Monthly Archives: February 2014

Ben Goldacre: The NHS plan to share our medical data can save lives – but must be done right

Ben Goldacre in The Guardian 21st February 2014 opines: Ben Goldacre: The NHS plan to share our medical data can save lives – but must be done right, the grand project to make the medical records of the UK population available for scientific and commercial use, is not inherently evil – far from it – but its execution has been badly bungled. Here’s how the government can regain our trust. ‘If the government gets it right, they can save a vital data project, and allow medical research that saves lives on a biblical scale to ­continue,’ writes Ben Goldacre.


Wolverhampton phone hoaxer made 5,000 sex complaints to NHS helpline

Brett Gibbons reports in The Birmingham Mail (amusingly) 26th February 2014:

Wolverhampton phone hoaxer made 5,000 sex complaints to NHS helpline

Unemployed man jailed for bombarding medical staff with calls about ‘genital’ illness

Making a phone call is a “claim” on the system, and there need to be disincentives to making claims…This amusing report reveals the lack of clear philosophical thinking behind the service. He never needed to be jailed if he had been charged..

Good News? Most NHS staff deem care ‘fit for their own family’

Michelle Roberts for BBC News reports 26th February: Most NHS staff deem care ‘fit for their own family’

This is a spurious report. If you asked most Doctors, and especially those who live furthest form centres of excellence, their answers would not concur with the relatively uninformed opinion of the whole organisation.

See previous post: Loving the NHS to death , and Nelson Jones in The New Statesman 21st February 2013: We are in danger of loving the NHS to death      who says:

“When Gary Walker broke the terms of a non-disclosure agreement to reveal the impact on patients of excessive target-setting at the United Lincolnshire Health Trust over which he used to preside, he revealed a great deal more. Most obviously, he lifted the lid on a culture of fear of that still pervades much of the NHS, a culture in which whistle-blowers stand to lose reputations and careers, in which silence is commonly bought through the use of legal gagging clauses that break the spirit and perhaps the letter of the Public Interest Disclosure Act. It’s significant that when the BBC put Walker’s allegations to the NHS, the response of the trust’s lawyers was to write to the former manager threatening him with the loss of his £500,000 severance package, rather than to deal with the substance of his allegations.

But what’s equally striking is that the story was presented as one about whistle-blowing, about the morality and legality of non-disclosure agreements, rather than about the horrendous overcrowding and patient neglect that caused Walker to blow his whistle. The fact that United Lincolnshire is one of fourteen NHS trusts currently under investigation for hundreds of excess deaths seemed of less significance than a debate about management practices. And of course it is important. A corporate culture that discourages and punishes whistle-blowing is one in which failures and abuses go unchallenged, one that breeds complacency and in which those responsible are rarely held to account. What is truly shocking, however, is that vulnerable people in our hospitals are spending their last days in squalor and dying needless deaths through dehydration and neglect.

At least it should be shocking. But perhaps, following years of revelations about dirt, mistreatment and neglect in hospitals – elderly patients left wallowing in their own waste, deprived of food and water while staff are sitting in offices filling in forms, beds parked in corridors while their occupants are treated with contempt – such tales have ceased to shock.

It’s now two weeks since the release of the second report by Robert Francis into Mid Staffordshire hospital trust, where almost 1,200 excess deaths occurred between 1996 and 2008, years when the Labour government was pumping unprecedented amounts of cash into the NHS and boasting loudly about having transformed standards of treatment. By any standards, this is one of the biggest scandals of recent years – bigger than Savile, bigger than MPs’ expenses, certainly bigger than the horsemeat saga that has largely relegated Mid Staffs to the inside pages. Bankers can steal your money, the press can invade your privacy, but only the NHS can kill you. Yet no-one has been forced to resign, and at this stage criminal charges seem an unlikely prospect. Yes, there have been ritual expressions of regret. But where is the outrage, where is the raw anger?

The Labour party, which was in government in the period covered by the Francis reports, prefers to talk about the Coalition’s forthcoming.

Universal healthcare is the least citizens should expect. To make the NHS better for patients, politicians, press and public alike need to cultivate a healthy scepticism towards it, not give it unlimited adulation.

“Of 203,000 staff questioned for the 2013 NHS survey, 65% said care was fit for relatives, 24% were unsure, while 11% would not recommend the service.

The survey included GPs, ambulance staff, nurses, midwives and dentists as well as other health professionals…”

There were improvements on the previous year in 21 of the 28 poll categories…..”

Mid Staffs NHS trust to be dissolved – there could be no confidence if it continued

James Meikle reports for the Guardian 26th February: Mid Staffs NHS trust to be dissolved, Jeremy Hunt announces – there could be no confidence if it continued

Key services will now be moved to neighbouring units after scathing findings over death rate at Stafford hospital


So sad the reaction of local people to the whistleblower… Communal Denial and “loving the NHS too much… Both are posts in NHSreality.

Alison Pearson in The Telegraph demands: Forget hacking hacks, let’s jail some callous Mid Staffs NHS staff

Why are police officers poring over the evidence from phone-hacking scandal,   while no one from the disgraced Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust has been   questioned?

Atos awarded contract for NHS records – despite it’s appalling track record

Laura Donnelly and agenices report for the Telegraph 26th February 2014: Atos awarded contract for NHS records – despite its appalling track record

Atos has been given the contract to extract patient records, MPs are told

The beleagured firm Atos has been given the contract to extract patient   records from GP surgeries as part of the controversial NHS data sharing   scheme, MPs were told yesterday.

The Commons health committee heard that the firm has been given responsibility   for removing personal data from medical records, as part of the national   programme, which has been delayed for six months amid an increasing backlash.

Last week NHS England ordered the delay after pressure from patients groups,   doctors’ leaders and privacy campaigners, who argued that the national plan   had been poorly communicated, and that the public had not been properly   informed about their right to opt out.

Yesterday, health service officials disclosed that a key contract for the   controversial project has been handed to the firm Atos, which has faced   criticism over its handling of “fitness for work” tests on disabled benefit   claimants.

Last week, the company confirmed it was seeking an early exit from its   contract with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the face of   persistent death threats to staff…

If you had a track record like Atos would you expect to keep your job?

Patient records should not have been sold, NHS admits

Laura Donelly of The Telegraph reports 26th February 2014: Patient records should not have been sold, NHS admits

The records should not have been sold to the insurance industry, says the   Health and Social Care Information Centre which has taken over   responsibility for NHS data

See Previous post from NHSreality reporting this error of judgement. It should not have revealed identifiable information… but it was a “crass” decision given the fears surrounding this issue.

25 Feb 2014

Rohan Rhodes (from Pembrokeshire) baby inquest: Parents plan legal action

The BBC Wales news 26th February reports: Rohan Rhodes baby inquest: Parents plan legal action

Neonatal medicine is THE big issue in West Wales, and this report simply highlights the risks, the degree of specialism and the problem of maintaining standards – which are National. The further you live from these specialist centres the more likely there is to be an “incident” as travel times impact on such vulnerable patients and parents.