Thursday, December 27, 2007

Should big pharma face criminal charges for deaths?

From the BBC today: "Almost 3,000 people have died in the past three years after suffering serious side-effects or allergies to their medicines, say official figures."

Apparently there are about 13000 more who have suffered reactions to drugs and countless others whose reactions have not been reported. Taking different medicines at the same time is even more dodgy. Polypharmacy is common, especially with older people, and the chance of drugs interacting with each other is very high.

What to do though??? Arthritis, atrial fibrilation, COPD together could put you on a cocktail of at least half a dozen regular medicines that would not just be keeping pain at bay but are keeping you alive. The answer is firstly to stay healthy, then keep it simple and finally do what works for you.

An alternative solution, which might be more interesting... if drug companies were faced criminal charges for each death I am sure that their drugs would be far safer! This would also eat into their obscene profits. If 3000 people died from eating Heinz tomato soup I feel certain that Mr Heinz would be in the dock, so why not Mr Pfizer or Mr Glaxo?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lib Dems' Nick Clegg plans radical departure?

This is the headline in the Torygraph - apparently the Lib Dems have a radical plan for health care provision, they are going to bring the private sector in to help with long waits.

So all we need to identify is which part of this concept is radical and distinguishes them from Labour (pushing as much to their corporate friends as they can) and the Tories (weren't quite brave enough to privatise health care but would do now).

The mushy grey centre of politics is not where radical progressive parties are. Perhaps not putting taxpayers money that should go to patient care into corporate shareholders pockets would have been radical.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hospital 'fines' for patient harm

What madness is this? "Hospitals should be fined if they harm patients, the government's chief medical officer has proposed."

So a hospital is struggling to control infections, get its procedures and care right and so on - so what can be done to help them? The most important thing not to do is take away money (i.e. staff) from them. They need support, guidance and help, not hindrance, penalties and fines.

Perhaps a hospital failing on its infection targets should get rid of a few nurses and cut back on cleaning? This is in effect what the government is suggesting. If anyone thinks this is a good idea please let me know...


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Kingston Hospital - privatisation

The piece below is from the Wimbledon Guardian.

Yet again we are subjected to the lie that privatisation is more efficient that the public sector. This is utter rubbish - time and time again we see that the private sector is less efficient. At a international level, just look at the US to see what an absolute travesty the private sector brings to health care. They spend almost twice as much as the UK as a proportion of GDP but don't provide care for 40 million people. Cuba spends less than the UK's GDP proportion but has 5 times more doctors per head than us and has a fantastic health care record...


Hospital chief: privatization is the best way forward. Kingston Hospital's £1.6m plan for a private company to run its elective care is the only way to combat falling numbers of patients, according to the hospital's chief executive Carole Heatly. She said that turning to the private sector was the best way for the hospital to increase the quantity of its elective care - a necessary safeguard against losing its training status. If the 10-year deal is brokered, a private company will take control of the hospital's new surgical centre, day unit and eye unit. It would also be put in charge of the hospital's small private ward, Coombe Wing, which it might be able to extend, with profits shared between the hospital and the private company. The exact split of profits has not yet been finalised but Ms Heatly said the hospital's share would be re-invested in the NHS. It is also hoped that the company would expand the hospital's catchment area, making the most of the patient's power to choose a hospital, by marketing its services to GPs and potential patients. Staff would remain employed by the NHS for at least two years but they would be seconded to the private company, who would manage them. Ms Heatly said that, after two years, staff may be able to choose to be employed by the private company and that in similar set ups across the country, many staff had chosen this option. Nora Pearce, hospital midwife and Unison representative, said: "The hospital has always said its most valuable asset is the staff. Now what are they doing? Selling their most valuable commodity."