Tag Archives: Polio

What IS happening to taxes – are they going to NHS?

Major Cancer Helpline

exercise cartoon

Advises “Go private”

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Why can’t the NHS use Ethnic background information sensibly

Am I Racist ?

Why doesn’t the NHS use tick-box surveys
for OUR benefit –

 not just meaningless statistics.

When I see someone approach with one of these clipboards, I bury my head in the nearest leaflet

Their questions seem designed to supply meaningless statistics to supply 

admin with meaningless stats to justify expenditure,   NOT to help us.

I have had Polio.  Last weekend I fell off my trike (as one does).

The Triage Nurse in A & E said I would have to wait a long time as they were very busy. Expecting this, I  asked if I could lie down on one of their trolleys – or a bed.  Explained I have had polio, and know I need to lie flat before my back siezes up.

No – “I have assessed you and you don’t need this”.

As my Polio specialist says (a Professor no less), “Polio patients have been living with polio for 50 years and know best what’s needed”.

I had to sit, hunched up, with my back getting more and more painful.

Finally, when it was my turn, I dived onto the cubicle bed and glared at anyone who wanted me to move – but seeing my face they let me be!

Next morning, I was in so much pain I couldn’t move – certainly not to return to A & E.  So phoned the GP’s surgery – and eventually get the out-of-hours locum, who promised a visit.

It wasn’t more than an hour later, when a charming doctor arrived – obviously from a country where polio is rife.  Assessing the situation, his eye-brows were rising higher and higher when I recounted what had happened in A & E, and he almost apologised for his colleagues’ mistakes. Changed my pills, and was full of sensible advice.

Why not make use of our diverse workforce?

Politicians love to spout phrases such as ‘diverse workforce’, ‘ethnic mix’. and all sorts of meaningless mumbo jumbo – to show how Britain welcomes the world t work here.

But none of it means a thing, when you are faced with a condition that could be well treated by doctors who know the disease – if only we could find them.

Several years earlier I had been bitten by a rabid dog whilst working in Slovakia.  Returning to UK I knew I had to start on a vaccination programme within 48 hours of being bitten.  But was told “we don’t have rabies in Britain”.  Finally the Hospital for Tropical Diseases told me they had run out of the drugs.  Luckily a friend phoned Colindale, and someone with a foreign-sounding name took in the situation immmediately, and things started to move like lightning.

Moving populations bring medical problems with them

Aid workers in Romania warned that due to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, we should be careful of TB.  Last year UK had over 7,000 cases.  We love to holiday abroad but there are still people who return with Malaria and other nasties, because we just don’t realise what waits out there (over 200 million cases last year).

So PLEASE Politicians – scrap those PR-correct, time-wasting questions that fill every form we have to fill out these days.

Instead, why not set up a register of doctors who have had experience of,  and understand, those diseases that we thought we never had, but now find WE DO.  We, 111, our GP and anyone else could then use the Internet to find someone with specialist knowledge living near – and I might have saved the NHS money by being treated properly when I ended up in A & E.


NHS WASTING MILLIONS – so tries to blame patients for bad housekeeping

We need to WAKE UP

And challenge the Government’s spending.  desktop

Get a few housewives with guarded purses to manage NHS finances – or, revolutionary idea – bring in a few old-fashioned Matrons. Because behind our backs, secretly, Dept. Health are wasting millions of NHS/OUR money. Whistleblowers (how the Dept. Health hates them) have found So much money is spent by NHS, this could fund three major hospitals. Jeremy Hunt, our Minister of Health, may look relaxed here – but ;oes he care?  Enough to do something?  Not just blame us for missing appointments (Doctors tell me they love these – they can get on with paperwork ………. Continue reading

NHS – DON’T complain , DO something

Free at the Point of delivery – should we


English: NHS logo

English: NHS logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone talking about our health service repeats this tired old mantra.  But there is another saying – YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

Time we took control of NHS funding

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Crisis in NHS data collection?


Fitness to work’ firm wins care.data contract

Do a bad job, and you are awarded more work.

Atos has just been awarded the contract to extract patient records from GP’s surgery information.

The same firm that was handling enquiries into benefit fraud – ‘Fitness to work’  (FTW)

There has been much in media about the way Atos handled enquiries re FTW.  My experience was upsetting.  I have Neuropathy, as a side effect of cancer drugs, mean I can only shuffle – I look as though I am drunk when walking!  So am lucky enough to have a disability allowance that pays for help with heavy jobs around home.  Am phoned by office to ask questions re my benefit payments.

After name, address etc., we get down to basics.  What disabilities do I have?  Which is oldest?


When did you contract that?

In 1956.

“Oh. So you are well over that”.

If the question hadn’t been so stupid, I would have laughed.  However, I felt deeply insulted, as for fifty years I had had to live with consequences, work hard to overcome them and live as normal a life as my condition allowed. Once muscles are affected, you don’t get over consequences.

So I terminated conversation, and told questioner I would only answer questions on my medical condition put by someone who was medically qualified, and wouldn’t insult me.  However, am sure that there are many OAPs who would have been scared to take similar action.

Complaints galore

Currently, the company is seeking “an early release” from its Fitness for Work contract.

And has been ‘awarded’ the contract to extract patient records from GP surgeries under NHS data sharing scheme:  care.data.

Make a hash of one contract, get your payment and go on to next.  Nice work if you can get it.


Hospital Waiting time extends

Forget pain relief – just pop pills


I am in pain – one of my drugs is playing up – and that makes me very stroppy.

Still can’t understand why local  hospital won’t give me an early appointment for the  procedure that relieves the pain.

Instead, this hospital now follows the Communist way of working;  phone for an appointment, and there is now a new recorded announcement that says:

  • For X-rays press 1


  • For today’s appointments press 3,  etc. etc.


Under the Communists

Reminds me of what Ceasescu’s lot did to the peasants in Romania.  There was definitely a very separate private health  sector.  To access this the Nomenclatura pressed the key and got straight through to the paying section for Government funded private care;  plebs waited their turn – and waited and waited.

In this day and age, with fibre optic wires dancing all over the place making communication easier, I can’t understand why the NHS can’t sort themselves out and keep me quiet.

As NHSManager’s Roy Lilley says

“Once upon a time, if I wanted to go on holiday, I would go to the high street, park the car and sit with a youngster called Amanda, who would wax lyrical about a place she’d never been and flog me two grand’s worth of holiday in a hotel that wasn’t built.

It wasn’t long ago that if I wanted to borrow some money I’d have to crawl across the Bank manager’s floor and beg.  In return for the surety of my house, first born and the dog he might lend me a few quid.

I remember the time when, to insure my car, I’d have to find an insurance broker, fill out a book of forms and wait to see if he could ‘place my business’.

Today, I go on line look up a resort, poke around YouTube, look for video, comments, opinions and find my own holiday.  To borrow money I speak to a bloke in Mumbai who drops a loan direct into my bank account.  For insurance I go onto a cost-comparison website and get fixed up in minutes.

There is no part of my life that isn’t made easier and cheaper by technology.  My shopping is picked, packed and delivered, the result of a mouse click.  Tickets need no box-office, books need no bookshop and even the shirts that come from the ether, fit.

I am not unusual, I’m sure you do it, too.  So, how it can be that the NHS cannot use simple technology to enhance people’s lives and recovery without it costing an arm and a leg?

Since Florence was a lad in short trousers the DH has been palavering around with something called the ‘whole system demonstrator’.  In plain English; nearly 6,000 patients and service users have been involved in what is thought to be largest randomised trial of telehealth technologies in the world.

The upshot is (and you might need to sit down with a strong cuppabuilders for this), it emerged at a King’s Fund telehealth conference, using the cost per quality adjusted life year as the baseline calculation and adding in direct costs, it cost in the region of £80,000 per patient.

Eighty grand!  It would be cheaper to put the patient in the Savoy Hotel and ask the district nurse to pop-in three times a day.  NICE – the ‘we-are-not-the-rationing-watchdog’ – use £20k-£30k as their yardstick for a QALY.

The invisible minister, Paul Burstow, said in a speech in March: “The widespread adoption of telehealth and telecare…could save the NHS up to £1.2 billion over five years.”  I have news for him; it’s more likely to cost £1.2bn.

In December the DH published some early trial findings that claimed emergency admissions had been reduced by 20%.  However, the Nuffield’s Jennifer Dixon, who has been looking at the findings, said they were “very disappointing results”.  If a 20% fall is disappointing I’m pleased I don’t have the job of cheering her up.

The problem with all this is the DH won’t release the whole data.  Now it’s all been made even worse by a US analysis that claims Telemed ‘kills the elderly’.  And this one saying it cuts costs by 90%.  This is an industry in disarray.

If expensive boxes of kit have been bought at the wrong price, plugged into expensive broadband in people’s homes and expensive people have been sent to show them how to work it and more expensive kit has been put into GP surgeries where expensive nurses have had to have a look-see, in between the day job, then I guess it will have been expensive.  Duplicate that in a dozen, perhaps 30 surgeries, then you are looking at ‘very expensive’.

On the other hand; if you use tablet apps, G3, linked to regional call centres where incoming data is automatically dropped into an algorithm that throws up an alert for outliers so that a telehealth assistant can initiate the ‘how are you today’ call – then we might be talking ‘save money’.

If a third of outpatient follow-ups and most medicine reviews could be done on the phone we are talking about saving a shed-load of money and the end of a hellava-lot of inconvenience for the patient.  In the US telecare is all-but routine.

There is something very strange about this trial, or the data, or how it’s been done.  Holidays, banks, insurance, shopping, tickets, books and shirts tell Roy his is right.  But it seems the Geeks that set up the NHS IT system live on a different Planet to the rest of us.

And you still have the Nurses at Chelsea and Westminster who don’t read notes – written on computer or with the Consultant’s best fountain pen.

Take time to devise a personalised after-cancer care plan

American Cancer Society

Image via Wikipedia

After Treatment

‘Must-have’ plan to Protect Your Health

We just aren’t used to the idea of devising a care plan for outselves.

Somehow it’s not British, even though Andrew Lansley is throwing out strong hints that he wants us to take more control over our health.

The percentage of people surviving cancer has increased over the past 30 years. That means more and more people are living life beyond cancer – but with cancer as a part of their medical history.

Now, the American Cancer Society has come up with an After Treatment plan, which is worth looking at to ensure that you are going to get the best of attention once you finish cancer treatment.

Currently, for those of you living in Britain, it makes so much sense to have copies of your medical records in your home.  You then have access to these, whatever happens in your local surgery or hospital.

Even if you don’t have a survivor plan, it’s important to gather and keep records of your treatment information soon after it’s completed. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics often shred or burn records after a few years, and you may no longer be able to get them.  The last Government did come up with a Cancer survivorship plan – but of course that seems to have been ‘forgotten’.

In the future, you will need to provide the details of your cancer care –

  • when you visit a new doctor,
  • or if you have a health problem that is affected by your cancer or its treatment.
  • You may need the details for insurance purposes,
  • or to share with relatives facing cancer themselves.
  • Children and grandchildren may want to know if there is any hereditary component to the type of cancer you had.
  • If you go abroad to retire, you will need this to give to your local doctor

To make sure you have all the information you need in one place, it’s a smart idea to keep a detailed record of your cancer treatment. One simple way to do this is to create a survivor care plan.

Survivor Care Plan

A survivor care plan is really a record of your cancer care that can help you monitor and maintain your health long after treatment ends.

Your plan doesn’t need to be complicated; in fact, it can start with a simple pen-and-paper list of information. At its most basic, your plan should include:

  • The date of your diagnosis and the medical name of your cancer, along with a pathology report of any biopsies you had
  • The name of the medical professionals who cared for you, including the doctor who diagnosed you and the doctors in charge of your treatments.  Write them down – its frightening how quickly we forget names
  • The type or types of treatment you received, as well as any potential side effects or long-term risks of that treatment
  • If you had chemotherapy, the dates of your treatments, names and total dosage of the drug
  • If you had radiotherapyation, the dates of your treatments and the total dosage of radiation
  • If you had surgery, the dates of your surgery and the names of the medical professionals who performed the operation
  • Any complications you had from the cancer treatments or surgeries
  • A list of any follow-up visits and the results of any tests conducted during those visits

You may have to go to different sources to get this information, but you should get it soon after treatment ends. Some doctors and hospitals are now helping patients create survivor care plans as they reach the end of cancer treatment. If you’re working with your health care team, your plan may also include:

* Contact information for support groups
* Other support resources
* Tips for living a healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of cancer recurrence or new cancers
* A schedule for screening for recurrences or to look for new cancers
* Information about your legal rights regarding employment and insurance

All of this information may prove valuable in the future, so it’s a good idea to keep your survivor care plan in a safe and accessible place.

Remember, treatment may one day be behind you, but caring about your health will always be a priority. Take time to create a survivor care plan now so you can be the best possible long-term advocate for your health.

I wish I had had a Care Plan

On a personal note, I was one of the millions who had polio many years ago, during the great epidemics.  Once we were discharged from hospital, we and the doctors expected to get on with our lives – we were ‘over’ this, we had come through, and weren’t ever expected to land up with complications.

Of course, the moment I get cancer, unexpected complications rear their ugly heads, and every time I have to have an anaesthetic a good anaesthetist wants to know if I were treated in an iron lung, how much polio affected my breathing, etc.  And I don’t know what to tell them – I don’t even know which of the three types of polio I had, which possibly might have a bearing on my reaction to drugs.

So you never know when you might need medical information – don’t overlook its importance.

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The NHS can deliver a world class service

Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan of a head
Image via Wikipedia

Charing Cross Hospital MRI department shows how

Equipment in an imaging department is mega-expensive – so it seems incredible that UK hospitals can allow machinery to lie idle for  from Friday afternoon until Monday morning.  What is that doing to the balance sheet ?

As a US technician said, “we work our machines 24/7 – we need to get the benefit for the millions we spend”.

So when I needed an MRI scan to find my brain (well, Professor Guiloff phrased it more tactfully) I expected a long, long wait.  But Sue phoned from Charing Cross Hospital, a couple of days later, to ask could I come in Saturday week?  For such a fast turn-around, of course I could.

Imaging departments are havens of peace on a Saturday afternoon, although I expect it would be much busier a few hours later when pubs are in full swing – but this was heaven; clean, spotless and sparkling.  But there was no time to admire the view or read a magazine;  as I came through the door into the MRI section,  Dominic Holleran came out to give me a form to fill in, and we were rolling.

We talked about my polio, and it was lovely to be told “would you like cushions, etc? without having to ask, beg or plead.  When I mentioned it would be more help if I could have two cushions on the table, Amy went off to ‘borrow’ one from another machine without a murmur.   Then I have a Bovine valve in my heart;  off Dominic went to check if this was OK.  When he came back he noticed I had ticked that I suffered from cold, so off he went again to return with an armful of blankets.

All of this was incredible;  normally we post polio people have to explain and explain what we need, and then are left feeling battered and “a nuisance”.  But with Dominic and Amy they bent over backwards to help, and consequently I was on the table far quicker than it normally takes with all the explanations and explanations.  We know what we need.  But it was lovely to be acknowledged as a person, rather than a ‘service user’, and our needs listened to and carried out.

Explanations of the procedure were excellent, and both of them told me what they were doing before they fitted on the bits of equipment.  They even gave me ear plugs, so that ‘noises off were deadened.

The NHS talks of providing a  ‘world class service’.  This time it genuinely was.  Let’s hope that the new Government will be ensuring that this happens all the time, and we don’t have to wait weeks or even months for an MRI scan.  And let  Dominic write the manual on “how to acknowledge patients have got a brain, and listen to what they want and need”.

And it would be interesting to look at Charing Cross’s balance sheet, and see how much extra it is costing with paying staff overtime, against patient satisfaction, and – even more important – the overall cost benefit of maximum utilisation of capital equipment during its lifetime.

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