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Private Eye

October 24, 2017

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1456 October 20, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 2:09 pm

The NHS, then and now

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was up to his usual cherry-picking tricks at the Tory conference, claiming that the brains behind the NHS was not Nye Bevan, but Conservative health minister Sir Henry Willink and his 1944 white paper. In fact, the idea for a state health service is usually credited to the social researcher and poverty campaigner Beatrice Webb in 1909. Lloyd George introduced state organised health insurance in 1911, but for workers only. Lord Dawson, President of the Royal College of Physicians, reported in 1920 that ‘the best means of maintaining health and curing disease should be made available to all citizens’ and it was William Beveridge who first proposed ‘cradle to grave care’ in his 1942 report. Willink’s contribution was important – garnering cross party support for a consensus that ‘everybody irrespective of means, age, sex or occupation shall have equal opportunity to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and Allied services available. The service should be comprehensive and free of charge and should promote good health rather than only the treatment of bad.’ But it was Bevan who fought the vested interests and made it happen in 1948. The Conservatives

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1455 October 6, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 2:04 pm

Babylon or Bust

Perhaps the biggest crisis facing the NHS is the shortage of GPs. In 2016, 92 practices closed (including 34 mergers), and many patients now have to wait three weeks for a routine appointment. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised 5000 more GPs by 2020, but in the 3 months to December 2016, there was a drop in full time GP numbers of 445. Numbers of GPs in training were up by just 147 in 2016. NHS England is now desperately trying to import GPs from countries that need them even more than we do, and train 1000 physician associates – who are currently unregulated – to take on GP work. Hunt’s other big hope is to use technology to take the pressure off GP practices.

Telephone triage, where all patients are screened on the phone by GPs to determine if they need a face to face consultation should – according to NHS England –  result in 20 per cent less A&E usage and cost savings of £100,000 per practice. However, when the scheme was tested in a proper trial published in the BMJ, it found that almost half of the patients who had a phone conversation still had

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1453 September 22, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 2:00 pm

Winter is Coming

Does the NHS have enough beds to cope with the pressures of winter? Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England says the NHS has ‘six to eight weeks to prepare’ and that the flu season could be bad given the H3 strain outbreaks in the antipodes that are heading our way. Simon says there are up to 3,000 NHS beds that could be freed if social care had the capacity to take patients that no longer need to be in hospital (so-called Delayed Transfers of Care DTOC). And yet NHS Improvement has warned that £1 billion extra investment in social care has failed to reduce DTOCs, and council leaders have written to Jeremy Hunt to say their DTOC targets are ‘undeliverable’.

This seasonal crisis comes on top of the everyday crisis of finding beds for patients in the NHS. The 2014 OECD league tables show that the UK, at 2.8 beds per 1000 people, has amongst the lowest for the number of hospital beds relative to population size, with England pretty much at the bottom. In the last decade, more than one quarter of hospital beds have been closed, with 37,000 fewer general and acute beds

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1452 September 8, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 1:56 pm

Hunt v Hawking

Why did health secretary Jeremy Hunt choose to have a public spat with Professor Stephen Hawking about statistical analysis and the future of the NHS? Accusing Hawking of spreading ‘pernicious falsehoods’ was a high-risk strategy, but Hunt has an ego, is proud of his record as health secretary and took the bait. Hawking suggested the NHS is heading towards a US-style insurance system, run by private companies, citing the increasing involvement of the private sector in the NHS as evidence for this. Hunt argued the government has no plans to introduce an insurance system and the private sector currently takes only 7.7% of the NHS budget. But as former Tory prime minister John Major during the Brexit debate; ‘Michael Gove wanted to privatise the NHS, Boris Johnson wished to charge people for health services and Ian Duncan Smith advocated moving to a social insurance system. The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python.’

In 2005, Hunt co-authored a policy pamphlet with Gove, Douglas Carswell and others which proposed a universal insurance system for the NHS and stated; ‘Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1451 August 25, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 1:53 pm

Chris Day, Round 3

In 2014, Dr Chris Day was a junior doctor working on the Intensive Care Unit at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Woolwich, which at night routinely did not adhere to national staffing levels, putting patients at risk and placing huge stresses on the competent and dedicated staff. Day made a protected disclosure detailing these concerns on the night of 10 January 2014, but the Trust and Health Education (HEE) decided not to act on them, terminating his contract with what Day believes were false allegations and stalling his progress to consultant. HEE is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department of Health, which – with local Deaneries – recruits doctors in training, supplying them to various Trusts, monitoring and appraising them. Like many whistleblowers, Day was forced down an employment tribunal route. His legal team argued that HEE should be held accountable for any detriment he has suffered under employment and whistleblowing law. HEE contended that “even if the facts alleged by Dr Day were true, HEE could not be liable in law for any acts causing him detriment.” In taking the case to court in 2015, Day discovered that the government was arguing 54,000

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