Category Archives: Interviews or replies

If you dont like the message, shoot the messenger Mr Hunt: your pointless denial will leave you the scapegoat…

In the war of words in the media in the last few days, there has been an allusion to a solution, but once again without politicians’ mentioning the R word. (Rationing), When Plutach referred to the first killing of the messenger he was illustrating the pointlessness of political denial. Mr Stevens has tried to tell the truth, without losing his head by mentioning the R word as a possible solution. If we ration overtly we will all know what is excluded… even if it ends up different for different Regions, (Simon Stevens Interview) Mr Hunt rather than Mr Stevens will be the political scapegoat as we descend further into unreality. It’s going to get worse..

Sam Coates reports in The Times 11th Jan 2017: No 10 blames NHS chief as hospital chaos grows – Downing Street irritated by ‘unenthusiastic’ Simon Stevens

Toby Mejes for Metro 12th Jan 2017 reports: Doctors forced to choose between saving cancer patient or woman bleeding to death and Adam Radnedge reports “NHS boss tells No.10: Don’t pretend there is not a big problem and Chris Smyth in The Times reports:  “May accused of ‘stretching the truth’ on NHS crisis”.

Image result for shoot the messenger cartoon

Andrew Sparrow in The Guardian 12th Jan 2017 reports: NHS England chief says May ‘stretching it’ to say NHS getting more extra money than it asked for – politics live

Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, has undermined Theresa May’s claim to be funding health properly by flatly contradicting her assertion that the service has been given all the money it wants. He made the point during an assertive appearance before the Commons public accounts committee during which he also disagreed openly with Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the Department of Health. Wormald said spending on health in the UK was in line with the OECD average. Stevens said that that was misleading because the OECD figures included countries like Mexico, that the UK spent less than on health than comparable advanced nations, and that it spent 30% less on health per head than Germany. May has repeatedly said that the NHS was given more than Stevens requested when he set out his five-year plan. But Stevens denied this.

Simon Stevens Interview –

Dr Mark Porter in the Evening Standard opines: There’s little evidence of a ‘shared society’ in our crowded hospitals – The NHS is at breaking point, and it needs cross-party action and longer-term investment to secure its future, says the chairman of the British Medical Association

…”it is now commonplace for care to be rationed, with the working lives of staff dominated by decisions about which patients take priority…

Read the full text: dr-mark-porter-in-the-evening-standard

It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder How I keep from going under



Cancer doctor (Ann Barnes MBE) quits over understaffing at Withybush

Abigail Neal interviews Anne Barnes for the BBC Wales news 10th February 2015:  Cancer doctor quit over understaffing at Withybush

Dr Barnes has kept quiet for some time now, probably in the hope that she would be replaced. However, general disinvestment in Withybush, and a recruitment crisis due to poor manpower planning and chronic undercapacity has led to little competition for jobs in rural areas such as Pembrokeshire.

A former cancer specialist says she had to leave her post at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest because of inadequate staffing and service changes.

Dr Anne Barnes retired from the Pembrokeshire hospital last summer but came out of retirement hoping to give the health board time to replace her.

However that never happened, and she now says she cannot do “half a job”.

Hywel Dda Heatlh Board said is fully committed to the provision of safe cancer care services at Withybush.

Dr Barnes, who worked as a specialist oncologist in Pembrokeshire for 17 years prior to her retirement in July, said changes to the system had led to delays and left the service understaffed.

From September a new model was introduced to bring Withybush more in line with other district general hospitals.

Patients were being admitted under the care of a general physician rather than a specialist oncologist, sometimes to the specialist cancer ward, and sometimes to others depending on their clinical problems.

Dr Barnes said: “Currently there is no dedicated doctor there in Withybush.

“We haven’t got the junior doctors back, the cancer beds have been put under general medicine, and lots of the patients have said to me, ‘where are we going to go?’

“‘Who are we going to contact – do we have to sit for six hours in A&E and wait to be seen?’ And the answer now I’m afraid is yes.”

‘One crisis to another’

She came out of retirement hoping it would give the board time to replace her but quit in frustration last month when that did not happen.

“There’s no forward planning; it doesn’t happen. It’s crisis management; it just goes from one crisis to another at Hywel Dda.

“I can’t do the job as I feel it needs to be done and if I can’t I would rather not be doing the job at all,” she said.

Hywel Dda University Health Board said Ward 10 at Withybush remained the designated cancer ward and oncology, palliative care and chemotherapy treatment continued to be provided by a team of doctors and nurses.

In a statement, it added a palliative care consultant was providing cover two days a week on a temporary basis and the board was actively recruiting for a full-time candidate.

Other doctors from both their board and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board were providing cover for the chemotherapy day unit.

Dr Sian Lewis from the board said they had been sorry to see Dr Barnes go, but added: “We can reassure patients that her withdrawal does not affect the new service introduced in Withybush Hospital and provided by a team of doctors and nurses.”

Related Stories

A first debate in West Wales BMA – on rationing – wins a majority in favour

The former collegiate nature of our profession as doctors has disintegrated.

Meetings between consultants and GPs occur much less frequently than they used to. The unofficial debates that occurred at the fringes of the regular meetings were much appreciated by many “old lags” such as myself. There were discussions around problems of individual cases, information about new investigations and imaging, and the confidence of choosing a consultant that one knows for ones patient. At last the BMA has had a debate. The “notice of motion” was “This house believes heathcare rationing should be overt”, and was proposed by myself, and opposed by Dr Clive Weston from Swansea. Here is both the written and the audio for the debate:

Roger Burns text: Debate Rationing final

Roger Burns speech.

2nd October 2014

Since this disintegration there has been a professional silence and an unofficial collusion to disengage from the political process. Power has shifted from clinicians to managers, and the open nature of debate has been stopped for fear of “gagging” punishments… Whistleblowers have their careers ruined, and there are so few exit interviews that Trust Boards rarely hear what retirees think. The opinions of experienced consultants, GPs and Nurses are not being heard. They are however getting stress related problems (Stressed doctors urged to work part-time in bid to avoid burnout – LYNDSAY BUCKLAND in The Scotsman 30th September 2014)

With this in mind I have attempted to bring the art of debate back to the professional life of doctors in Pembrokeshire. I am grateful to Clive Weston from Carmarthen for agreeing to oppose the motion, but I am also surprised and disappointed that none of the BMA members in the Trust Management are opposing, or seconding.

The debate fits nicely with the move from a deference society to  reference society, (or autocratic to facilitative) as advanced by George Pitcher and Sir Tim Bell, and in the book “The Death of Spin” 2002

Everything for everyone for ever

The Information Age

Nigel Hawkes BMJ 2014;349:g5907  1st October 2014 opines: How to tackle the NHS funding crisis? Levy charges

My three handouts in the debate were:

In Place of Fear A Free Health Service 1952 Chapter 5 In Place of Fear

Sheerders Sieves

Scheerder's Sieves

Then finally The Information Age.  Why not ask your MP or WG member whether they agree that health care needs to be rationed overtly? See his discomfort…

Peter Brookes cartoon

Watch the debate as the election approaches in 2015. Health is important for all of us, and the politicians wonder why there is a disenchantment with politicians when they conspire in denial and collude to pretend that rationing does not exist.


Peter Brookes cartoon

 The West Wales BMA debate had a low turnout, but of the 24 or so present there was a clear majority in favour of the motion.  This should tell the politicians and administrators why the profession is and will remain disengaged – until this debate goes national… One of the arguments against rationing is that it creates and legitimises inequalities. I would suggest that reducing inequalities is a role of government, by progressive fiscal legislation, but that they can never be removed. Certainly a less unequal society is desirable, and will find rationing more acceptable.

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett [2010]

GP partnership model dead within 10 years, says NHS England GP

Colin Cooper reports on an interview with Mike Bewick in GPonline 10th September 2014: GP partnership model dead within 10 years, says NHS England GP

The GP partnership model will disappear in a decade and primary care will be provided by organisations the size of CCGs, according to the deputy medical director of NHS England.

I would agree with Mike, and furthermore, I would say that in future the “real doctor” in the community will be one who maintains his emergency skills, is able to manage Out of Hours, and at the same time is involved in teaching and end-of-life care. Such individuals will be really valuable, especially now that successive government administrations have rationed the number of doctors in training so that we need to import for the next decade..

Dr Mike Bewick, a former GP in West Cumbria, said the combination of a growing shortage of GPs and the changing needs of patients and local populations, would require a major restructuring of primary care.

The advent of co-commissioning by CCGs, and the need to provide services ‘at scale’, meant it was now ‘squeaky bum time’, he told a Westminster Health Forum conference in London.

‘This is the time when we actually have to say what we are going to do. And I am going to say just two things that I think are going to be true.

‘One is that in 10 years’ time the term independent contractor will be anachronistic and probably it will be gone.

‘And the second is that we will not talk about primary care, we will talk about out-of-hospital provision and out-of-hospital providers.’

GP shortage damaging partnerships

He said the lack of new GPs being trained meant that ‘we are going to lose doctors from the frontline very, very quickly’, and this would impact on the partnership model of general practice.

‘If you look at primary care, more than 50% of the doctors are salaried. There will be a force majeure to move away from a partnership type organisation because it will not serve them. And equally if you cannot recruit to partnerships you will need to think of something different.’

Dr Bewick said that ‘organisational nihilism’ in the NHS was preventing the system developing to meet changing priorities.

Primary care unsustainable

‘I do not believe that the current organisational structure of primary care is sustainable or, increasingly, desirable.

‘I do believe that in the end, the whole of the out-of-hospital service needs to come together to form a more integrated service.’

He expected new provider organisations to develop, each covering populations of about 300,000 – the average size of a CCG. ‘The provider at scale is in the six figures. It is not in four or five figures.’

Pharmacists and other healthcare professionals would be better utilised to fill the gaps left by GP recruitment problems.

But the move to large-scale primary care provider organisations would not mean the loss of local, personal healthcare services, said Dr Bewick.

‘I do not think we should be confusing that with not delivering healthcare by people you know in your locality. Localism is in my blood.

‘We should be forming organisational mergers with either community trusts or secondary care, or with other providers from other sectors. Providing they have the values of the NHS at their heart, I am not too worried about who delivers but more how it’s delivered and the outcomes for patients.’

Mr Cameron has to instruct CEOs, Board members and Chairman to give exit interviews

Mr Simon Stevens is going to meet Raj Mattu … but “fear leaves us frozen” (Hannah Devlin in The Times April 23rd)

I am afraid that very little will change the “alarming culture of fear” unless the politicians listen to the evidence and change their instructions to the Chairman and CEOs. They need to instruct them to give exit interviews, and to say they will not get a gong if they don’t…… Nothing short of this will reverse the current situation, and the cynicism in which the NHS is viewed by it’s staff. Once this process of honest feedback has begun, only then can we correct the damage done by the toxic mix of performance management and covert post-code rationing, political dishonesty and cowardice, and short-termism.

Whistleblowing and the NHS culture of fear. letters in The Times

 A new philosophy- What I believe


The New Year’s Honours (RHS) List 2014

NHSreality has awarded the following three levels of New Year’s Honours. Don’t be afraid to apply for a gong….. But remember you wont get a royal award if you speak out.. In an age when whistleblowing is renamed non-disclosure, and is covered in CEO and Chairman’s contracts, I do not expect many volunteers from those in post, but I believe we have a duty to aspire and speak out…

The three NHSreality RHS (Regional Health Service) awards are:

1. The Nye Bevan RHS award for honesty. This is given to those who have agreed to Exit Audio Interviews on their working lives, usually starting in the NHS, and then in the different health services. Nye Bevan had a clear view of what he wanted to achieve. NHSreality respects his intention, but also feels that technology and society have moved on so that we can no longer afford “Everything for Everyone, for Ever“.

Interview with Paul Davies, Welsh Assembly Member (Conservative Party)

Interview with Kim O’Doherty, retired GP from Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire.

Interview with Roger Burns, former GP Educator and site author

Interview with Glan Phillips, Orthopaedic Surgeon Pembrokeshire

Interview with Julie Milewski, retired Nursing Sister

Interview with Peter Milewski retired General Surgeon

An Interview with Bill Clow, retired Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, and now Locum in NZ

Interview with Jon Skone, retired chief of the combined Social Services and Health budget in Pembrokeshire

2. The Emperor Nero RHS award for “fiddling while Rome burns”. This is given to those who agree(d) to an interview, but have not delivered, or who are considering whether to do so. In Pembrokeshire this includes representatives of the Community Health Council.

I don’t intend to publish names …. guilt may change their minds..

3. The Charles De Gaulle RHS award. This is awarded to important people who say “Non” to requests for interviews on the health service to be posted on NHSreality. In 2014 It is awarded to Stephen Crabbe  MP and The Welsh Labour Party who have not responded to several requests for interviews on NHSreality.


Pre retirement and retirement interviews: the opportunity lost

CQC recommended to conduct exit interviews?

The Telegraph’s Fraser Nelson reports 12th December 2013:

Telling harsh truths about the NHS is a bitter but necessary pill

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has begun a hard but vital journey to transfer   power to patients

Sometimes it’s right to tell voters they’re wrong

David Aaronovitchin The Times 6th June reports:

“Everyone knows some hospitals must close to improve healthcare. Politicians on all sides must make the case

What should politicians in a democratic society do when they believe the public is wrong about something? Such as, say, hospital closures.

Expert professional and medical opinion, from the think-tank the King’s Fund though the royal colleges to the patients’ group National Voices all points in one direction: as a country we spend too much money and effort running too many hospitals and we should close a number of them and put the resources elsewhere. If we fail to do this, they warn, healthcare, already sub-optimal, will suffer.

But people don’t want “their” hospitals closed. Faced with the choice between the abstract proposition of a better future and the (literally) concrete one of an existing and visible set of buildings, they vociferously choose the latter. In other words — from the policymaker’s point of view — they’d rather die than change.

Unfortunately they aren’t the only ones who’ll die. If they successfully frighten politicians away from making the right decisions, then most of us are affected by the resulting bad decisions…..”

Its hard to find a Doctor who does not want the highest standards of specialist care for himself or his family, but I did find one in my own practice who felt choice was unimportant – I expect until the reality of what is available in the particular situation hits him. Finding employees to speak out on NHSreality has not been easy: many say they will but then “fade away”. Even with the new theoretical spirit of openness people are afraid and effectively gagged.  Post code rationing is happening today all over England,  Covert rationing by restriction of choice is happening here and now in Wales.

I am happy to receive digital audio interviews from any NHS staff, of any level, but reserve the right to reject if they are unprofessional or libellous.