Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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NHS in Colchester put government targets before treatment for cancer patients

Colchester Hospital altered cancer patient records

Colchester Hospital altered cancer patient records

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse – it does. And this time, the police have been, rightly, called in.

Medics and managers at Colchester General Hospital in Essex doctored patient records about when they received cancer treatment to meet arbitrary Whitehall government targets. Patients were left waiting longer than the government target for treatment but the hospital altered their record to say they had been seen by a specialist earlier than they had been. People may have died as a result of delayed treatment. Inspectors found that out of 61 records viewed, 22 had been altered. The Care Quality Commission found the deliberate altering of records showed people had been “placed at risk of receiving care that was unsafe or not effective, due to delays in receiving appointments or treatment”.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the newly appointed chief inspector of hospitals, has moved to recommend the hospital should be put into special measures whilst Essex Police investigate if doctors, nurses and managers have committed a criminal offence. If you caused harm to someone in the street, you’d be in the back of police van before you could say “I want to see my brief” but if the “wonderful” NHS kills patients, which it did in the thousands at Stafford Hospital between 2005-2008, it’s a different matter. We even have the man who was in charge of the NHS killing machine when it was in full flow at Stafford, Labour MP Andy Burnham, still denying responsibility and his current job is, sickeningly, Shadow Health Secretary.

Frankly, when news broke yesterday about Colchester Hospital fiddling the cancer treatment waiting times, I wasn’t surprised. When government targets were not imposed prior to 1997 it didn’t help; when the Labour Party imposed hundreds of targets – dropped from Whitehall –  it hasn’t helped either. In fact having top-down targets from Westminster seems to have unleashed the inner evil (and I use that word deliberately) in people. Nurses at Stafford Hospital displayed the behaviour of concentration camp guards rather than caring health professionals, leaving elderly women soiled in their beds and forced to drink water from dirty vases because they were so dehydrated. Oh, let’s recap: has anyone been prosecuted for these barbarous acts? Err, no!

The NHS is fundamentally flawed as an organisation. I can’t understand why when we now know State-run coal mining, State-run airlines, State-run telephone companies are not efficient and do not give a good service to customers must we continue to kid ourselves State-run healthcare is any different. Considering the NHS has the ability to kill or keep alive its ‘consumers’, more focus should be placed on providing a healthcare system which uses the most efficient working model. The State has been proven time and time again as useless at running organisations: how more people need to die before we look around the world for a better system of healthcare, such as in the Netherlands?


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New NHS killing fields uncovered

NHS logo

Let’s stop pussfooting around. Let’s wake up and smell and see the great big elephant in the room: the NHS is not fit for purpose.

The Francis Report found 1,200 patients were killed by doctors and nurses at the behest of top-down management targets set from Whitehall. This sentence sounds like something from Stalin’s Russia or Hitler’s Third Reich. But it happened in Staffordshire, England between 2005 and 2009 at Stafford Hospital.

And now we find Stafford was not a one-off.

Another 13,000 people needlessly died since 2005 at 14 NHS Trusts.

The NHS is not a place of care. It is a slaughter house.

After the Francis Report was published in February, Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a report into “excess deaths” across the entire NHS. Report author Prof Sir Bruce Keogh investigated the 14 hospital trusts with the worst mortality rates over the past two years. The report will be published on Tuesday.

I asked in February how many more have to die before the NHS is broken up and a new form of healthcare, proven abroad, is introduced into one of the richest countries on Earth: the United Kingdom. Is 13,000 enough Jeremy Hunt?

This crime, and it is a crime which the police are investigating in Stafford (clink, clink doctor!), has been allowed to happen because of the perverse thinking of the British public, egged on by all political leaders, that the NHS is the envy of the world, the best healthcare system ever invented by man. Well, if the NHS is the best healthcare there is, I dread to think what the worst is.

The political party that gave birth to the NHS was Labour and frankly it was them who caused these deaths with their top-down target driven culture imposed on the NHS during the final five years of their reign from 2005 to 2010: from the Secretary of State for Health (Andy Burnham, you have blood on your hands) in Whitehall down through the former Strategic Health Authorities and Trusts into the wards and corridors, which at Stafford Hospital and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals resembled killing fields rather than centres of care.

Only 51% of doctors and nurses at Basildon and Thurrock said they would be happy for their friends and relatives to be treated at the Essex hospital.

David Cameron can wipe the smirk off his Eton face. Nothing will have changed in our hospitals in the first three years of his Coalition Government, mainly because the first thing he did when he became Conservative Party leader in 2005 (as elderly women in hospital were drinking from vases because they were so thirsty) was fall prostrate and pay homage at the sacred altar of the NHS. “NHYes”: remember that.

Current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

We are promised a statement from the current Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Let’s hope this time he does better than his boss, Mr Cameron, who when the Francis Report was published, went out of his way not to criticise the Labour ministers who presided over the slaughter between 2005 and 2009. The Health Secretary at the height of the killing in 2009 was one Mr Andy Burnham, who is now the Shadow Secretary State for Health, and has had the audacity to say the 14 NHS Trusts investigated in Sir Bruce’s report have been allowed to “deteriorate significantly” since the Coalition came to power in 2010. Hold on, what about the thousands of deaths on your watch in 2009 Mr Burnham? I suggest you get your own house in order and legal case before looking to deflect blame elsewhere.

Now is the time to point the finger at who is to blame for this catastrophe: the Labour Party, Patricia Hewitt (Health Secretary 2005-2007), Alan Johnson (Health Secretary 2007-2009), Andy Burnham (2009-2010), Sir David Nicholson (Chief Executive of NHS England and Head of Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust during the slaughter at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009), the doctors and nurses at whose hands the patients needlessly died and all other politicians who say how “wonderful” the NHS is, including Prime Minister David Cameron.

The time even for debate about the NHS, which has never been able to take place, shut down by politicians of all sides in case our “wonderful” doctors and nurses are offended by pointing out they are killing patients, has now passed. The NHS is entirely unfit for purpose. We learn today that more soldiers have killed themselves back in the UK than have been killed in total by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The woeful lack of care for our veterans is summed up by reports it is taking a year and a half for a former soldier to see a psychiatrist in the NHS. That’s not a service, that’s an insult to the taxpayer and a system which is killing in our hospitals, on the bridges and the paracetamol poisonings up and down the land.

It’s time to bring the killer to book and for the NHS to be broken up with a Netherlands-style healthcare system put in its place.