Tuesday, 30 January 2007
I understand exactly how he feels; the NHS is being sacrified to the vanity of politicians who would be incapable of running a whelk stall, let alone a country. But now is not the time to be speechless. If you care about the NHS now is the time to speak up loud and clear, not least by continuing to support the Save Bedford Hospital party.
Sunday, 28 January 2007
Bedford has a large prison located in the centre of the town. I have been there on a number of occassions to see patients, and I regularly communicate with the prison medical team. It is clear that many of those in prison have major mental health problems, and frequently end up behind bars because of the almost complete collapse of the NHS psychiatric service. Mental health has always been an easy target for cuts because it is not something which people speak out about.
Prison is no place for those with severe mental illness; proper provision of secure psychiatric care would cut the prison problem at a stroke, and allow the prison service to do its job properly.
Wednesday, 24 January 2007
But what if you are waiting for something else?
According to figures published on the Department of Health's own web site (www.doh.gov.uk) , over 80,000 people have been waiting more than six months for an audiology assessment (hearing test) and many thousands of others are waiting more than six months for other important tests such as echocardiograms, colonoscopies, etc. Of course some people can't even get on to a waiting list for an operation until their tests have been done.
Sunday, 21 January 2007
Save Bedford Hospital has been run with minimal financial input. It costs £150 to register a party with the Electoral Commission, nothing to set up a web site, and nothing to e-mail out our press releases. When an election comes we will have to pay for printing leaflets and posters and to hire a few halls for public meetings,and we will need £500 as a refundable deposit; that should cover things adequately.
So, to repeat myself, why do parties think they need huge sums of money from wealthy donors, and do they really think that these people give away their money with no strings attached?
Saturday, 20 January 2007
In 2004 there was a parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool. Mr Blair said at the time that there was no question of the local hospital closing.
Now, less than three years later, the closure of the hospital has been announced. I know nothing of the local circumstances, and perhaps closure is the right option, but it does explain my cynicism when Patricia Hewitt and others tell us that there is no question of Bedford Hospital closing.
Wednesday, 17 January 2007
I was glancing through the annual report of the NPSA, the government agency which is responsible for the safety of medical equipment, and noticed that they employ a "Director of Patient Experience" at a salary in the range £90-95,000 per annum.
Meanwhile, at Bedford, we haven't got the money to replace the retiring consultant in charge of the stroke unit.
Monday, 15 January 2007
Today I received an e-mail inviting me to a major national conference on CfH to be held in Birmingham on 1st February. There is only one small problem, which is that consultants are not allowed to cancel clinical work with less than six weeks notice, so no one who actually sees patients will be able to go.
If you live in the East of England, do please watch (even if it's past your normal bed time).
Sunday, 14 January 2007
This week I have been contacted (separately) by two doctors who are considering launching similar local campaigns. Going public is a major (and irreversible) step, but when they are ready you will be able to read all about them on this web site.
If there is anyone else who might be thinking about standing for election but who wants to talk things through first, please do feel free to contact me and I will be sure to maintain confidentiality until you choose to make an announcement.
Saturday, 13 January 2007
I am grateful to the BBC for this report from a cash-strapped NHS Trust in Sussex:
An MP has criticised a £243,000 pay-off to an NHS director who worked for a debt-ridden trust for three weeks.
The settlement was revealed in East Sussex Downs and Weald Primary Care Trust's annual report for 2005-2006.
The payment included a confidentiality clause, but Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, said the recipient was a Dr Iheadi Onwukwe.
The NHS trust said the legal settlement was properly agreed by its own board and the Department of Health.
The MP said Dr Onwukwe was put on gardening leave for two-and-a-half years, after working for just three weeks as director of public health at Eastbourne Downs Primary Care Trust (now merged into the new East Sussex Downs and Weald PCT).
He said there had been a dispute with a senior colleague, and the doctor eventually left his post in May 2005.
'Loss of office'
Mr Baker said the payout, at a time when Eastbourne Downs PCT was £4.6m in debt, was a "grotesque waste of money".
"It's unbelievable that someone who was only in a post for three weeks should be paid nearly a quarter of a million pounds to go away," he said.
Friday, 12 January 2007
So it was all the more pleasing to be approached today by a senior manager in the hospital who thanked me for my campaign: just for once I was lost for words.
Thursday, 11 January 2007
Contact Rob (via Bedford Hospital) if you want to support him
Tuesday, 9 January 2007
What is most interesting is what he nearly said: I quote verbatim from Hansard
Andy Burnham: I pay tribute to my hon. Friend because he has supported and encouraged his NHS to make the kind of progress that he has described. The NHS in his constituency is making progress towards the 18-week target, as is the NHS in other constituencies throughout the country. Instead of celebrating the hard work of managers and staff in his area to make such improvements, Conservative Members simply decry their efforts and demoralise staff by making exaggerated claims of the difficulties. We hear talk of a save Bedford—
Mr. Speaker: Order.
What was he about to say about my campaign before the speaker cut him short?
Thursday, 4 January 2007
Yesterday, all elective surgery was cancelled at the hospital - because there were no beds for the patients. What a surprise.
(Oh, and by the way, another ward is to be shut later this month)
Tuesday, 2 January 2007
Well, if you're Bedford Hospital you have yet another management reorganization and create even more management posts - a "director of corporate support services" (whatever that may be) and a "chief information officer".
Perhaps one day the penny will drop that hospitals exist to treat patients; you can rearrange the paperclips as often as you like, but without doctors and nurses in post hospitals simply don't function.
Monday, 1 January 2007
The Department of Health recently commissioned a research study into patients' attitudes to choice: "patient choice" is the entire basis for the DoH's expensive and ill-judged folly called "Choose and Book". Unfortunately, the study didn't show what the DoH wanted; quite the contrary, it clearly indicated that patients by and large wanted GPs to make the difficult choices for them. In other words, they trusted the judgement of their GPs, so C and B wasn't really needed.
The research study was posted on the DoH website, but of course when they realized that doctors were not only reading it, but quoting it back to them, the posting was withdrawn, and the conclusions of the research disappeared into cyberspace.
A fuller version of the story appears in The Guardian, this is the link