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Private Eye

November 29, 2018

Medicine Balls, Private Eye Issue 1483, 16 November 2018
Filed under: #VoteDrPhil,Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 1:12 pm

Prevention Not Always Better than Cure, Mr Hancock


Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has jumped aboard the prevention bandwagon, telling the International Association of National Public Health Institutes ‘If there’s one thing that everybody knows it’s: ‘prevention is better than cure’’. Sadly it isn’t. Prevention, like any intervention, can have side effects that outweigh the benefits as his predecessor Jeremy Hunt found. After meetings with drug companies researching dementia, Hunt decided that GPs needed to pick up dementia earlier, to prevent it getting worse, so he offered them £55 per new diagnosis via screening. The trouble is, the screening tests are often wrong.  Take 100 people over 65, and 6 will have dementia. Screening will miss 2 of them. Even worse, 23 will have a false positive result. Only when the press found people were panicking, selling up and moving into care homes when they thought they had dementia, only to find they had mild cognitive impairment, did Hunt and NHS England ditch the bribe (Eye ..).


There are three types of prevention. Primary, which aims to stop a  disease occurring at all (e.g. healthy living, vaccination).  Secondary, which aims to control a disease in an

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Medicine Balls, Private Eye Issue 1482, 02 November 2018
Filed under: #VoteDrPhil,Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 1:09 pm


Dr Chris Day part 94

In a perfect NHS, we wouldn’t need whistle-blowers. Managers would thank staff for raising concerns and act swiftly to prevent avoidable harm to patients, as happens in many hospitals. But not all. If managers refuse to act and staff refuse to shut up, a protracted legal dispute is inevitable, with the odds stacked heavily against the whistle-blower. In Dr Chris Day’s four year legal struggle against Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and Health Education England (HEE), he at least secured the badge of honour of a ‘good faith’ whistle-blower and managed to extract £55,000 in costs from HEE because of its earlier flawed conduct. Day and his legal team also exposed and then closed a loophole in the law that had previously excluded 54,000 junior doctors from any statutory whistleblowing protection (Eyes passim). But Dr Day found, as many others have, that such protection is very flimsy. After suffering six days of cross-examination by two tax-funded QCs, Dr Day decided not to risk financial ruin like Ed Jesudason (Eyes passim) and agreed to drop his claim. In return, Dr Day will not be pursued for eye-watering costs. In a fantastical joint statement, the two

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Medicine Balls, Private Eye Issue 1480, 5 October 2018
Filed under: #VoteDrPhil,Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 1:06 pm

Goodbye Hunt, Hello Hancock


Ultimately, a health secretary can only be judged by whether the health service and health of the nation was better on leaving office than entering it. On both these counts Jeremy Hunt – in post for nearly six years – does not fare well. Getting access to the NHS, and the times spent waiting for treatment,  deteriorated across the board from emergency departments to cancer care, with over 4 million on a waiting list. The gap in life expectancy, and years lived in good health, between rich and poor is as large as ever, and steady improvements in life expectancy flatlined between 2015-2017, and remain lower than in many other comparable countries.  Most alarming,  the number of babies dying within a year of being born is on the rise, from 2.6 neonatal deaths per 1,000 births in 2015 to 2.7 for every 1,000 births in 2016. The likely causes are smoking among mothers, maternal obesity, poverty, cuts to public health programs and the England-wide shortage of midwives.


Clearly not all of this was Hunt’s fault, but it seems odd such widespread failure was deemed worthy of promotion to foreign secretary. Hunt’s tenure was blighted

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September 23, 2018

Medicine Balls, Private Eye Issue 1479, 21 September 2018
Filed under: #health4all,Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 9:07 am

Suicide Isn’t Painless

September 10, in case you missed it, was World Suicide Prevention Day. Each year 6,000 people in the UK, and 800,000 worldwide, take their lives so there is clearly plenty of prevention to be done. Each suicide has a profound effect on those it leaves behind, with around forty people severely affected, and more following celebrity deaths. A study which examined news reports covering the suicide of Robin Williams identified a 10% increase in people taking their lives in the months following his death. This places a lot of pressure on the media as to how they report suicide.

My father, a wonderful warm and witty academic chemist, took his life when I was seven and my brother was nine. It was not easy or painless. He used a deeply unpleasant and painful method for reasons I can never know. My mother thought he’d had a heart attack and told us that. When the truth emerged at a post-mortem, we were shielded from it for 30 years. As a result, a young ‘MD’ worried a little about his heart but not about his mind. I made it through medical school, the junior doctor years and as far

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September 18, 2018

Medicine Balls, Private Eye Issue 1478, 7 September 2018
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 7:35 am

Court Unawares

One key lesson from the wrongful erasure of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba is that lawyers are even more prone than  doctors to draw wildly contradictory conclusions based on the same evidence. In a rare show on unanimity, the Appeal Court judges Ian Burnett, Terence Etherton and Anne Rafferty, agreed that Lord Justice Ouseley and the GMC legal team lead by Ivan Hare QC had reached entirely the wrong conclusions and hence verdict in the High Court on January 28. The GMC should never have challenged the decision to suspend and retrain Dr Bawa-Garba made by its own Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, as she was a conscientious doctor who was no more a risk to patients than any other conscientious doctor. Why Lord Justic Ouseley wasn’t able to deduce this is something of a mystery.

Since January, the GMC has been busily doing the rounds trying to blame its draconian pursuit of Bawa-Garba on its legal advice. As retiring chair Sir Terence Stephenson put it; ‘If you take external advice from the QC, and they say the tribunal has erred in law, and if you then don’t appeal, you’re setting a precedent. In that sense you have no choice, because

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