Category Archives: National Health Service

Brexit-prompted tube shortage means UK doctors can’t do blood tests

Scheduled blood tests are being cancelled across the UK and doctors are being forced to make hard decisions about what to do if they lose the ability to provide life-saving diagnostic testing due to a Brexit-prompted shortage of blood collection tubes.

Becton Dickinson, the NHS’s main supplier of blood collection tubes, has been blamed for the shortage, with the manufacturer suggesting the post-Brexit HGV driver shortage could be to blame, according to iNews.

The Department of Health and Social Care is desperately trying to play down the crisis, saying everything is being done to eliminate the shortage.

But NHS England has released new guidance that aims to reduce the use of blood tubes to the bare minimum, suggesting that the issue is serious.

And bosses of the British Medical Association – the doctors’ trade union – are furious. Their press release on the situation makes this abundantly clear [boldings mine]:

“The BMA says the shortage of blood tubes across hospitals and GP surgeries is now severe and if the NHS does not reduce the amount being used in the coming days, even the most clinically important blood tests may be at risk.

“Doctors at the BMA have already made plain their concerns about the implications for patients and their anger that this shortage has been allowed to happen in the first place. However, in the absence of a plan to bring in alternative supplies before the middle of next month, the situation is now urgent. The BMA is urging all doctors to follow the NHS guidance and carry out only the most critical of tests for the time being.

“Dr David Wrigley, BMA council deputy chair, said: ‘This crisis has put doctors and their patients in a terrible, unenviable position. No doctor knowingly undertakes unnecessary blood tests and to now have to ration all those we are doing, as well as cancel hundreds more, goes against everything we stand for as clinicians.

“‘However, if we don’t try to follow the NHS guidance, it’s clear we will get to the point where even the most clinically urgent of blood tests may not be able to be done as we simply won’t have the tubes for the blood to go into.

“‘We are at a very perilous point and it’s surprising that NHS England hasn’t declared a critical incident given the very strong possibility that NHS organisations may temporarily lose the ability to provide lifesaving diagnostic testing. We also call on NHS England to commit to the changes that are needed for their guidance to be properly followed by doctors, and provide patients with detailed, easily accessible information about the situation.

“‘Many GP practices – like mine – will now have to spend hours assessing which already scheduled tests can or cannot be cancelled and this takes time away from frontline patient care when it is most needed. Cancelling tests makes patients anxious and can mean a missed diagnosis.’

“Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA consultants committee chair, said: ‘The very suggestion that an acute hospital trust needs to reduce testing by 25 per cent is highly alarming. However, to try and avoid a situation where there are simply no more blood tubes, we have no choice but to now make very careful decisions about which tests to carry out.

“‘It is shocking that this situation has been allowed to develop – in particular, the apparent over-reliance on one manufacturer and the woeful lack of any kind of reserve supply. The manufacturers should also have to explain how they allowed stocks to run so low that patients will now suffer as a result. If we don’t get on top of this shortage – and quickly – then we could very easily end up in a catastrophic position, particularly in hospitals where patients come to serious harm.’”

“Severe… anger… terrible, unenviable position… goes against everything we stand for as clinicians… Perilous… can mean a missed diagnosis… highly alarming… shocking that this situation has been allowed to develop… Woeful… catastrophic… patients come to serious harm.”

And it is – apparently – a result of Brexit. And the “politicians” responsible for it couldn’t care less.

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Vox Political writer inadvertently aids government NHS hospital plan. Have you done the same?

Johnson: I’m delighted to declare this brand-new hospital open! Nurse: It’s not a new hospital, sir. Johnson: It looks new to me! Nurse: It’s a community centre that we’re using to give people Covid-19 vaccinations. And you’re a twit.

You may have noticed there were no new articles on Vox Political yesterday (August 27).

This is because on August 26 I spent the evening out with friends where certain beverages were imbibed.

It was my first time out on such an evening, really, since Covid-19 arrived here in early 2020, and I soon discovered that I was not in any condition for it.

The hangover was shocking.

So on Friday morning I opened a box of Paracetamol (other painkillers are available) and dived in. I’m astonished to discover that, in so doing, I was opening a new NHS hospital.

I had no idea that’s how it works now!

Sadly, my contribution will not count towards Boris Johnson’s 40 because I am in Wales.

If you’re confused about any of the above, here’s an explanation:

Of course, some people have chosen to satirise this new initiative…

… but I’m above that. I merely want you all to know that I’m doing my bit!

(Oh, all right. For the facts – and the reason we should all be angry about Boris Johnson’s – and, originally, Matt Hancock’s – lie that they were building 40 (now 48?) new hospitals, see the Independent report below, explaining that NHS England is being ordered to declare that any slight building work on already-existing hospitals is to be treated as a new hospital in order to make up the numbers. And when I say “make up”, I mean “lie about”.)

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Millions opt out of NHS data grab, forcing it – temporarily? – to go ‘on hold’

Money-making scam: The idea was to make your confidential health information public knowledge, in order to make money for private health firms (some of which are from the United States).

This is a victory for people power.

You remember your Tory government’s plan to give away your personal – private – health records to marauding health companies so they can profit from them?

The plan that keeps surfacing every few years and keeps getting batted back by a UK public that wants this material to stay confidential?

Well, we’ve just succeeded in stopping it again. For the time being, at least.

The current attempt started in May, when NHS Digital announced that, if you lived in England, it would be putting the private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits onto disc and handing them to “third parties”. Almost nobody noticed.

The plan provided an opportunity for patients to opt out – if they did so by a deadline of June 23, which was ridiculously fast. It seems clear that the intention was to pass your information over before you even knew it was happening.

And then organisations like This Site became involved.

I published my first article about this on June 2.

The result was uproar.

Now we see that, after 107,429 people opted out in May, when nobody knew about it, 1,275,153 did so in June – around 12 times as many people.

Questions were asked in the House of Commons and the opt-out deadline was extended to September – and now the scheme is being withdrawn altogether, albeit temporarily, according to NHS Digital.

May we conclude that even more millions of people opted out during July and the first weeks of August?

But NHS Digital is not abandoning the scheme altogether – just pausing it, with no new launch date. Here’s The Observer:

It will soon start a “listening exercise” and consultation process before launching a public information campaign.

Who will be told about it?

In a major concession to critics, patients will now be allowed to opt out at any stage, with their data deleted even if it has already been uploaded.

Am I the only one with doubts about that? If it has already been provided to private firms, there’s nothing to stop them from taking that information off the database and keeping it in a form of their own. If they know it may be altered, they probably will.

NHS Digital is also pledging to increase the security and privacy of the data, even while researchers are working with it.

I do not believe this.

There is a fundamental dishonesty that goes to the heart of this scheme, and it is the lie that private firms care about your health more than their profits.

Private firms were allowed to run NHS services for profit soon after the David Cameron coalition government came into office, in a change supported by many Tory MPs who had shares in those firms.

The plan to give your confidential information to those private firms was first tried very soon after that, in 2013. To me, this was evidence that the Tory plan all along had been to make money for profit-grubbers and not to improve healthcare.

The public has batted it away time and time again since then, but time and time again the Tories have brought it back.

Their latest claim is that

“Patient data is vital to healthcare planning and research. It is being used to develop treatments for cancer, diabetes, long Covid and heart disease, and to plan how NHS services recover from Covid.”

That’s why they want to take away our right to privacy and confidentiality and I don’t believe a word of it. How can it be used to develop these treatments when we haven’t handed it over? And how have these treatments been developed in the past?

The simple fact is that it is our information – not theirs. And if we don’t want it to be shared, there’s nothing they can do about it.

Source: NHS data grab on hold as millions opt out | NHS | The Guardian

Will ALL of Boris Johnson’s ’40 new hospitals’ turn out to be lies – like this one from Sajid Javid?

Sajid Javid: would you say the grin on his face qualifies as an example of Duper’s Delight – the smile people wear when they’re telling you a lie?

Health Secretary Sajid Javid was caught telling the latest of the Boris Johnson Tory government’s blatant lies today (August 20) – and this one is huge.

Remember a while ago when Johnson was kidding us all that he was going to build 40 new hospitals?

Well, Javid reckoned he was opening one of them today.

Except it isn’t.

It’s a non-surgical cancer unit in a pre-existing hospital.

Not only that, but – as this press release makes very clear – the new unit is the result of two years’ work, meaning the assignment of funds (£35 million) and the commencement of work pre-dates the announcement that 40 hospitals would be built, which was made at the Conservatives’ autumn 2019 conference.

There is no possible way that this development could be associated with that announcement.

So we can only come to one conclusion:

Javid is yet another filthy Tory liar.

And the Twitterati were quick to pound on this fact:

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Tory underfunding means 1.2 MILLION people are waiting for vital NHS treatment

Waiting for treatment: thanks to Tory policies, 1.2 million people are being made to wait for vital treatments and operations.

This is the flipside of the Tory plan to give £2 billion to private health firms for non-essential health procedures.

They give £200 million to the privateers’ bank accounts and it isn’t available for brain surgery, cataract treatment and gynaecology – among other vital work.

And the waiting list grows.

This was a conscious choice, made by Tory leaders years before anybody dreamed of a crisis like Covid-19.

They wanted to starve the NHS of cash and resources in order to nudge patients and the general public into the false belief that a socialised medical service can’t possibly work.

(In fact, a system in which everybody pays into a national health scheme is the only way everybody can benefit from affordable health care. Privatised or insurance-based schemes are always either too expensive for most people to afford, meaning they have to live with – and sometimes die with – preventable health problems, or they are rip-offs designed to take cash from gullible punters.)

They didn’t – and don’t – care that people are suffering, and may die, because of their privatisation push, that is not based on fact but on fanatical right-wing ideology.

The long and the short of it is that, if you are waiting months and years for vital treatments and operations, to the point where it is causing you pain and/or even endangering your life, there is a reason.

It is because Conservatives like health secretary Sajid Javid, former health secretary Matt Hancock, and prime minister Boris Johnson – along with all the other Tory government ministers going back to 2010 – wanted you to suffer; wanted your life to be in danger.

If you know anybody who voted Tory, they voted for you to suffer in this way.

And for those of you who actually voted Conservative yourself: what were you thinking? That’s actual self-harm.

Source: Almost 1.2m people waiting at least six months for vital NHS services in England | NHS | The Guardian

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Bonanza for private health firms as Tories cut NHS’s ability to cope

Private hospitals are set to mop up more than £2 billion in new deals – £200 million of which will be pure profit for shareholders – to provide non-urgent procedures like hip replacement operations because the NHS is struggling with Tory underfunding.

It’s typical financial incompetence from the Tories – they’d rather send £200 million to the private offshore tax-haven bank accounts of greedy profiteers than invest it in the health of the English people (this is an English NHS plan).

And experience indicates that the NHS will have to come back and sort out the mess after the private firms botch a significant percentage of the operations (unless they’ve managed to stop doing that? If anyone has new information on this, please let me know).

According to iNews,

The Government has drawn up contingency plans for further local, regional, or national lockdowns in England, but hopes the deals to create around 7,000 extra beds in private hospitals will help avoid the need for the reintroduction of Covid restrictions.

The signing of further contracts with the private sector follows a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies that found NHS waiting lists could almost treble to 14 million by autumn next year.

A spokesman for NHS England claimed such deals between the NHS and private healthcare groups are struck “at the same cost to taxpayers” as NHS services. However, similar contracts throughout the pandemic have agreed a “cost-plus” pricing formula, which allow for profits of between 8 and 10 per cent to be paid to the hospital groups.

Private hospital groups such as Circle Health, Ramsay Health Care and Spire Healthcare are believed to been among those discussing new and expanded deals with the Department for Health and Social Care.

This is just throwing good money after bad.

And the reason it is necessary? Here‘s the Morning Star:

NHS workers are trapped in a “vicious circle” of staff shortages and exhaustion, health service experts have warned, as they called for better funding of the health service.

Real investment in capacity is needed to address vacancies in the NHS, the effect of which has been compounded by increasing rates of staff sickness, said Dr Layla McCay, policy director of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service organisations.

The warning came after MPs published a damning report in June highlighting “emergency” levels of staff burnout in the healthcare sector.

There are currently 76,000 staff vacancies in the NHS, including 40,000 for doctors.

Last month, research by doctors’ union BMA found that England was 25 years behind comparable European nations in terms of the number of doctors per 1,000 people.

Saying that it was “unforgivable” that the government had allowed workforce levels to reach this point, the union demanded extra Treasury investment in training and retaining doctors.

So there you have it.

The NHS would be able to cope with the extra work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – if only the Conservative Government had funded it properly, making it possible to employ and retain a number of doctors equivalent to those available in other European nations.

But they didn’t. Once again, despite being the sixth-richest country in the World, the UK is the “poor man” in terms of the value we get for that money.

And rather than even begin to put right that lack of investment, the Tory imbeciles are wasting money by throwing it at private firms who will invest it in their own private back accounts rather than in treating people who need it.

That really is sick!

It conforms with Noam Chomsky’s definition of privatisation technique perfectly, though: defund, make sure things don’t work… hand it over to private capital.

The Tories in government are swearing that the private contracts are just a stop-gap measure while the NHS is struggling.

But just you watch them and see if they ever take that work back in-house.

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Councils send in the bailiffs to clear tax arrears [Also in the news]


Local authorities seem to think that driving council house tenants to starvation, or taking their belongings, as a means of clearing council tax arrears is a good idea.

How do they think taking the few possessions and the little money left to people in extremely vulnerable situations, that were worsened by Covid-19, will make everything better?

And which councils do you reckon are responsible for this behaviour? The Tory ones?

Also in the news:

1. Boris Johnson may be thinking of replacing Rishi Sunak as Chancellor – with Liz Truss

He would be replacing one incompetent – Sunak was responsible for the ‘Eat out to die out’ voucher scheme that did so much to spread Covid-19 last autumn – with another – Truss trumpeted a trade deal with Japan that sold Stilton cheese to a country that is lactose-intolerant.

2. MPs have been claiming expenses for ‘dependent children’ – who aren’t children at all

And they’re mostly Tories. What a surprise.

3. NHS waiting lists could top 15 million in four years, ministers are warned

They’ve been told a major increase in capacity is required but they are too busy giving cash to private companies and selling off NHS assets to pay for it.

4. Former Chancellor is accused of breaking the ministerial code

It’s claimed that Philip Hammond broke the rules because he lobbied the government on behalf of a bank that employs him as a paid advisor – before the end of a two-year ban on using his his “government and/or ministerial contacts to influence policy” on behalf of his new employer.

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Why aren’t private health employers already paying MORE than the NHS?

A hospital ward: the NHS employs workers in many more areas than merely medical care – many from private firms. Why aren’t they all on compatible pay rates and why should public funds support pay rises in private firms?

The trade union Unison has said that workers employed by private health companies – that work within the NHS – should not miss out on the three per cent pay rise the government is providing.

I have a problem with this.

We have been told for years that private health firms should be allowed to provide NHS services because they can do so, better than if the NHS offered them in-house.

Surely that should also extend to pay?

If not – as appears to be the case – then doesn’t this prove that privatisation is just a backdoor means of inappropriately funnelling cash to bosses and shareholders, that should be used on health treatments?

Also, if pay rates aren’t equal, then doesn’t this make it possible for employers to set private and public-sector workers against each other?

Finally, if private firms match the pay rise, won’t the money actually come from the UK Treasury – so the increase will be funded by the public, rather than by the private shareholders who should be providing it?

Unison has opened a huge can of worms here. Can anybody think of a solution to these problems?

Source: Union calls on private NHS employers to match public-sector pay rises | NHS | The Guardian

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Amanda Pritchard selected as next boss of NHS England

The new NHS England chief executive: Amanda Pritchard.

Is it good that Amanda Pritchard has been selected to run NHS England, replacing Simon Stevens?

I don’t know, but my first reaction was that she has to be better than Dido Harding (who was discounted earlier in the selection process)!

She’ll be the first female boss since the NHS was created in 1948, which is a boost for sex equality.

But she’s also a graduate of Oxford University, which suggests a possible bias towards Toryism. And she had to pass interviews with representatives of 10 Downing Street, the Treasury and Cabinet Office (Tory), NHS England chair Lord David Prior (Tory) and other NHS England board members (loyalties unknown).

Is it possible that she joined the service 25 years ago, just to undermine it?

Or will she be forced to, whether she wants to or not?

Source: Amanda Pritchard on course to be next NHS England chief executive | News | Health Service Journal

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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
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The on-again, off-again, on-again Tory NHS pay offer that is so low it isn’t worth considering

Javid’s joke? Not satisfied with offering NHS workers – who have saved hundreds of thousands during the Covid crisis – a derisory, insulting pay award, the Tories appeared to withdraw it. Now they reckon it’s back again. Is this a mental torture technique they’re applying because they think it’s all a big giggle?

At the time of writing, the Tory three per cent NHS pay offer is back on the table.

It means that, taking inflation into account, NHS workers will have 0.6 per cent more money to play with – after 11 years of cuts that have reduced their incomes by 15 per cent at least.

The trouble is, we can’t be sure whether it’s really happening or not, because after the Tories announced they were trumping Labour’s – insulting – demand of a two per cent pay increase (which itself was a response to an initial one per cent rise by the Tories) we were faced with claims it had been trashed.

So can we believe Sajid Javid or do we ascribe his pay promise to Covid-19-spawned delusion?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook