Monday, 21 April 2014


We must all lead healthier lifestyles

Wow, someone dug up one of Dr Tony Jewell’s old article’s and had it regurgitated by Dr Ruth Hussey, Chief Medical Officer.  The Echo obviously beat its’ sister paper to the scoop as the photo they have of the dear lady was obviously taken very early in the morning.  The shot in the W. Mail was taken after she had dressed and made herself appear quite photogenic and motherly.

The W.Mail had her photo opposite the shocking headline “People must share the responsibility for looking after their own health”.  I say shocking, because Dr Hussey uses the word SHARE, distinguishing her words from the ill-chosen words of Dr Jewell which put all the blame for our ill-health on us – you, me and the postman.

Unfortunately, it’s the same tired message, patronising us by telling us that we really shouldn’t be getting ill to clog up the much smaller and hopelessly inadequate health services  The other great news in her message is that the sales of electronic cigarettes have shown that they are in a wider use which is phenomenal. Personally speaking, I’m overjoyed that she has noticed this fact because we plebs know that this is due to the fact that thousands more people are making huge efforts to quit smoking. In other words, we are already trying to lead healthier lifestyles ( woopee !)

Sadly, she then goes on to say that more studies are needed to make sure that these e-ciggys aren’t a gateway drug to the real thing – cigarettes made of paper and tobacco.  Why dampen a message of good news, for pity’s sake ?  Surely, we should all get a pat on our heads for trying to eliminate one of the hardest-to-break addictions, ever ??  After all, these e-fags are at least twice the price of the genuine poisonous weed, so why would some kid want to start on an e-ciggy ?? ( answers on a postcard, please ) It seems that every health officer has to retain the upper moral ground by moving on to the other 52 factors that cause our unhealthy lifestyles, like living in poor communities where eating has become a luxury.

It’s no use, whatever WE do isn’t good enough, so we must get used to a patronising list of reminders every couple of months just to prove that NHS officers are making an effort to justify their huge salaries.  Perhaps she could factor-in the dangers posed by meteor showers and scorpion bites, to say nothing of the deadly carbon fuel fumes we are all made to injest every damn day ?  Anyway – in case you missed an important point – we weren’t asked what we could ( or should ) do in order to lead healthier lifestyles.  Aren’t we dumb ? – forgetting ( for a millisecond ) that THE GOVERNMENT KNOW WHAT’S BEST FOR US – so SHUT UP AND DON’T YOU DARE COMPLAIN !  Why the hell doesn’t she do something about the blatant robbery being committed by the ruddy supermarkets – buy one get one free, save 50% by buying a second packet, the tins may seem smaller but this is purely to ensure our portions are healthy – nothing to do with us taking you for being stupid so that we can make more profit.

Now, I like bananas ( someone told me they were good for me ) BUT, when I check the price of a £1 ‘bargain packet’ against the larger ‘loose’ bunches, I find that the £1 Economy pack is worth only 54p at the same rate as their bigger bunches !  I’m also told that eating items such as sweet potatoes is good for you – BUT, check the price per kg against normal potatoes and you find the same thing.
Why should healthier foods cost us more ???  A tiny plastic carton of salad will cost you as much as a BIG MACK and provides a fraction of the bulk and goodness of the demon cheeseburger.  It’s the same in a restaurant – you have to pay more for the nouveau cuisine that consists of an ounce of meat and a cupful of rabbit food – WE ARE BEING RIPPED OFF IN THE NAME OF ‘Healthy Eating ‘.  And heaven forbid that you should be dull enough to buy ‘ORGANIC’ food, at 40% more with only a tenth of the nutrients we need.

We’re being treated like a bunch of dumb Chelsea fashionistas, who think nothing a spending three times the normal price of food in the name of ‘keeping up appearances’.
Cobblerss to what other people think – we need cheaper food to live, not to appear as though we’re stepping into an Aston Martin or a Bentley as soon as we reach the over-priced car park.

The government know that 1% of the population can afford to be ripped off, but they forget that the other 99% of us are POOR and don’t give a rat’s buttocks if we buy our food at Aldi, instead of Fortnum and Masons !  So, government, get your ruddy priorities right and control the food market instead of expecting us peasants to have to live on a bag of crisps (unsalted, of course ) a week !!!     R. W.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A Poor Exchange for Losing essential Services

Hospital gets £1m to help save cash (?)

I may too cynical but that headline is one of the most misrepresentative misuse of the English language.  How do you give that amount of money and then say “it’s to help save cash ?”  The Royal Glamorgan hospital has had to suffer a bellyful of incomprehensible changes that were all supposed to save the NHS Wales money by their cost-cutting measures.

Patients and nearby residents have all protested at the proposed loss of their Ante-natal services as well as the loss of their Accident and Emergency Department.  Needless to say, all their objections to the proposals totally ignored and more protests are ongoing.  So, having saved a huge sum of money making these unpopular cuts in essential services, the NHS/government are giving the hospital £1m to enable them to make MORE CUTS !

The government’s monumental stupidity over implementing their Programme for Change proposals have stunned the affected patients , residents and even consultants who are STILL protesting.  After all, what was the point in wasting all the time and money on public consultations only to ignore the 50,000 mostly negative responses - not counting the verbal responses that were supposed to be recorded in writing by the Community Health Councils.

Their is no democracy in Wales and, sadly, the uncaring government will watch the death rates climb with no compassion at all, and will  not accept any responsibility for their bad policies.  Failure is inevitable as is the probability that more adverse independent reports will be ignored.   R. W. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Another damning report for NHS Wales

Nuff said about failings !

More damning research reveals that Wales has cut health services too far, with the prospect of never being able to  reach acceptable waiting times.  Meanwhile, more babies will die needing prompt neo-natal emergency care; More heart attack victims will never make it to hospital in time, expiring in transit; Similarly, more chronically ill adults will be fatally failed, and; the elderly and/or elderly mentally infirm will have no place go, for the lack of specialist care and sufficient care homes throughout South Wales. No one can deny that this is remotely acceptable as a modern, efficient health service.

The recent independent report by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation highlighted the disproportionately lengthening waiting times in Wales compared to our three British neighbours.  Not only higher recently but progressively higher since the first rationalisation of essential services began.  On average, it’s 170 days wait for knee replacement compared to 70 days in Scotland ( still way too long ).

Spending had slowed in response to austerity but Wales was the only nation to have made such huge cuts in expenditure on health services.  The report states that increases in waiting times “should have set alarm bells ringing” for policymakers when considering the inevitable impacts.  Leader of Welsh conservatives, Darren Millar said “It’s no wonder our NHS is falling behind and it’s no wonder Welsh patients are getting such a raw deal”. He added that “elsewhere expenditure on frontline staff is boosted but  in Wales  we are burdened by a decrease.”

The Prime Minister had a field day with this performance, saying that “ Offa’s Dyke had become a line between life and death and that this had become a national tragedy”. He also stated that our government “just don’t get it – faced with grief they demand evidence. Faced with evidence they demand silence.”  Jeremy Hunt, health Secretary joined the criticisms by accusing the Welsh Government of “Sleepwalking into a Mid-Staffs tragedy”, accusing them of “Appalling lapses of care”. Mr Cameron emphasised that Wales is failing compared not just to other parts of the UK but the rest of Europe.

And what is Carwyn Jones response ? He says, “We took our eye off the ball” Cameron compared this to “a man in the crow’s nest of the Titanic taking his eye off the horizon”, concluding that “This man and his government are sinking the hopes of a generation,”

All in all, we have to say that this is a darkening picture for future healthcare in Wales.  - R.W.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Do Dementia Patients get the care they deserve ?

Are Alzheimers Patients Triaged as ‘Low Priority’ ?

Let’s face it, dementia patients, in general, are usually old, incapable of speech and/or movement, providing our economy only with profitable funeral services. So, why worry about treating them at all ?

Having spent a year trying to help Margo Farbrace to save Bryneithin – Home for the Elderly Mentally Infirm – I became aware of the above opinion of dementia patients and their need for specialist care 24 hours per day.  To say that it was heartbreaking to see so many dementia patients trying to cope with their inevitable demise, would be a massive understatement.  On the other hand it was heart-warming to see the constant flow of loving care bestowed on these patients by the dedicated staff and the relatives who did their best to keep the attention and recognition of their loved ones.

Margo was just one of these hard working relatives, who defended the proposed closure of this home with a passion akin to that of Joan of Arc. Margo formed the ’Keep Bryneithin Home Open ‘ group, consisting of other distraught relatives and a few ‘hangers on’ like me and some politicians, in search of a good photo opportunity.

Concentrating on trying to stop the Vale Council from committing the heinous act, Margo was a wizard with her ‘pen’ and a most eloquent speaker at their public committee meetings.  It was my job to add the references to current legislation ( eg The Health and Social Care Act ) to the letters, whilst re-enforcing Margo’s determination to stop the closure of this – the only specialist care home for dementia patients in the Vale -  essential facility.

Unfortunately, following the death of the last patient ( their contract stating their right to stay there until their demise ), the home was brutally demolished to make way for a more profitable housing development.  Nonetheless, Margo continued her lonely battle against  the uncaring council that completely ignored the future needs of the Elderly Mentally Infirm.

To return to the title of this piece, I offer the case of an 82 year old Alzheimer’s patient who was kept in an ambulance, outside UHW hospital’s A&E department for over three hours.  His wife called the ambulance at 9.30am, yet at 1.15pm, he was still waiting outside the Accident and Emergency Department

His son, Andrew Leake, 57, from Chester, said: “It is unbelievable that, in this day and age, we treat old people like that.  I am really angry – is this the way we treat our senior citizens?”  A source at the hospital, who wished to remain free from ‘the whistle-blowers fate’, stated that there were 12 ambulances waiting  outside the accident and emergency department at 3.00pm ! [ Obviously this wasn’t one of those days when ‘Robust Planning’ managed to control the flow of acutely ill patients.]

No apology will suffice in a life-threatening situation such as this, and poor old Mr Leake was obviously triage d as being the lowest priority.

If you want to help the fight for specialist dementia services you can contact Margo through me, by e-mailing .  With a growing number of the elderly the need for such specialist accommodation is essential.     R. W. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Atrocious Mental Health Care

( Take ) Care in the Community

Since the final depletion of our once-effective mental health Services, we have all been waiting for the ‘bed equivalents’ to rise from the ashes like the glowing Phoenix.  Having talked about this transition for at least ten years, we had a reasonable expectation that provision for the care of the mentally ill within the community was just about to appear on the distant horizon.

Unfortunately, the promises of psychiatric assessment at you local GP, more Community Psychiatric Nurses and – of course- the advent of ‘Talking therapies’ have all remained a figment of imagination at the Universally Inept Health Board, in their newly refurbished offices based in the grounds of Whitchurch hospital. [ Let us not forget that the replacement for this Victorian Asylum is an ongoing farce, having had at least five planning approvals for building on site, plus a 2.1/2 year delay in the building of a replacement on the overcrowded and inaccessible LLandough Hospital site ]

To the importance of the NHS, mental health services  are still at the level that is below whale excrement. The Cinderella Service has all but disappeared, except to those who have to endure this abdication of care.  The lack of proper assessment has been highlighted often over recent years.  However, the case of  Patient John Jenkins, 24, who killed his mother and sister two days after being taken to a mental health unit following a suicide bid is gripping, to say the least  At the scene of this suicide attempt witnesses report Jenkins repeatedly shouting  that he wanted to kill his mother.

Following a 90 minute ‘examination’ by a psychiatric nurse, he was declared ‘low risk; and released back into the community.  Jenkins then went on to kill his mother, Alice McMeekin, 58, and University of South Wales student Katie Jenkins at their home in Cumbria, with an axe !  He was sentenced to a minimum term of 12 years, at Ashworth hospital.  The Crown Prosecution Service ( bless ’em ) accepted his guilty plea on two counts of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.  If he recovers during this internment, he will resume the rest of his sentence in prison.

As if this wasn't tragic enough, the daughter of a Cardiff nurse brutally strangled by a paranoid schizophrenic has hit out at authorities for planning to release the killer back onto the streets of South Wales.  This decision was described as being “breathtakingly insensitive” by daughter Joanne Welsh, 27, after only four years since the murder of her mother the day before Mother’s Day.

Surprisingly, the perpetrator, John Constantine was only just recently released from a psychiatric hospital and, being homeless was offered a bed at the kindly nurse's home, where she was beaten and had her wrists slashed prior to the eventual murder.  Needless to say , he was convicted of manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsibility and sent indefinitely to a maximum security hospital.  Four years later Miss Welsh received word from the Ministry of Justice that Constantine should be sent back to south Wales for treatment, with the possibility that he could be back on the streets soon after,

Two horror stories that involved Care in the Community.     R. W.

Prudent Healthcare and Robust Planning

Plans pay off for winter, says Minister

“Significant  Improvements”  in a number of areas during the winter due to robust planning by NHS staff, Health Minister says.

No coincidence in the date of publication – APRIL 1ST – APRIL FOOLS DAY !

The article states that Minister Drakeford was giving evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee* that the NHS was able to withstand the winter months. It could only be an April’s Fools joke because we didn’t have a severe winter at all, nor did we have any outbreaks of the usual Flu variants that hit us during the typically freezing weather conditions of snow, slush or black ice.

In other words, we didn’t have the “Unprecedented demand on our health services” that are typically made on our NHS, because we had the mildest winter for decades.  Therefore, there was no need for the Minister, or Dr Graham Shortland to trot out their usual excuses for the failures of our emergency services during the winter months.

Sadly, it was just an April joke, because the ambulance service, and their patients, suffered long waits outside A&E and even longer waits for insufficient hospital beds.  The only change was that the complaints were confined to a few excellent letters in the local press, that couldn’t be ignored.  Yes, even with a mild winter, our emergency services were overstretched, especially at Cardiff and Vale University Hospital Cardiff which was transformed into a building site at A&E where accessibility to even-more inadequate services was being reduced. During this period, I was sent to UHW with chest pain and experienced the chaos of trying to get chronically ill patients inside for treatment.

Instead of throwing out all his usual B.S. ( business statistics, of course ), our dear Minister should have been addressing the matter of the thousands of patients who have been waiting over 36 months to see their hospital consultant.  These figures – revealed in previous posts – show the truth of our health service in crisis.  Meanwhile all that Carwyn Jones can shout is that “It’s that lot over there wanting the NHS to fail !” Unfortunately, we are cursed with an opposition who are frightened to press there case.  But why do they shirk their duty – after all the NHS and education will be issues 1 & 2 respectively, in all forthcoming elections. Perhaps the electorate will have more intestinal fortitude, and will vote this venal government   out of office ?      R.W.

*A privilege that he denied to his senior colleague, Ann Clwyd MP. Precisely when will the First Minister’s rabble allow this fine lady to Present her irrefutable evidence – What’s he afraid of – the TRUTH ???