Issue 209: 2019 07 04: Blast from the Past

4 July 2019

A refresher from Corbynista

Episode 1

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don UrquhartThe Diary started in April 2017 when Johnson was Foreign Secretary and Hunt Minister for Health.

6 May 2017

The awful Piers Morgan ripped Hunt asunder on Good Morning Britain.  I am astonished that he is being allowed on to television.

31 July 2017

There are 5,000 fewer mental health nurses than in 2010.  So the latest £1 billion initiative is aimed at putting a sticking plaster over the carnage wrought by this government in the last 7 years.  It is disturbing how many circulars drop through the letterbox offering health services from private companies and they are all over TV.  You see their ads on the tube.  Jeremy Hunt is throwing a dead cat on the table.  Some money is better than no money but who really believes that this Health Secretary has the wellbeing of the NHS as a core motivation?

8 August 2017

There are 136 Hospital Trusts in England and Wales.  The Labour Party sent them all a Freedom of Information request asking about maternity ward closures.  40 Hospital Trusts failed to respond and this might be the most telling statistic.  42 of the 96 that responded reported ward closure on 382 occasions.  In 2014 the figure was 224.  As is the rule the government saw nothing to worry about, quoting increases in the number of midwives and a healthy training programme.  Convincing, unless your waters have just broken and the maternity ward has the shutters up.

10 August 2017

NHS Digital reports that the amount of NHS Land earmarked for sale has doubled in a year.  117 of the sites are currently being used for clinical purposes.  This is asset stripping on a grand scale, rivalling Gordon Brown’s gold bullion disposal.  The most callow trainee accountant would tell you that asset sales shrink the business unless you have real investment plans for the proceeds.  But no!  The Department for Health sees the disposals as providing income to improve the service.  In other words it is just a phony deficit reduction ploy.

29 September 2017

The Royal College of Nursing asked 30,000 members in May about their most recent shift.  Over half reported understaffing.  There were many horror stories and the overall picture is damning.

30 September 2017

On the eve of the Tory Party Conference Boris tells Sun readers his Brexit red lines and that he wants public sector pay rises.  Theresa meanwhile extols austerity and claims to be leading from the front on Brexit.

5 October 2017

There really is an organisation called NHS Improvement.  Fans of the spoof documentary W1A will recall top executives with job titles like “Better” and “Values”.   Anyway NHS Improvement has placed Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust in special measures after too many people had died awaiting cardiac treatment or had gone blind waiting for an ophthalmological appointment.  This comes a couple of days after Jeremy Hunt’s inspiring presentation to the Conservative Party Conference where he explained how he had single- handedly turned the NHS into the jewel it is today.  As ever he called for a round of applause for the underpaid employees as the nation passed round the sick bags.

8 October 2017

Assaults on staff in mental health trusts have risen by 25% in the last 5 years and are running at the rate of 800 per week.  A Unison survey puts the deterioration down to staff shortages and increasing use of agency staff.  Theresa May has highlighted Mental Health as her own personal crusade.  Jeremy Hunt talks up the success of the NHS under his leadership, but what is happening on the ground belies this as wishful thinking.  The Department of Health said it was completely unacceptable for health service staff to face violence or aggression.  And, presumably, someone ought to do something.

10 October 2017

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has issued its annual report on the state of health and social care.  The system is straining at the seams and faces a precarious future.

24 October 2017

NHS Improvement pops up again with a report that the NHS could carry out 280,000 more operations per year if they organised the use of operating theatres more efficiently.  Having watched the TV Series about St Mary’s Paddington where lack of beds and support staff were clearly the main problems, I can only guess at the reaction of people at the coalface.

27 October 2017

The National Audit Office (NAO) has issued a report on the WannaCry ransomware attack in May and its impact on the NHS.  As they rightly say someone ought to do something.  But it is hard to see who will do what?  The Department of Health warned the Trusts about cybersecurity in 2014, but the department clearly is not there to manage the health service as the Trusts did nothing, and, given the budget issues, will continue this policy focussing rather on the PR stratagems necessary to explain away the next IT meltdown.

31 October 2017

According to a Department of Health spokesperson “We want the NHS to be the safest place in the world to have a baby.”  For many years now I have wanted to establish a relationship with the glamorous actress Julia Roberts, but I have been diffident about developing a realistic plan to achieve this.  Jeremy Hunt flooded the airways (Marr and Peston anyway) to tell us how much more he is spending on the jewel in Britain’s crown.  The trouble is that he spends it with expensive third parties, like the agencies benefiting from the shortage of 3,500 midwives in the NHS.

14 November 2017

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a British-Iranian housewife who has been sentenced to 5 years in prison in Iran for spying while on a visit to the country.  She has denied this, maintaining that she was in Iran for a holiday and to meet family.  At a Commons Select Committee Boris Johnson reported that she had been in Iran training journalists.  The Iranians took this as confirmation of her criminality and he tried the “I was misinterpreted” line then repeatedly asserted that she had been in Iran on holiday.  Last week he said he would be going to Iran in a couple of weeks, yesterday he said he would go by the end of the year.  At the Guildhall Theresa May had him visiting Moscow to reinforce her hard line with Russia.  Is it advisable to load him up with any other jobs when his career is defined by whether or not he can arrange the release of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe?

1 December 2017

Sir Lancelot Spratt was the formidable consultant of Doctor in the House.  He appeared in the wards every now and then to receive tribute from obsequious patients, nurses and junior doctors.  How we laughed!  Recently a young acquaintance of mine was in his first week as a qualified doctor confronted in A&E with a condition he did not feel qualified to treat.  He reached the on-call consultant who was out to dinner and who told him it was up to him, the man on the spot.  The CQC reveals that a Portsmouth hospital has used unqualified staff to interpret X-rays.  There is a 23,000 item backlog over 12 months awaiting review by a qualified clinician.  The CQC identified 3 cases where lung cancer had been missed.

11 December 2017

Lord Kerslake has resigned as Chairman of Kings College NHS Foundation Trust.  NHS Improvement described the Trust’s financial performance as “unacceptable”, adding “It is the worst in the NHS and continues to deteriorate”.  Lord Kerslake says “I do not do this lightly as I love King’s but believe the government and regulator are unrealistic about the scale of the challenge facing the NHS and the trust.”  So, unless you have your head in the sand, you have to weigh up who to believe – the former head of the Home Civil Service or Jeremy Hunt’s bean counter attack dogs.

21 December 2017

“We must put a stop to all of these show trials and executions of political opponents.”

There is no evidence that Josef Stalin said this.  And indeed it would have been inappropriate had he done so given that he was responsible for the activities highlighted.

Jeremy Hunt tells us that we must do more to safeguard the wellbeing of mothers and babies during childbirth.  Maternity care services report that incidents in their units are running at a rate of 140,000 per year and it is certain that not all incidents are reported.

In casting around for reasons Mr Hunt might consider the advice of the Royal College of Midwives that we are short of 3,500 midwives.

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