Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the tag “nhs”

Lies, Damned lies and Simplistics

We seem to be suffering from a lack of appropriate figures to inform key debates and consequently protagonists seem to package up any data in to sound-bite grenades that then get lobbed into public debate. An example is the debate over the “seven-day” NHS.

There are not enough doctors to run a seven-day NHS in England, according to a leading doctor.

In a speech on Tuesday, Royal College of Physicians president Prof Jane Dacre will warn ministers the issue must be addressed if their policy is to work.

She will highlight research that shows vacant posts are not being filled and gaps in rotas are being seen.
BBC News Website, 15 March 2016 | Not enough doctors for 7-day NHS, says Royal College head

This news report suffers in a number of ways:

  • It is a “pre-announcement” – the actual news concerned has not happened yet so we cannot see the full context of the speech,
  • It conflates two issues; the seven-day NHS and the current shortage of doctors.

It is the latter that currently most concerns me. Read more…


A Programme for the Majority?

Just imagine the following programme for government:

  • Reform
    • A shake up of Westminster
    • Abolition of the House of Lords
    • A fair voting system
  • Public Services
    • No tuition fees
    • Educational Maintenance Allowance including part-time college students
    • The NHS in public hands, halting the tide of NHS privatisation
    • Abolition of prescription charges
    • Explicit protection for the NHS on the face of the TTIP agreement
  • Fairness
    • Pensions that protect our older people.
    • A decent welfare system that helps people into work
    • Eradication of working practices that have no place in a decent, modern economy
    • a Living Wage nation
    • Strengthening of the law against domestic abuse – speed up the court process, give more support to victims, and expand schemes to help offenders change their behaviour
    • Gender Equality: Removal of Systemic and institutional barriers – the pay gap, occupational segregation, a lack of affordable childcare and, sometimes, just outdated attitudes
  • Other
    • No new generation of Trident nuclear weapons
    • Deficit reduction but not slash and burn austerity
    • Stay in Europe

If we could break the internal coalitions in the old elitist parties, could we envisage a parliamentary coalition to support this programme? Read more…

Burnham’s New Army of Nurses

Labour’s plans to recruit 20,000 more nurses by 2020. Few would disagree with the problem, but does Labour’s prescription adequately address the problem?

We will train, recruit and pay new NHS staff: 20,000 more nurses, getting the basics right with safe staffing in hospitals, and providing personalised care outside hospital to families with the greatest needs;
Labour Party : Time to Care Fund (accessed 22 March 2015)

“To recruit 20,000 more nurses by 2020” is inevitably a slogan – that is unfortunately the currency of election campaigns. But can we unpack the problem and the proposed solution? Read more…

Anachronisms – windmills for political bigots

something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time
Dictionary.com : Anachronism

If you hear a politician saying “it’s anachronism – it should be abolished”, beware the political zealot. Read more…

NHS Waiting Times – Why?

I have to admit that I am a bit mystified by the current debate on NHS waiting times.

A re-think is needed on the waiting time target for routine operations as 18 weeks is too long for some patients, the new leader of UK surgeons says.
BBC News Website 10 July 2014 : Call to review waiting times for routine surgery

Maybe it’s because I have worked in manufacturing operations, but I do not understand the need for such excessive waiting times. Read more…

The N in NHS

The BBC’s Health correspondent, Nick Triggle, has written a blog post titled “Dropping the ‘N’ in NHS” in which he ponders:

… could the new boss of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens, be set to break the mould? Over the course of the past week – firstly in his interview with the Daily Telegraph and then in his speech to the NHS Confederation conference – one thing has stood out above everything else: his emphasis on the local.

Then this week he set out his vision in a little more detail to the conference of health managers. This is what he told the meeting in Liverpool: “We need different solutions for diverse communities. Horses for courses, not one-size fits all.”
BBC News Website: Dropping the ‘N’ in NHS

From this he questions the “N” in NHS – and fundamentally misunderstands what the N means. Read more…

Care.data – does the NHS care?

The NHS has got itself in a hole with the bungled care.data implementation. Proposing that, unless people opt-out, the NHS will take their health care data, make it pseudonymous and then seemingly make it available to all and sundry was asking for trouble.

It can be very easy to identify you from pseudonymised data, especially where more than one identifier is still present: such as where your name and address have been removed or pseudonymised, but your postcode and date of birth remain, and remain linkable to, for example, credit reference data.
care-data.info independent website by Dr Neil Bhatia, a GP and Caldicott Guardian in Hampshire

Read more…

UK A&E or US ER?

I was half-listening late last night (24 September 2013) to the BBC rebroadcast of “ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer” to pickup American stories. I caught this story halfway through and had to look it up on the web to confirm that I had heard right.

Suzanna spent several hours in the emergency room in the summer of 2012 after troubling symptoms that she would later find out were related to cervical cancer. At the time, she was suffering pain and bleeding.

While the ER staff did not diagnose Suzanna’s condition at the time, the hospital did send her an $8,000 bill for tests and medication.

… [money-saving tips]

In Suzanna and Phillip’s case, using these tips turned a nearly $8,000 bill into a $1,151.14 bill.
ABC News Sep 25, 2013 ‘Real Money’: How to Save on Emergency Room Bills

The thrust of the story was how you could reduce an Emergency Room bill to a mere $1,151.14! Read more…

Language Battles

We have seen how the Conservatives have won a language battle over “Welfare” – with, for instance, use of statistics that has been condemned by the ONS and selective demonising of welfare recipients attempting to tar all welfare recipients with the label “welfare scrounger”. It has been suggested that they have set up the working poor (who do not think of themselves as “welfare recipients”) against the non-working poor.

This sort of use of propaganda is of course clever politics and we have seen it used elsewhere with similar success. At the beginning of this parliament they would not have got away with it. But by winning the language battle they have opened the opportunity for welfare cuts that will affect many to a small degree and a few to a very heavy degree. The debate now seems to be how can we solve the deficit problem by further welfare cuts (not by for instance ensuring that all pay their taxes). The deficit is “due” to excessive welfare, apparently – nothing to do with inadequate control of credit, poor regulation and massive government spending to prevent complete collapse of the world economy after the banking crisis. Osborne has said that he will not need to increase taxes in the next government – I can’t see him borrowing more, I can’t see massive growth, so presumably there are going to be further cuts. And which budget is not ring-fenced?

Given the success of this political ploy, we should ask: where is the current language battle and where will the Tories go when they have won the battle? Read more…

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