Saturday 31 January 2009

Goodness Gracious Me

The writer of such shows as Goodness Gracious me and The Kumars has died at the age of only FORTY from a streptoccal infection at Whipps Cross hospital

Link from BBC here

Friday 30 January 2009

NHS shortfall forces toddler's parents to pay £300 for special chair after operation

LITTLE Amelie Gledhill faced spending eight weeks lying on her back because of an NHS equipment shortfall.

After surgery for a dislocated hip, the 17-month-old, of Fern Rise, Elland, was left with a cast that meant she could not sit up.

Her parents, Anne and Jon, say their baby girl would have had to spend the eight-week recovery period lying down if they had not shelled out £288 for a specially-adapted chair.

[Anne Gledhill said] "Physios and occupational therapists tried to help us but said their hands were tied as there was no budget for this kind of equipment."

Free at the point of delivery? Hmmm.

Source: Halifax Evening Courier

Thursday 29 January 2009

NHS carbon cutting plan launched

An ambitious plan to slash NHS carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 has been launched by ministers. Ideas include using technology to reduce patient and staff travel, and perhaps even reducing the amount of meat on hospital menus.

The NHS accounts for 3% of the UK's "carbon footprint" - making it a bigger polluter than some small countries. The plan, which applies to the NHS in England, calls for 75% of NHS waste to be recycled by 2020...
Well, what an excellent use of the taxpayers' money that was supposed to pay for ... er ... a health service?

Source: BBC

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Parents' grief as daughter dies after hospital 'forced them to change her treatment'

A little girl with a very rare medical condition died after a hospital threatened her parents with a police protection order if they did not comply with a new treatment plan, it has been claimed.
Via JuliaM, please leave comments over at hers.

Source: Daily Mail

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Warning over fresh NHS IT delays

The introduction of computerised NHS patient records in England could be hit by more delays, MPs warn. The Committee on Public Accounts has thrown fresh doubt on a 2015 deadline for the ambitious £12bn project.

Its chairman said that even in trusts already using parts of the system, staff were unimpressed and the cost to the NHS was uncertain. The government said new IT systems in the NHS were delivering "better, safer and faster care".
"Essential systems are late, or, when deployed, do not meet expectations of clinical staff", Edward Leigh MP, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee
The NHS Programme for IT in England, which aims to allow information about patients to be shared securely between hospitals and GP practices, has been dogged by problems since its launch in 2002. The project was originally intended to be completed by next year, but its complexity has delayed this by up to five years.
Nice work if you can get it!

Source: BBC

NHS Ageism: Case studies

Research published by the charity Help The Aged finds that many geriatricians think the NHS is institutionally ageist.

The doctors, all members of the British Geriatrics Society, also said they would have concerns about how the NHS would treat them in old age.

Three doctors miss teen's broken leg

A teenager walked for ten weeks on a broken leg after three doctors failed to spot his football injury. Michael Boyle went to hospital twice and saw his GP - but was told repeatedly his fracture was a soft tissue wound.

The 16-year-old's father, also called Michael, said: "I'm fuming my lad went through all that pain. We were just getting fobbed off. This is not the NHS I expect and pay for." It was only when his father took Michael, of Allerton, Merseyside, to a physiotherapist at Everton FC that the break was discovered. The family is considering legal action.
Source: The Metro

Monday 26 January 2009

Bug scandal boss fights for cash

This story has been running since 2007, but there are still those who insist on being rewarded for failure, incompetence and avoidable deaths:
The former boss of an NHS trust where where 90 people died in a superbug scandal is asking the High Court to uphold her £250,000 payoff. Rose Gibb left her job days before the publication of a damning report into hygiene standards at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in Kent. The trust negotiated the £250,000 deal but withheld £175,000 after being told not to pay it by the government.

The hearing in London is expected to last three days. Counsel for the trust, Jane McNeill, said the case was significant for the public generally, as well as for the trust. The court was told Ms Gibb was put on "gardening leave" from her £150,000-a-year chief executive post at the beginning of October 2007.
Source: BBC

Sunday 25 January 2009

Baby died because hospital had no one on night duty to do C-section

Here's an old incident fully reported a couple of weeks ago that we may have overlooked:
A baby boy died minutes after birth – because the hospital had no anaesthetist on duty for an emergency caesarian. Clare Russell, who went into labour with son Dylan 10 weeks early, arrived at the maternity unit in the middle of the night. She desperately needed a C-section to save her son, who was coming out feet first in the breech position. But the hospital had a cost-cutting policy of not having an anaesthetist during the night. Clare had to give birth naturally, and Dylan died when the umbilical cord got wrapped around him, starving him of blood and oxygen. Research has shown a C-section in those circumstances would almost certainly have saved Dylan...

Three days before Clare gave birth, her waters broke and she was taken to hospital by husband Tim, 32. As she was only at the 30-week stage, doctors kept her in for two days to monitor her and the baby – but then sent her home, despite her complaining of agonising back pain. Hours later, at 11.40pm, Clare went back to hospital in agony but a midwife left her alone and went to search for a doctor to examine her.

Clare, who has a son, Cade, 14, said: “They were so understaffed. The midwife gave us a heart monitor and told us to see if we could get a reading. I had no gas and air and my back was killing me.” After almost an hour, a senior doctor arrived but waited 20 minutes before phoning the on-call consultant Dr Gornhill at home. He ordered a clip to be placed on Dylan to check his heart rate. It showed the baby was distressed and by the time Dr Gornhill got to hospital at 1.10am Clare had almost given birth. Dylan died minutes after being born on November 29, 2003.

The hospital has admitted medical records of Dylan’s condition had been lost and notes from the day Clare’s waters broke were wrong. Dr Gornhill also admitted Clare should not have been sent home and the hospital admitted taking too long to alert the consultant about Clare’s condition.
Source: The Daily Mirror

Friday 23 January 2009

Teen dies after hospital repeatedly sent him home with painkillers

A teenager died from a brain infection after months of repeatedly being turned away from Mayday Hospital with just painkillers.

The Croydon hospital has now launched an investigation into how 17-year-old Steven Deans' life-threatening condition was missed by a succession of A&E medics.

And his mother Marcia Deans, who buried her son on Tuesday, says she intends to sue for negligence. Marcia, of Pickering Gardens, Addiscombe, said: "They killed my only son. If they had done their jobs properly, if they had done thorough checks, he would still be alive. I can understand once, but he went back to them time and time again, and still they sent him away. When I took him in November his whole head was numb with pain and swollen. He was crying and being sick, and the smallest noise affected him terribly."
Good. Another investigation launched. That'll fix it.

Source: Croydon Today

Labour 'rattled' on mixed-sex wards

The Government is "rattled" over its failure to scrap mixed-sex hospital wards, a leaked memo has revealed. In the document, Health Secretary Alan Johnson says Labour has "got it wrong" over the practice, which the party has repeatedly promised to eradicate. Mr Johnson is quoted as saying: "Sane and rational arguments about why it can't be done no longer cut it with me, it's going to happen."

... Mr Johnson is expected to unveil a new initiative on the issue next week.

Last month data from the Conservatives revealed that around one in seven of hospital trusts still used at least one open-plan mixed-sex ward. Curtains were still being used to segregate patients in some areas, it was found.

The data also showed that between October 2007 and September 2008 there were 6,485 recorded breaches of procedures for segregating patients by sex in hospital trusts and 30 in mental health trusts...
Remind me, how long have they been in power, nearly twelve years or something, isn't it? If they can't even get this right ...

Op gran left outside in her nightie

An oap recovering from surgery was left outside a hospital in the freezing cold for an hour in only her nightie.

Eileen Rowland, 78, had been led out of the building by a nurse to wait for an ambulance home. The medic then went back to fetch the great gran's jacket but never returned.

Weak from an operation to replace a leg artery, she was left shivering in her gown before a taxi arrived instead of an ambulance. It had gone to the wrong entrance. Mrs Rowland, who had already had a 10-hour wait in a corridor for drugs, said: "They forgot about me. I didn't dare move as I thought I'd miss the ambulance." Royal Blackburn Hospital apologised to the pensioner, of Burnley. It admitted: "It was totally unacceptable."
Source: The Daily Mirror

Thursday 22 January 2009

The NHS “constitution” - a charter for spin doctors, lawyers and management consultants.

It came as no surprise to discover it is written in that same deadening mixture of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo, legalese and the blindingly obvious that characterise much of this government’s propaganda, Green and White papers and so-called consultation documents. Let me give you a flavour...
Read the rest and leave comments over at John Redwood's (click title for link)

Wednesday 21 January 2009

NHS starts inquiry into deaths of patients with learning difficulties

An official investigation is to examine why people with serious learning difficulties have died while under NHS care, after alleged neglect led to at least six fatalities, ministers will reveal today.

The health secretary, Alan Johnson, is setting up an inquiry which will look at whether the quality of treatment that doctors, nurses and other health service staff gave to such vulnerable patients contributed to their dying unnecessarily early.

Johnson will announce the formation of a confidential inquiry, a form of investigation used in healthcare to see if there are any common links between deaths in similar patients or circumstances.

"Things that happened in the past in the NHS weren't acceptable. We want to look back at cases where people have died prematurely and learn the lessons of those deaths," said a senior Whitehall source involved in setting up the inquiry.

The move is part of an overhaul of how the NHS treats those with learning difficulties after a government-commissioned independent inquiry last July uncovered evidence of serious failings in care. Led by Sir Jonathan Michael, it followed the publication of a report in 2007 by the charity Mencap, called Death by Indifference. It accused the NHS of "institutional discrimination" against such people and highlighted six individuals who it claimed died after their health needs were ignored by NHS staff as a direct result of their learning difficulties.

Other measures being unveiled today include improved training for all NHS staff; annual health checks for anyone with a mental disability, funded by an extra £20m a year into family doctors' contracts; and personal health action plans for them.
I've highlighted a few buzzwords for you, just to get the ball rolling.

Source: The Guardian

Monday 19 January 2009

Health trust spends £700,000 teaching children to clean their teeth

Mark Wallace, a spokesman for the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "This is a huge amount of money spent on an initiative of questionable value.

"When people are struggling to find a dentist that has room for them, the NHS should be focusing on that not on doing things people can do for themselves.

"A big part of our current health crisis is down to the fact that personal responsibility has been taken away from people.

"We should have an NHS that expects people to buy their own toothbrushes but is willing to provide them with dentists when needed."

Nice Guidance Not

From the Times today

She is also among the one in five sufferers — mostly women — for whom the most common drug, alendronate, is not suitable, meaning that she is prescribed the more costly strontium ranelate. But under draft guidance from NICE, she said, “my doctor would be unable to prescribe an appropriate medication until I had fractured a bone and my bone density had got considerably worse.

“This seems like madness. It's going to cost the NHS a lot more than the treatment costs if people break their bones.”

Hospital to review body storage

Warrington Hospital says it will publish an internal review into why the remains of stillborn and miscarried babies were stored without permission. An investigation found there had been three cases since 2006, where remains were kept without parents' permission.

The hospital has apologised to a woman from Cheshire whose miscarried baby's body was stored for almost two years. Dr Hilary Furniss, from the hospital, said procedures had been changed to make sure it never happened again. "We are awaiting the final presentation of the full report, and until I and others in the trust receive it, I cannot comment on the actual details of what went wrong."
Er, why do they need to employ a commission to carry out an 'internal review' into 'procedures' and 'present a full report'? What's wrong with just asking the relatives for permission?

Source: BBC

Saturday 17 January 2009

The NHS is to pay fat people up to £425 to lose weight.

Linked to JuliaM's Blog. Comment there.

Daily Mail Article link

Health centre faces death inquiry

Any sensible reform of the NHS must involve 'patient vouchers', which would allow people to choose where and how to be treated. It does not matter who provides the care (it may well be local councils, trade unions, charities, universities or churches, as in Germany), the point is that they compete. It appears that the NHS prefers the worst-of-all-worlds option, being central allocation of taxpayers' money to selected private suppliers - that way there is no accountability combined with miserable standards ...
An INQUIRY is being launched into a privately run treatment centre for NHS patients in Yorkshire following scathing criticism of the care of a university lecturer who died after surgery. John Hubley, 58, of West Park, Leeds, suffered massive bleeding after routine keyhole surgery went badly wrong at Eccleshill Independent Sector Treatment Centre in Bradford in January 2007.

An inquest in November heard that vital surgical equipment and supplies to resuscitate him were not available and there were long delays in receiving blood, some of which eventually arriving in a taxi.
Source: Yorkshire Post

Friday 16 January 2009

"Death Rate Recording Is Not Compulsory" Says Department of Health

Missing Out An Essential Issue

During my own investigations around Ward 87, I found out that the death rate ie mortality rate had never been recorded. Essentially, no one knows whether the death rate was statistically better or worse than a similar average ward in the same or different Trust. This example is extrapolated to the subject of Dr Harold Shipman. We all ask ourselves the question - why wasn't he caught sooner? Well, if the Shipman Inquiry is read in detail, you will find that he worked at a number of hospitals. According to the Department of Health document below, recording death rates isn't compulsory therefore there would not have been any death rate statistics monitoring in any wards within these hospitals. There is a reason why the mortality rate is not recorded. The Labour Government does not want poor standards of care to be detected. This is quite a convenient means to deny the existence of poor standards of care.

In summary, if there are no mortality statistics, there will not be a way of early detection of poor care, mismanagement or the next Harold Shipman.

Just to say Dame Janet Smith missed this basic point in her Shipman Inquiry review.

DE00000364718 [ Department of Health]

Dear Dr Pal,

Thank you for your further email of 6 November to the Department of Health about mortality rates. I have been asked to reply on this occasion. I can confirm that there is no regulation or law requiring individual hospital wards to calculate patient death rates. I hope this reply clarifies the Department’s position.

Yours sincerely,

James Butler

Customer Service Centre

Department of Health

Healthcare budget changes planned

Some of this seems mildly promising:

The new Health Bill will enable patients to receive direct payments to spend on health services of their choice. Lord Darzi, who will unveil the plans, first trailed the idea last year in his report on the future of the NHS.

It is thought the payments would particularly benefit people with long-term conditions such as Parkinson's or Motor Neurone disease, or those who use mental health services.
But I don't like the sound of this:

The Bill will also place a legal duty on the NHS and its providers to take note of the NHS Constitution, which sets out the "rights and responsibilities" of patients and staff.
For better or worse, we are forced to pay for the NHS through our taxes, we are customers; we have "rights" and the NHS has "responsilities".

Or this:

Other contents include previously announced measures to protect children and young people from the harm caused by smoking ...
Source: The Metro

Thursday 15 January 2009

Police question NHS staff over C.diff deaths

Opposition parties have been calling for a public enquiry for months now on the subject of 18 C.diff deaths in Scotland. Labour Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has consistently resisted the calls.

The Police are not so coy.

Nurses are to face police questioning over deaths from Clostridium difficile at a Dunbartonshire hospital, it has emerged.

Officers will interview staff at the Vale of Leven Hospital, where a C.diff outbreak was linked to 18 deaths.

A report which identified failures in hygiene and infection control was passed to prosecutors last year.

A total of 16 CID and uniformed officers are investigating the case.

The best Nicola Sturgeon has come up with so far, amid her stalling, is to say that she is "sympathetic" with family members who want an enquiry. They have been saying the same for quite a while, but it's only when the calls were renewed once the Police got involved, that Ms Sturgeon could even lower herself to sympathy. Still no public enquiry planned though.

If 18 deaths in one hospital isn't grounds for an immediate enquiry, what is?

Source: BBC Scotland

C.diff cases drop by 45 per cent in London

This all sounds very promising, doesn't it:

Latest figures show there were 1,022 cases between July and September, compared with 1,858 in the same period in 2007. The data from the Health Protection Agency shows London is fighting the superbug more successfully than the rest of the country. Nationally the rate of C.diff in all patients over the age of two has dropped by 33 per cent.

Guy Young, NHS London's Director for Infection Control, said: "These results are the work of a fantastic effort by the NHS in London. Infection control is consistently one of the public's most important considerations when choosing a hospital."

Graziella Kontowski, who runs a C.diff support group in London, said: "There is still a lot of work to be done and people should not get complacent, but this is welcoming news." Kings College Hospital, which saw a drop of 67 per cent in cases, and Epsom and St Helier University hospitals, where there was a 60 per cent fall, were among the most dramatic reductions over the year.
Its does beg a few questions though:

1. If it's that easy, why weren't they doing whatever it was that they are doing last year?

2. Are the statistics honestly compiled?

3. A year on year fall is a good thing, of course, but how do those figures compare with the figures for, ooh, let's say five years ago?

Source: Evening Standard

Ormond St tot overdose probe

COPS are investigating as a premature baby fights for life from a massive overdose in a top hospital. Poppy Davies was left severely brain damaged and paralysed at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. The 14-day-old mite is “critical” on life support after a massive glucose intake and doctors say she has a “poor” chance of survival.

Her distraught parents Carly Davies, 22, and David Daly, 21, of Grays, Essex, are at her bedside. The tot was born three months premature in Norwich and transferred to the world famous Central London hospital last Saturday for a minor operation.

She was due to receive 2-4 millilitres of glucose intravenously on Sunday. Measured later, her blood sugar was up to 75 times higher than it should have been, at 150ml. A source said: “That’s the equivalent of just two teaspoonfuls of sugar — but hugely harmful to a baby so small and frail.”

Hospital management called in Scotland Yard. Detectives are investigating the possibility Poppy was mistakenly given an overdose by a junior female nurse.
Source: The Sun

Toddler sucks on used needle at 'health' centre

Here we have another example of the age old problem of a lethargic attitude in the public sector.

A toddler's parents must wait 12 months to discover whether he has been infected by a discarded needle he put into his mouth at a health centre.

Harvey Mills, aged 21 months, took the hypodermic needle from a bin in an open cupboard at Cannon Street Health Centre, Hathershaw, Oldham.

Harvey's mother Shareen Mills, 28, was holding his four-month-old brother for an injection when she looked up and saw Harvey with the needle in his mouth, standing next to an overflowing sharps bin.

Health officials have apologised and have started an investigation

I should bloody think so too.

[Gail Richards, chief executive of NHS Oldham, said:] "We have also issued immediate instructions to all NHS staff emphasising the importance of ensuring sharps bins are kept secure and used appropriately at all times."

Why should this need to be emphasised at all? Isn't it simple common sense? A jeweller wouldn't leave a display cabinet unlocked and unguarded while he/she pierced another customer's ears, yet we regularly hear of NHS workers going about their duties in an incredibly cavalier manner?

At least the jeweller would just lose some stock, which isn't ideal, but is easily rectifiable. There is more than just a financial penalty for cock-ups in the NHS though. In this case, it's possible that a child's entire future could be blighted due to one startling lack of diligence.

Source: BBC Manchester

Girl, 5, dies during ‘needless’ surgery

A girl aged five has died during surgery to remove an appendix that had nothing wrong with it. Paige Young's heart stopped twice during the operation, leaving her family devastated. After a post-mortem exam­ination they were told her appendix had been healthy.

"The doctors said it was a bug or a virus but they weren't sure," said mother Siobhan Smith, 26. "Paige kept saying, 'Don't make me go back to hospital.'"

Source: The Metro

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Dying woman treated in hospital bathroom

A dying woman was put in a hospital bathroom with an overflowing bin because there were no beds. Gladys Joynes was in the makeshift ward for up to 12 hours.

The Alzheimer's sufferer, 79, was left off her drip because there were no sockets in the room in the Royal Liverpool Hospital – which has apologised.

The ordeal was 'an affront to human dignity', her family said. Daughter Kathleen Huxley added: 'It is no good blaming staff on the ground[??]. It is the government which needs to explain.'

Source: The Metro


Bacteraemia "recorded" Only

I always think that is an interesting word. To the lay person it means " bacterial infection". To medics, we all know that bacteraemia cannot be diagnosed without obtaining a blood culture. Essentially, the patient may have MRSA but if the blood culture is not taken by the doctor, they cannot be diagnosed to have " bacteraemia".

The Health Protection Agency lists this article "Quarterly Reporting Results for Clostridium difficile infections, MRSA bacteraemia and GRE bacteraemia"

So the language is particularly interesting. They specify " bacteraemia" not simply "MRSA infection". It is a nice way to hoodwink the public.

So what happens if the blood cultures are not done by doctors?

We go to the NHS Documentation and see what the recommendations are

Blood cultures are taken to identify patients with bacteraemia. There are many signs and symptoms in a patient which may suggest bacteraemia and clinical judgement is required, but the following indicators should be taken into account when assessing a patient for signs of bacteraemia or sepsis:

• core temperature out of normal range;
• focal signs of infection;
• abnormal heart rate (raised), blood pressure (low or raised) or respiratory rate (raised);
• chills or rigors;
• raised or very low white blood cell count; and
• new or worsening confusion.
NB: Signs of sepsis may be minimal or absent in the very young and the elderly.
So if the above symptoms are not present, there is no blood culture. For many elderly patients the above symptoms are not present. For instance, there may be no temperature change or there may be atypical signs and symptoms. It also fails to address the fact that many people don't behave like the textbooks. Each Trust has their own protocols for blood cultures. Put it this way, doctors don't do cultures unless they really have to or to put it another way, they are not encouraged to do so unless it is imperative. The criteria of blood cultures is arbitrary, open to interpretation and without proper guidance or guidelines, it is open to varying subjective assessment.

So if blood cultures were not done, there would be no diagnosis of bacteraemia. If there was no diagnosis of bacteraemia, there would be no record in the government statistics. If there is no record, the government can legitimately say that those aren't MRSA bateraemia cases. For all those patients who have MRSA in their sputum or on their skin or even wound MRSA and subsequently die, are not part of the statistics for the government, yet they all have MRSA infection.

To illustrate the above, my father had MRSA in his sputum, MRSA on his skin, a high white count but because no blood cultures were done, MRSA was not on his death certificate and he is not on the government statistics cited as a " MRSA related death". I wonder how many patients come within this group? I wonder if the actual number of MRSA deaths is much higher than the "bacteraemia" counted up.

It is my view that there is a culture of not recording MRSA deaths by not doing blood cultures. It is quite a clever way of convincing the UK population that we don't have a problem or that the problem is improving. It would be nice to know how many blood cultures are actually done on patients with an "infection". :). I believe the answer would be " very few".

Dr Rita Pal

Doctor's lawyer fights extradition

A lawyer for a doctor charged with killing a British patient with a lethal injection of adrenalin a decade ago has said he will fight her extradition to the UK. Priya Ramnath, 39, was arrested at the Woodland Hills Hospital in Lufkin, Texas, where she was working as a licensed anaesthetist, on November 30 - almost 10 years after she fled the UK...

The doctor moved to the US in 1998 just days after allegedly injecting Patricia Leighton, 51, from Burntwood, Staffordshire, with adrenalin against her colleagues' advice. She was charged with manslaughter but escaped prosecution because the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) missed a five-year deadline to apply for her extradition by three days.

Source: The Metro.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

UK Death Rates Higher Than Any EU Country

The Business of Death.

A little known article is the Times Daily . I must have talked about this article many times on Ward 87. These statistics have been ignored by the government. They did though release this article a few months later on how "death rates are decreasing". Amazing change in statistics in the shortest time possible for any country :). El Gordo must have been working overtime to ensure the important MRSA stats were not recorded. What they didn't tell us of course is that they only featured selective mortality rates and that half of them were not recorded.

This is what the Times Daily states :-

"Great Britain's big-government National Health Service. Low-quality, taxpayer-funded health care killed more than 17,000 Britons in 2004, according to the TaxPayers' Alliance in London.

The TPA examined the World Health Organization's latest data to contrast the NHS with Dutch, French, German and Spanish health systems, which are less government-dominated. Specifically, the pro-market group measured "mortality amenable to health care" - deaths that a medical organization realistically should prevent.

While those four countries averaged a 106.6 amenable mortality rate, Britain was almost 29 percent deadlier, with its rate of 135.3. The TPA thus calculates that the NHS took the lives of 17,157 Britons who otherwise would have survived were they treated by doctors across the English Channel. This figure is more than two-and-a-half times Britain's yearly alcohol-related deaths, and is quintuple its annual highway fatalities. Comparing 60 million Brits to 300 million Yanks, this is like a federally operated health agency eliminating 85,785 Americans in 2004"

Posted by Dr Rita Pal

As NICE and the UK Go, So Goes the Globe in Evaluating Drugs

Rule, Britannia! Britannia rules the pharmacy shelves. A new British empire of a sort may be in the offing: a model for judging the cost-effectiveness of new medicines.

At least it’s shaping up that way. The U.K.’s controversial approach for deciding whether medical technology, including drugs, is worth its cost is winning favour with national governments around the globe. The model used by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE, a British government agency, is already influencing health policies in Austria, Brazil, Columbia, Thailand and beyond, the New York Times reports.

Sky-rocketing prices for drugs and discounts the U.K. has snagged from manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson and Novartis, have whetted the appetites of governments looking to do the same, the paper says. The story is the latest in the Times series on “The Evidence Gap.”

Monday 12 January 2009

Hospitals to reveal superbug rate

"The Scottish Government is to start regular monitoring of rates of MRSA and Clostridium difficile in hospitals. The new "infection report cards" were a key recommendation of an expert report following the outbreak of C.diff at the Vale of Leven hospital last year. A Strathclyde Police investigation is continuing into the deaths of 18 people linked to that outbreak...

Last year Ms Sturgeon told the SNP conference in Perth that NHS boards would have to reduce the rate of the infection in hospitals by at least 30% by 2011."

Er, shouldn't the target be to reduce infections by 100%?

Source: BBC Scotland.

Chalk A Few More Deaths Up To The NHS

A vulnerable patient starved to death in an NHS hospital after 26 days without proper nourishment.

Martin Ryan, 43, had suffered a stroke which left him unable to swallow. But a 'total breakdown in communication' meant he was never fitted with a feeding tube. Mr Ryan, who had Down's syndrome, died in hospital in Kingston-upon-Thames. An internal inquiry by the hospital found that doctors had thought nurses were feeding him through a tube in his nose. By the time they found out this was not happening, he was too weak for an operation to insert a tube into his stomach. He died in agony five days later.

Source: Dick Puddlecote

Sunday 11 January 2009

NHS: Still Not Free, y'know

Yeah, because all of the treatment Trev gets is free. It just appears from nowhere. No-one ever has to pay for it. The NHS is free, people! Free! Go enjoy it! It is all for you! For free! Yay!

Except, it isn't free. At all. It is free at the point of service. But everyone has paid for the NHS. Everyone who has ever paid taxes or National Insurance *contributions* has paid for the NHS. Being free at the point of service does not make it free. And if we finally get everyone to understand that the NHS isn't really free, maybe we will get more people questioning whether they are actually happy with the generally rather crappy point of service at the NHS. And maybe, just maybe, gets people to consider whether it is worth keeping the NHS - especially in its current bloated, and utterly ineffective state.

Source: The Nameless Libertarian

US: Universal healthcare and the waistline police

Imagine a country where the government regularly checks the waistlines of citizens over age 40. Anyone deemed too fat would be required to undergo diet counseling. Those who fail to lose sufficient weight could face further "reeducation" and their communities subject to stiff fines.

Is this some nightmarish dystopia?

No, this is contemporary Japan.

The Japanese government argues that it must regulate citizens' lifestyles because it is paying their health costs. This highlights one of the greatly underappreciated dangers of "universal healthcare." Any government that attempts to guarantee healthcare must also control its costs. The inevitable next step will be to seek to control citizens' health and their behavior. Hence, Americans should beware that if we adopt universal healthcare, we also risk creating a "nanny state on steroids" antithetical to core American principles.

Saturday 10 January 2009

Organs of 50 NHS donors are sold to foreigners who pay £75,000 for each operation

Organs from British NHS donors are being given to private foreign patients ahead of desperately-ill Britons, it was revealed last night. Some 50 livers were given to patients from Cyprus, Greece and other countries last year, even though 259 British patients were waiting for life-saving transplants. The figures, uncovered by freedom of Information requests, triggered outrage. Professor Peter Friend, president of the British Transplantation Society, said: 'While there is a surfeit of UK residents awaiting transplant they should have a priority.

Source: The Daily Mail.

Public should be told that rationing is inevitable, say doctors

The public should be warned that rationing of health care is inevitable, doctors said at their annual representatives' meeting in Torquay this week. The doctors also agreed that members of the public should be given explicit advice on which services are available on the NHS so that they can make provision for treatments that fall outside the health service.

Alex Smallwood, from the BMA's Junior Doctors Committee, told the meeting, "Rationing has become a necessary evil. It is no longer possible to provide all the latest treatments without detriment to others. But we need to formalise it.

NHS 'Wastes Billions Of Cancer Cash'

Bureacracy in the NHS is wasting billions of pounds intended to treat cancer patients, it has been claimed.

A report by Doctors for Reform says much of the money has been spent on creating new posts for bureaucrats.

Fighter ace sells medals to spare wife long wait for hip replacement

One of the most decorated British fighter pilots of the Second World War has sold his medals, diaries and other memorabilia partly to pay for a hip replacement operation for his wife who faced at least a six-month wait on the National Health Service.

Sqn Ldr Neville Duke, 83, the Royal Air Force's top-scoring ace in the Mediterranean theatre who set a world air speed record of 728 mph in 1953, put the collection up for auction rather than subject his wife Gwen to months of pain and discomfort while she waited for an operation.

Toothache boy nearly died

A TEENAGER with toothache ended up fighting for life in hospital ? after being turned away by a string of dentists. Peter Owen, 19, was in agony for a week as he tried SIX times to have a tooth out. He was eventually rushed to hospital after an abscess on the tooth swelled so much that it blocked his windpipe.

Baroness Warnock: Dementia sufferers may have a 'duty to die'

Elderly people suffering from dementia should consider ending their lives because they are a burden on the NHS and their families, according to the influential medical ethics expert Baroness Warnock.

Deaths from hospital blunders soar 60% in two years as NHS staff 'abandon quality of care to chase targets'

The number of patients killed by hospital blunders has soared by 60 per cent in just two years, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Official records show that 3,645 died as a result of outbreaks of infections, botched operations and other mistakes in 2007/08. That was up from 2,275 two years before.

Starved to death in an NHS hospital: Damning inquiry highlights case of patient left without food for 26 days