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Private Eye

January 8, 2017

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1434
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 5:51 pm

Easy GPEasy

In 2016, the government made it abundantly clear that it was not going to match demand for health and social care services with income tax. Services will have to somehow survive with a decade of flat-line funding (in the NHS) and huge cuts (in social care) while demand grows 4-6% year on year. The lame hope is that moderately un-progressive council tax rises and selling family homes will save social care, and that the NHS can plug a multi-billion underfund by making eye-watering efficiency savings without killing too many people on the way. Private companies and charities are now being encouraged to fund health and social care services in the form of ‘social investments.’ The NHS is also being ‘incentivised’ to generate income by expanding the private services it offers, ‘partnering’ and ‘innovating’ with the private sector and selling its services abroad. Likewise private companies can take over or partner with existing NHS services in ‘a truly mixed market where patients are blind to the provider.’ Labour started the commercialisation of the NHS, and VirginCare may well finish it.

The Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) that are to be rolled out across England have the smell of untested

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December 20, 2016

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1433 (Updated)
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 7:22 pm

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 2

The Eye received many supportive letters for stating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME has biological causes but also some criticisms. As one doctor put it: ‘Every illness had a physical, psychological and social component, and limiting diagnosis or treatment to only one aspect of someone’s illness is likely to lead to a much poorer outcome. This ‘triple diagnosis’ applies to any disorder you care to consider, although obviously in varying proportions. The one exception seems to be CFS/ME where any suggestion that there might be a psychological or social component leads to criticism. That Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the only treatment which has repeatedly been shown to have any benefit is conveniently ignored.’

ME campaigners don’t ignore the fact that CBT and Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) have been shown to work in randomised controlled trials and are endorsed by lofty scientific institutions such as the Cochrane Collaboration and NICE, but they do challenge the science. The PACE trial, which compared four non-drug treatments for CFS/ME, has caused particular controversy and activists have had to fight to gain access to some of the data which they are reanalysing to determine if claims about the efficacy of GET and

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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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