Saturday, 22 June 2013

NHS changes fail the chronically ill

Quick diagnosis and even quicker discharge !

Last Thursday evening, my good friend called me for advice about his chest pains. He hates admitting any ailment but I persuaded him to call NHS Direct.  Next I skyped him, to find out what was said, getting an irascible response about how they passed him around but couldn't get anyone for him to speak with. His irritability wasn't helped by his continuing chest pain, I told him I'd call a paramedic but he only agreed to call the Out of Hours service.

Within ten minutes he had a visit from a paramedic who said he should be taken to hospital for cardiac assessment.  At approximately 10.30pm, he was on a trolley having an ECG.  After examining the trace, an F1 decided that he had 'acute Angina', which would obviously require further investigation and possible intervention..  However - and most alarmingly - he was discharged at 5.30am the next morning, with a box of reflux tablets and instructions to see his GP 'within a day or so.'  My friend had to take a taxi back to Barry at his own expense, which represents a significant absence of patient care, especially with such a serious diagnosis.

As a Cardiac patient myself, I couldn't understand why he wasn't placed on a monitor and kept in for the essential further tests, including an angiogram, which would reveal the extent of his coronary heart disease.  Such casual treatment of a patient with angina is totally inadequate, and should be investigated immediately.  As it has been left, my friend could be re-admitted soon, perhaps following a potentially fatal heart attack. The alternative is for his GP to refer him back to the hospital for further investigation. In the meantime, he was given no anti-platelet medication, no GTN spray, no statins, and not even an aspirin to help prevent a damaging blood clot.

Such poor treatment is unacceptable and must not be repeated.   R. W.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Thousands missing target times for NHS treatment

Targets - What are they ? ( Apart from meaningless and pointless )

More than 7500 patients in Wales are waiting more than 36 weeks to START NHS treatment - when the target is zero.  These "Referral to treatment times" figures were criticised as "atrocious" by opposition politicians. This represents a steep rise in referral times from GPs, with patients suffering from the NHS' failure, brought about by their own incompetence.

In April, 7600 patients had been waiting more than 36 weeks, which is 2000 more than in March. The figures show that a total of 396,092 patients were waiting to start treatment at the end of April. So services are getting progressively worse, with the government representatives trotting out the usual excuses such as 'winter pressures on services', and 'the vast majority of patients are ( of course ) treated well within the maximum waiting times'.

Observers at the Senedd cannot help but notice that Kirsty Williams AM is the only Party leader to persistently and effectively pour scorn on the government's past, present and future plans for changes to health services across Wales. If any woman has earned her Queen's birthday honour of a CBE, Kirsty Williams has only one more honour to achieve, and that is the Leadership of the National Party.

For we patients, the agony increases day by day with all of us suffering from the NHS irrational and unjustifiable closures of essential services such as Accident and Emergency. The government's stubborn persistence to ignore the failures of their own plans continues to expose their incompetence and their inability to provide an efficient and cost-effective health services to the electorate.  R. W.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Health Check Wales - S.Wales Echo Supplement

Are we fit to face the future ?
Every quarter, we get this comprehensive and very readable supplement, which is crammed with information on all specialities in the health service. However, being somewhat cynical, I tend to read this several times over, hoping to understand what the information is telling me about our health services. Also, I am looking for ‘the patient experience’ or any thoughts about any perceived shortcomings.
You see, to me, this – and all other supplements – tell of an NHS Shangri-La – where every service is wonderful and full of good news for the future.  Nothing wrong with that, obviously BUT ( i’ve been told by personnel and psychological experts that ‘everything after BUT is bull S...’)  none of the supplement deals with the current changes that are being imposed on us, or what we feel about them.  And therein lies the rub, because presenting a picture of this imaginary earthly paradise is totally misleading because the reality is that the situation is dire and frightening for patients who have had their services cut, rationalised, or centralised.  Incidentally, these changes have been made over the past 13 years, with hospital closures and the loss of over 800 beds.
So, is there a balance to be struck between the imaginary perfection of the NHS and the reality of inaccessible services and hopelessly inadequate resources ?  Frankly, I don’t think so as no amount of saccharin-enriched rhetoric is going to persuade anyone that the changes will be beneficial to us all.  Most disturbingly, the NHS seems to place a huge amount of hope that the third sector ( charities etc ) will be able to compliment the service. This seems to be most unhelpful to patients who are chronically ill ( mentally or Physically ) and may need urgent help.
One ridiculous suggestion is that GPs could Skype their patients and then diagnose their health problem.  Whatever your opinions, I urge you to read these supplements in the hope that you may find them helpful. R. W.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Elected Representatives ignorant on NHS Wales

Do our Assembly member and our Member of Parliament represent our healthcare interests ?

I am sorry to read that both elected representatives are woefully lacking in accurate information on the current state of our health services.  Both have readily accepted the 'party line', which is the NHS' misrepresentation of current services and the apparent need for change.

This saddens me greatly, as it is a further example of how out of touch they really are with the needs and concerns of their constituents There is no doubt that the change to our health services - since 2001 - has been of great concern to patients and their families.  Hospitals have closed, as well as clinics, and social service provision is less than adequate.  We have lost over 800 beds over this period and we are well past the point where need for these services has increased drastically, whilst resources have been cut in order to save money.

Nowhere has this been obvious than to the care of the elderly, and especially dementia services.  The Vale now is without an specialist care home for dementia patients, since the closure of Bryneithin Eelderly Mentally Infirm Care Home.  With the 'Baby Boomers' now become the elderly, it is shocking to see the cuts that show the lack of care for our vulnerable elderly population which is increasing at a dramatic rate.

The closure of Accident and Emergency services is a major concern for the chronically ill - especially those living in rural areas.  We know that 'the Golden Hour' will be impossible to meet which, sadly, will result in more unecessary deaths and bring more criticism for our over-worked ambulance services.

The NHS in Wales is in a critical state solely due to their failure to conduct a Needs Assessment or Epidemiology study, and for the authorities to plan to meet this growing need with increased resources. It is the shocking failure of our government to plan for change in a manner that will improve and increase services to the growing population.  Ever since the Welsh Government was formed, the mismanagement of our NHS has brought services and patients to their knees for want of proper care and effective management.  Consequently, we urge our elected representatives to become more aware of the huge cuts made to services that are calculated ony to save money by disregarding patient care, both in the community and in our hospitals.

We urge our elected representatives to help their constituents by ensuring that resources will be made available in order to rebuild our decimated health services !  We need to get rid of our bad managers and increase the clinical staff immediately.    R. W.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

A Plethora of Professors

"Hospitals must change for sake of junior doctors" - Echo, Julia McWatt

Firstly, there came upon us the badly scripted explanation from Prof Marcus Longley who had to e-mail our government to ask them what they wanted him to say.  Then he lied about this indisputable fact and lied once more to the entire empty room of assembly members, saying that his report was his and his alone ( 'onest gov ! ).  His audience was unimpressed and held a vote of NO CONFIDENCE in the then Minister, Leslie Griffiths, who responded sharply - and with the honesty and sincerity of a Taliban peace-maker - that the script sent to our dear professor, didn't exist.

Next, dutifully and loyally, we hear the first golden words from  Professor Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Wealth and job Security repeating the words of his predecessor, like a litany of crackling record extracts, that would have done justice to any self-serving crackpot of a Banana repubic.
Still, no one bought the BS ( business statistsics, of course ), about the need to train doctors and attract them to Wales. [Here it is important to remind everyone in the Principality that UHW and Llandough are teaching hospitals that successfully graduate hundreds and hundreds of doctors every year ].

As already covered in an earlier post, the Chairman of the juniour doctors has already ridiculed the proposals, whilst indicating that there are plenty of junior doctors available, if only the NHS would offer them a career in Wales.

Then, of late, we were blessed with the opinion of Professor Derek Gallen , Postgraduate Dean for medical education, who says that providing the same services in all hospitals in South Wales is "Hindering medical training in certain areas".  Oddly ( and contradicting the obvious facts ) he goes on to say that "Wales is in a downward spiral" when it came to the recruitment of new staff in hospitals and that by changing the provision of ceratin services, medics would be more attracted to working here.  Needless to say he follows the flawed argument of Dr Graham Shortland and asst. that our only salvation lies in the preferred option put forward by the Universally Inept Health Boards, otherwise we are all doomed.

This of course takes us back to the only motive behind all recent NHS proposals - i.e. to cut costs by rationalising and centralising services, thereby making them even more inaccessible than they are already ( and to hell with what we patients and members of the public think about the changes being made ).

Well, dear readers, if this hasn't raised a smile on your disease-ridden faces, you should all log onto the NHS website and read the unmitigated drivell that is contained within the Board Minutes for the Universally Inept Health Boards.  There you will find reams of rhetoric but absolutely no "Who, What,Where, When, How and Why" or How much will it cost, dear Liza, dear Liza - how much ???"

So, before the "downward spiral" smashes us all into mush, why not cut-along to a consultation meeting to hear it all in person ?  Of course, the assumption is that you will be able to find the times and locations of these meetings beforehand.  Neither I nor my colleagues could find this information anywhere - good luck !      R. W.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

"999, What's your emergency ?"

The true misery of mental illness

ITV are to be congratulated for this poignant and painful programme, that revealed the true suffering of the mentally ill and their families.  I'm not ashamed to say that it made me cry, remembering exactly how badly I have suffered over the years.  However the patience and compassion of the ambulance service staff was true revelation, and they should all be commended for their caring handling of difficult circumstances.

The programme didn't hold back from stating that the inpatient services available to the mentally ill were inadequate, making a lot of them feel that one cares and the only way out is to leave the pain behind.  The detailed report of the tragic suicide was almost too much to bear - a 52 year old lady seeing death as the only way out.  Of course the majority of the cynical public will say that "It's just a cry for help", or "They should pull themselves together" but, in reality mental ill health is a growing tragedy with sufferers being stigmatised by these sanctimonious, inert members of the public and the medical profession.

My heart goes out to every sufferer and I would do anything to help, if I could only be with them. My helplines are always open, so call 029 - 20711371,  0775 - 1313353, or e-mail for an understanding chat that will benefit us both, probably me more than you !  God Bless you all.    Robin