Yesterday Gordon Brown made one of the most ground breaking, novel, ingenious, brilliant promises any politician has ever made. The saviour of the NHS promised us clean hospitals for all. Yes, that's right - while the rest us having been trying to work out what the most basic, obvious thing a hospital should be, Brown put his finger on it by making the pledge that we will no longer have to suffer from catching disease and viruses from the one place we go to get rid of them.
Another day, another report telling us that the government has wasted £43bn of taxpayers' money on the NHS. This time the source is... the patients themselves! And not just a few disgruntled ones either. 1.4 million of them were surveyed!
Security breach on Government's £12bn upgrade computer system shocker! So the new computer system in the NHS isn't a tight as Fort Knox or even as secure as the flies on John Prescott's trousers it turns out. What a surprise. Amusingly, it was a celebrity whose details have been pried upon by some geek locked away in his bedroom somewhere, no doubt, with the hope of making a few quid out of the News of the World. Unfortunately they didn't name the celebrity involved, though it was in the North West region and probably someone with a sort after medical history...
The very reason we have an NHS is to ensure that those in society who may not be able to afford the luxuries in life can at least have free (at the point of use) health care that is of the same quality to that every one else gets in society. Such is the state of the NHS, however, that is not the case. It is the poorest and most vulnerable in society that are getting the raw deal when it comes to health care. If the NHS is failing these people, what is it for?
First he had to put up with the mess left behind from his predecessor, then he started to come under fire himself but now Alan Johnson has officially lost it. He is now a fully fledged Health Secretary and the process to ruining his political credibility is now well and truly under way. The Fonze has come out with a new initiative to save the country from becoming one mass of fat and therefore saving the NHS. The plan is "From Womb to Tomb" - how catchy.
More bad news for Alan Johnson. It really is starting to pile up for him - though that is what happens when you are Health Secretary. Sir Derek Wanless, an advisor who was one of the Brown's men who were behind increasing the NHS budget by £43bn over the past five years is about to break ranks and launch an attack on the failure of the scheme. The idea was that £43bn was supposed to deliver a first-class health system. Now, we all know that this is not exactly what we have got, but when it comes from an insider you know there really has been a failure of policy somewhere along the l
Despite reports last week that the NHS has gloriously balanced the books and managed to hoard £1bn of public money to "reinvest" in the health service, there are reports that Junior Doctors are being short changed by £500 a week due to...
Good news at the NHS – they are set to have a whopping surplus of £1bn for the year. A turnaround from the £500m deficit last year. And how have they achieved this? Not through cutting costs in areas that have nothing to do with front line patient care – in fact completely the opposite. While Brown and the gang can say how financially efficient the NHS is, the fact is the cost savings have been made by cutting jobs, below inflation pay rises and cuts in services. Well done Gordon - giving with hand and t
The Times reports that the Tories' hospital campaign "was in disarray last night". One can pontificate on whether the campaign was the right point of attack (no), whether the mistakes are serious (in credibility terms, yes), and whether the media's reporting is biased (maybe, but it didn't half invite the criticism). But those aren't the main points. The main lesson is that the Tories are sadly lacking in critical faculties. Whether it's the activists, who militate for policies that owe more to instinct and prejudice than reason (even if many of those instincts are sound), or the researchers, who seem unable to provide coherent material for the many points of attack left gaping by an incompetent government, or the political representatives, who are unable to point the researchers in the right direction and to sort the wheat from the chaff of the material provided to them, there seems to be a general dearth of smarts on the right.
Is it the left-wing bias of the universities, which means that the part of our population most inclined to go into politics receives a thorough schooling in interventionism and socialism? Or that the smarter people on the right can earn a better living in careers outside politics, whereas politics is the pinnacle of ambition for many of the intelligentsia of the left? Or that politics is now a career to be embarked on straight from university, which means that the right can no longer rely on the real-world experience that would once have been their trump card? If you don't have extensive experience of life outside politics, it is hard to understand the damage that well-meaning intervention can do, which makes it hard to put together a convincing case against such interventionism.
There will be smart people there, as there are anywhere. But are they being allowed to rise to the top? Or are they being dragged down by political triangulation, which judges the merits of a proposal on the basis of whether it is an acceptable compromise between the opinions of the dumb and the not so dumb, and the merits of a person by how well they can justify such semi-dumb compromises?
A real classical-liberal party would be about encouraging quality to prosper, whether in the economy or within its own ranks. Chances are, this can't be done in a party that likes to think of itself as a broad church welcoming uncritically a range of perspectives. If everyone's opinion is equally valid, how will you distinguish between them?
UPDATE: I wrote this before I saw the other article in the Times, on the comments of Sayeeda Warsi. QED.
Despite former secretary for Health, Patricia Hewitt, saying that while MTAS was about no doctor would be jobless, more than 10,000 trainee doctors could find themselves without posts within weeks. In order to hand out as many jobs as possible, the government shifted the deadline to fill the 22,000 NHS training posts until Oct 31, but with 33,000 applicants. A further 1000 posts will be created after the deadline for those who are particularly qualified, but that still leaves a massive shortfall.
So, depending on who you believe - yesterday's changeover at the NHS was either a smooth transition with no problems whatsoever or it was a complete shambles. My cynical money is on the shambles. Fortunately, I was not hit by a car nor had some other freak accident so managed to keep myself out of hospital yesterday. As such I have no first hand evidence of what it was all like. The BMA, however did and said that hospitals were encountering "a catalogue of problems" as they rushed to fill hundreds of junior doctor posts after the appointment system was plague
As hospitals wake up to the change over of 30,000 young doctors today, one hospital in particular will be welcoming back a Raj Mattu after five years. The significance of this? Well Mr Mattu has been serving a five year suspension from Walesgrave Hospital in Coventry for being a whistle blower. He did the outrageous act of exposing the scandal of overcrowding on his heart attack recovery ward - which he believed led to cause of 11 deaths because they could not be reached in an emergency by resuscitation teams. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil - the apparent motto of Walesgrave
Following up another long running story that will go "live" tomorrow is the big doctor change over. Thanks to some brilliant planning at the DoH, 30,000 junior doctors will all change jobs at once tomorrow. It will mean that many patients who have been waiting months for routine surgery - such as a hip replacement or hernia repairs - will have to rejoin waiting lists all over again. There have also been fears, going back many months now, that patient health will be put as risk in the chaos. Remedy UK, which represents junior doctors - a role which many feel the British Medical
Yesterday I reported how the government had spent billions on trying to get kids to do some sport with the incredible result of making absolutely no difference what so ever. Today, it has come to light that another one of the government's attempt to stop our kids turning in to a nation of Bernard Mannings have also failed in spectacular fashion. The Department of Health's initiative to get kids eating more fruit has cost £42m to set up and they have blindly invested a further £77m in the scheme since the launch.
Here's a story that will make you wish you could go private. Take a deep breath.
500 patients a week are given the wrong treatment by the NHS. That is almost 25,000 occasions last year, leading to deaths, serious injury and long-term harm, official figures show.
"The reality on the ground is that there is a gloomy mood. There has been an awful lot of change in a short period. Staff feel overwhelmed by it.” New Health Secretary
Alan Johnson Arthur Fonzarelli last week announcing the “once in a generation” NHS review.
The Tory crackpot policy machine has been given another crank over the weekend - this time by someone called Iain Duncan-Smith (I hadn't heard of him either). The Tory's latest battle against society is the plight of binge drinking. The Tory’s social justice policy group, headed by this Iain Duncan Smith chap, will today recommend a sharp increase in alcohol prices to reduce consumption. That will go down well with the electorate, then. IDS said that there is “almost an alcohol epidemic in Britain, particularly amongst youngsters”. Almost?! That bad, eh?
Alan Johnson, aka the Fonz, has officially started the NHS game. He said yesterday "The reality on the ground is that there is a gloomy mood. There has been an awful lot of change in a short period. Staff feel overwhelmed by it. They feel it all flowed down from Whitehall." This is a moment I feared, but I'm afraid Mr Johnson, today is the start of the end of your credible political career, such is the suicidal nature of the DoH and its demand to make credible MPs spout absolute crap.
The main problem with the government claiming they are "investing" in the NHS three times as much money as the Tories did is that the NHS is still a complete shambles. Actually what they are saying, to spin the story another way, is that the government is wasting three times as much money on the NHS as the Tories did pre-1997. It isn't any wonder that they are spending so much either, when you consider this - yet another tale of waste; this time from the Welsh Assembly. The Welsh Conservatives have exposed that £34.6m of public money set aside for frontline health care
Good bye Tony. Hello Gordon. Cabinet reshuffle. The Miliband brothers. Jacqui Smith. DCSF. DIUS. DBERR. Car bomb found in the West End. Spice girls reforming. It's been a busy 24 hours or so. So busy in fact, then what better day to "bury” some bad news? Well an old favourite (or not) hasn't slipped under the Picking Losers' radar. The online Modern Training Application Service (MTAS) is still haunting young doctors and the Department of Health even though it was dead and buried (or not) way back in April. Welcome to your first day in office Mr Johnson.