Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

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Front door to NHS infested with maggots

This is how Danny Boyle portrayed the NHS - the reality is far different

This is how Danny Boyle portrayed the NHS – the reality is far different


This is a true story. The Care Quality Commission (the NHS inspector) visited 1000 doctors surgeries and in one case found the clinic so dirty the treatment rooms were infested with maggots.

At other surgeries, consultation rooms did not have doors, providing no privacy to patients. The usual complaint of not even being able to get an appointment was brought into stark focus when inspectors found patients queuing for hours outside their surgery in Birmingham to book an appointment – some were so prepared for this horrendous “service” they brought their own stool to sit on in the street during the wait to be seen.

The CQC also found some GPs were just not up to the job with some not even able to use basic life saving equipment. Inspectors found that in another West Midlands surgery two doctors had each referred the other to the General Medical Council on grounds of incompetence.

This is a report on the front door to an organisation that costs the British taxpayer £120 billion a year! It comes as no surprise. We’ve all got horror stories to tell about the experience we have had at our GP surgery. I remember a time when you couldn’t get an afternoon appointment if you called in the morning and instead you had to call at 1pm to make the afternoon appointment. This we now know was due to a Labour Government target whereby patients had to receive an appointment within 48 hours. Patients, therefore, were barred from booking an appointment greater than 48 hours in advance so GP surgeries could meet the Government target. My GP surgery in Ipswich went one step further and refused even to book an afternoon appointment during the morning of the same day.  This was also the case for mother Diane Church who famously tackled Tony Blair on the BBC’s Question Time during the 2005 General Election. Blair said he found the interpretation of the target “absurd” and ordered the practice to stop.

But the contempt for patients by doctors continued. They colluded with Labour to take a massive pay rise for doing less work – i.e. refusing to undertake out-of-hours care –  leading to patients being left in pain during the night and in one case a man was killed by a foreign doctor without an adequate grasp of English.

As I’ve said before, the NHS is a flawed institution, which harms rather than helps patients. It, frankly, unnecessarily kills patients by the thousands, as we saw at Stafford Hospital. The NHS removes people’s dignity in their old age as we have seen by the way nurses treat our elderly relatives, left to die to thirst in their own faeces. And now it has been proven GPs hold the same contempt.

Enough is enough. Billions and billions of pounds are being spent on an organisation not fit for purpose. It is a political organisation not a health service and needs to be broken up and privatised. Only then will we stop the pain and suffering it inflicts daily when it is meant to be doing the opposite.

A classic case of the political interference is this quote on the CQC GP surgery inspections by the Tory Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt: “Patients have a right to expect the best care from their GP practice. That’s why we have introduced this new, tougher system of inspection which will root out poor standards and celebrate the best.” (my emphasis).

Why should a Secretary of State be even remotely concerned with “celebrating the best”? A doctor giving a good service to a patient shouldn’t be celebrated. In other parts of the world, it is demanded by default a doctor is good – if they aren’t, they face prosecution. Their very handsome wage is there to say thank you. This encapsulates the political interference which is THE problem. This faux praise – along the lines of how “wonderful” our nurses are – may garner a few votes but it is costing thousands of lives.

I was speaking to a colleague in Belgium the other day and she was recounting her experience of dealing with doctors to treat her cancer. She was able to pick and choose her consultant, her hospital, everything about her care. In the UK, we’d be lucky to even be referred to a specialist by our GP before dropping dead, as has been proven in recent days.

The Envy of the World? What a sick joke.

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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?