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June 28, 2018

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1467 March 2, 2018
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 3:06 pm

Fat Kids, Fat Profits

In 1946, poor children in the UK were on average 2kg lighter than rich children at the age of 11. Today, they are 2 kg heavier, according to an analysis in The Lancet Public Health. Then and now, poorer people struggle to eat sufficient nutritious food. But now they eat an excess of cheap, sugary, salty highly-processed crap, triggering an obesity epidemic that has become the commonest cause of preventable disease and premature death, and is bringing every health service to its knees. Nearly a third of UK children aged two to 15 are overweight or obese and younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer. So who’s to blame?

The strategy for the last 40 years has been ‘to encourage individuals to make healthy choices’ whilst giving them the wrong information and allowing the food industry to run riot. But simply blaming the food industry is too simplistic. Egged on by the pharmaceutical industry, doctors have for decades focused on the aggressive lowering of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol to reduce heart disease risk by cutting out saturated fats in the diet and prescribing statins. This in turn encouraged the food

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1466 February 16, 2018
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 3:03 pm

Safety First?

The 2018 World Patient Safety, Science and Technology Summit at the ‘stunning’ 8 Northumberland Avenue in London ‘was organized with the support of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP’. Prices were $1000 for hospitals, healthcare organizations and committed partners that have made a formal pledge of allegiance to the Patient Safety Movement Foundation (PSMF). For ‘first time’ attendees who were ready to commit it was also $1000. For medical technology, medical product and pharmaceutical companies that have not formally affiliated with the PSMF, the price rose to $5000. The highlight of the conference is the PSMF Humanitarian Award which each year goes to the ‘patient safety leader who has made significant progress in eliminating preventable patient deaths so that we can reach our shared goal of zero by 2020.’ Step forward Jeremy Hunt, without whose support the conference would not have been possible.

Given the large number of preventable patient deaths and widespread avoidable suffering in the NHS due to insufficient capacity, unsafe staffing levels and widespread cancellations of routine care, this would seem a bold choice. True, MD would far rather have a health secretary who is

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1464 February 2, 2018
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 2:58 pm

Shoot the Junior Doctor

The government’s 2015 manifesto commitment that the NHS ‘will offer you the safest and most compassionate care in the world’ has looked terminal since the winter crisis (Eyes passim) but may now have been killed off forever after the striking off by the GMC of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has questioned the GMC over the decision, but he too must act urgently to legislate for mandatory safe staffing and skill mix, time-limited shifts and compulsory breaks for acute and emergency NHS care – even if routine care has to be postponed as a result. A plane would be grounded without the right staff to fly it and a safe number of passengers on board. But every day in the NHS patients die because of staffing gaps and a lack of beds to cope with the demand.

Hunt talks a lot about ‘zero avoidable harm’ in the NHS and – just last week – ‘zero in-patient suicides’ but his track record on the essential safe staffing to support this is poor. The NHS provides widespread exceptional care but its recurrent weakness is that it has had, for decades, far fewer staff and beds

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January 30, 2018

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1463 January 19, 2018
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 6:11 pm

Constitutional Crisis


Jeremy Hunt doesn’t want to be remembered as the health secretary who presided over the worst NHS performance figures on record. As doctors were gathering evidence of patients dying while waiting for emergency care, Hunt was refusing a reshuffle and grabbing extra responsibility for social care. Theresa May knows that NHS and social care services aren’t going to find the staff and beds they need to recover anytime soon. More than 33,000 nurses gave up working in the English NHS last year, a rise of 20% since 2012-13. Over 10% of the nursing workforce have left the NHS in each of the past three years. There are now more leavers than joiners. Hunt remains a convenient lightning rod for the anger that was supposed to be directed at NHS England CEO Simon Stevens.


In November, Stevens was warned by May that he would be held ‘personally responsible’ if the NHS went tits up over winter, but Stevens’ very public protestations that the NHS urgently needed an extra £4 billion this year gave him a convenient get out when the chancellor only gave £1.6 billion. Hunt has used the word ‘unacceptable’ for NHS failings under his 6-year

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1462 January 5, 2018
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 6:09 pm

Poor Care

January is always a good time to dust off the 2015 Tory manifesto promise; ‘We will offer you the safest and most compassionate care in the world.’ NHS England is pretending we are ‘coping well with planned-for winter pressures’ but patients stranded at the back of a corridor trolley queue or staff on their knees with exhaustion might beg to differ. The same excuse as last year – ‘a spike in respiratory infections’ – is being wheeled out but the NHS has not been able to cope safely with all the extra demands placed on it since annual funding increases were reduced to a trickle in 2010.


Such crises were common in the nineties until Labour decided to temporarily match the EU average for health funding, the one political intervention that dramatically reduced waiting times for emergencies and non-emergencies alike. Now we’re returning to the days when elective operations are routinely shut down over winter. 15,000 beds have been cut from the NHS in England since 2010, £6 billion has been cut from the social care budget and there are 100,000 NHS and social care staff vacancies. Between 2003 and 2015 the population of England increased by

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