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By 999callfornhs, Jan 15 2017 08:00AM

by a passionate nurse

who walked 300 miles from Jarrow to London

Earlier today I posted about the programme Hospital that aired on BBC last night and it's good to see that I'm not the only one who is horrified by what it showed. We all seem to be in agreement that the NHS is in crisis but, after spending the day working in the NHS on a programme to reduce the incidence of preventable disease, I do feel the need to refute some of the responses made to the post.

The NHS is in crisis due to underfunding

The NHS is in crisis due to funding being siphoned off to the private sector & not reinvested in patient care

The NHS is in crisis due to the political ideology of the current government where everything has to respond to market forces - even the care of the sick and care of the vulnerable amongst us.

It's not Foreigners

Most people who come to the UK do so to get work. They pay their taxes and contribute financially to the NHS, so are perfectly entitled to use it. For those who have come here seeking safety, whether that be from war, oppression or poverty, I am proud to offer them sanctuary and hope that the NHS can lessen their suffering in some way.

It's not people who harm themselves

Those whose mental health has deteriorated to this point deserve treatment and support from the NHS in exactly the same way as people with physical pain and other symptoms.

It's not because people attend A&E with minor illnesses & injuries

They are probably there because they can't get a GP appointment or their local urgent care centre has been closed.

It's not people with a dependence on alcohol or drugs

For people whose lives are so difficult that they have an increasing dependence on something that alters their mood deserve treatment and support as much as anyone else. Apart from anything else it will cost the NHS less in the long run if they get help.

It's not overseas health workers taking our jobs

Those with highly sought after skills are enticed to come and work here to fill the gap left by the government's lack of investment in education and training for our young people. Today I have worked with staff from the Phillipines, India, Hungary and Egypt and feel privileged to share the care of our patients with them.

It's not people who are obese

There are a multitude of reasons why people become overweight, many linked to stress and poverty as well as disease. Judging them harshly or withdrawing their access to care won't resolve the physical or psychological issues they may have.

It's not greedy doctors

Why shouldnt they expect to earn a good wage and still have time to spend with their families like normal people? The junior doctors dispute has highlighted the dangers of doctors having to make life changing decisions whilst tired and overworked. And it seems completely illogical to me that someone with the skills to save your life can't earn as much as someone who has the skills to work in a merchant bank or manage a hedge fund.

It's not people living longer with complex medical needs

People are living longer with complex needs thanks to the NHS, not despite it.

Sorry if I've gone on a bit (or even a lot) but please, don't be drawn into the politics of hate and division. Those of us who work in the NHS don't judge those who need treatment. We just get on and treat them, because that's what the NHS is for. The only way to save it is to stand together, oppose the privatisation of services and support each other. Target your anger and ire at the right people.

Those making the policies that are passing the NHS into the hands of global corporations, not the victims of those policies. Become an activist, join a local NHS campaign and stop being a bystander.


By 999callfornhs, Jul 8 2016 12:14PM


Margaret Greenwood, MP for Wirral West, will try to table the NHS Reinstatement Bill as a cross-party Ten Minute Rule Bill next Wednesday, 13th July 2016, immediately after Prime Minister’s Questions at about 12.30 p.m.

She will have 10 minutes to speak in favour of the Bill, one other MP can speak for 10 minutes against it, and then it can be put to the vote. If the vote is won, it will go forward for a second reading. It will be behind many other Bills and so will not become law in this session of Parliament – but it will help in building support outside Parliament and in keeping the pressure on MPs.

The privatisation of the NHS in England will continue until we have a law to stop it, so please ask your MP to attend the debate and to support the Bill.

NHS cuts, privatisation and fragmentation continue. New legislation is needed to stop and reverse the damage. These cuts and changes are being carried out across England under Simon Stevens’ 5 Year Forward View. Where they are further advanced, they are bringing disaster in their wake.

The NHS in England is being dismantled. Only a change to the law can stop the damage. Now more than ever.

To reverse the damage, the NHS must be reinstated in a civilised form that restores it to full public ownership, management and funding, with a duty on the Secretary of State to provide a comprehensive, universal health service that is free at the point of need and based on patients’ clinical needs.

Therefore we urge you to contact your MP and ask them to attend the House of Commons debate on 13th July and support the Bill so it can go forward to a second reading. Please tell them why this is important to you.

There is more related information from the NHS Reinstatement Bill Campaign Group here; and here the Bill’s main author, Professor Allyson Pollock,  analyses the NHS crisis and appropriate responses to it.

By 999callfornhs, Apr 30 2016 09:46AM

I am struggling to write my blog this week, hence the delay. This is because my feelings about the NHS and what is happening within it are all over the place.

As a practicing nurse, for me some of the issues within the NHS that I face every shift are about funding, resourcing, and patient safety. These issues are all interconnected and deciphering them into an understandable collection of sentences and arguments is a difficult job. In the words of many a person in a difficult relationship: it is complicated! And this week I’ve struggled to find my place in all of the arguments, the issues, the demands, and the politics.

Firstly, I need to just say that I believe recent struggles to save the NHS ARE political. This will not make me popular amongst some people, lots of who try to keep politics out of the NHS. I don’t think this is possible and a couple of my reasons are these: some political parties appear to be more protective and supportive of the NHS – all political parties have neglected the NHS in some measure – but some are downright obstructive, preferring instead to invite the heads of multi-national private health providers to debate which bits of the NHS they would like to buy; and the NHS is rife with ‘politics’ – I’ve lost count of the number of nursing colleagues who have told me ‘I left because I couldn’t stand the ‘politics”. The NHS is embroiled in politics in both minor and major ways.

However, I always struggle to write my blog. I have a professional code of conduct that means I have a responsibility towards my profession, amongst other things, and I cannot just write in an irresponsible way, no matter how tired or disillusioned I might sometimes feel. However, like my colleagues, I work in the reality that has become the NHS and it can be a very challenging environment. It sometimes seems monolithic, it is an immovable object that will sometimes not countenance change, and its disciples sometimes seem locked in ways of working that have become obsolete. It has its faults.

As a nurse, I see that change is an inevitable part of progress and I want to embrace it and see it impact in a good way on my practice – I am not a nurse who will always just do something that way because ‘that’s the way it’s done’. But the current issues and challenges being faced by the NHS are not about change for good – they are not about unpalatable truths, necessary improvements or cutting wastage. These issues are about castigating and dismantling our NHS. Be under no illusions.

As a nurse, my professional ‘place’ within any of these issues is always to keep my patients safe and advocate for them. Within the context of increasing pressure, this is not as easy as it sounds. In the NHS, I feel under almost constant pressure to see more patients, to do more, to work harder. And, put simply, I cannot do more than I am. Not only is the NHS taking its dying breaths but, I believe, the goodwill of the staff is running out too. Last week I was offered a new job and I turned it down. I turned it down because I couldn’t bear the thought that, by seeing patients, I would be earning money for someone. But I considered it.

This week I witnessed the junior doctors withdraw emergency cover. I worked one of the strike days so I saw first hand what resulted from their action: senior doctors saw patients, assessed, cannulated, monitored and made decisions; they developed plans of care, did take-home prescriptions, and liaised with other practitioners. They cared for our patients. They ensured patient safety was of the highest standard. They went that extra mile. This is not unusual. As a team, our NHS does this daily – reduce the numbers and we will just fight harder for our patients.

Because this is where we are today – we are in a fight for the NHS. We are shouting to be heard amongst the detritus that is now journalism in this country. We are struggling to be heard because there seems to be an apathy towards the NHS, a certain belief that it will always be around and a part of our lives. A lot of the public do not seem to believe that a prescription for an antibiotic could cost them much more than a prescription charge currently does and they do not seem to believe that they could be paying that in the coming years. Without the NHS, the public will be paying for the care they are currently freely given. That’s why I believe this is everyone’s fight, the NHS belongs to us all, and I cannot understand why all the public are not shouting from the rooftops that the NHS is theirs and they are taking it back.

In my blog I have tried to convey a number of things: my love of nursing, some of the current issues surrounding the NHS, and the danger the NHS is in. This danger is current and real – the NHS is dying. It is gasping for air. The shouting of some of the public, the marches, the lobbying, these things are what the NHS needs to continue breathing. Without us, it will die. As a nurse, I love the NHS. Yes, I love it; I hope I have conveyed this. Put simply, I love it because it helps people and, as a nurse, this is always my aim too. The NHS and I are therefore good friends.

I am doing my bit. I am shouting, if not from the rooftops!

I am marching.

I am organising.

I am delivering last breaths.

Are you?

Read more at #nursesroar and #twitternurse

Follow @NursesRoar

By 999callfornhs, Aug 1 2015 10:15AM

In August last year, BBC News at One broadcast the following statement:

“In the wake of the scandal at Stafford Hospital where hundreds of people died unnecessarily (my italics), Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says he is taking steps to improve patient safety and ensure doctors are held to account for poor care.”

When the package was re-run in subsequent broadcasts, the word ‘died’ had been changed to ‘suffered’. This was, say the BBC in a beautifully laconic phrase, ‘an editorial refinement’: the original statement didn’t need to be corrected – it was sufficient merely not to repeat it on this occasion to ‘rectify’ it.

The BBC also concluded that “the events at Stafford, which were inaccurately represented, nevertheless amounted to only half a sentence of general background information.”

So hundreds died, then didn’t again, and no correction was required because:

It was only said once,

It was short, and

It was ‘background’.

That’s some refinement.

But more was to come. Responding to a complaint about this, the BBC made the following remarkable admission:

“…the Editorial Standards Committee concluded that there was a high probability that a large number of patients amounting to hundreds had died unnecessarily at Mid Staffs.”

So they died again.

The idea that the number could be ‘hundreds’ comes from discredited statistics called HSMRs. These statistics have been savaged by the academic community. A major study authored by Prof Hogan, Senior Lecturer in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that “the lack of a statistically significant association between hospital-wide SMRs and the proportion of avoidable deaths was confirmed” and “hospital-wide SMRs do not provide a useful indication of the proportion of avoidable deaths in a trust.”. Similar concerns have also been raised in the USA, Canada and Australia. The BBC’s own statistics programme, More or Less, ran a report in which Nick Black, Professor of Health Services Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, compared their efficacy to that of dowsing. “They should be ignored. I don’t know any academics who think HSMRs are a valid form of rating hospitals. They are a nonsense,” he told The Guardian. The BBC also reported his findings. The sole remaining academic champion for their use is now their inventor, Prof Jarman of Imperial College: the company that funds and exploits his research, Dr Foster Intelligence, was seamlessly merged into NHS England in 2006 in a £12m deal with the Department of Health, which the National Audit Office described in a brutally critical report as ‘borderline dodgy.’

Prof Hogan’s large-scale study confirms what was already known to the BBC about these statistics: that they do not, and cannot, distinguish between ‘excess deaths’ (i.e., more than would on average be expected, which could be the result of any number of factors), and ‘avoidable deaths’, (i.e., deaths as a result of poor care). The only reliable way to determine whether a hospital death was caused by poor care is by a detailed review of the case notes.

And yet these are the figures upon which a non-expert BBC committee bases its belief that there were hundreds of avoidable deaths: the BBC chooses to ignore the best available evidence, and instead insists that these almost universally derided statistics are a sufficient basis to ‘conclude’ that hundreds died from poor care.

The lack of consistency and clarity here is striking: the initial statement was ‘an inaccurate representation’, but was never corrected, just not repeated on this occasion. But the same ‘inaccurate representation’ turns out to be, in fact, what the BBC ‘concludes’ to be the right one.

If you’re struggling with all this, believe me, you’re not the only one.

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