resulting in public opinion opposing these changes, were completely ignored by every organisation ( led by the ridiculously incoherent Community Health Councils, who hadn't read any of the proposals or understood the implications of their unfathomable reason for supporting the proposals as put forward by the LHBs ). 

The same farce continues today with Dr Shortland announcing that the 'Engagement' phase ends December the 19th with 12 week ( not the statutory 16 weeks ) 'Consultations'  scheduled to commence end January 2013. The CHC pantomime will pretend that that they give a toss about public opinion, before they vote the Preferred Option through, in support of th LHB,s proposal, as-per-bloody-usual. ( Lord, doesn't this completely false and meaningless process make even a Billy goat puke ? ).  Yet, the Health Autocrat of the Decade - Lesley Griffiths - still says that "we don't need public forums as the Community Health Councils are the voice of the people". What an arrogant, ignorant declaration ! No hope then that any democratic process will enter the NHS protocol, then.

Anyway, the talk ended with we ( the public ) making the obvious comments that Access to centralised services would be a problem, as would implementation ( a logistical nightmare ), to say nothing about the consequences to us of being able to access yet further reduced services.  Given the impossible timescale, intelligent reasoning will be inconceivable, with the inevitable result being as I have indicated, above.  Try not to have nightmares about the 'Front Door' to the NHS i.e. A & E being log-jammed by queueing ambulances and a critical shortage of beds. And God help those Major Trauma patients.  At least there will be a bountiful future for all Funeral Parlours !    R.W.