Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Have you seen the twins?

In all that celebrating, I forgot. The twins have been kidnapped, we’ve heard nothing. They could be hurt or worse……Have you seen them?

Here’s a photo from happier times, looks like they were on their way to catch some cooool vibes;

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home:         helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact:      neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Four professors and one sore head.

That was a great day, Monday. Good news for my campaign, news I didn’t think I’d see.

It’s possible that it’s been won.

Mind you, in an article that’s going up on the Blog  tomorrow, you’ll see that it isn’t completely sorted…not yet. And no, I’m not stopping….. not just yet.

Then in the evening I went to see a group of Comrades from the struggle. Talked through the developments, had a chat about it all, picked up some advice – where the blog goes from here, how to broaden it out.

It came home to me that none of them had actually seen it – in fact I don’t know anyone who has, at least not amongst friends. So a big thank you to all those kind ‘strangers’ out there, without whom nothing would have happened.

 Then I sped off to the Red Lion, Isleworth to catch the second half of the evening.


Robbie Robson couldn’t make it – his Mother was in hospital, so it was just a quartet, which is how I like it. It was a pretty respectable night, I felt it needed a wiff of the street to wake it up, then again I always do. That’s jaaaaazzzzzz.

These were the ‘Four Professors’ – all four teach at the Guildhall school of Music, which is probably why it was so polite. Martin Hathaway on Sax was expert and on the button, Steve Watts on Bass was solid. I was very impressed with Malcolm Edmonstone on keyboards jarring out the notes, especially in amongst the offbeats from the bass and Trevor Tomkins drums during the quiet parts.

Best of all was Duke Ellington’s ‘In a mellow tone’, with the drums, bass and keyboards hammering out what I’d call the ‘dub’ section. That should make the ‘professors’ wince.

A good night. I celebrated. Now I’ve got a sore head to go with a sore ankle and a knee that has let me down, disgracefully.

Lots of memories came back to me.

Sitting in CafĂ© Nero in Egham, noodling on the net and opening up a Blogger page, then going home and firing off the first posting, ‘to change the world and save lives, no big deal then’.

Back in December when I realised my illness was coming back at me fast – it was snowing and sleety and I was on crutches and slipping about and flyposting  (ahem) exploiting viral marketing methods. Crutches are never a good idea where breaking the law (ahem) obtaining legal publicity is concerned. When you’re ill and cold and getting nowhere fast, it’s hard.

Then there was;

Laughing like a drain.

Finding a voice.

Doing something to be proud of.

I thought there wouldn’t be time to get anywhere – every time I planned to do work promoting it, I’d feel worse or family problems would get in the way. But every time I felt worse I knuckled down to do the research for the articles.

It’s a really good feeling, but still more to do; for a start I need to check there are actually going to be 10 consultants at the A and E – check out my analysis tomorrow.

Right now, I’m feeling pretty lucky.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Monday, 29 April 2013

More good news!

This is from the British Medical Association Journal, not my usual reading, so again I missed it - it’s from January and is more good news;



Three whole time positions

11.5 Programmed Activities (PAs) per week

Are you an enthusiastic, committed and energetic Emergency Medicine Consultant, looking for a role to make your mark in an ambitious team? Are you committed to excellence in patient care and outcomes, ready to work in Partnership with Medical colleagues, senior nurses and managers to develop a high-performing Emergency Department?

 Whether you are a newly qualified Consultant looking to make your mark or a more experienced Consultant looking for a new challenge, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like to hear from you.

 Ashford and St Peter’s Emergency Department is driving forward radical improvements to the way we provide our patient care and is creating three new positions to form a Consultant team of ten. You will join a professional and cohesive team to provide expert Clinical Leadership to the wider Medical and Nursing Team, ensuring that the highest level of Clinical Care is delivered with energy and a passion for excellence.

 These unique roles will provide valuable experience to St Peter’s Hospital to share with your peers as well as the wider divisional team as part of the Hospital’s ongoing commitment to implement innovative practice and invest in training and developing staff at all levels.

 As far as our facilities are concerned, we are ambitious here too. In addition to our recent extension of the Department to include a ‘pit stop’ facility and Clinical Decision Unit, we are undertaking a further extension later in the year, when we will be adding new office facilities for Consultants, close to the Department. At that point we will begin the physical transformation of the Department by completely remodelling, rebuilding and extending the current facility to provide a modern, spacious and cutting edge Unit.

 We pride ourselves on the quality of care we provide to our patients. We are passionate about recruiting the very best candidates who will become an integral part of a team that has a deeply embedded passion to deliver excellent care to our local population and beyond.

 If you are interested in these exciting opportunities and would like further information please contact Dr Peter Wilkinson, Divisional Director, telephone: 01932 723139. Closing date: 27th January 2013. Interview date: Monday, 11th February 2013.

I’m going to be taking a look at what is actually going on in the next few weeks – but it’s been a couple of days of good news.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Good news!

Here’s a good news item I missed, from the Elmbridge Guardian, 29th January 2013;  


A new paediatric assessment unit (PAU) for children who may need urgent hospital treatment has opened at St Peter’s Hospital.

Children needing urgent care had previously had to wait in the hospital’s accident and emergency for assessment before being discharged or admitted to a ward. The new four-bedded PAU will allow people up to the age of 18 to be observed, assessed or treated before admission or discharge.

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the unit will be staffed by nurses and doctors who specialise in children’s care and supervised directly by a paediatric consultant.

The unit will admit children with medical problems directly from A&E.

Dr Julie-Anne Dowie, head of nursing for paediatrics, said: “I know how frightening it can be for young children and their parents or carers having to come to hospital in an emergency.

“This new assessment unit will allow us to care for children in the most appropriate place while we make decisions about what to do next.”


I could be really cynical and make nasty comments about fiddling A and E waiting time statistics but that would be wrong. It’s not about that. This is a really big deal and will radically improve things for young people.

Dealing with the young is a very specialised area. But more than that it’s no fun being in A and E, sometimes it’s like a warzone. Myself, I spent 5 hours on a drip, waiting for a bed before I was moved to a corridor in a ward.

There’s no privacy and I had to listen to a variety of private conversations. Luckily, I spent 25 years representing vulnerable, mentally ill or suicidal people, so it wasn’t a problem for me to listen to the assessment of someone who had taken an overdose. I wouldn’t want a youngster to go through that.

So this is a really good, humane use of precious resources and when people do something right I should be saying so.

How about some more specialised assessment units – the elderly, those with learning difficulties?

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Contact:         neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com


Sunday, 28 April 2013

An appeal to the public - can you help?

It’s very worrying, there’s been no word, the crutches could be hurt. Kidnaps always end badly.

At a secret address in Surrey, there’s an Iron Lung and a dialysis machine, frantic with worry about their twins. They sent me a photograph from happier times;


Aren’t they sweet?

It’s not the newest picture but, have you seen them?

Please help get the twins back, safe.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home:     helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The last act of desperate men and women.

Yesterday, I noticed my NHS issue crutches were missing!

Who could have taken them?

Then I found a note – ‘Communique No 1’ - it’s very odd, sinister even and it’s signed too.

Look at this;


IF We DoN’T GET 10



           DiE !

Help me sort out St. Peter’s

(Provisional Committee)     

Communique No 1.


They seem to have taken a lot of trouble to disguise the note, but I think the distinctive handwriting at the end may be their undoing. Very sloppy.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Contact:            neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Friday, 26 April 2013

A failure driven by acuity.



The Board of Ashford and St. Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust, met yesterday, 25/4/13, which means a little burst of transparency; here’s an extract from the newly published minutes of the 28/3/13 meeting. I’ve added a few comments of my own;


The Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that the Trust did not expect to meet the four hour waiting time target with an expected performance against the 95% target of 92-92.5%.”


That’s what I worked out from the NHS ‘Weekly Sitrep’s”, here’s the blather and excuses;

This failure had been driven by acuity with an increase in majors patients, the lack of investment and instability within the local health economy to meet winter pressures and the increase in complex discharges with the number of people waiting to be discharged averaging at 40-50 in Quarter one through to quarter three but 80-90, and peaking at 103, in quarter four. The national context was presenting a similar picture with Monitor recently publishing a report which identified that 36% of acute trusts had missed the waiting time target at quarter three, a quarter which ASPH had achieved, and current figures indicating that 27 of the 37 trusts in the South of England would not achieve the quarter four target.”

This next passage reflects the new set up at A and E, effectively a form of triage. That’s the way they used to do things, in the old days, let’s hope things get better;

“The Deputy Chief Executive confirmed to the Board the progress which had been made despite the forecast failure of quarter four. The IST had confirmed in December 2012 that the new model of care in the emergency department had been implemented with actions complete.”

New staff! More on this another day – looks like a rumour I heard, that my favourite consultant has gone, was true.

“Clinical engagement was also far improved from the prior year with strong candidates having been appointed to substantive positions within A&E. In 2013/14 the actions implemented would continue to be embedded to ensure the improvements made were sustainable.”

Not our fault;

“Peter Taylor, Non-Executive Director sought assurance that there was confidence that performance would be back on track in 2013/14. The Deputy Chief Executive assured the Board that the model of care worked and the right team was now in place to deliver this however risks remained predominantly due to elements of the pathway which were out of control of the Trust. The level of complex discharges had reduced to 70 in the current week which was a positive sign for the performance of quarter one.”

The Board NOTED the report.


Here are the figures, it was better that week;

                        Type 1          Type 2

31st March        97.3              97.7

But then afterwards it all went south again;

7th April             93.7              94.4

14th April           83.5              86.2

Remember, these are the percentages of A and E patients seen in 4 hours or less, the target being 95 %.


By the way; “This failure had been driven by acuity” - I think this bureaucratic B/S means that he thinks the failure to see the patients in time was caused because there were too many patients.

I’m sure what he really meant to say is that it was caused by there being too few staff:


10 consultants at A and E, for you and me.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home:    helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Thursday, 25 April 2013

If your'e struggling, learn how to struggle.


I have no one to blame but myself.

Can you feel the self-pity oozing out over the net?

Tuesday I went for a really nice walk in the sun, watching spring bubbling up. Birds singing, butterflies bouncing, buds breaking, flowers bursting and a magical sun shining. No more hibernating for me.

Then I walked too far, got tired and my knee went on me, agony.  Unfortunately, not the one on the same leg as my ankle. Oh b@m.

So, I’ve been hobbling about feeling very sorry for myself, and today I had to do the shopping. Oh ar#e.

I’d always promised myself that no matter how soon it was going to be, I was going to wear everything out first, I just didn’t think it was going to be Tuesday.

Anyway, if you’re struggling, learn how to struggle.


I did have one chuckle, I couldn’t find out which paper it came from;

The famous Godolphin stables of Sheikh Mahktoum were caught out giving the horses anabolic steroids  – “We only realised there was something wrong when we heard that one of the horses had won the Tour De France”.


In between wincing, I’ve been trying to use my time well, I started exploring ‘pages’, and put up a widget so I can display those entries that were particularly long and boring for all to see. Those are the ones that drove everybody away – I’ve resurrected ‘Merger Mania’ and a series about the NHS I did right at the beginning, when I was writing from the heart. That should quieten things down a bit.

Squeezed the ‘Ankle Rankle’ in as well.

JTEE!  HEE!  HEE!                                               


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home:      helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact:   neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Norman nogood.

              Pompous Twit speaks out!

'I shall be voting against it in the best interests of NHS patients.'

So wrote Norman Warner in ‘The Guardian’ society pages, the Labour Peer (£360 a day expenses) and Health Minister in the Blair government – finally shows his true colours;  

“One of Tony Blair's leading modernisers will rebel against the Labour party in a key vote on Wednesday on proposed NHS regulations that the opposition says will allow companies to bid for almost all health services.

Despite a three-line whip in the House of Lords on a so-called fatal motion to kill the government's controversial NHS regulations, the former health minister Norman Warner says he will vote with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers – sparking speculation of another Blairite revolt against the current Labour leadership.”

The problem is, it will only be the choice, profitable bits that get snapped up by the private sector;

“The British Medical Association (BMA) joined the Royal College of General Practitioners last week in calling for the regulations to be re-written.

Marie Curie Cancer Care and other voluntary organisations have warned that competition will damage patient care.”

And, you have to remember, we pay for it all. It’s not as though the private sector is doing us any favours.

Labour said that it had evidence of the "alarming" pace of privatisation throughout the health service. In the last two years, Burnham claimed, the London Ambulance Service has increased spending on private contractors from £400,000 to £4.2m – a 10-fold increase. During the same period, it had cut 900 frontline NHS jobs.

Burnham said: "The House of Lords has a chance today to stop this relentless march of privatisation to the heart of the NHS. The prime minister needs to be reminded that he does not have permission from the British people to put their NHS up for sale."

What it exposes is the real agenda behind Blair and Brown’s actions while they were in government – one big sell off. How many of them will turn out to have a financial interest in all this?

Remember my posting that revealed that 36% of G.P.’s on the new Commissioning bodies have a financial interest in supplying goods or services to the NHS.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)   
Home:      helpmesortoutstpeter's.blogspot.com
Contact:   neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Waiting times crisis at St Peter's Hospital.

I was looking forward to the release of the Annual reports for Ashford and St. Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust – they have to produce some figures every year, if not the really useful ones.

They aren’t out on their website yet, so, I’ve been looking at some old reports and checking out some interesting figures of my own.

Let’s take a look at waiting times for people attending Accident and Emergency. Under the last labour Government, 98 % of patients had to be seen within 4 hours. Now the ‘4’ is a bit hit and miss; there are some minor problems that don’t need seeing straight away, and there’s some pretty serious stuff that needs doing right now – but it’s at least something – hanging around matters to patients.

It doesn’t judge quality or care, of course, just when you get seen.

Our new Government reduced it to 95%, to give Doctors some ‘flexibility’; what is that all about?

Hospitals are judged on quarterly and annual figures, which means they can usually jiggle them in time – employing temps to speed things up when they need to get out of a hole. Laying them off when it’s going well.

St. Peter’s is in a hole right now; I checked out the NHS’s ‘Weekly Sitrep’ site and these are St. Peter’s recent figures. ‘Type 1’ are the more serious cases, while ‘all’, is self-explanatory. St Peter’s doesn’t have any figures for ‘type 2’, which I’m assuming is the specialist stuff.

These are the percentages of those waiting times of ‘4 hours or less’, and they should all be above 95;


                                     Type 1                   All

14th April                     83.5                     86.2

7th April                       93.7                     94.4

31st march                  97.3                     97.7

24th March                  85.3                     87.8

17th march                  84.5                     86.6

10th march                  82.5                     84.9

3rd march                    82.7                     84.9

24th February             89.1                     90.8

17th February             87.3                     89.3


Remember, Norovirus has gone, no flu epidemic this year. None of this is good, it means fines if they don’t sort it out. More importantly, these figures are the stories of real live people in pain and worried, hanging about waiting. Worse, they’ll get away with it – it’s year end and if they are lucky they can lose this bad spell in the figures for last year.

Better give that expensive agency a ring.

Alternatively you could;


I want 10 consultants at the A and E and I want them now!

Soon, I’m going to have to explore the figures for the number of consultants working there… a few puzzles if I’m not mistaken.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home:     helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Feet don't fail me now.

Monday night made it out which is always a good feeling in itself.

Don Weller on Sax, was back after a period of ill health, John Donaldson on keyboards was back after a spell in the States, I was just back as was Andrew Cleyndert on bass and Trevor Tomkins on drums. It was a quiet night, really – the music and the crowd.

Thoughtful stuff – to match a small crowd. Weller is a man of few words, mainly ‘one, two, three, four’, so I can’t tell you what I heard except it was mainly standards, with two originals at the end; ‘juice’ and ‘half twist’.

It was mainly a night of brushes rather than drumsticks, so my mind wandered a bit.

I was thinking about the drive up to town, when I noticed that the cherry trees were in flower. In Japan, that’s a very big deal indeed. The parks are full of Cherry trees and the crowds really turn out for this, with cameras and mobile phones at the ready.

What they are waiting for is a particular moment, frozen in time, when the first petals start to fall. It’s not waiting for the lot to drop off, they are hoping for a gentle breeze to pull loose just a few isolated petals, which then fall slowly and diagonally to the ground, against the backdrop of the blossoming trees.

I caught it once, in Kew gardens where they have a small Japanese garden, it was unforgettable and just like the first two numbers last night.

The faintest of tap, tap, tap on the hard edge of a cymbal.

But, as usual, I was looking for something a bit more upbeat – I have enough thinking. I want to let a tapping foot do the thinking for me, just for an evening, anyway.

I was envious – I didn’t win the raffle. The Miles Davis Quintet concert in Copenhagen, 1961. The new quintet, after the ‘Trane left. Mind you, the first number on that is ‘Autumn Leaves’. No time for that now.

The campaign too – too much lounging about. But that’s nothing that some up tempo won’t sort out.

Feet don’t fail me now.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home:      helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact:   neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Monday, 22 April 2013

Not grumbling.

This, was Sunday although the Swan didn't want to be on this site and kept swimming off.
On Saturday, a forgotten group of people took to the streets; the patients of Mid-Staffs NHS Foundation Trust. Thirty thousand of them and that’s only the Police estimate. In my experience the Police usually downplay numbers.

We’ve heard a lot about the failings, the financial collapse, the neglect. Now the Trust is being broken up, it’s the staff who pay with their jobs, the taxpayer will pay financially and it’s the patients who face losing their hospitals through no fault of their own.

Management and politicians?

Meanwhile, Peter Carter, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing was on the radio today, speaking against the proposal that trainee Nurses should spend ‘up to a year’ as care assistants before starting their training.

Back at the start of this Blog, I was arguing that the RCN and the British Medical Association could be a Trades Union (and heaven knows staff need a good one) or they can regulate their profession (disciplining and striking off) but they can’t do both.

Listening to Carter, who always spoke up for Nursing standards at Mid –Staffs, he’s not doing very well at either. It’s time to choose which they go for.


Anyway, if I’m lucky, I’ll get out tonight and see the great Don Weller on Saxophone. We’ll see how it goes.So, although we are now on day four without phones, I’m not grumbling.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home:     helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Spending a lot of money.

Anyway, we still don't have any phones, now I can show you why:

It's now three days:

I know it's the middle of nowhere, but a fair number of people walk under this branch everyday:

Hot news Huh?

I do feel, that with a camera it is so important to spend a lot of money to get a good result.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home:   helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com


Hot to trot.


{Parents of small children as well as particularly sensitive or vulnerable people of all ages should beware – this entry contains uncontrolled boasting}

I’ve got myself a new camera – it’s a Nikon Coolpix!

I’d been wandering around shops, counting my pennies, unable to make up my mind about cameras, but then today I was mooching around a charity shop and picked up my new camera for £11-99p.

From this you may realise that it may not exactly be up to date technology. Actually it’s 3.2 megabytes and the SD card is only (don’t you dare laugh) 128 mb, so I’d guess it’s about 12 years old. Then when I got it home I found that the USB cable was missing and my various cables didn’t fit. Grrrrrrrr.

If you remember that was how this Blog started back in December – with me trying to buy a cable for my sad old printer and finding that a new printer was cheaper than a new cable.

But, when I’d made myself a gloomy cup of tea, pondered the injustices of life, sat down and thought things through, I found there was an SD card in the camera – and as last week I’d invested a whole £1 in a USB card reader at the suitably named ‘Poundland’, I was good to go. Who needs a cable?

Thirteen quid and the Blog has gone digital. They’d better watch out now. It’s just like when I got my printer, I’m hot to trot.

Did I mention it’s a Nikon?


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home:      helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact:   neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Saturday, 20 April 2013

'  2000
This morning I checked the Blog and found you’d taken it up to two thousand page views, that’s quite something. Thank you.

I’m always amazed anyone reads this, and to be honest, I’m surprised to still be Blogging.

Still a way to go, tho’. I’ve been letting them get away with it – too much fun been going on. Well that’ll have to stop.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home:    helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
contact:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com