Monthly Archives: January 2014

Big Brother is watching – or how NHS is wasting more of our money

NHSLatest from Off-Sick office 

The NHS is busy collecting our data, under a system they call (very trendy and modern, using lower case – ‘they’ think it makes them look up-to-date).  Officially this scheme is to ensure that any medical professional can find out what previous illnesses we have had.

So how does it work? Do you have a store loyalty card?  Well, the NHS data card (or whatever trendy name the NHS is now thinking up) will work the same way.

Whenever you visit your Health Centre, Hospital, GP or any other NHS outlet, your data will be recorded. Then, like a store card, clever little gnomes in computers will madly process data – and when they have finished number-crunching you could find your personal information lying on top of a rubbish heap – or if you are lucky you might be in line for a free tube of toothpase dropping through your letter-box.

Any companies will be able to access this data;  so far the NHS is being very coy about what this will cost them.


The HCSIS (Health and Care Social Information Centre) is yet another ‘Agency’ set up by the inept Dept. Health  (or perhaps the NHS) to waste money with another scheme to interfere with our health care.  Although the Dept. Health is supposed to oversea our healthcare, their press office denies all knowledge of the scheme when I phone to ask;  not surprising, in view of what happens next.

But no-one wants to give out info;  although apparently 45 million leaflets have dropped through our letter boxes.  But like the appointment letters I never seem to receive, I haven’t received this info, so try to find out more.

Finally, after a lot of faffing and fuffing, I look up their website set up to supposedly give us reassuring information (more money wasted?):  see there is an email address for enquiries – so fire off an email. Back shoots an official reply saying this email box is no longer in use.

So more faffing etc. and I get another address – start again and back comes an email with a NUMBER of my Complaint, and a promise to get back to me.

That was Ten days ago.

In the meantime I send three emails to the ‘new’ email asking why they are using a defunct email address on their website.  No answer. But I see it has finally been changed!


In the meantime journalist colleagues, from the Daily Telegraph. Sunday papers etc. all seem dubious about this new data, and what it will be used for.  Apparently we, as the Patients/owners of the information can’t find out what is recorded unless we make an appointment with our GP (they are going to love this) and go in to see them, when we are going to be allowed to check it is all correct (in ten minutes allocated?).

Or we can opt out

We have to do this – can’t just say we don’t want to be included, or allow the NHS to sell our info to Pharmaceutical companies, etc.  my GP’s receptionist has had so many patients phone to complain that she – bless her – sends out a form for us to fill in.

And that is what I have decided to do.  I may be hindering medical science, but when our local hospital doesn’t even have time to access my records, so prescribes medicine that is dangerous for me, I fail to believe that they will have time to access my data from a far-away central post.  I don’t see why drug companies should have the benefit of my data.  And I don’t want my data winging its way around the world to enable a foreign Call Centre to cold call me to sell me something.  So I am opting out.

But why should my GP’s Receptionist have to waste time and money sending out a form for us, one wonders.  And how much is the costing the cash-strapped NHS?

How I lost weight

After Tamoxifen piled on the kilos

Like most fellow cancer patients, I felt pretty glum with extra weight piling on ……..

Until I decided to stop calorie counting.

fruitIn the back of my mind something was niggling, so I decided to ditch ready-meals and ‘Light’ products; and anything that advertised itself as ‘natural’; ‘healthy snack’ or fet-free I looked at very carefully.

Look at the contents list on packaged food, and see how high up sugar or sugar-substitutes are listed;  the higher up the list the more sugar in the product.

Instead I was going to opt for fresh veg, easy-to-prepare meat and egg dishes, and ‘ordinary’ yoghourt. Oh – and I use butter instead of ‘Light’ spreads.

Three months later when a Nurse announced the dreaded “we need to check your weight” – there was something wrong with the scales (so I thought).  I weighed two kilos less than my usual blub.  Next time another couple of kilos had disappeared – until a year after I decided to stop counting, I found I had lost nine kilos. I have no idea if my ‘new’ regime was the foundation, but my skin certainly is clearer, and I am less blobby! All because I had stopped worrying;  no more calorie counting – no ‘reduced fat’ products, etc. Instead, I found I was less hungry;  didn’t constantly want to snack, and was eating less ‘guilty’ products.

So what was I eating?

Organic ‘whole’ milk; butter and olive oil, not spreads, tomato juice instead of Smoothies and orange juice;  no ‘Ready Meals’ – instead I make my own with organic veg and fresh meat.  I don’t often eat Pork or bacon, but do eat free range chicken and fish. Now, I sometimes pick up a ready-prepared meal – read the list of ingredients and hastily thrust it back. Actually reading the list really puts you off!

I don’t often eat ‘fast food’, especially curries and own-brand pizza (which often contain hidden sugar to enhance flavour).   According to the Daily Mail, Tesco’s Thin Crust Hawaiian Pizza contains 4 tsps sugar; Sharwoods Sweet and Sour chicken with rice a massive 5 1/2 tsps sugar.

I avoid yoghourts, cheeses etc. that say they are ‘Light’;  instead I eat a smaller portion of ‘proper’, old-fashioned yoghourt, cheese etc., and not only does this seem to work but it tastes better! But I am well in to dark chocolate – never Milk. But find I don’t grab a snack so often.

And I try and avoid fizzy drinks and ‘sports’ drinks  – many contain lethal amounts of sugar.

And I have lost 9 kilos !


Ways round funding cuts 

It’s no use complaining if you can’t get top quality healthcare.

The NHS is in dire straights, and it depends on local priorities if you get what you are entitled to – Although our proportion of Taxes to pay for the NHS comes out to £2,500+ per taxpayer per year.

Or you may find that “funding has been withdrawn” so there is no money for whatever service you need.

Now, you can write to the Chief Executive of the hospital (they have had to cut budgets so not much help);  your MP (if they belong to the Coalition they daren’t blot their copybook – so you will get more attention from someone in opposition), or just decide to go it alone.

“Off-sick” and all the other big wigs at Dept. Health will shout until they are hoarse that they “listen to patients’ (funny how many of them have private healthcare).  If you can afford to copy them, good luck – but now that my medical insurance has cheerfully told me as I am over five years into remission from cancer, they won’t insure me any more – I am learning to negotiate the minefield that is the modern NHS. Incidentally it horrifies me how much the NHS is wasting treating us;  but it’s only our money, so they gaily dish out OTT prescriptions whenever we need just a few pills.

Private Health Insurance

Oh I do miss this;  one normally consults with the same Consultants that one is treated by on the NHS, but you are treated as though you have a brain.  You see the doctor you are booked to see, not a junior trainee who looks at you and says “I’ve never seen this before”.  And you can make an appointment if you think you need this – no “you are now signed off so you must go back to your GP and book an appointment through them – which will probably be for three months time by the time the merry-go-round comes round.

I met the people behind SIMPLY HEALTH the other day, and was impressed with their understanding of problems we face – not just medical ones, but the problems of finding ‘joined up healthcare’.  Knowing that many private insurers seem to duck out of paying for some treatment, I was impressed that SIMPLY HEALTH has received a ‘Best’ Award from Personal Finance.

They have taken time out to research best practice for some worrying conditions, including a report exposing the truth behind Britain’s musculoskeletal health;  something that impinges on so many people, and which is very much a Cinderella of the NHS.  I was fascinating reading the accompanying booklet, which had the worrying information that those of us who live above the line that goes across the UK above Birmingham should pay particular attention of Vitamin D levels.

0800 980 7895

Private Nursing

I ended up in the Western Eye Hospital, as my Foundation Hospital had run out of slides, couldn’t do tests of my eye ulcer, so sent me there.  As they didn’t know if I was infectious, I had to luxury of a private room – all on the NHS – and superb nursing.  It’s a small hospital, the staff like working there, many have been there for several years, and I benefited.

But, coming home I after 8 days in bed, I didn’t feel too good.  So booked a private nurse to meet me when I arrived home from hospital – and boy, what a luxury.  I had umpteen pills and drops every hour – so she drew up a timetable that was easy to keep to.  Tucked up in bed, she asked what I would like for lunch – and it was beautifully served.  I benefited from individual care from an ex-Sister who had worked for years at one of our best hospitals, and a day of pampering really set me up.  It cost me £200 for a six-hour shift, and was worth every penny.  I was paying top whack, living in London;  your GP or Pharmacist should be able to tell you of reputable agencies locally.