Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - a year no patient of NHS Wales will ever forgive

The Unwinnable Health Checkers Game

The last day of the year , when we all look to the New Year to be better than the last, offering - perhaps - better economic growth and a Health Service that does what it was intended to do - Provide a service of Health and Social Care at the point of need.  Whereas there is a slight chance of some economic growth - albeit through hyped-up property values, bringing higher interest rates and more bad banking practises - the chance of us having an adequate health service during 2014 is non-existent.

The Western Mail spread, entitled "A Year of Pressure on Health Services" sees our government ducking-out of any responsibility for the cost-cutting that sees less services available and accessible to us than two decades ago. However this wonderfully flattering article serves to remind us that the fault for this is the entire population of Wales and their unhealthy lifestyles. Indeed, our failure to give some of our children MMR vaccine apparently created 1000 or more cases of Measles that were being recklessly spread throughout a tiny part of Wales, yet - somehow - tied up enormous NHS resources, as though we were the cause of Typhoid and Tuberculosis which also re-entered our country via illegal and uncontrolled immigration.  Here, of course, the government doesn't attempt to quantify the cost of caring for the health of these immigrants who created grid-lock at our GP services and already inundated hospital A and E departments.

All the disasters are listed, including the deaths of more than 152 patients awaiting Cardiac surgery  -highlighted along with other failures - all declared by the Royal College of Surgeons to have been "avoidable" - yet our Incompetent Minister pathetically attempts to justify his refusal to allow an enquiry into these very serious matters. An enquiry is mandatory, especially when you read articles such as "The NHS kills more people than Shipman!", and "The University Hospital of Wales is "Unsafe" by every organisation and patient group that are qualified to judge such matters.

It is a matter of National Disgrace that our health service has been run in such a neglectful manner, as exemplified by the cancellation of operations, the increase in waiting times to more than nine months for patients to be seen at hospital.  The Staffordshire Trust was rightly pilloried for their appalling record, so why not the University Hospital of Wales, for pity's sake ? The only reason that our government is able to ignore such blatant incompetence is due to Devolution.  Since Health was devolved, inexperienced politicians and incompetent, over-paid managers tore our health services apart as casually as tearing bits off a giant chapatti at a feast.

Even after all this destruction, the Assembly member's Health and Social Care Committee write a letter of concern to the Health Minister, which he will study and respond to 'in the New Year' with as much determination as he did all other critical reports he, and his predecessors have received, telling the government that "You've got it all wrong !".  The repeated response is "We know Best" to which we all say "Like hell you do", only to be ignored yet again.

A culture of fear pervades all front-line staff, who are too afraid to criticise the NHS, as reported by the Care Quality Commission.  What is referred to by the Daily Telegraph as "A Chillingly defensive culture" where even the most outspoken Consultants were too frightened to speak out for fear of losing their jobs, is deeply imbedded in all hospitals and clinics. Consequently, it is hardly surprising that staff morale and patient care deteriorate, with the growing numbers of deaths ( due to neglect ) increasing at an alarming rate every week.

With the Minister 'Praying for Silence' it seems churlish to add that the NHS has been forced to pay out £117m in 2013, for its 'avoidable mistakes.  This is a final condemnation of the manner in which our health services are planned, implemented and run.

So much for the accuracy of reporting in the Western Mail and the South Wales Echo, who behave as lackeys, paid to print the deliberate misinformation given to them by the LHB and NHS Wales. Meanwhile, I await the first New Year's article blaming the public ( once again ) for placing an "unprecedented demand" on the NHS over the Christmas and New Year festivities.    R.W.

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