Thursday, 4 April 2013

Leeds General Infirmary.

If you want an example of how little patients and staff count for in the NHS, events at Leeds General Infirmary just about sum it up. I’ve given up trying to work out what’s going on, we haven’t seen the figures yet and I don’t think they want us to. You can hear the animals crashing about in the jungle, you just can’t see what’s going on.

Leeds has a unit that does heart surgery on children. It’s a really, really difficult specialism. About 20 years ago, Private Eye exposed problems at a Bristol Children’s heart unit – they were doing operations that were too complicated for them and they were killing a lot of kids in the process. Not much happened about it.

Now, the NHS wants to cut down the number of units doing this stuff down to four, to stop that happening again – fewer, bigger, better.

More specialised, more competent.

You’d think 20 years was a bit late to sort all this out and that might give you the clue that it’s happening now because of money problems.

No one wants to lose their units, especially not the 5 or 6 hospitals concerned; heart surgery is expensive – Trusts earn a lot of money doing it and because they are now supposed to be in business, that’s really important to their finances.

Leeds was going to lose their unit but they went to Court and got an order that the decision making process had been illegal and had to start again. Their unit was saved for the time being.

So, the very next day the Medical Director of NHS England, Sir Bruce Keogh, forced Leeds to suspend the unit, based on unpublished, unverified mortality figures (which no one has seen) and ‘complaints’ from 2 consultants at rival hospitals. So now, Leeds was too dangerous to continue.

Bear in mind the lack of action over published mortality rates up to now, let alone the growing coding scandal.

Patients, naturally, want to save their local unit as do the Doctors who work in it. They all came to the conclusion that it’s just a con to shut them down. Who do we believe?

Some of the Doctors at the unit have denied that their mortality figures justify closure. Claims that they are understaffed and underqualified have also been denied. The organisation representing cardiac surgeons has claimed that the closure will leave the north of England under resourced for this type of work.

The hospital managers want the big bucks to keep on rolling in to Leeds. The rival hospitals have ambitious managers too and they want to steal the work from Leeds. No one cares how far the parents have to travel and these are young children we are talking about.

Bear in mind, they are all Doctors (including Keogh) and they are all supposed to be acting in the best interests of their patients – and they can’t all be doing that, at the same time.

So, who do we believe and who out of this lot actually gives a d@#n about patients rather than about money and their careers? Worst of all, every day there are new stories in the press which means that both sides are briefing and leaking to journalists.

This is not how the future of hospitals should be decided.

It’s not how peoples jobs and careers should be decided.

It’s not how patients futures should be decided.

What’s needed is rational, scientific planning based on accurate information.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

I have to @# the naughty words because I don’t want my Blog blacklisted as an ‘adult’ site.

 – no risk of this being confused with a site meant for adults, I hear you all shout.

Hmmmmm, very funny.

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