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Private Eye

December 20, 2016

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1432 (Updated)
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 7:18 pm

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 1

MD’s greatest regret as a junior doctor was not to take the time to understand ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy). As a result, MD was infected with the same prejudices as many of his peers, namely that ME isn’t a biological illness and that it predominantly affects middle class patients (‘Yuppie flu’). Both beliefs are entirely wrong, and I apologise unreservedly for them. They have caused huge distress and damage to those with ME. Medicine has particularly failed those with severe ME, many of whom have lived for decades with a very disabling disease and the enduring falsehood that it’s ‘all in the mind’ or due to ‘faulty beliefs’. Psychological illness can be as distressing and real as any physical illness, and often the two occur together. But ample evidence exits of biological abnormalities in patients with ME, though we are some way off having a definitive pathological test and effective drug treatments.

ME is often used synonymously with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), but the illness is far more than fatigue. MD’s view – working in an NHS clinic for young people with chronic fatigue – is that ‘CFS/ME’ is a cluster of disorders which centre not

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November 16, 2016

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1431
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 8:59 am

NHS Underspending Part 94

The current row between the Health Select Committee and the government about how much is spent on health in England is nothing new, and neither is the lie that it will increase by £10 billion in this spending round. Health spending is roughly equivalent to the Department of Health’s budget, which was £116.5 billion in 2015/16. It will rise to £121 billion by 2020/21, and increase of £4.5 billion after inflation.  Within this budget, the government currently gives just over £101 billion to NHS England, (NHSE) which oversees the vast majority of health pending. The NHSE budget is set to rise by about £7.5 billion by 2020/21.  This means there has been a £3 billion cut in other health spending outside NHSE, on services such as public health, education and training. The bulk of the transfer to NHSE is happening in the first few years of the parliament, so funding may actually decrease after 2018.

And it gets worse. The rise in NHS costs every year, for things like drugs and staff pay, also tends to be higher that inflation generally, and the extra import costs due to the falling pound post Brexit will make another

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1430
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 8:58 am

Clear as Day

Now that health secretary Jeremy Hunt has ‘won’ his battle to impose a new contract on junior doctors that they believe cannot be safely staffed, it is vital that junior doctors have robust whistle-blower protection so they can raise concerns about patient safety without fear of reprisal. Under the umbrella of their union, the BMA, junior doctors felt safe to speak up en masse, but now the BMA is in retreat, it will be left to brave individual doctors to fight their corner on behalf of patients.

Undoubtedly one of the bravest is Dr Chris Day, who unearthed the scandal that 54,000 NHS doctors in training appear not to have any whistleblowing protection if they dare to speak up and are punished as a result. In 2014, Dr Day was working on the Intensive Care Unit at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Woolwich which at night routinely did not adhere to national staffing levels as defined in ICU Core Standards, putting patients at risk and placing huge stresses on the competent and dedicated staff. The Trust has accepted that a protected disclosure about safety and staffing was made to it on the night of 10 January 2014, but

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1427
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 8:55 am

Command and Control

As the son of a Royal Naval commander, Jeremy Hunt was never going to be shy about commanding the NHS. In four years, he has become possibly the most controlling health secretary the NHS has endured. He picked and ‘won’ an entirely avoidably battle with junior doctors by persistently threatening to impose a new contract on them and then arguing in court that imposition was never his intention. The new contract is not being imposed, it is merely the only one being offered. In his conference speech, he pleaded with junior doctors ‘let’s not argue about statistics’ – or rather, who needs science when you can force changes through with ideology? Hunt has at least noted that Britain has fewer doctors per head of the population than 23 of its European neighbours, with gaps in rotas a persistent safety concern. Hunt’s antics may have driven some doctors out of the NHS, so now he is commanding his way out of trouble.

Hunt’s conference announcement to increase the number of doctors in training by ‘up to 1500 a year by 2018’ is welcome, but he didn’t say how it will be funded. The first batch won’t graduate until

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1426
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 8:53 am

Justice for Health

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has only himself to blame for last week’s High Court challenge from the crowd-funded campaign group Justice for Health. When Hunt declared repeatedly, in Parliament and in public, that he would impose a new job contract on all junior doctors if the majority rejected it, it became vital to ascertain whether he had acted lawfully and has the legal power to impose. His rationale for imposition – based on flawed interpretation of mortality data to support an ill-defined, unplanned, uncosted and unstaffed ‘truly 7 day NHS’ manifesto pledge also deserved legal scrutiny

In two days, five junior doctors and their legal team caused more embarrassment for Hunt than the BMA managed in three years. Hunt was represented by his human shield, Department of Health director general Charlie Massey, who appeared as ill-informed as he was in his disastrous public accounts committee outing (Eye last). Massey claimed staff rota gaps are ‘not a problem’ in the NHS. And yet a timely report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has found that 7 out of 10 doctors in training reported working on a rota with a permanent gap, and 96% reported gaps in nursing

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