Farage tells wealthy – ‘ditch NHS and go private’

UKIP leader Nigel Farage yesterday called on well-off people to abandon the NHS and use private health schemes instead.

Mr Farage was accused of supporting a two-tier healthcare system after he said: “If people can afford it, should people go private? Yes.

Nigel Farage“If people do opt out and go private, what that does is relieve the pressure on the health service for everybody else,” he added, speaking on Radio Five Lives’ Pienaar’s Politics.

Labours Grahame Morris, who is on the Health Select committee said: “Nigel Farage has let the cat out of the bag. UKIP are proposing a break with the fundamental principles of the NHS.”

It also emerged that UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge wants to cut back on elective surgery on the NHS.

He wrote: “Non-essential surgery, cosmetic work and fertility treatment should not be readily available.”

Blancharch. J 2015 Daily Mirror 18/03/2015 P. 4

“I suppose you have to be with UKIP, or against UKIP”

Hunt’s Rules Over Hospital Car Park Fees Are Ignored

Stephen Hayward for the Sunday Mirror reports that PARKING charges at NHS hospitals are rising despite Government promises to tackle the rip-off fees.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt issued new guidelines last August so patients and relatives would pay less.

But since then several hospitals have instead raised prices including Brighton General Hospital which will end free parking in April.

parking meterLaura Keely of Macmillan Cancer Support, said; “It is no longer enough to just pay lip service. Hospitals must not ignore Government guidance and commit to implementing the guidelines as a matter of urgency.”

At least 10 hospital trusts make more than £2million a year from staff and visitor parking fees, which have been scrapped by hospitals in Scotland and Wales.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “All NHS organisations are expected to follow the guidelines.”

MPs will discuss the issue when the Hospital Parking Charges (Abolition) Bill is debated on Friday

“With so many trusts in the “red”, is it any wonder most trusts are loathe to stop or inhibit their income from parking charges. Guidelines aren’t an Act of Parliament, so how are they to be, or will they be enforced?”

Let patients ‘buy better care on NHS’

Patients should be able to top-up their NHS treatment with small monthly payments in return for an ‘enhanced’ service, a report suggests.

Allowing people who can afford it to invest extra money would raise billions of pounds and give all patients a better healthcare experience, the authors say.

National Health ServiceThose who choose to pay – a sum starting from £100 per year for someone on a wage of £20,000 – would still receive the standard service in NHS hospitals and clinics.

But by voluntarily paying extra they could avoid long waiting times for procedures and seek treatment anywhere in the country, according to the report by think-tank Civitas.

The authors, NHS consultant Dr Christopher Lees and researcher Edmund Stubbs, argue the scheme would alleviate the stress on the health service and offset the need for higher taxes across the board.

They say polls show there is a ‘public appetite’ for increased contributions to the health service. The proposal would create a two-tier system, as the authors acknowledge, but they say this has already been created by the advent of private healthcare.

Credits – Daily Mail 20/02/2015 P. 10

“I’m getting a quite sickly healthcare experience from this report. If you like the idea you can choose from the standard, gold or platinum policy!!!”

‘Shocking’ report on NHS – remains unpublished

Most national media sources this week have run the story of how a “totally shocking” report by one of the country’s most respected businessmen into how the NHS is run was handed into the Department of Health before Christmas – but has still not been published by the Government.

The withering assessment of NHS management by the Conservative peer Lord Rose, who is credited with turning around the fortunes of Marks & Spencer, is understood to paint a damaging picture of a culture in which mediocre managers can move around within the NHS without being held to account, while those who are successful go unrewarded.

Lord RoseLord Rose was appointed to carry out the review in February last year by Jeremy hunt, the Health Secretary.

One person who has seen the report told the Financial Times that Lord Rose, now chairman of online supermarket Ocado, had found the overall standard of much NHS management to be “totally shocking”.

Labour called for the report to be published before the election. The Department of Health said the Government would be releasing the findings “in due course”.

Green. C 2015 The Independent 18/02/2015 P. 6

“It seems our NHS is beyond saving and will be unrecognisable “in due course”. “

Stop gagging whistleblowers – NHS hospitals are to be told

Hospitals must end the use of gagging clauses to silence whistleblowers, an inquiry will say this week.

A long-awaited report by by Sir Robert Francis will demand the NHS does far more to end its ‘cover-up culture’ and will highlight fears confidentiality clauses are still being used.

Last year Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to all trusts demanding they ensure none of their contracts include gagging orders – but campaigners fear the practice remains.
WhistleblowerThey hope Sir Robert’s recommendations, to be published on Wednesday, will lead to an outright  ban on them, such as a new law making it illegal for NHS trusts to include them in their contracts.

Mr Hunt said yesterday that 1,000 patients a month are dying needlessly in NHS hospitals because of staff blunders and a culture of cover-up. He pledged to drive down mortality rates in the NHS by annually reviewing a sample of 2,000 deaths at hospitals across the country.

The Health Secretary is also set to announce that trainee doctors and nurses will receive lessons on whistleblowing from this Autumn.

Helen Donnelly, the A&E nurse whose warnings were ignored in the Mid Staffordshire scandal, will help teach junior clinical staff to expose wrongdoing by their bosses.

A gagging clause was used to silence Gary Walker, who was dismissed from his job as chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust after raising fears that a labour drive to meet targets compromised safety.

He claimed a £500,000 taxpayer-funded gagging order was used to stop him speaking out. Two years ago, after the trust he ran and several others were warned about high mortality rates, he broke his silence.

Last year the Daily Mail highlighted the case of cardiologist Dr Raj Matu, whose NHS trust spent £10million trying to silence him after he warned of patients dying on overcrowded wards. He was suspended from Coventry’s Walgrave Hospital in 2000 and later sacked, but he was vindicated in April when a judge ruled he had been unfairly treated.

Leading barrister Sir Robert – who carried out two reports into the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal will unveil a series of recommendations designed to protect doctors and nurses who speak out. In one of his previous reports, he warned: “Insufficient openness, transparency and candour lead to delays in victims learning the truth, obstruct the learning process, deter disclosure of information about concerns, and cause regulation and commissioning to be taken on inaccurate and understanding.

Mr Hunt responded by writing to all trusts saying they must obey the ‘spirit of the law’ on gagging orders.

But Peter Walsh, of campaign group Action Against Medical Accidents, said this did not go far enough – and that he hoped Sir Robert would go further in his recommendations. ‘We hope it is p0ssible to make it in some way illegal to have a gagging clause,’ he said.

Mr Walsh said he also hoped Sir Robert would recommend a better helpline and support service for whistleblowers, as well as a statutory right for staff to be able to report concerns without facing punishments.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hunt said the NHS needed to learn from other industries, such as aviation, with rigorous protocols to ensure that safety risks were identified and not tolerated.

He said: ‘On high death rates, failing hospitals and whistleblowing, we are calling time on the cover-up culture and ushering in a new era of transparency.’

Martin. D 2015. Daily Mail 09/02/2015 p. 2

“A report is not a legal responsibility, and in any case, to be a whistleblower is still going to take some courage with legal backing or not”

NHS ‘special measures’ has saved lives !

The NHS’s unprecedented decision to put 11 trusts intro special measures is likely to have saved hundreds of lives, experts have said. Death rates fell at the trusts after the 2013 intervention, spearheaded by NHS England’s medical director Sir Bruce Keogh in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire hospital trust scandal.

Although difficult to predict from mortality statistics, Roger Taylor, director of research at the Dr Foster Group, has published new analysis saying their had had been a fall of roughly 450 across the 11 hospitals between 2013 and June 2014.

Mr Taylor said it was almost certain hundreds of lives had been saved because of the intervention. However it was revealed  that at one trust, Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Greater Manchester, mortality rates had continued to worsen.

Roger TaylorKey contributions include changes in management at the worst-performing hospitals, and the appointment of directors of improvement – an NHS equivalent of the “super heads” deployed at failing schools.

Tameside, Medway NHS Foundation Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust have all appointed new chief executives in the wake of the Keogh inspections into 14 NHS trusts that had “outlying” high mortality rates, 11 of which were subsequently placed in special measures.

Others replaced board members, and special measures hospitals were “buddied” with a successful neighbouring hospital.

New managers embarked on recruitment drives, appointing hundreds of new medical staff – a pattern repeated across the NHS following the damning Francis Report into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Hospital, where high mortality rates served as an ealy warning of problems.

Across all 11 Keogh trusts, annual mortality rates fell by 9.45 per cent after being placed in special measures. The hospitals are now closer to the average mortality rates. However, at two hospitals mortality rates remained flat and the rise at Tameside Hospital was being investigated.

A Thameside Trust spokesman said: “Initially we focused our attention on understanding and improving the care and treatment given to our patients. We now have a fully embedded mortality review process, where all deaths are comprehensively reviewed. We are now clearer on the data quality issues which require further action.”

Five Keogh trusts, including Tameside, are still in special measures following inspections by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in recent months.

An enhanced hospital inspection and improvement regime was a key plank of the Government’s response to the Mid Staffs report. Ministers are hopeful they will be judged on patient safety, following criticism from the King’s Fund think tank, which concluded that former health secretary Andrew Lansley’s controversial flagship reforms had been “disastrous”. By contrast his successor, Jeremy Hunt, has portrayed himself as a defender of patient’s interest, the King’s Fund’s report said.

Responding to the findings, Health Minister Lord Howe said: “Since the [Mid Staffs]  scandal we have taken tough decisions to improve patient safety. Today’s report is further evidence that our special measures programme is working. Safety standards are iproving and lives are being saved.”

Andy Burnham shadow Health Secretary said: “It was because of this Government’s decision to axe thousands of nursing jobs that these hospitals were placed in special measures in the first place. The hospitals are still getting worse on key measures now, particularly A&E performance like the rest of the NHS. It is wrong and dangerously complacent for ministers to pat themselves on the back when the NHS is getting worse all over England.”

NHS hospital mortality rates are determined by two sets of figures – Hospital Standardised Mortality Rates (HSMR) and the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI). Factors that effect a patient’s survival chances include age, diagnosis and previous admissions, especially in an emergency. Analysts can determine what the expected number of deaths will be based on the national average. A hospitals HSMR and SHMI scores show how much higher or lower a hospital’s mortality rates are than the expected number of deaths.

Professor Edward Baker, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals said progress had be made at many of the original 11 Keogh hospitals. “We are impressed by the leadership shown in many of these trusts that has led to these measurable improvements in quality,” he said.

Cooper. C 2015. The Independent on Sunday 08/02/2015. p 2

“It’s sad really”

NHS Cancer Cure – Only if You Go Private!

The Daily Mirror headlines today with the shocking story regarding hundreds of brain cancer patients being denied vital treatment – unless they pay.

University College Hospital London has been barred from using its £2million Gamma Knife to remove tumours free on the NHS for two years.

Desperate NHS patients are missing out on a hi-tech brain cancer cure, because a hospital has been banned from treating them for the last two years.

Hundreds of seriously ill people have been refused the pioneering £2million Gamma Knife, while an NHS England inquiry into spending on radiation therapy is carried out.

But patients who can afford to go private can access the machine, which uses technology that a source said had cured a ‘great many people’.

Last night it was claimed University College Hospital London’s Gamma Knife machine – expected to treat at least 200 NHS patients a year – was “lying idle” most of the time.

Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt blasted the “appalling”  inquiry delay and called on Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to act immediately.

Jeremy Hunt

Should Mr J. Hunt resign for letting this depravity occur?

She fumed: “Gamma Knife specialists at University College Hospital London have been banned from treating patients for two years while they waited for the review to end.

“That means hundreds of patients with severe brain tumours have been denied treatment at one of the best hospitals in the country.

“How many of them have died In that time? This can’t be allowed to continue. The Secretary of State needs to act now to put this right.”

The ban was ordered at the top hospital back in April 2013, and doctors there are still waiting for the result 22 months later.

It is still unclear when the final review will be published and Ms Munt said: “The review has become a national disgrace.

“This is not some kind of academic exercise.

“There are just  seven Gamma Knife machines in the country – three in London, two in Sheffield and one each in Leeds and Bristol. The other two in the capital are in private hospitals. The UCLH facility is the only one which is a joint NHS and private venture.

The treatment costs an average of £6.000.

One insider at the hospital said: “A great many people have been cured by Gamma Knife machines. This one should be available to NHS patients”

In 2013 NHS England announced a wide ranging review of stereotactic radiosurgery and radiotherapy services in an effort to save money and centralise services.

It wants to slash the number of centres used for such treatment from 29 to fewer than 12. Centres without the gamma technology are using less advanced machines to treat patients.

The insider said: “NHS England stopped UCLH from using their Gamma Knife in April 2013 pending the results of this review which they promised would be finished by the end of the year.

“They are still unable to finalise the review because they are using it as a smoke screen to cut services and our brain specialists are rightly refusing to agree to that. Imagine what it’s like for a consultant telling an NHS patient they cannot be treated on the machine when they can actually see it next door.

“It is lying idle for much of the week. The position is scandalous.

“The number of brain tumour patients is on the increase so to try and cut back expert services is nothing short of criminal. Management at NHSE don’t seem to understand how complex the treatment of brain tumours can be. It is not uncommon for a patient to have 20 to 30 cancerous tumours in their head.

“The Gamma Knife can target them all individually and get rid of them without harming the surrounding tissue, which in your brain is pretty important. Cheaper options target the tumours as a group and therefor healthy brain tissue gets  blasted. The consequence for the patient can be devastating.”

In a leaked letter, UCLH chief executive Sir Robert Naylor described some of NHS England’s behaviour as “disingenuous”. He said: “This is an issue of real significance to UCLH.

“UCLH does not support such a short term significant reduction in the number of machines delivering SRS (stereotactic radiosurgery)  from 29 to a minimum of six and maximum of 12.”

“They have sat around “twiddling their Parker Pens” thinking how much money they have saved the NHS while people have been dying.  The xxxxxxx’s – and Jeremy Hunt for allowing it”

Charge Drunks for Using A&E Say Brits

Patients who use A&E after getting drunk should pay for treatment, the majority of Brits believe.

An exclusive poll for The Sun also found huge support for charging drug users and foreign tourists.

Around 80% per cent said boozers who clog up casualty should have to pay for their care. Charging for boob jobs and cosmetic work also received heavy backing.

Drunk in the StreetBut a slim majority of 45 per cent over 39 per cent say people fighting obesity should not have to fork out for weight loss surgery.

Anthony Wells, research director at pollsters YouGov, said: “People aren’t happy about the NHS picking up the bill for things people brought on themselves – except when it might end up saving the NHS money in the long-term.”

A&E units failed to meet waiting time targets in the first week of January – after three of the worst weeks on record over Christmas.

Alcohol Concern says the number of drink-related casualty admissions hit almost six million in 2012-2013, with the bill for inpatients reaching £1.3million. Dr Cliff Mann, the head of Britain’s A&E doctors, wants drunks clogging up A&E’s to be locked up.

Both the Tories and Labour have stated they would not charge drunks to use hospitals.

But a spokesman for the drinks industry body, the Portman Group, said: “Anything that helps to make it clear that we are not prepared to tolerate drunk and disorderly behaviour should be explored .”

“The problem is – will the monies needed to tackle these issues, if taken on, be clawed back? – doubtful. The governors of our NHS, over the years, have allowed it to become unaffordable.”

1 in 5 Cancers diagnosed at A&E – Postcode Lottery?

One in five cancers are being diagnosed at A&E – dramatically slashing the patient’s chances of survival.

GPs have been partly blamed for not spotting the warning signs early enough.

But the National Audit Office also pointed out that many people don’t know what to look for, so they have no idea that anything is wrong until they become so ill they need emergency treatment.

There also  seems to be a postcode lottery – with 30 per cent of all cancers diagnosed  at A&E in the worst performing areas, and just 13 per cent in the best.

Patients who discover they have cancer when they are at a casualty department are twice as likely to die within a year than those referred by their GP, because their disease tends to be more advanced.

The NAO said: ‘About one in five people are still diagnosed either in an A&E department or following an emergency admission to hospital, rather than via a routine screening or GP referral to hospital.

‘In 2012 the percentage of cancers diagnosed through emergency presentation varied from 13 per cent to 30 per cent across 211 clinical commissioning groups. More research is needed to understand better how many emergency presentations are avoidable and how they can be avoided.’

However, the figures did show a decrease in the proportion of cancers diagnosed at A&E between 2009 and 2012 – from 23.7 per cent to 20.6.

Last night Labour’s health spokesman Andy Burnham said of  the report: ‘Growing numbers of patients are waiting too long to get tested for cancer. Speed is everything and patients are being badly let down.’

‘Labour will guarantee a maximum one-week wait for cancer tests and create a new Cancer Treatment Fund to improve access to drugs, radiotherapy and surgery.

“It’s a bleak outlook if you develop cancer, a long term illness or are in your later years”

NHS 111 Service – They Ask “Bizzare” Questions

An MP has asked for an urgent review of an NHS helpline after revelations yesterday that patients are being asked nonsensical questions.

Liberal Democrat Andrew George claimed the non-emergency 111 service went into “meltdown” in his St Ives constituency over the Christmas period.

nhs-111In one case, a pensioner said they were left feeling ‘frustrated, patronised and ultimately quite vulnerable’ after speaking to a phone operator with no medical training.

He wrote: ‘The first young man I spoke to went through a series of questions, one of which was “Are you conscious?”.’

The patient later spoke to a nurse who asked them why they had their own blood pressure monitor and questioned whether they had medical training.

By contrast,  call handlers for the 111 service may simply be students or call centre workers.

And there have been criticisms that the risk-averse staff ask questions guided by computer algorithms – and send too many to hospital as a result.

Mr George told health minister Norman Lamb in the Commons yesterday: ‘Not only did it ( NHS 111 ) experience meltdown over the Christmas period in my area, it’s run from a call centre in Newport, 200 miles away, and it also uses algorithms which actually involve them asking a patient: “Are you conscious?”.’

In a letter, his constituent continued: ‘I am not going into detail about my experience with NHS 111 except to say that I had reason to use it yesterday night and I was left feeling frustrated, patronised and ultimately quite vulnerable.’

But Mr Lamb defended the service, saying 11 per cent of calls in November resulted in an ambulance being sent – and that 27 per cent of those who used 111 said they would otherwise gone to A&E.

He added: ‘It’s certainly the case that call volumes doubled over the Christmas period compared to a year ago, so the system was certainly under enormous pressure.

‘Survey results show a lot of people were diverted away from A&E, but there is absolutely the case for constantly seeking to improve it.’

Professor Keith Willet, of NHS England, last week said 111 was delivering a ‘high quality, robust and safe service’.

“NHS – issues, issues and issues!!”

Cohen.T. Daily Mail 14-01-2015. p. 2