At Christmas we should take a break from pessimism, just for one day. But the truth is out there..

National Inequality is becoming routine. NHSreality expects patients to have different rights of services in different areas of the country. The failing system in denial is the BIG issue for the new year. Have a Happy Unequal one. Philip Collins opines on 23rd December in The Times: Never forget that we live in the best of times – There has been much to mourn in 2016 but by almost every measure the world is becoming wealthier and fairer

Image result for the truth is out there cartoon

His health paragraph reads: “The world once again got healthier in 2016. A WHO report showed that, since 2000, global malaria deaths have declined by 60 per cent. Since their peak a decade ago, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 45 per cent. The world is getting closer to cracking maternal mortality, which has fallen 44 per cent since 1990. Infant mortality has halved over the same period. Worldwide, people can expect an extra seven years of life compared to a relative born in 1990. Liberia was officially cleared of ebola in 2016, the last case of the deadly tropical virus in West Africa. The WHO announced that measles has been eradicated in all the Americas, from Canada to Chile. In April, the WHO said that polio could be wiped out within a year. The incidence of malaria is falling all over the world. In wealthy countries, colon cancer, dementia and heart disease are all waning.”….

and ends: “At Christmas we should take a break from pessimism, just for one day.”

In letters on 24th December:

THE BEST OF TIMES?

Sir, In his article “Never forget that we live in the best of times” (Comment, Dec 23), Phil Collins omits to mention the bad news in disease control. The World Health Organisation reported a marked increase in cases of tuberculosis in 2016, particularly of drug-resistant strains. Few people realise that TB now kills more people than Aids and that almost half a million HIV/Aids sufferers actually die from TB annually. TB is clearly the forgotten plague that is creeping back at our peril.

Professor Peter Davies

Secretary TB Alert, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital

In letters December 18th:

Fears over access to cancer drug
AS A consultant oncologist and the chairman of Beating Bowel Cancer’s (BBC) medical board, I am deeply concerned that we are returning to the situation in the NHS where patients have to fundraise or use their own assets to pay for drugs (“AA Gill, giant of journalism, dies aged 62”, News, and “AA Gill faces up to his cancer”, Magazine, last week).

The Cancer Drugs Fund initially allowed patients in England with bowel cancer access to many of the new chemotherapies widely available in much of Europe and North America. These agents were then steadily removed. This is tragic, especially since patients in Wales and Scotland will have free access to some of them.

It cannot be acceptable that in a 21st-century NHS, patients must have to pay privately for a drug that can extend their life. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is reviewing continued access to two bowel cancer drugs that are presently available. I do hope it listens to patients and oncologists in England and says yes.
Dr Mark Saunders, Consultant Oncologist, Chairman of BBC medical board

Mark Littlewood trumps all this with his article on December 20th 2016: If the NHS really is the envy of the world, why don’t countries copy it?

—- which deserves a separate posting.

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About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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