Archive for Health

Burnham is a prick

Andy Burnham, the British Minister for English Health, has written an open letter to David Camoron calling on him to withdraw the whip from Dan Hannan and any other Tory that criticises the NHS.

What a prize prick.

He rubbishes claims the Tories are the party of the NHS as Camoron claims because Dan Hannan has criticised the NHS.  Apparently “every single MP, MEP and member of the Labour Party endorses the NHS” which is a bold claim to make bearing in mind the fact that he cannot possibly have canvassed the opinions of all MPs, MEPs and Liebour Party members.

He asks if Camoron will ban members of Atlantic Bridge – a transatlantic group of conservatives – from attending the Tory conference because they have criticised the NHS.

He calls on Camoron to demand Tory shadow ministers resign from the Cornerstone Group – a traditionalist, eurosceptic, anti-devolution group in the Conswervative Party – because they described the NHS as stalinist and called for it to be replaced.

I have a few points to make about Burnham’s letter.

Firstly, there is no “the NHS”.  There are four National Health Services in the UK and only the English NHS is under the control of the British.

Secondly, it is perfectly possible for a party to be in favour of something whilst some, or even most, of its members have a different view.  The Tories are a eurofederalist party, for instance, whilst the majority of its MPs and members are eurosceptics.

Thirdly, withdrawing the whip or otherwise punishing an MP or MEP for voicing an opinion that doesn’t concur with the official view of the party is a ridiculous suggestion.  What sort of fascist, anti-democratic autoritarian political party would spouse those sorts of views?  That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.

Fourthly, the suggestion that members of Atlantic Bridge should be banned from the Tory conference for criticising the NHS is pathetic and has nothing to do with their views on the NHS and everything to do with the fact that Atlantic Bridge is a conservative organisation.  If they were socialists, like the Liebour Party used to be, Burnham wouldn’t have mentioned them.

Fifthly, setting aside the fact that it would be morally wrong to insist shadow ministers resign from the anti-socialist Cornerstone Group because they think the NHS is stalinist and needs replacing, wanting to replace the National Health Services doesn’t mean they oppose them, it means they want to replace them.  The clue is in the word “replace”, which doesn’t mean “abolish”.

Sixthly – and finally – if you’re going to criticise the Tories then at least do it for genuine reasons, of which there are plenty.  Criticise them for being anti-English or eurofederalists.  Criticise them for being socialists in blue ties or for being vague and evasive on policy.  It will mean being hypocritical but that shouldn’t be a problem for a Liebour minister.

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Is Gordon Brown responsible for swine flu panic?

I went to the doctors this morning because of an irritating bad chest I’ve had for weeks and while I was there I asked him about the swine flu vaccinations and whether they have a list of at-risk patients already (#2 has a heart condition so I’m naturally interested to know).  He said they do have a list of people who are high risk, #2 is low risk with his heart condition as it’s not chronic but as a young child he’ll be one of the first to be offered the vaccine.

Interestingly and perhaps a little unsurprisingly, he said they were being inundated with calls about swine flu and the majority of the calls were from people anxious about swine flu or convinced they had it when they didn’t.  This is presumably why I got an engaged tone for 15 minutes this morning trying to get an appointment.  Does it help that the British government has told the general public that up to 65k people could die from swine flu?  In his opinion it wasn’t the best move, let’s just leave it at that.

The thing is, for the amount of people who have contracted swine flu, the number of deaths has been low.  Lower than you would expect with seasonal flu.  Yes, swine flu is spreading round the population faster than seasonal flu but that’s because we don’t have an immunity to it.  Having said that, Europeans seem to have a better natural defence to swine flu than Americans which would suggest that it may be something we’ve had here before.  Tens of thousands of people already have immunity to swine flu by virtue of having contracted it in the last couple of months.  By the end of the year, if all goes to plan, the whole population will be offered a vaccine.

So why the panic?  Why are the NHS (or, more properly, the British government) putting out information that’s causing panic?  We’re in an era of unprecedented access to information, it’s possible to lay your hands on more information about virtually anything from your living room than ever before.  This is the first major domestic public health problem we’ve had since most of the population got access to Google so perhaps the British government is thinking that the best way to satisfy peoples’ thirst for information is to give it to them, warts and all.  Or perhaps not …

There is a theory (you might call it a conspiracy theory) which quite a few people have arrived at that the Prime Mentalist is behind this.  Not that he has unleashed a swine flu virus created in a secret laboratory in a disused tube station (although I bet you could find someone who thinks that) but that he has presided over mismanagement of the epidemic to give him a crisis that he can use to increase his popularity and stop talk of an election.  How could we have an election in the middle of a swine flu pandemic?  Think of the public health risks.  Think of the disruption when we’re in the middle of a potentially disasterous flu epidemic.  How could you call an election under such circumstances and claim to have the interests of the country at heart?

And, of course, there is the vaccine.  The UK is the only country in the world to order enough vaccine for the whole population.  If and when the vaccine materialises – and assuming it doesn’t kill more people than swine flu does like the vaccine the Americans used in 1976 – then El Gordo will have been the Prime Minister that saved us all from the killer flu that would have killed up to 65k people but for his intervention.

The theory that he has allowed swine flu to take hold and spread scare stories in the media just so he can avoid an election and look good when it fails to wipe out half the population hinges on whether El Gordo’s insanity is so pronounced that he would sacrifice the lives of hundreds of people for personal gain.  I’m quite prepared to believe that he would do it, the only question for me is whether he will get caught out.

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Dear Mr Burnham

A few weeks ago, I emailed Andy Burnham’s office at the Department of Health after watching him talk to the BBC for 5 minutes about the English NHS without once mentioning England.

Dear Mr Burnham,

I just listened to you talk about the English NHS for 5 minutes yet you didn’t mention the word England or English once.  You talked about “the NHS”, “the health service” and “the country” but all the time you were talking about the English NHS, the English health service and England.

You are an English Secretary of State for an English government department talking on national TV, broadcast to the whole of the UK and didn’t once point out that you were only talking about England.

I wonder how many Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish people you worried that they might be losing their free prescriptions, free hospital parking and expensive life-saving cancer drugs that your department says we can’t afford in England and how many English people you misled into believing that the rest of the UK would be helping to plug the gaping hole in the British budget when that’s not the case.

Is there any chance of you using the word England at any point during your job as Secretary of State for the English NHS?


They replied a week and a half later …

Dear Mr Parr

Thank you for your email dated 10 June to Andy Burnham about England and the NHS.  I have been asked to reply.

The Department appreciates that not everybody in the UK will be aware that most matters of health policy have been devolved, and that Mr Burnham will generally only comment on the NHS in England.

I would like to thank you for your comments, which have been noted.

I hope this is helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Gatty
Customer Service Centre

Right, so they appreciate that he’s been misleading the entire population but they’re going to do chuff all about it?


Thank you for acknowledging my concerns and making note of my comments.

Perhaps you could now explain what you intend to do to ensure that most people do understand that Andy Burnham is only talking about England?

A simple solution would be to use the word “England” when he’s talking about England rather than “Britain” or “this country”.  I’m sure that would help people understand which country he is talking about.  Or perhaps the Minister has a better solution?

I look forward to hearing of your plans.



I got another reply shortly afterwards …

Dear Mr Parr,

Thank you for your further email to Andy Burnham about England and the NHS.  I have been asked to reply.

I regret that the Department cannot add to its previous reply to you dated 18 June or comment any further on this issue.

I am sorry I cannot be more helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Gatty
Customer Service Centre

Right, so they appreciate my concerns, don’t answer my questions and then refuse to comment further.  That’s not on …

Thank you for your further response.

Can I assume, then, that the English Health Minister and English Department of Health will continue to pursue a policy of deliberately omitting the word “England” from publications or to refer to England as “Britain” or “the country”?


And their predictable response …

Dear Mr Parr,

Thank you for your further email to the Department of Health about England , the UK and the NHS. I have been asked to reply.

As you are aware, the Department has already written to you previously regarding this matter, and I can only reiterate to you that there is nothing further the Department can add, and it will not be corresponding further with you on this issue.

Should you have any new concerns in the future that you wish to raise with the Department, then we will be happy to address those issues. I am sorry I cannot be more helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Gatty
Customer Service Centre

Tossers.  I’ve just found Andy Burnham’s parliament email address so I’ll forward the email trail on to him and see if he thinks his department dealt with my email in an appropriate manner.

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Scottish doctor calls for compulsary vaccinations in England

Sir Sandy Macara, former Chairman of the British Medical Association, has called for MMR vaccinations to be made compulsary by making an immunisation certificate a pre-requisite to being accepted for a school place.

He says that doctors have tried to convince parents but it’s not working so it has to be made compulsary, which begs the question: if the entire medical establishment can’t convince parents that the MMR jab is safe then someone, somewhere is doing something wrong.

We decided to have our children immunised even though there were doubts being cast in the media about the safety of the combined-MMR vaccination. We took a calculated risk, as we all do with any medication no matter how long it’s been around or how safe it’s been considered to be in the past. I used to have painkillers on repeat prescription when I was a teenager that were taken off the shelves a few years ago because they do nasty things to your insides. We also took a calculated risk in allowing one of our children to have his tonsils taken out even though there was a suggestion at the time there might be a risk of contracting CJD from metal surgical implements. And long time readers of this blog may recall that we took a calculated risk in allowing another one of our children to have open heart surgery even though he would be the youngest child in the UK to have had the Ross Procedure performed on him. This is what parents do – they weigh up the risks and benefits of many things every day where their children are concerned and come up with the answer they are most comfortable with. That’s what being a parent is about – caring for your children, deciding what is right and wrong for them and making the decisions for them that they can’t make.

Vaccinations are something a parent should decide on, not the state. One parent’s decision affects one child, the state’s decision will affect millions and if they get it wrong the ramifications are far greater. And, of course, the British government could only make vaccinations compulsary in England and I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that Sir Sandy Macara is Scottish.

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Swine Flu – 3 new cases, 2 cured

The Scottish couple who were the first in the UK to be diagnosed with swine flu have gone home today, covering their faces so as not to spoil their newspaper deal.

The Chief Medical Officer for England says that they won’t be routinely screening people returning from Mexico, even though that’s where the virus is coming from.  This is really quite unacceptable – we’re an island, we can close our borders and isolate ourselves rather than risk letting a virus that we don’t understand take root in the population.  Stopping British Airways from continuing its flights to Mexico City would be a good start.

There are now 8 confirmed cases of swine flu in the UK, 2 of which are no longer infected.  Most people have little or nothing to fear from swine flu, it’s really just the elderly and infirm and the very young that are at risk and there is plenty of medication available to treat it as long as any epidemic remains manageable.  But there is no excuse for sitting back and letting the virus spread whether we’re geared up to cope with it or not.

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Is swine flu the excuse Gordo needs to cancel elections?

At first I thought this swine flu thing was just scaremongering by the media but now I realise that it’s serious – probably more serious than even the Daily Mail could imagine.

Check your spam folder for online pharmacy emails and order in as much Tamiflu as you can lay your hands on.  Get down to your local hardware store and buy all their stocks of face masks.

The prime minister has said Britain is “among the best prepared countries in the world” to deal with the outbreak

As if Jonah talking about swine flu wasn’t dangerous enough, this is almost exactly the same thing he said as the recession kicked in and now we’re being told that we’re probably going to be hit the hardest.

We’re doooooooooooooomed.

Being serious for a moment, there are very few cases of swine flu and no deaths outside of Mexico and the British government reckons it has enough flu medication to treat 30m people.  Four UK airlines have stopped flying to Mexico, two are flying holidaymakers out of Mexico but British Airways is still flying to Mexico City 4 times a week.  Banning travel to and from Mexico for a bit might help prevent the spread of swine flu, as would banning anyone who’s recently been to Mexico from coming into the country.  The technology is there at all ports, it is possible to enforce such a ban if one was ordered.

On a number of occassions recently I have speculated that El Gordo would cancel the election next year “in the interests of national security”.  He’s certainly got the ambition to do it, Liebour have passed legislation to allow it, all he needs is an excuse.  The recession and a few carefully engineered riots about rampant unemployment would give him the excuse to declare a state of emergency.  There’s an EU election in June which Liebour may finish as badly as fourth in.  An outbreak of swine flu with an exaggerated statement on the risk of congregating in public places or unnecessary travel from some sock-puppet health quango would give him an excuse to postpone the EU elections in June.

I’m naturally cynical, especially where the one-eyed Scottish idiot is concerned, but is his obsessive lust for power so great that he would allow a highly infectious disease to spread around the country through inaction and criminally stupid policies just to stay in Downing Street?  Is he that insane?  I wouldn’t put it past him.

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Shropshire man falls foul of the Nationality Lottery

A Shropshire man has fallen foul of the nationality lottery after Telford & Wrekin NHS Trust refused to treat him with Lucentis to try and save his sight.

Allan Farley has punctate inner choroidopathy and two consultants have told him that Lucentis will help to save the sight in his right eye. He is already blind in his left.

But the NHS Trust, acting on guidelines issued by the increasingly inaccurately named National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), have refused to fund a course of Lucentis. Honestly, someone really should complain to Trading Standards – they are neither “national” nor “nice”.

Two years worth of Lucentis will cost about £18k, pocket money compared to the cost of paying benefits and providing services to a blind man and his family for the next 50 or 60 years. If you’ll excuse the pun, the decision is more than a little short sighted.

Mr Farley says he’s being refused Lucentis because of the cost. Yes, it’s an expensive drug and the NHS Trust probably doesn’t have £18k stuffed down the back of the Chief Exec’s sofa to pay for it but finding the money for the drug is a secondary issue and the NHS Trust does have the money if it wants to spend it.

The real reason why Mr Farley is being refused Lucentis is because he lives in England. If he lived in Scotland he would have been treated by now and the sight of his left eye might have been saved. The Scottish Medical Consortium – the equivalent body to NICE north of the border – allows Lucentis to be provided on the NHS in Scotland, along with a host of other drugs such as cancer and alzheimers treatments that are unavailable to English people.

The NHS at its best

My father-in-law is disabled because of an über-rare disorder caused by a brain tumor when he was a child.  He is now deaf, has no balance and has no short-term memory.  My mother-in-law is his carer – he can’t go out without a wheelchair any more, he doesn’t feel pain and if left to his own devices he would either eat 10 times in a day or not eat at all because he can’t remember if he’s eaten even a few minutes after doing so.

My father-in-law has fallen over 4 times today and cut his head open which required stitches.  Caring for an adult is hard work as I’m sure you’ll apppreciate and it’s important she gets a break once in a while.  Last year she didn’t get one but this month it’s her 50th birthday so she’s booked to go away to a hotel for a weekend with my wife and some friends and relatives.

She booked my father-in-law in for a couple of days of respite care months ago at the only respite care room in the whole of Telford that will take under-60’s.  One room for a town with a population of around 160,000 people.  This morning social services phoned her to say they had cancelled the booking because the hospital in Telford is full and they’re sending their patients to the care home that the respite room is in and they’re going to use the respite room.

The reason why the hospital in Telford is full is because the hospital in nearby Shrewsbury has closed three wards because of an outbreak of norovirus.  This wouldn’t be a problem if Telford hospital wasn’t already full because it’s winter and there’s been a minor flu epidemic in the county.  So Shrewsbury hospital are paying Telford hospital to look after their patients while Telford hospital is paying private care homes in Telford to look after their patients.  But what really takes the piss is that social services in Telford have offered to put my father-in-law into respite for the same dates that they’ve just cancelled in Telford – in a home on the other side of Shrewsbury!

If Shrewsbury hospital is full and Telford hospital is full but the care homes in Shrewsbury aren’t then why is the hospital in Shrewsbury sending their patients to Telford instead of sending them to the care homes in Shrewsbury?  And why aren’t they cancelling elective surgery in Oswestry hospital which is run by the hospital in Shrewsbury and sending their patients there?  The hospital in Oswestry no longer has an A&E department, a sizeable proportion of their patients aren’t emergency cases and could wait a few weeks – as inconvenient as that is – while the current crisis is dealt with.

This is the problem when a service is run like a business – people lose out when there’s a profit to be made.  I wouldn’t mind so much if Telford and Shrewsbury hospitals weren’t run by the same Primary Care Trust.

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British government refuses to scrap hospital parking charges in England

The Scottish government ban on hospital parking charges came into effect on the 1st of January leaving England the only part of the UK where everyone has to pay to park on hospital car parks.

Hospital car parks have been free to use in Wales since April and in Northern Ireland, chronically ill patients and their visitors were also expempted from parking charges last year.  Now Scotland has joined them by abolishing parking charges in all but three hospitals north of the border where the car parks are covered by a PFI agreement.

The cost of being ill in England is increasing year on year thanks to the indifference of the British government to the needs of the English while the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments look after their own people.  The price of prescriptions is rising every year in England but in Wales they are free, in Scotland they will be free this year and in Northern Ireland they will be free from next year.

A spokesman for the British Department of Health said that abolishing parking charges in England wouldn’t be a “sensible use” of limited NHS resources yet in December the NHS in England reported a budget surplus of £2.1bn for the 2007-08 financial year.  That’s £2.1bn of profit made by the NHS in England from charging cancer patients for life-saving medication and charging relatives of terminally ill patients to park when they visit their loved ones in hospital.  The NHS in England raises £430m a year in prescription charges.

What the accountants, managers and consultants at the British Department of Health think is a “sensible use” of English taxes isn’t necessarily (or often) what the English taxpayer thinks their money should be spent on and what most of us think is not a “sensible use” of our taxes is subsidising hospital car parking and prescriptions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland while we still have to pay ourselves.

Just following orders

You may recall that back in August I wrote about the NHS deciding it was going to weigh and measure children in England, check them against the Body Mass Index (BMI) and then send parents a letter to tell them if the computer says their child is fat or thin.  You may also recall that I said the BMI was a bloody stupid way of measuring obesity.

Well, this week #1 brought home a letter from the council and the Primary Care Trust (PCT) telling us that they will be weighing and measuring children in his year so they can gather statistics on obesity.  To this end they would be taking the child’s weight, height, name, address, postcode, date of birth, gender and ethnicity.  The statistics would be anonymised and sent to the NHS “nationally” (they mean England but the NHS aren’t allowed to use naughty words like that) but the weight and height would be recorded on the child’s file locally within the PCT.

The BMI is a graph with two axis – height and weight.  It doesn’t have ethnicity, address or age on it.  Therefore, the extra information is not required to calculate a child’s obesity on the BMI scale.  I accept that the statistics would benefit from having a geographical element to them for which the start of the postcode would be sufficient.  In fact, even this isn’t necessary because primary schools in Telford take their children by catchment area as opposed to selection like a secondary school so 99% of the children going to the school will all be from the same postcode area.

So why do they need names and addresses?  Oh yes, to send the “our computer say your child is fat/thin” letter which may or may not be a load of bollocks.  I won’t go into the reasons why the BMI is bollocks, click the link at the top of the post and read what I said originally.  All I’ll say is, quite a few “health professionals” have agreed with me that the BMI is bollocks.

Anyway, a form was attached to the letter so that we could refuse consent for the weighing and measuring which we filled in and returned.  The form was put in a folder with the others that parents had returned – quite a few of them by the look of it.  One thing that was missing from the form was somewhere to write down why we’d objected so I phoned up the PCT to tell them.  I said that I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that they have to provide every bit of personal information the authorities ask them for, because the BMI is a rubbish way of measuring obesity and because they were recording too much information.  The woman I spoke to said she agreed with me to a certain extent but said that they had been told to do it.

Just following orders, that’s ok then.

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The BBC were bleating this morning about another promised measles epidemic (the last one they said was going to happen didn’t, I wonder if this one will) and navel gazing about the number of children that aren’t getting vaccinated.

What they failed to mention was that it was the BBC was one of the media outlets that made such a big thing about the scientifically dubious and widely disputed claims that MMR vaccines could cause autism in children that has resulted in so many children not being given the MMR vaccination.

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Thanks for nothing doc

The other day I went to the doctors and saw the triage nurse to ask for some antibiotics to sort out the infection in my gum.

I know I’ve got an infection in my gum because I had it about a month and a half ago and I know I need some antibiotics because that’s what the dentist prescribed me last time.  But could I get a doctor to give me a prescription?  Could I bollocks.

The nurse looked at my gum and agreed that it was red and looked infected.  She went and talked to a doctor but the answer from the doctor was “take ibuprofen and if it gets worse go to the dentist”.

Doctors aren’t dentists and I accept that but they are capable of diagnosing an infected gum, just as they are capable of diagnosing an infection anywhere else in the body.  There is no reason why I should have to pay to spend two minutes in the dentists chair just to get a bloody prescription for some antibiotics.

In case you’re wondering, it’s getting better now after 3 or 4 days of pain and enough ibuprofen and paracetamol to sedate a bull elephant.

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Public Health Warning

“The authorities” in the West Midlands are appealing for possible victims of a HIV-infected man who has been knowingly having unprotected sex with women for a couple of years to come forward and get tested so they don’t unwittingly pass the infection on to others.

Unfortunately, the man can’t be named for legal reasons even though he’s been convicted so they’re advising any women who think they might have slept with a man they can’t name, describe or show a picture of after being picked up in a club in the West Midlands in the last couple of years to get themselves tested.

What a fucking joke.  Name the bastard, put his picture on the internet and on billboards around the West Midlands and then handcuff him to a lampost in Broad Street in Birmingham for a couple of hours.

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Shropshire Star: Kind of PM to think of England

The following letter was published in tonight’s Shropshire Star. Unfortunately, whilst editing it they took out “in England” from the end of the first line which makes the whole letter ambiguous.

Kind of PM to think of England

How kind of Gordon Brown, the MP for Kikcaldy and Cowdenbeath in Scotland, to find some loose change down the back of the sofa to pay for free prescriptions for cancer patients.

I remember when my own mother was recovering from cancer the last thing she needed was the worry of how to pay for prescriptions when she was unable to work.

However, when considering Mr Brown’s generosity, it should be remembered that in Wales nobody has paid for a prescription for nearly two years now.

And any of Gordon Brown’s constituents in Scotland suffering from long-term of permanent illnesses haven’t paid for prescriptions for some time. Already 92 per cent of prescriptions dispensed in Scotland are free of charge.

Stuart Parr

Hello, I’m from the ministry

English PCTs are to send parents letters telling them if their children are overweight.

According to the British government, most parents of fat children don’t think their children are overweight and sending a letter from the local NHS trust using data collected by schools will prompt them to take action.

However, the NHS have told PCTs not to use the word obese or tell parents the BMI of their children because it will confuse them.  Condascending arseholes.

The problem with the BMI measurement is that it’s just another arbitrary one-size-fits-all measurement and as such, is fairly meaningless unless you are at the extremes.  According to the BMI guidance I am somewhere between class 1 and 2 obese and am at risk of heart disease, infertility, arthritis, stroke and cancer.

My heart is fine, I certainly don’t suffer from fertility problems, I have had chronic juevenile osteoarthritis since I was a (thin) child, I can’t comment on strokes but I’m more worried about the number of people in my family who’ve had cancer upping my risk than I am over being fat.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that being fat is unhealthy and it certainly doesn’t do my dodgy knees any good and I’m losing weight slowly.  But the BMI isn’t an accurate measure because it doesn’t take into account your natural build.  Thanks to my paternal gene pool, I’m 6’1″ tall and if I wasn’t fat I’d be “stocky”.  My old man has got barely an ounce of fat on him yet he’s as wide as me.  He’s 6’4″ tall and falls into the overweight category on the BMI.  If he got to a weight that fits the “normal” range on the BMI you’d see his ribs.

By contrast, my youngest son is horribly thin but he’s tall for his age.  His BMI probably puts him in the underweight bracket but he’s perfectly healthy – he’s just tall and thin.

I remember visiting the doctor a year or two ago who decided to do a spontaneous asthma check up.  My peak flow was above average for someone without asthma yet when she used a different method of calculating my body mass she told me I was border-line morbidly obese.

Anyway, this isn’t about my medical history, it’s about these letters to parents telling them that their kids are fat.  As I’ve hopefully demonstrated above the BMI is flawed and it’s quite possible to get it wrong.  A lot of parents are going to be getting letters from their local NHS trust telling them that their child is “very overweight” or underweight and this letter will be sent by a computer somewhere analysing a set of data that actually needs to be interpreted by a human being or at least be complimented by additional information about the child.

The parents getting the “very overweight” letter will presumably put their child on a diet and the parents getting the “underweight” letter will presumably start trying to fatten their kids up.  Both sets of parents, you would hope, will be fretting over the health of their child.

But what if the BMI is wrong and the child isn’t obese or underweight but is a perfectly healthy child that simply has a large or small frame?

Too much faith is put in statistics and arbitrary scales and targets and not enough in common sense.

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Why do we need a specific NHS violence law?

The Ministry of Justice has decided to include Wales in a new bill to introduce specific offences relating to mental and physical abuse in hospitals.  The Welsh government said they didn’t need the law but some Liebour MPs and a peer complained and the MoJ has changed its mind.

I’ve spent a lot more than average an amount of time in hospitals and I apreciate the work that doctors and nurses do, often putting themselves in dangerous situations for the public good.  The same goes for policemen, firemen, etc.  But do we need specific laws relating to individual groups of people?

It is already against the law to physically or mentally abuse someone.  Whether that someone is a nurse, a policeman, asian or white, it is still against the law.  The problem is not with the law as it stands, it is with the way that judges are guided by politicians.

Politicians impose minimum and maximum punishments for crimes so judges can’t decide to punish somebody who’s assaulted a nurse harsher than someone who’s assaulted a drug dealer.  So when people complain that hundreds of doctors and nurses a day are being assaulted and that they’re getting away with lenient sentences, their answer is to make a new law introducing a specific offence and a different punishment.  But the crime is still the same – an offence against the person contrary to common law.

With new offences being created at an alarming rate and people falling foul of daft, ill-thought out and politically-motivated laws, what we really need is for a major cull of these offences and for politicians to butt out and let judges get on with their jobs.  There is no need for specific offences relating to specific groups of people.  There is no need for specific offences relating to “motivation”.  Offences like racially aggravated assault are no different to any other assault other than the fact that it’s politically expedient to look like it’s being taken more seriously.  Physically assaulting a nurse is no different to assaulting a shop keeper but it makes the British government look like they’re caring for people who carry out a public service.

I’m not a nurse, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a fireman, I’m not a politician, I’m not black.  I’m white and I’m English and that means that if I got mugged whilst taking the dog out for a walk or walking across the car park or sat at my desk at work, the British government considers my pain and suffering to be less important than that of a nurse or a fireman or an immigrant.  Why?

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Stem Cell cure for arthritis?

Researchers at Cardiff University reckon they can “cure” osteoarthritis using stem cells.

I have quite bad osteoarthritis in both my knees.  On my left knee, parts of the joint have no cartilage at all and the rest is poor quality, rough cartilage.  On my right knee, it’s poor quality, rough cartilage.  They both make some very interesting noises and my surgery scars are an ice breaker.

The treatment doesn’t actually cure the arthritis, it allows new cartilage to be grown in large enough quantities to be able to provide an adequate transplant.

So, there’s hope for me yet just as long as we can keep the Christian fundamentalists from getting the ban on stem cell research they keep fighting for.  I respect their right to have an opinion but my right not to wake up in pain and go to bed in pain is more important so they can fuck off, I’ll take my chance on going to hell.

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Shropshire Star: English lose out in funding of health

English lose out in funding of health

Tom Taylor, chief executive of the Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust, has confirmed what the Shropshire branch of the Campaign for an English Parliament has been saying for the last couple of years: Treating Welsh patients in Shropshire hospitals is costing millions of pounds that could be spent on the treatment of English patients.

Mr Taylor says that treating Welsh patients in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford is costing the trust £2 million per year because of differences in funding and targets.

The Campaign for an English Parliament doesn’t have a problem with Welsh patients being treated in English hospitals, but the NHS trusts involved have a responsibility to ensure that in treating patients from another country they don’t compromise the treatment of patients living in England.

It isn’t unreasonable to expect the Welsh government to pay the going rate for medical treatment in England, especially when in some cases they are entitled to medication in English hospitals that English patients aren’t allowed.

Mr Taylor said that it would be much easier for the trust if the “English Parliament” made Wales pay the going rate.

The fact that Mr Taylor believes there is an “English Parliament” or a “Government in England” to represent English interests when England hasn’t had a government for more than 300 years shows a disturbing lack of understanding.

Stuart Parr, Shropshire Branch Campaign for an English Parliament

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Shropshire & Telford NHS Trust loses £2m per year treating Welsh patients

The following letter has been sent to the press in the West Midlands and Shropshire MPs:

Tom Taylor, Chief Executive of the Shrewsbury & Telford NHS Trust, has confirmed what the Shropshire branch of the Campaign for an English Parliament has been saying for the last couple of years – that treating Welsh patients in Shropshire hospitals is costing millions of pounds that could be spent treating English patients.

Mr Taylor says that treating Welsh patients in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford is costing the Trust £2m per year because of differences in funding and targets.

The Campaign for an English Parliament doesn’t have a problem with Welsh patients being treated in English hospitals but the NHS Trusts involved have a responsibility to ensure that in treating patients from another country they don’t compromise the treatment of patients living in England. It isn’t unreasonable to expect the Welsh government to pay the going rate for medical treatment in England, especially when in some cases they are entitled to medication in English hospitals that English patients aren’t allowed simply because they are Welsh. Who says the world had seen the end of apartheid when white rule ended in South Africa?

The differences in medical treatment are a result of the botched devolution settlement introduced by Labour in 1997 which gave Scotland and Wales their own governments to handle domestic affairs but left the same English affairs in the hands of British MPs representing all four home nations.

Mr Taylor said that it would be much easier for the Trust if the “English Parliament” made Wales pay the going rate and said “this can only be resolved through the financial allocations between the Government of England and the devolved Welsh Assembly”. The fact that Mr Taylor believes there is an “English Parliament” or a “Government in England” to represent English interests when England hasn’t had a government for over 300 years shows a disturbing lack of understanding of the reason why his hospitals are losing so much money every year. Like most of us in England, Mr Taylor and the Shropshire & Telford NHS Trust would be benefit enormously from the creation of an English Parliament to represent the interests of English people like the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly do for Scottish and Welsh people.

Stuart Parr

Shropshire Branch

Campaign for an English Parliament

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Shropshire Star: Concern grows on ‘health apartheid’

The following article appears in tonight’s Shropshire Star:

Concern grows on ‘health apartheid’

A member of a Shropshire political group has criticised the “health apartheid” of the NHS, which he claims is responsible for county patients receiving poorer services that those in Scotland and Wales.

Stuart Parr, of the Shropshire branch of the Campaign for an English Parliament, says people who live in the county are being discriminated against and claims that it is even tantamount to a form of racism.

He has written to all five Shropshire MP’s asking for support for a fairer system.

It comes as Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski has written to the Health Minister asking for hospital trusts to be banned from charging Blue Badge holders.

Mr Parr’s letter refers to the announcement by the Welsh Assembly Government that Welsh hospital parking charges will end, while patients in England will pay.

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