Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

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NHS complacency has killed people and continues to harm

Thousands needlessly died but NHS won't learn

Thousands needlessly died but NHS won’t learn

My wife has been unwell for three weeks now, stricken  by a bad case of the flu and followed up by a throat infection.

One of the doctors, who my wife has never seen before, that congregate in our super-clinic, which was once called a GP surgery, saw her on Thursday and provided some antibiotics. Sounds all well and good until you scratch below the surface.

Firstly, they were the wrong type of antibiotic for throat infections and secondly the dosage was far too small (ironic when you read on below).

So we called the out-of-hours GP service, contracted out to Harmoni* on Saturday morning. We were instructed to go up to Ipswich Hospital to see the doctor. We were seen by a GP who lolled around the clinic like a petulant teenager, not making eye contact, and making it patently clear they wished they were tucked up at home with boyfriend and some Bollinger rather than doing her job.

This contemptuous attitude was just the start of our NHS “experience”. The GP made my wife feel it was her problem the super-clinic GP had prescribed the wrong medication on Thursday and then when my wife told the doctor she was allergic to penicillin, the doctor thought it wise to interrogate her as to “what actually happens when you take penicillin?”. Err, not a lot of good happens, doctor!

And then the NHS really showed their incompetence when they prescribed my wife one hundred antibiotics to last a whopping 25 days course. This was clearly an error by the doctor, which if my wife hadn’t spotted it, could have led to over dosage and significant harm. The pharmacist was shocked but only after my wife did a 180 about turn when she realised what she had just been dispensed. People of my generation question authority but an elderly pensioner is likely to think “if doctor says so, it must be right” and would have proceeded to swallow 100 antibiotics over a month rather than the much smaller does over usually one week, potentially leading to significant harm.

No wonder many antibiotics are now resistant to bacteria when you have incompetent doctors like the stroppy girl on Saturday making out the prescriptions.

I complained – naturally – via Twitter and although Ipswich Hospital is not responsible for the work of Harmoni I included them in my tweet, as we were on Ipswich Hospital property during our visit to the out-of-hours doctor. And I believe Ipswich Hospital have a responsibility as a core member of the NHS.

To be fair to Dr David Hartin, the Emergency Care Lead Clinician Lead and Twitterer-in-Chief at Ipswich Hospital, he showed compassion for my wife and directed us to where we could complain about Harmoni’s poor performance. I can’t fault his service but the wider NHS, in my view, is institutionally uncaring (to the point of killing patients) and in vast swathes of the service it is incompetent.

The response by the mainstream political parties to the NHS scandal at Stafford Hospital, where 3,000 patients needlessly died at the hands of nurses and doctors was a disgrace. Sir David Nicholson, who was promoted to head the entire NHS despite being in charge of Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust at the time of the killing fields, is still in post. He even went to Parliament and lied misled MPs when he said Gary Walker, former head of United Lincolnshire NHS Trust, had not identified himself as a whistleblower when he raised patient safety concerns to Nicholson in a 2009 letter to him.

David Cameron refuses to place the spotlight on Andy Burham who was the Labour Health Secretary at the time of the deaths. The culture of “I don’t do blame” has infested itself so much in the public sector and Government that when elderly people are starved to death by NHS nurses, the response from our Prime Minister is akin to “nothing to see here, move along”.

Well, I for one will never bury my head in the sand and will make sure people realise what a dangerous institution the NHS is: it holds a mirror up to the failed Communist regimes of the fallen Soviet Union and is just as flawed. The quicker we break it up and bring in a Netherlands-style health service the better for everyone’s health.

This veneration of the NHS by politicians, hoodwinked members of the public, and even the Archbishop of Canterbury must stop.

UPDATE: A fellow blogger in the Ipswich Spy parish alerted me to this sad story published last year in the Morning Ipswich Star where a blind pensioner from Felixstowe was handed the wrong prescription at a branch of Boots pharmacy. The man subsequently died.

*Harmoni, in Suffolk, took over the out-of-hours GP service from Take Care Now who had the contract removed from them after one of their doctors, who could not speak English, killed a patient in 2008 with a Morphine overdose. Par for the course in the NHS. Just add that fatality on top of the thousands killed at Stafford Hospital (some through starvation) hey, Sir David Nicholson? It’s incredible one gets a knighthood in the UK for slaughtering the patients in your care!

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The UK State has killed thousands of people in recent years

NHS logo

It’s come to writing provocative, if not inaccurate, headlines to try to keep the death scandal in the National Health Service in the public conscience.

I was speaking with a Conservative activist at the weekend and she was relaying how when her father was in hospital he was left lying in his own faeces for hours, that she and her mother had to give him a bed bath (that’s now far too beneath “our wonderful nurses“) and my friend was even forced to find the linen store to fetch a change of bedding and then came back to the ward to change her father’s bed. My friend’s mother was also forced to sleep under her husband’s bed to ensure he was able to get the care he needed.

This happened not in Stafford Hospital – infamous for killing 1,200 people over four years – or even one of the five hospitals where between July 2010 and June 2012 another 3000 people were killed unnecessarily. This happened at Ipswich Hospital.

Although I was shocked to hear my friend’s recollection of the dreadful care her father received at the hands of nurses in the NHS, it didn’t entirely surprise me as the Care Quality Commission wrote a critical report in 2011 on Ipswich Hospital after an unannounced visit. The CQC found the care was so poor at Ipswich it was illegal with patients not being given enough food and water and nurses not treating them in a dignified way.

Sadly, my friend’s father is now deceased at the young age of 60. I am not suggesting the terrible care he received at Ipswich Hospital led to his death but it certainly didn’t help in his treatment.

The most shocking part of these stories from the NHS killing fields is the deafening silence from our mainstream political parties. I can understand Labour not wishing to draw attention to the fact thousands of unnecessary deaths happened on their watch but David Cameron in his statement to the House of Commons last week seemed to be bending over backwards to shield former Labour Health Secretary Andy Burham and also agree with the report’s author Robert Francis QC that their should be ‘no scapegoats’.

What perverse world do with live in that when a massacre takes place in our hospitals our politicians turn the other way and hope it will pass over?  Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson famously remarked that the NHS is the nearest thing in this country to a state religion. Why? Are we really that stupid and uninspirational in this country? Or have Labour politicians cynically tapped into the natural fear people have to be worried what will happen to them or their loved ones if they fall ill? From what we have learnt over the last week, I’d be very worried of ending up in an NHS hospital.

The state religion was cemented when David Cameron and the Cameroons fell over themselves to pay homage at the NHS altar in the incorrect assessment it would win them a General Election. It is Mr Cameron’s campaigning tactics which will lead to even more deaths as no fundamental overhaul of the NHS will take place for at least another decade, especially as Ed Miliband will take the keys to Number 10 in 2015.