Thursday, 11 October 2007

Gordon Brown - Health matters to the people (but not to him it seems).

Gordon Brown told the House during PMQ's yesterday that what matters to the people is health, and that he will govern to make health better in this country. Well that seems to be at odds with every report I've seen in the media over the last year. Maternity wards closing (Hazel Blears was campaigning to keep the one in her own constituency open for God's sake) A&E wards closing and local Hospitals closing. My local Hospital is to be shut down. That would be bad news in itself, but it gets worse, my local Hospital is Haslar, the last Military Hospital in the country. And to add insult to injury, the bus service to the next nearest Hospital has been cancelled. You could not make it up could you?


This morning the BBC are reporting on two damning reports to be carried out on the health service. The first is the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD). They looked at 1,800 of the most seriously ill patients admitted to A&E departments in 2005. What the report found does not look good if should you find yourself in A&E anytime soon:

40% of patients are not seen by specialist within 12 hours
16% of patients are waiting 'unacceptable' length of time
15% of units are without 24 hour CT scans.

The report said that one elderly patient waited 17 hours to see a specialist, by which time his condition had deteriorated so much that despite aggressive treatment with antibiotics he died 24 hours later.

And what did the Department of Health spokesperson have to say about this? "Overall, patients tell us that their experience in A&E has improved - eight out of 10 people say that they had a good experience in the latest Healthcare Commission survey."

Eight out of ten, does that mean that 20% did not have a good experience in A&E? Is this spokesperson saying that for every five people that are admitted to A&E, one of them is not going to have a good experience? I do not fancy those odds.


The next report was taken from a survey carried out by the charity Bliss. The survey of 195 neonatal units found that the majority who replied were operating at or below half their minimum staffing levels. Unbelievably, on average, every unit was forced to "close its doors" to new patients for a fortnight over a six month period. Bliss's report found the situation had not improved since similar surveys in 2006 and 2005 - and its chief executive, Andy Cole, said the service was "on the brink of collapse".

Bliss recommends an estimated 2,600 extra trained neonatal nurses would be required across the UK - an increase of 37%. It predicts that, on current trends, with an increase in premature births, the situation would worsen.

And this is Baby care! Gordon Brown, stop wasting our sodding money setting targets, and spend it on putting the equipment and staff in place. Do that, and there will be no need to set your targets.


Garth Marenghi said...


AE has been wrecked in this country, not that it started from a good position though when Labour came to power, there are several problems:

the 4hour target means that critically ill patients do not get the attention they deserve, as all minor trivial compliants must be dealt with within 4 hours

PCTs do not pay GPs for minor injuries, meaning that loads of minor stuff that could be GP'ed is now coming to AE, idiocy from the PCTs and government

GP OOH is very patchy thanks to the government's new GP contract, as PCTs are a shambles and couldn't organise a p*ss up in a brewery

AE is not adequately staffed to meet the demand it does have, AE also rarely has the neccessary backup (Radiology/Pathology) to cope

these problems mean that few good doctors want to go into AE and the vicious cycle is propagated

the lack of good quality doctors means that tough exams for specialising in AE are not possible

contrast this to Australia where they have no targets, tough exams and training and they sort sick patients out

the government's target based approach is just not an effective way to spend money, it makes things look superficially good, but it's like having a sh*t under the carpet, it will go squelch eventually

Daily Referendum said...

Thanks Garth,

An excellent addition to my original post. It could be seen that I'm being critical of A&E staff in the first part of my post. I hope it is clear that I am not. The staff do a tremendous job in difficult circumstances, but they are being hamstrung by the government.