Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2013

A deep malaise at the heart of the NHS

Readers of this blog will know that I have been very unwell. I have already recounted some of my experiences as an NHS patient. I am slowly recovering and I have had several days now free from pain. In my journey through hospital and after care I found plenty of examples of compassionate and caring medical practice, but caring can break down if stretched to limits through insufficient resources.

This much I found in the care of the district nurses. One night when I was in severe pain I called to get attention. They were very busy covering a whole county but would try to get to me later. They kept me informed as the night progressed and in the early hours of the morning called to say they would be with me soon. Two nurses arrived. They had worked solidly through the night. Nevertheless they came with smiles and comfort. Sadly they couldn't do much to help me. It struck me how little information they had about my history. I was barely on their radar, and they had not the authority t…

Charity investing in talented scientists to boost hearing research in the UK

Action on Hearing Loss has launched a new initiative to support the early careers of scientists working towards new treatments and cures for hearing loss and tinnitus. This follows the merger with Deafness Research UK.

The new Pauline Ashley Awards are now open to applications from research scientists in the UK aiming to further their careers in hearing loss research. The research grants have been established in memory of Lady Ashley of Stoke who co-founded Deafness Research UK along with her husband Lord Ashley of Stoke.

Scientists from across the country can apply for funding to support research projects that will generate data to strengthen future applications for long term funding from national funding agencies.

Caroline Ashley, daughter of Lady Ashley said: ‘My Dad, Jack Ashley, described hearing loss as being like a bird, suddenly shuttered into a glass cage. He could watch the busy world go by, cut-off from its conversations and cadence. The family, and particularly my Mum, Paul…

The UK is failing our most vulnerable children, says new BMA report

Poverty is one of the main reasons that the UK continues to underperform on child wellbeing and recent changes to welfare policy could set the country back even further, says a major new BMA report, Growing Up In The UK, released today (16/5/2013).

Growing Up In The UK is an update of the BMA’s 1999 report on children’s health and brings together the latest global research.

Although the BMA acknowledges that progress has been made since 1999, it is concerned that some government policies (for example cuts to welfare benefits and social care) could reverse these improvements by hitting the most vulnerable hardest, which would exacerbate child poverty and widen social inequalities. The report highlights research from Action for Children, The Children’s Society and the NSPCC which finds that changes to the tax and benefits system will have a negative impact on vulnerable households.

The BMA report highlights that the UK has moved up UNICEF’s league ratings - it came bottom in the 2007 tab…

Labour must speak up for the poor

Labour must speak up for the poor. It would be easy not to. There aren't that many votes in doing so. The government have been allowed to 'win' the war on benefits. The recent study by the Rowntree Foundation shows that more people are inclined to blame individuals for their  poverty than to consider societal problems as the cause.

Two-thirds (66%) of the public, for example, are willing to believe that child poverty relates to the characteristics and behaviour of parents, compared to the 28% who say it is the result of broader social issues.

Even among Labour supporters there is an increasing view that welfare recipients are undeserving (from 21% in 1987 to 31% in 2011) and that the welfare state encourages dependency – 46% say if benefits were not as generous, people would learn to stand on their own feet, up from 16% in 1987.

Harold Wilson once said that the Labour movement is a crusade or it is nothing. We need that sense of crusade. Poverty in Britain is increasing. T…

Towards a new socialist Labour creed?

Socialism is a word rarely heard these days from the lexicon of Labour politics. But does it still have relevance, and should Labour rethink the contribution socialist ideas have to make to modern social and economic problems? I am not 'a socialist', but I do think that where problems are clearly social then there needs to be social solutions. The mistake of  New Labour was to buy too fully into the monetarist, 'free market' perspective of the right. It is a perspective that in the end failed. It was unsustainable. We need new perspectives. Not perspectives that fight old battles, but ones that address new problems. We must start by understanding that society is not simply an aggregate of self motivated or selfish individuals. When Mr Cameron, in opposition, started talking about 'broken communities' it looked for a short time at least that he had understood this. There is such a thing as society and it matters. Sadly, this new social Toryism lasted all but a f…

Warsi's appalling response to tragedy

Here we go again. The government misunderstanding the concept of 'fairness', or at least a government minister justifying a cruel policy on the grounds of fairness. This time it is Baroness Warsi in response the sad news story of a grandmother committing suicide because of the impact of the government's 'bedroom tax'. The lady had to pay an extra £20 per week in rent to remain in the home she had lived in for 18 years, and in which as a single mother she had raised her children. It was money she simply didn't have.   Baroness Warsi saw fit to put this tragic consequence of government policy in the context of 'fairness'. It has nothing to do with fairness.

I have explained in a previous article why this concept of 'fairness' is flawed. It is based on the false premise that treating everyone the same regardless of circumstances is fair. It isn't. Quite the opposite. It is very unfair indeed. Justifying suffering or cruelty on the grounds that …

NHS hospital mistake - confusion

Some of my regular readers will have realised I have not been able to post much recently because I am unwell. I published an article last week about my experience in hospital refuting the absence of compassion in the NHS. I experienced a great deal of compassionate treatment. But I also saw at first hand some of the problems patients experience in hospital.

One of these was the number of different members of staff coming  in an out of the ward. To say the least it leaves a patient very confused about what they are doing and, more importantly what their position and functions are. You got to recognise a 'doctor' by the fact that they were the ones who didn't wear a uniform. In fact they were rather shoddily attired for the most part. It isn't that they don't introduce themselves, it is simply that a patient, certainly I and others on the ward, can't remember. On my ward it became a joke between us and the staff. They would ask us if we could remember, and few of…

Disappointment at omissions of public health legislation in Queen’s Speech

The government U-turn on their pledge to deal with tobacco and alcohol harm and the absence of any health agenda in the Queen's speech received strong criticism today from leading health groups including  the British Medical Association.
BMA Chair of Council, Dr Mark Porter, said he was “bitterly disappointed” that standardised packaging for tobacco and the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol were omitted from the Queen’s Speech today (8/5/13), and he urged the government not to shy away from introducing policies that have the potential to save thousands of lives.

He added:

“If the government U-turns on its pledge to deal with alcohol and tobacco related harm, we will have to question its commitment to protecting the nation’s health.

“The evidence shows that standardised packaging helps smokers quit and prevents young people taking up the habit and facing a lifetime of addiction. I am bitterly disappointed that the government has bowed to pressure from the tobacco ind…

No absence of compassion in the NHS

A week ago I was taken seriously ill. I was in excruciating pain. I had been ill all day. I had been in pain all day but fighting it because I had work to do. I was performing in the afternoon with the Oxford Trobadors. By the time I got home that evening I realised this pain was not going to go away. I could not sleep. I could not sit. I could not find comfort. I paced up and down feeling nauseous and dizzy. I knew I was in trouble. This was serious. I knew also that I had for so long ignored the early signs. At 5 am I couldn't stand the pain any longer. We called an ambulance.

The ambulance arrived it seemed within seconds and soon I was being driven at speed to hospital. The paramedics were wonderful, skilful and with compassion they reassured me. My blood pressure was very high, but my ECG looked normal. My daughter followed behind in her car. The ambulance crew told me she was with us, calming and reassuring.

There is something surreal about a ride in an ambulance it is as if…