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Robert Sale: Stand up and speak out for the NHS

6 May, 15 | by BMJ

rob_saleOne night about a year into the current “reorganisation” (aka upheaval) of the health service, my GP rang at 9.50 pm to give me the results of a blood test. “What on earth are you doing still at work?” I said, grateful though I was for his dedication.

At our next Patients Participation Group (PPG) meeting we had a refreshing and forthright discussion with staff about the real pressure the surgery was under—GPs, nurses, and reception staff alike—to carry on giving us the service we needed and they, as professionals are committed, against the odds, to providing. I think initially there was some wariness that a “PPG” with its “action plan” might just be one more thing in the long line of QOF’s, QIPP’s, DES’s etc sent to keep them firmly wedged between “the rock and the hard place.” But it was at that meeting that we committed ourselves to doing what we, as a local patients group, could do to help tackle that no 1 issue for the whole of our NHS—lack of adequate resources. more…

Alex Langford: Doctors should try to be politicians

5 May, 15 | by BMJ

alex_langfordIn psychiatry we’re taught to consider our patients in “biopsychosocial” terms. This is useful, but the term has become a bit of cliché. If I mention it when teaching medical students I can see the lights go out in their eyes.

I wonder if this is because when we analyse the roots of our patient’s distress, we only think in local, individualistic terms. For biological, we think of their aunt with schizophrenia and their coke habit; for psychological, we think of their limited coping mechanisms at times of stress; for social, we think of their crappy council flat. This is neither inspiring nor completely “holistic”—another stale stock phrase. more…

Alex Scott-Samuel: Simon Stevens—cheerleader-in-chief for NHS privatisation

1 May, 15 | by BMJ

alex_ssSimon Stevens’ Wikipedia entry describes him as “a health manager and politician.” This is appropriate not only because he was once a Labour councillor in Brixton but also because his output (since April 2014 he has been Chief Executive of NHS England) continues to demonstrate his deep ideological commitment to a commercial insurance-based market in healthcare.

After serving as policy adviser to New Labour’s first two Secretaries of State for Health, Frank Dobson and Alan Milburn, Stevens became Prime Minister Tony Blair’s No. 10 health policy adviser in 2001. In 2004 he moved to the largest US health insurance corporation, UnitedHealth, rising to the rank of Executive Vice President prior to his move back to England in 2014. more…

What are the political parties offering our children in 2015?

1 May, 15 | by BMJ

With the 7 May general election rapidly approaching, we have reviewed the manifestos of the five main political parties, standing in all UK regions, to determine what they are offering our children in 2015. All children exist in a context that shapes their health and wellbeing, and from which they cannot be separated. As advocates for children, it is our duty to engage with the political system and to be aware of how policies impact on our patients.

All of the political parties made some reference to children in their manifestos, but predictably with emphasis on different areas and with varying degrees of assurance. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has also published its own manifesto, “A vision for 2015,” which outlines key priorities for the incoming Parliament. more…

David Kerr: Dr Uber

23 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

david_kerr_2015picThe hot topic in the technology world at the moment is the so called “sharing economy.” A great deal of money is being made by companies, such as Uber and Airbnb, where the internet is used to match buyers and sellers without the need for the huge upfront costs of purchasing, for example, cars and properties. The question is whether the concept of a sharing economy could also be of value in healthcare? more…

Richard Vize: Facing the NHS funding reality

21 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

richard_vizeThe intervention by former NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson in the election debate on the NHS exposes the chasm between manifesto rhetoric and funding reality.

Nicholson pointed out that the political parties are promising extra services while the Five Year Forward View from NHS England—on which the widely accepted additional funding need of £8 billion a year is based—makes hugely optimistic assumptions about efficiency savings simply to get the service repositioned for sustainability, without heroic promises about more and better care. more…

Clare Gerada: Can we trust pre-election promises on the NHS?

16 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

clare_geradaOnly a few weeks to go until the most unpredictable election in years and polls show that the NHS tops the list of voters concerns. Not surprisingly, politicians, of all persuasions are committing to promises about the service—details of extra funding and what they will offer patients in future. The Conservative manifesto, for example, pledges an extra £8 billion by 2020, same day appointments with GPs for those over 75, and an NHS leading the world in fighting the scourges of cancer and dementia—what’s not to like?

But those who have been paying attention may ask why should we trust politicians who have such a poor record on the NHS? more…

David Payne: What would you ask a future UK health secretary?

14 Apr, 15 | by BMJ Group

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt

If you were in the same room as health secretary Jeremy Hunt, Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb, and UKIP’s Louise Bours, what would you ask them? Now is your chance. more…

Samir Dawlatly: What if En Aitchess was my patient?

8 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

“Enfield Aitchess?” I called to the waiting room.

A 65 year old man shuffled towards me and shook my hand. He seemed slightly out of breath.

“My name is Dr Dawlatly, please come in and take a seat, Mr Aitchess,” I said as we entered my room.

As he sat down he mumbled, “Most people just call me ‘En,’ actually, doctor.”

“Okay, En, what brings you here today?” I asked.

“It’s these darn winters doctor. I just don’t seem to be able to cope with them,” he started. I looked at him, encouraging him silently to continue.

“I seem to have some sort of functional deficit once the weather turns cold. Nothing seems to work properly, and I was wondering if you had some sort of diagnosis or treatment doctor?” he asked, looking at me hopefully. more…

Samir Dawlatly: How general do we want general practice to be?

26 Mar, 15 | by BMJ

As a medical student I got a parking ticket and three points on my driving license. The mistake I had made was parking in the wrong place on an unmarked road in the Peak District. When I sent in my fine I wrote a short note along the lines of, “I realise that being ignorant of this law is not a valid defence.”

For what it is worth, there has been a stir in social media this week over the publication of a survey carried out by ResilientGP, a fledgling organisation that purports to “stand up for general practitioners.” The organisation argues that one of the stressors in primary care, and there are many, is the unnecessary use of the NHS by patients with problems that seem unconnected to any health problem. more…

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