Category Archives: Trust Board Directors

Bullying – we have to reduce it.

There is a grand collusion in politics and public services that bullying is uncontrollable, and therefore nothing is done. Large organisations have exit interviews, but the 4 UK Health services and the Irish have the same problem. The health services are chaotic, dysfunctional and one of the worst cultures to work in – and bullying is endemic everywhere. The recent article in the Times (Not available on line) indicates a soaring number of reports, is reproduced below. This illustrates the difference between prevalence (the total amount) and incidence (What comes to our attention). It may well be good news that more bullying is reported…. How about exit interviews then? No wonder GPs, who are self employed, resist being salaried and bought into the state culture!

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The Times in Ireland 28th Feb 2018: Beat Bullying

Public representatives should respond to claims of abuse and harassment in politics by leading the way to stamp out such behaviour in any workplace

Kieran Andres in Scotland 27th December 2018: Patients ‘losing out amid culture of bullying in NHS’ and even if you want to see him: The Minister is too busy to see you! (Jan 8th 2019)

Bullying costs the NHS more than £2 BILLION a year due to harassed staff quitting, making mistakes and resigningDaily Mail26 Oct 2018

and 8th November 2018:The number of NHS staff in Hull who say they’re being bullied

Health Service Journal 16th November 2018 by Laurence Dunhill: Full details: New NHS England and Improvement structure

Health service is chaotic and dysfunctional, says NHS chief Lord Prior of Brampton

The Times reports 25th Feb 2019 (Jonathan Ames) and not on line: Bullying and harassment claims in NHS soar by 40%.

Bullying and sexual harassment allegations in the NHS have risen by nearly 40% over the past 5 years, but only a fraction of claims result in disciplinary action.

Figures released yesterday showed that there were 585 reports of bullying and harassment9n the health service (presumably England only), up from 420 in 2013-14.

It was also revealed that two hospital trusts had imposed gagging orders on employees after settling claims.

Staff shortages and other work pressures were blamed for the rising number of reports, which include various forms of harassment including racism.

The figures emerged from a freedom of information act request submitted by the Guardian. A London surgeon, who asked not to be named, told the newspaper: “There are times when I have been operating and racist comments were used – this was when I was more junior, and it happens less now i am more senior.”……

Findings show sheer scale of issue, with only a fraction of cases leading to disciplinary action

Dr Anthea Mowat, British Medical Association representative body chair, said: “This is further evidence of the scale of bullying taking place in the NHS and it is essential that solutions are put in place immediately to eradicate unacceptable behaviour.”

This was too serious for another cartoon!








NHS plan ‘ends public right to choose hospital’ – A form of rationing well known to Wales

The Welsh did not complain about lack of choice when it was begun a decade ago, and the weak BMA in Wales made comment, but no hue and cry resulted in this “lowest common denominator” medicine. Choice is a fundamental plank of a liberal society, and its loss is justified in war, famine, civil war and national emergencies. But rarely has choice been threatened in an advanced democracy/ Standards really are falling, and the right to choice may only be available to those who can afford it. A two tier society once again, and exactly what Aneurin Bevan wanted to avoid when he started the original health service. The Welsh health service has excluded choice because the money moves with the patient. The English will be less accepting of this form of rationing…… Losing choice does work for commissioners in saving money; but it does not work in saving lives. In rural and poorer areas where there are under resourced and under staffed hospitals it may actually do harm. 

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Oliver Wright reports in the Times 22nd Feb 2019: NHS plan ‘ends public right to choose hospital’

Patients’ right to choose where they are treated is being threatened by radical plans to scrap competition in the NHS, ministers have been warned in leaked documents.

Plans to abolish the health service’s internal market are being resisted by Whitehall officials who have told Matt Hancock, the health secretary, that they would quietly reverse 30 years of policy, according to a Department of Health briefing seen by The Times.

Mr Hancock is understood to be ruling out any changes that would prevent patients selecting the NHS hospital or private provider where they are sent for treatment. But he has been told that if he blocks new laws the NHS could blame the government for the failure of a £20 billion reform plan that was expected to save 80,000 lives a year.

The confidential briefing reveals for the first time the scale of changes proposed by health chiefs, which officials believe amount to another major reorganisation of the NHS.

Last month Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, asked Theresa May to reverse market-based reforms introduced in 2012 by Andrew Lansley, then the health secretary. Mr Stevens wants to make hospitals, GPs and local services work together.

His proposals were presented as a tidying-up exercise, but a briefing for Mr Hancock privately warned that NHS England’s unpublished plans went much further and would undo the internal market introduced by Kenneth Clarke when he was health secretary in 1991. Since then NHS managers have bought services from self-governing hospitals and companies, which were encouraged to compete for business.

The briefing warns Mr Hancock that he must be comfortable with this before signing off, adding: “Removing the internal market will entail undoing some 30 or so years’ worth of policy and legislation in the English NHS, including some of the checks and balances that a market-type approach allows and could have broader implications, for example, how choice works in the NHS.”

Mr Hancock has backed ending enforced competition but he supports patient choice and has little appetite for a Commons battle to reform the NHS.

The briefing warns that Mr Stevens’s position “implies that primary legislation is essential” to implementing the long-term plan, published last month. “This presents a future risk that, in the event that the long-term plan is not delivered, the NHS blames the government if there is no bill. We don’t think you should accept this shift in emphasis.”

Department of Health sources played down a split with NHS England, suggesting a compromise would be found that made clear that legislation was not essential, and which minimised upheaval and protected choice.

NHS England said Mr Stevens did not want to remove patients’ choice on where they are treated. A spokesman said new laws would not be needed. But, he said, as requested by the Commons health and social care committee and the prime minister, “carefully targeted” legislative changes had been drawn up that would provide better services.

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Heath and Safety Executive news 22nd Feb 2019: Patients’ 30-year right to choose where they are treated under threat as part of NHS England reshuffle

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Missed appointments are a distraction. In the factory model there has to be a disincentive for poor quality (and to make a claim).

Recent news on missed appointments may be confusing the public. GPs are pleased to have a little reflective and organisational and administrative time when a patients does not attend. They may already be late, and then the time is merely used to catch up. In GP land, before GPs were excused from “emergencies”, all patients had to be seen before you went home. Not so today. In Hospital land, consultants have limited numbers, and GPs have followed suite. The least popular careers in the 4 health services are, guess what, emergency medicine. Victims of a career in A&E have to contend with long and difficult shifts, overdemand, and under capacity. The mopping up which GPs used to do has moved to A&E, and with less experienced doctors seeing the patients. Missed appointments are a distraction. In any factory  model ( mutual insurance system ) there has to be a disincentive for poor quality ( and to make a claim) .. Once we ration overtly, and probably introduce co-payments, morale in all areas will improve, recruitment will be better, and the “reality” of life will sink in to the public as a whole. Phil Collins in the Times opines that “..The factory model of healthcare is no longer appropriate in a nation made healthier by the success of the first seven decades of public healthcare.” But even he shies clear of the need for autonomy, responsibility for self, and for sticks as well as carrots to encourage good health. If missed appointments cost millions, most Drs don’t really care. It’s a distraction, a side issue. Politicians have yet to arrive for their reality appointment… (see below)

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BBC News 2nd January: Missed GP appointments ‘cost NHS England £216m’

July 2nd in the Times: Attlee ‘would be shocked by abuse of NHS’ – “The prime minister who created the NHS would be horrified that patients are abusing it by missing appointments”, his granddaughter has said.

Jo Roundell Greene, the granddaughter of Clement Attlee, said that when the health service was created people were “so grateful”, but some now took the system for granted.

We have to shut hospitals to save the nhs – Phil Collins opines in the Times 4th Jan 2019…    “…Public Health England, the government’s health agency, has been highlighting the threat from diabetes which, on current trends, could take up a fifth of the whole NHS budget by 2035.”

The Times letters to the Editor 2nd and 4th Jan 2018: Missed hospital appointments and the NHS

Sir, I challenge the supposition of the chief nursing officer for England that missed clinic appointments are so costly (“Timewasting patients are costing NHS £1bn a year”, Jan 2).

When, some years ago, we looked into the problem in my orthopaedic and fracture clinics, we found that most non-attenders had recovered, or no longer needed our treatment. Most were judged to have been given precautionary appointments by less experienced junior doctors.

In some areas patients are now sent mobile phone text reminders of their appointment, with plans to supplement this with a similar email policy. This and better supervision and training of young doctors should resolve the problem for most cases.

Reappointments need be sent only to those unable to decide for themselves, such as children, or the few deemed at serious risk should they miss their checkup.
Paul Moynagh
(Retired orthopaedic consultant surgeon)

Sir, The chief nursing officer tells us that patients who fail to attend their hospital outpatient appointments are costing the NHS nearly £1 billion annually. This is almost certainly nonsense. In almost all of my 25 years as an NHS consultant in ear, nose and throat surgery (which has a heavy outpatient workload), we would evaluate the missed appointments rate regularly and increase the planned numbers per clinic accordingly. This is standard practice across the service.
Prof Antony Narula
Wargrave, Berks

Sir, I feel we are not made sufficiently aware of the costs of NHS services we use. If the cost of each medication were printed on the package we may be persuaded to use it carefully.

I was horrified to be told by the pharmacist that my bottle of medicine cost £300. I now make sure that I don’t waste a single drop.
Elizabeth Bass

Shepton Mallet, Somerset

and on 4th Jan:

Sir, I cannot understand how missed appointments are costing the NHS £216 million (report, Jan 2). The so-called cost of an appointment is a notional figure; if the appointment does not happen, it costs nothing at worst and saves money at best. If a patient fails to show, not only can an overworked GP catch their breath (or catch up, because they will almost certainly have got behind) but they won’t have to do expensive tests or prescribe expensive drugs. So this £216 million is fake accounting.

What might be interesting is why appointments are missed. The patients may have got better; their mother-in-law may have been admitted to hospital as an emergency; or there was no one to take them to the surgery.
Dr Andrew Bamji

Rye, E Sussex

Sir, In my experience missed appointments can be due (in part at least) to the NHS’s own systems. For example, my wife was called by her consultant’s secretary to ask why she had not attended an appointment; she replied that she had not been given an appointment (the letter, which had a second-class stamp, arrived the next morning).

My daughter has had a number of similar experiences: once the letter dropped through the letterbox 30 minutes before the appointment was due. After another appointment she was called by a secretary at the hospital, who asked why she had failed to attend. My daughter replied that she had, in fact, attended. She was then asked to relate, in detail, what the doctor had said to her.
Malcolm Hayes

Southam, Warwickshire

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Can the NHS be saved? Only with different local and global thinking, and changing the “rules of the game”.

All of us in the caring professions know the answer to this question, and indeed that there is no “N”HS any longer. The Guardian knows the answer….. Iain Robertson Steel, a retired medical director acknowledges the problem (But suggests no answer/solutions), but on 26th April  in the Western Telegraph I suggested a “fourth option” for people in Pembrokeshire.  This last is only for local needs, and a letter suggesting a global rethinking was in the Western Mail 25th Jan 2018 is at the bottom of this post. What can save the 4 health services is not clever reorganisations, but an honest debate on overt rationing, and making it clear to everyone what is not available free, for them. ( Changing the rules of the game )

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Can the NHS be saved? The Guardian – Dennis Campbell – 

…the Guardian’s health policy editor Denis Campbell spent a day in King’s College hospital in London. He found staff and patients who are devoted to the NHS but who can also clearly see what is needed in order to sustain the service for future generations.

A long-term plan designed to secure the future of NHS England has been delayed once again by Brexit. But as Britain’s health service heads into its annual winter beds crisis, the Guardian’s Denis Campbell visits King’s College hospital in London to find out what staff and patients need for the future – and how much it will cost. 

“The Welsh NHS and social care is a shambles and no longer sustainable or fit for purpose.” Dr Iain Robertson Steel in the Western Telegraph 7th December.

Health service needs to be remodelled Western Mail 25th January 2018

From the perspective of west Wales there is no British health service.

I do not have access or choice to anywhere outside my own rural trust (Hywel Dda) unless the service needed is not available here. Even a second opinion has to be within the same trust.

There are four, and possibly five health services if Manchester is included. The WHO has said it will no longer report on an “NHS”.

The lack of choice, the covert rationing, and the unequal access to tertiary centres, primary care, and palliative care threaten to bring on civil unrest.

A Welsh mutual of three million people cannot offer the same quality of healthcare as one of 60 million. Even if the Welsh Government has tax-raising powers, there are not enough taxable earners to rise above the decline.

We seem to have forgotten the power and improved health outcomes in large mutuals. Since the UK’s health service has to be refashioned, now seems a good time to unify again, and re-establish the same rights across the country.

Increasing taxation to pour more into a holed bucket should not appeal to most taxpayers.

We need a new health insurance system (the original NHS was insurance based) and the caring professions will remain cynical until what replaces “in place of fear”, avoids bringing it back.

Dr Roger Burns


Pembrokeshire GP urges a “fourth option”. Western Telegraph 26th April 2018

The finances are in such a mess, that local post code and unexpected rationing is everywhere… The “Rules of the game” need to be changed…..

Changing the rules of the game

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The problem of non-attenders. There has to be a penalty… the denial of equal access to tertiary specialist care could be addressed by combining rural trusts, such as Hywel Dda, and Swansea.

Today in the Times 2 Letters: The good Samaritan approach that has led to a non functioning and disrespected system is the one below. The “hard cop” approach is first, and I have reversed the order that the editor chose! There has to be a penalty. In other countries there are much more financially affordable systems, and their life expectancy is little different. Putting state money into the expensive medical treatments (both in the developed & developing world) is of little benefit in extending life expectancy of the population, because we are at the top of the “gapminder” graph (real time today). Now look how the picture has changed in the last decade, since 2006. What makes populations healthy is wealth. We have enough money to afford an Irish or a Swedish style system, where there are co-payments for those earning enough, and punishments for abuse. The “hard truth” is that, without encouraging autonomy and discouraging paternalism, the health service is impossible to maintain. 

In the last two weeks the local Western Telegraph Newspaper has had two reports. One is with myself (Dr Rger Burns Illogical not tto have a hospital in Pembrokeshire, and Dr Robertson Steel, who mostly agrees with me. He wants reorganisation, but fails to address the issues around rationing and money. Dr Robertson Steel exit interview. The report is in fact a form of exit interview, and one wonders if he would have said it when employed, and kept his job. His article is titled “NHS challenges need to be faced by government”, but does not suggest how to combine a means tested social care with a free medical care, and make it work.

We already know that rural areas are being cheated when compared with cities, and now we know that life expectancy (In Scotland) is 5 years lower in the rural parts. Some of this is due to access, some to stoic people, and some to poorer education. But the denial of equal access to tertiary specialist care could be addressed by combining rural trusts, such as Hywel Dda, and Swansea. 

Notice the change in the slope of the graph (its nearly flat now(, and the lowest life expectancy (50 in the Central African republic) compared to 40 a decade earlier.


Sir, In Sweden, if you fail to attend or fail to cancel an appointment with a healthcare assistant at least 24 hours beforehand, you can expect to be charged 100 SEK — or about £9. If you fail to cancel an appointment with a doctor, it’s 300 SEK. It concentrates the mind.
Michael Storey
Wokingham, Surrey

Sir, Some 25 years ago I analysed the “Did not attends” (letters, Dec 10 & 11) in my hospital outpatient clinics and a minority could be blamed on patient apathy. Many had serious other commitments but more had never received the appointment in the first place. Booking systems should write in an overbooking of 10 per cent. It’s good enough for airlines.
Dr Andrew Bamji
Rye, E Sussex

[PDF] Cancer Incidence and Cancer Mortality by Urban and Rural areas (2007) Wales

Daily Mail 12th December 2018: Living in the countryside gives you a ‘survival disadvantage’

The Times December 13th: Rural cancer patients less likely to live



People living in rural areas are less likely to survive cancer than those in cities, according to a global review.

Researchers examining 39 studies found that 30 of them reported a “clear survival disadvantage” for rural inhabitants compared with those living in urban areas. Those living in the countryside were found to be 5 per cent less likely to survive cancer than their metropolitan counterparts.

The research by the University of Aberdeen suggested a number of reasons for the discrepancy, including transport infrastructure and distance from health facilities. As most services in developed countries are based in urban areas, it can be more time- consuming and expensive for rural people to travel for treatment, which may put them off seeking help in the first place or missing appointments.

Professor Peter Murchie, a GP and primary care cancer expert from the University of Aberdeen and the lead investigator, said: “A previous study showed the inequality faced by rural cancer dwellers in northeast Scotland and we wanted to see if this was replicated in other parts of the world.

“We found that it is indeed the case and we think the [5 per cent] statistic . . . is quite stark. The task now is to analyse why this is the case and what can be done to close this inequality gap.”

The university said that theirs was the first systematic review to consider this information on a global scale.

The team had previously found that those in the northeast of Scotland who lived more than an hour away from a treatment centre were more likely to die within the first year after a cancer diagnosis than those who lived closer.

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NHS in Scotland is “not financially sustainable,” auditors warn. Do the Scots expect a bail out?

Is the Scottish Government expecting England to bail them out? Financial responsibility comes at a price, and it looks as if Scotland is not willing to pay that price – yet. Reality has not yet hit our politicians. Health has to be rationed…. Individuals can declare bankruptcy, but not state hospitals.

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In BMA news Bryan Christie on 25th October reports: NHS in Scotland is “not financially sustainable,” auditors warn (BMJ 2018;363:k4520 )

A stark warning has been issued about the future of the health service in Scotland in a critical report that says it is not financially sustainable in its current form.

Audit Scotland has performed its annual health check on the service and found a continuing decline in performance, longer waiting times for patients, major workforce challenges, and increasing difficulty among health boards to deliver services within existing budgets.1

Only one of the eight key national performance targets was met in Scotland in 2017-18 (for patients with drug and alcohol issues to be seen within three weeks), while only three of 14 NHS boards met the 62 day target for cancer referrals. And there has been a 26% rise since 2016-17 in the number of patients waiting more than 12 weeks for inpatient or day case surgery, to a total of 16 772 in 2017-18.

Total spending came to £13.1bn in 2017-18, a fall of 0.2% in real terms on the previous year, forcing NHS boards to use one-off savings or extra support from the Scottish government to break even. In the coming years projected increases in healthcare costs are expected to outstrip any additional funding for the service.

“The NHS in Scotland is not in a financially sustainable position,” said the report. “The scale of the challenges means decisive action is required, with an urgent focus on the elements critical to ensuring the NHS is fit to meet people’s needs in the future.”

The steps the report recommends include:

  • Moving away from short term firefighting to long term fundamental change

  • Ensuring effective leadership

  • Creating a more open system to encourage an honest debate about the future of the NHS

  • Carrying out detailed workforce planning, and

  • Improving governance and the scrutiny of decision making.

Caroline Gardner, auditor general for Scotland, said, “The performance of the NHS continues to decline, while demands on the service from Scotland’s ageing population are growing. The solutions lie in changing how healthcare is accessed and delivered, but progress is too slow.”

The day before Audit Scotland’s report was released the Scottish government announced an £850m initiative over the next 30 months to shorten patients’ waiting times across Scotland. It seeks to achieve the 12 week treatment time guarantee for all inpatient or day surgery patients, which was introduced in 2012 but has never been met.

But Lewis Morrison, chair of BMA Scotland, said that this was the wrong approach. “We need to adopt a more mature, wide ranging way to assess our NHS and the care it delivers. Simply piling more political pressure on the meeting of existing targets that tell us little about the overall quality of care will do nothing to put the NHS on a sustainable footing for the long term.”

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170,000 victims, and nobody takes the blame!! Typical of a nationalised health service…

Just as we need to change the onus of proof on Agricultural products, we need to do the same with non drug medical products. The licensing of the mesh repair products is a case in point, and all 4 health systems should be ashamed of not reporting side effects and complications systemically (all together). The reporting of such problems is just one reason for a large mutual in health. Devolution means smaller numbers and lower standards. The commissioners and the Trust Boards are all to blame, but so is central government. Will any careers be finished? They should be.. Mesh is a foreign body, and as such the default is rejection, and possible infection.

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Hernia mesh complications may have affected up to 170 000 patients, investigation finds ( BMJ 2018;362:k4104 )

Up to 170 000 patients who have had hernia mesh operations in the past six years could be experiencing complications, yet NHS trusts in England have no consistent policy for treatment or follow-up with patients, an investigation by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme has found.

Around 570 0000 hernia mesh operations have taken place in England over the past six years, figures from NHS Digital show. Leading surgeons think that the complication rate is between 12% and 30%, meaning that between 68 000 and 170 000 patients could have been adversely affected in this period.

Patients who had had hernia mesh operations told the programme about being in constant pain, unable to sleep, and finding it difficult to walk or even pick up a sock. Some patients said that they felt suicidal.

The Department of Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) continue to back the use of mesh for hernia repair. The use of surgical mesh for stress urinary incontinence is under ongoing review after it was suspended in July in response to pressure from campaigners and MPs.1 Campaigners are calling for a similar review into the use of hernia mesh.

Owen Smith, a Labour MP who chairs the all party parliamentary group on surgical mesh implants, said that he feared the UK could “potentially have another scandal on our hands.”

He added that the MHRA was not doing enough to listen to the experiences of patients affected. “It reflects the flawed system we have in place,” he said. “Neither the regulators nor the manufacturers have to follow-up on problems.”

Ulrike Muschaweck, a private hernia surgeon, told the programme that she used a suture technique instead of mesh for most hernia operations, but this method was dying out because young surgeons were rarely taught it. She said that she had performed 3000 mesh removals because of chronic pain—after which only two of the patients had not gone on to become “pain-free.”

Suzy Elneil, a consultant urogynaecologist who was a leading voice in the campaign to halt the use of vaginal mesh, said that the mesh used in hernia was the same product. She estimated that treating those who have had complications with hernia mesh would cost a minimum of £25 000 (€28 000; $33 000) a patient—a similar amount to that predicted for vaginal mesh complications. This includes the removal of the mesh, a further operation to treat the hernia, and follow-up care. She said that the manufacturers should be covering the cost rather than the NHS.

The Royal College of Surgeons pointed to a 2018 study, which found that both mesh and non-mesh hernia repairs were effective for patients and were not associated with different rates of chronic pain.2

A spokesperson for the college said that “complications range dramatically from minor and correctable irritations to the more serious complications highlighted [on the] programme. Complications can also occur with non-mesh hernia repairs and by not operating on a hernia at all.”

They said that the college and regulatory authorities would continue to listen to patients’ experiences. “It remains vital that surgeons continue to make patients aware of all the possible side effects associated with performing a hernia repair,” the spokesperson said.

Kath Sansom from campaign group Sling the Mesh told the programme that a lot of the studies into complications were flawed or had short follow-up times. Quality of life questionnaires, for example, asked only about whether the hernia was fixed and not about new onset pain or other complications.

In a statement, the MHRA said: “We have not had any evidence that would lead us to alter our stance on surgical mesh for hernia repairs or other surgical procedures for which they are used. The decision to use mesh should be made between patient and clinician, recognising the benefits and risks in the context of the conditions being treated and in line with NICE guidance.”

An MHRA spokesperson added, “We encourage anyone—patient, carer, or healthcare professional—who is aware of a complication after a medical device is implanted, to report to us via the yellow card scheme, regardless of how long ago the implant was inserted.”

… following hernia repair with an Ethicon Proceed patch have resulted in a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer
This was caused by what should have been a simple 45-minute operation to fix a hernia … of patient filed lawsuits. “For the ..