Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NHS A&E: Bad or what?

The internal market’s billing system is not only costly and bureaucratic, the theory that underpins it is absurd. Why should a bill for the treatment of a patient go out to Oldham or Oxford, when it is not Oldham or Oxford that pays the bill — there is only one person that picks up the tab: the taxpayer, you and me.

…….Instead let them help the NHS do what it does best — treat patients, and do so efficiently and economically without the crucifying expense and ridiculous parody of competition.
                                                 Prof Waxman in an earlier post.

There is little doubt in my mind that it is unwise to upset Bevan: The Curse of Nye Bevan usually strikes down anyone who badmouths the NHS.

Attempts to badmouth our Hospitals and their A & E department did not seem to put people off and attendances continue to climb.

But whoever is doing it better watch out. Bevan’s Curse is for real.

This is not on when you have an internal market system. Through A & E, Hospitals can admit patients without a referral and believe you me, whatever anyone might say the CEOs of FT Hospitals are quite pleased with that.

For CCGs, it is becoming uncontrollable. All Hospital Avoidance tactics will not work. Funding will flow uncontrolled to FT Hospitals.

I have written about this earlier and I will simply reprint them. It is more true now than ever.

NHS A & E: Unpredictable, Unruly & Ungainly

As I wandered through the forests of Sibelius' Finland, I marveled at how well the different plants co-exist in an integrated fashion. 

Why can't our NHS be integrated like this forest? With berries and mushroom growing in abundance! Looks like our A & E departments will be the first of the Hospital Services to be culled. 


 ©Am Ang Zhang 2012

It must be hard to believe that with the number of highly paid management consultants working for the government that any apparent oversight is due to cock-up rather than conspiracy. Yet reading through the Select Committee reports one begins to wonder.

Could it be that for too long, accountants dominated the NHS reforms and somehow nobody took any notice of what the doctors are saying anymore?

On the other hand, could the need to pass health care provision to private providers before anybody could raise enough objections be the reason or was it simply a means to contain cost and let the patients blame their GPs?

Can politicians really blame us for not trusting them? They did in Japan, didn’t they?

A & E (ER to our US readers) is perhaps something accountants would like to get rid of. It is unpredictable, unruly (literally) and ungainly as there is a need for the specialist backups. In the era of PCTs and Hospital Trusts, serious battle is fought around A & E. The silly time limit set has caused more harm than the good it is suppose to achieve. That many major A & E departments are staffed by Trust staff and the new GP Commissioners will try their best to avoid paying for A & E attendance & any unplanned admission. 

All too messy.

Hospitals tried their best to make more money from A & E and admissions in order to survive. Where is the patient in this tug-of-war of primary care and Hospitals!

What happens when there is a major E. Coli disaster. Who is going to pay for all the dialysis?

There is no better illustration to the wasteful exercise then in all of this internal market and cross charging during recent years and one must be forgiven for concluding that the purpose was to allow private involvement in our National Health Service.

We must be forgiven for not believing that all these AQPs are not great philanthropists and are all there not for the profit but for the common good.

Christmas and New Year will be here soon. The count this year is that over 20 million patients would have attended A & E: A rise from 12 million around 10 years ago!

It is not difficult for anyone in the NHS to see how the internal market has continued to fragment and disintegrate our health service.

Look at major hospitals in England: Urgent Care Centres are set up and staffed by nurse practitioner, emergency nurse practitioners and GPs so that the charge by the Hospital Trusts (soon to be Foundation Trusts)  for some people who tried to attend A & E could be avoided. It is often a time wasting exercise and many patients still need to be referred to the “real” A & E thus wasting much valuable time for the critically ill patients and provided fodder for the tabloid press. And payment still had to be made. Currently it is around £59.00-117.00 a go. But wait for this, over the New Year some of these Centres would employ off duty A & E Juniors to work there to save some money that Trusts could have charged.

Urgent Care Centres are one of the most contentious parts of the NHS reforms. Both the College and the King’s Fund  have consistently questioned the evidence base and the clinical and cost effectiveness for this major policy change. Surprisingly many of the NHS pathway groups still recommend such units. The public will be very confused by the desire of some Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to re-name the ED as an “Urgent Care Centre” for ambulatory patients.

The perceived problem that PCTs are trying to solve
There is a perception that many patients attending the ED should be treated in primary care. The College’s view is that a relatively small number are clearly non-urgent primary care problems that should have been seen by their general practitioner. A larger group of patients with urgent problems could be seen by primary care if there was timely access to the patient’s GP or out-of-hours services - e.g. at weekends. The College believes that improving access to GPs is the best way of dealing with this issue. At most we think that 25% of ED patients might be treated by general practitioners in an ED setting. There is no evidence to support the contention that 50-60% of ED attendances can be treated in Urgent Care Centres.

The approach of setting up an urgent care centre in front of every ED is an example of demand management. This has already been shown to be unsafe when tried in the USA.

Since April 2006, emergency departments have been paid according to the number and nature of the patients they treat. This seems perfectly reasonable, but many Primary Care Trusts are now paying more for their hospital emergency service than they used to, and as a result are looking at ways of “gate keeping”—that is, restricting the number of patients who enter emergency departments. This has lead to the concept of urgent care centres, where ambulant patients seeking emergency care are triaged by staff employed by the Primary Care Trust. Certain diagnostic groups are allowed through into the emergency departments, but many are seen by onsite general practitioners or nurse practitioners. In this way the PCTs can control expenditure, and many patients with minor trauma who would previously have been managed in emergency departments are no longer seen there. The result of this is that the casemix of emergency departments is being restricted, and this diminishes our specialty.

Loss of inpatient specialties
Traditionally, emergency departments in the UK have received an undifferentiated casemix, and have either provided definitive care or have referred on to hospital specialties. We may have wished to mimic the Australian model of emergency care, but the truth is that very few emergency departments in the UK have the staff or facilities to provide continuing inpatient care. Emergency medicine in the UK has therefore remained dependent on inpatient specialties to help it provide a comprehensive service.
Unfortunately, the government clearly intends that in future many hospitals will not have the full range of core specialties, and this will radically affect the sort of service their emergency departments can offer. In particular, many emergency departments will not be able to receive patients with major trauma or paediatric emergencies.

This is certainly not how Kaiser Permanente would run things: all integrated and no such thing as “cross charging”. In fact the doctors are not on a fee-for-service basis but like Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins Hospital, doctors are paid a salary.

Q143 Chair: No. I am sorry. My point is that if, as a commissioner, you have to have A&E and you have the power to defend whatever is required to deliver A&E, why do you need a power to designate?

Dr Bennett: On the designation question, the issue there is what happens if the provider of the service is the only provider of that particular service that is available to its local community but the provider gets into difficulty. Designation is all about making sure that there is continuity of the provision of the service even if the provider themselves gets into difficulty where there is no alternative provider.

On the integrated care for A&E, yes, there are similarities. I think the critical issue is where you draw the boundaries. If you finish up in a situation where you define the boundaries around A&E as being the whole of the DGH, then you have somewhat frustrated the policy, but I don’t think that should be necessary.

Dr David Bennett is head of Monitor and is NOT a medical doctor.

"Whatever the benefits of the purchaser/provider split, it has led to an increase in transaction costs, notably management and administration costs. Research commissioned by the DH but not published by it estimated these to be as high as 14% of total NHS costs. We are dismayed that the Department has not provided us with clear and consistent data on transaction costs; the suspicion must remain that the DH does not want the full story to be revealed. We were appalled that four of the most senior civil servants in the Department of Health were unable to give us accurate figures for staffing levels and costs dedicated to commissioning and billing in PCTs and provider NHS trusts. We recommend that this deficiency be addressed immediately. The Department must agree definitions of staff, such as management and administrative overheads, and stick to them so that comparisons can be made over time."

                                                  House of Commons

NHS: Budget 2010-£110 BillionMcKinsey

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Anorexia & Bulimia: Breast Implants & Abuse!

©2008 Am Ang Zhang
      That Chris’ mother should have been the patient was obvious from the first time I met her. She indeed saw a psychiatrist before moving from Dorset. She had been hospitalised for Anorexia Nervosa.
      She was cured. She got married. Then she had Chris.
      If she did not tell me, I never would have guessed she had Anorexia Nervosa.
      At first I did not even know how I knew.
      “She was a very good looking woman,” my secretary told me one day, “she hasn’t got a bad figure either.”
      Doctors are not supposed to notice these things and if they do they have to keep it to themselves.
      That was the discordance. She had a good figure. Many recovered anorectics cannot maintain a nice balanced figure and I am quite sure it is to do with the various hormonal upsets from the extreme dieting, a sort of gonadotrophin stimulating hormone problem.
      She did have fertility treatment in order to have Chris. She would feed me with information now and again.  Perhaps that had something to do with it.
      Chris was difficult, but no more than the average single parent child. His father had long since disappeared.
      Was Chris’ behaviour one of the reasons she consulted me?
      She was one of those mothers with lots of questions, and I am one of those psychiatrists who wanted parents to find their own answers.
      In psychiatry knowing the answer is no guarantee to a cure. In fact it is the same in many branches of medicine as we still have so many incurable diseases. Parents do want to have the answer and of course in the commercial world there are now doctors that cater for that desire. A nice label, be it ADHD, Bipolar, Autism or Asperger.  As long as there is a technical sounding name people are happy. If you can have a specific drug, so much the better.  If not you may get special education, benefits or both.
      As long as it has nothing to do with “upbringing”.
      But upbringing could be trans-generational.  What happens to one generation can have an impact on the next generation.
      Many parents want to look at the here and now and a quick fix answer.
      One day mother told me, “I am bulimic!”
      Then she took out some capsules and said that she could not have those as she could not have an orgasm.  She had been seeing an adult psychiatrist but came to me for the problems she found too embarrassing to discuss with her own psychiatrist.
      She had a new boy friend who was much older than she was and he was a pilot.
      She wanted me to see him to explain about the side effect of her medication.
      “I am taking 60 mg.” she told me.
      I did wonder, as the 20 mg dosage might have been less problematic.
      I declined the request and she was rather disappointed. She accepted my reasoning – I did not initiate the treatment.
      Three weeks later she told me she broke up with him.
      Then she told me she normally could not have an orgasm unless she imagined she was having sex with an older man. She then thought it might work with having an older boyfriend.
      As I listened mother decided to tell me more.
      She had been abused by her father from about the age of twelve and the awful thing for her was that she actually enjoyed the sexual side of things. It was an abuse she found hard to come to terms with. She could not hate her father because when she came out of hospital after her Anorexia, she had no breasts to speak of. Her father paid for implants, twice.
      When Chris’s father left he bought a house for them.
      He paid for her private treatment for Bulimia.
      Worst of all, she had to imagine her father whenever she made love to have any chance of an orgasm.
      No. She had never told anyone else before.

                                                                                                 From The Cockroach Catcher 

You may also want to read about  Amanda.

 .............What an outcome. I had spent so much time with this girl and this was in the end what happened. She said one day she would be in a mental hospital like her father, but she hoped to kill herself before then.

         I no longer remember Amanda as a severe anorectic but rather a very talented artist who suffered serious abuse. Yet in a society which prides itself in social care, she did not become a famous artist with a high income, telling all about her history of abuse in front of a famous chat show host. Nor did she become a movie star telling all after drug and alcohol rehab.

         Instead she was on benefits and I am struggling hard to find something uplifting to end this story. It has taught me one thing: Anorexia Nervosa may be just a manifestation.

Anorexia Nervosa Posts

Jun 29, 2011
Cape Floristic Region (CFR) of South Africa
 ©Am Ang Zhang 2005
South Africa reminds me of my Anorexia Nervosa patient.

In The Cockroach Catcher I got my Anorectic patient to play the cello that was banned by the “weight gain contract”:

Mar 01, 2008
This is not about Stephen Hawking's famous book that sold over 9m copies world-wide, but a collection of material that relates to Anorexia Nervosa in a chronological order. You see, I believe in free sharing of knowledge ...
Mar 19, 2011
Not all of them for Anorexia Nervosa, but Anorexia Nervosa required the longest stay and drained the most money from any Health Authority. I have seen private clinics springing up for the sole purpose of admitting anorectic patients and ...

Jun 17, 2008
Anorexia Nervosa comes to mind and this is one of the conditions that have for want of a better word captured the imagination of sufferers and public alike. I have already posted an earlier blog on its brief history. ...
Feb 23, 2010
This is not about Stephen Hawking's famous book that sold over 9m copies world-wide, but a collection of material that relates to Anorexia Nervosa in a chronological order. You see, I believe in free sharing of knowledge ...
Apr 30, 2010
Not all of them for Anorexia Nervosa, but Anorexia Nervosa required the longest stay and drained the most money from any Health Authority. I have seen private hospitals springing up for the sole purpose of admitting ...
Feb 21, 2010
Anorexia Nervosa: Chirac & Faustian Pact. Reading a new book sometimes brings you the unexpected. In Ahead of the Curves, the author told of the story he heard of Jacques Chirac and his pact with West African marabouts, ...
Feb 29, 2008
Anorexia Nervosa: a cult? I have long recognised that Anorexia Nervosa is really only a symptom, like a headache, for which there is no “one-size-fits-all” cure.
Jun 08, 2011
... to full hip-replacements, from Stents to Heart Transplants, from Anorexia Nervosa to Schizophrenia, from Trigeminal Neuralgia to Multifocal Glioma, from prostate cancer to kidney transplant and I could go on and on. ...
Jul 20, 2009
Edward Burne-Jones.
Without the effect of drugs that would double the bodyweight, we have in the end one of the most beautiful portraits of the Pre-Raphaelites. Burne-Jones’ life is of course another psychiatric book: his mother died when he was six days old and many felt that all his life he was searching for the perfect mother he so missed. It is indeed ironical that the art world has been much enriched by what was essentially untreated bereavement.

NHS: The Way We Were! Free!
FREE eBook: Just drop me a line with your email.

Email: cockroachcatcher (at) gmail (dot) com.

Monday, December 23, 2013

NHS Hospitals: Xmas sale?

Xmas will soon be here: SALE IS ON!!!

© 2013 Am Ang Zhang

Looks as though the following might be surplus to requirements by the new NHS, as it was decreed that clients or service users do not really need hospitals.

The Background:
Historically, London Medical Schools were established in the hospitals in the poorer areas in order that medical students could have enough cases to practice on and in return the poor patients had the advantages of free treatment. There is nothing like volume for medical training.

For a very long time, doctors trained in London were one of the most valued. A Senior Registrar (yes, in those days) can easily get a Consultant job anywhere else in the Commonwealth and often a Professorship (British styled ones). In other words London trained doctors are a highly exportable commodity.

“The shape of the London hospital system has also been affected by developments in medical science and medical education. In many ways it has been the activities of doctors which have determined the pattern of the hospitals. The increasing ability to treat disease and improved standards of care shortened the time patients spent in hospital, raised the demand for services and led to an escalation of cost. The development of specialisation led first to the development of the special hospitals and later to special departments within the general hospitals. Advances in bacteriology, biochemistry, physiology and radiology cre­ated the need for laboratory accommodation and service departments, so that hospitals no longer consisted merely of an operating theatre and a series of wards. Sub-specialisation ultimately meant that services had to be organised on a regional basis and the very reputation of the capital’s doctors affected the number of patients to be seen. The hospitals of central London have long served a population much larger than their local residents.

It is against this complex background of population movement, poor social conditions, disease, wealth and poverty, professional expertise, critical comment and publicity that the London hospitals developed. A complex institutional pattern emerged. Voluntary hospitals grew up beside the ancient royal and endowed hospitals. A local government service providing institutional care for sick paupers developed alongside the hospitals. A network of fever hospitals, scientifically planned from the outset, was established. Physically near to each other, staffed by doctors who had trained in the same hospitals, and often serving the same people, the different objectives and status of the institutions led them to work in virtual isolation from each other. Each hospital had its own traditions and nobody standing in the middle of a ward could have doubted for a moment the type of hospital he was in. Countless details gave each an atmosphere of its own, and the different methods of administration and levels of staffing set them apart.”                  Geoffrey Rivett

Most of my Medical School Orthopaedic Surgeons were trained here.

The hospital treats almost 10,000 patients a year.

Although most patients would not consider travelling too far for a routine hip replacement, which can probably be done as well in their local district general hospital, the specialist clinics at the Royal National Orthopaedic may provide a reason to make the journey.

Specialist clinics deal with bone tumours, scoliosis (curvature of the spine), rheumatology, spinal injuries, specialist hand and shoulder conditions and sports injuries.

One word of warning – the RNOH's trust did not do well in the Healthcare Commission annual health check.

Strange that. So it may be the next to go.

The Cockroach Catcher was there.

So was the MP, as a patient.

If you have a head injury, stroke or condition affecting the brain, such as Alzheimer's, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis, this is the place to go. Along with the nearby Institute of Neurology, it is major international centre for treatment, research and training. The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery has 200 beds at its central London site near Euston station, and treated more than 4,500 in-patients and 54,000 outpatients last year.

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Good

Perhaps not for sale so soon. Or saving it for the needy MPs?

Neurologists wear bow ties in my days.

The largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK, the Royal Brompton and Harefield acquired its reputation through the work of Sir Magdi Yacoub, the internationally renowned surgeon who pioneered heart transplants in the UK the 1980s.

The trust attracts staff and patients from across the country and around the globe, and is a centre for research with between 500 and 600 papers published in scientific journals each year. Its 10 research programmes each received the highest rating in 2006.

Each year, surgeons perform 2,400 coronary angioplasties (where a balloon is threaded through an incision in the groin to the heart and expanded to widen a blocked artery), 1,200 coronary bypasses and 2,000 treatments for respiratory failure – so they do not lack for experience.

Other specialist heart units with strong reputations are Papworth Hospital, Huntingdon, where Britain's first successful heart transplant was carried out in 1979; and the Cardiothoracic Centre, Liverpool, formed in 1991.

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Good

It could not be anything else.

The first dedicated cancer hospital in the world, founded in 1851, is still the best. With the Institute of Cancer Research, the Royal Marsden is the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe, seeing more than 40,000 patients from the UK and abroad each year.

It has the highest income from private patients of any hospital in Britain, testifying to its international reputation.

Very ready for Medical Tourism!!!

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Excellent

The country's largest ear, nose and throat hospital is also Europe's centre for audiological research, with an international reputation for its expertise and range of specialties, all on one site on London's Gray's Inn Road.

Its services range from minor procedures such as inserting grommets (tiny valves placed in the eardrum of a child to drain fluid from the middle ear) to major head and neck surgery. A quarter of its 60,000 patients were referred from other parts of the UK and abroad last year. The hospital has a cochlear implant programme, a snoring and sleep disorder clinic, and a voice clinic, the oldest and largest in the UK. One in 25 people develops voice problems such as hoarseness, but it rises to one in five among, for example, teachers, actors and barristers.

A measure of the Royal National's success is the fact that one third of patients referred from other clinics or hospitals with voice problems has their diagnosis changed on investigation there. Although there are many other centres where throat, nose and ear problems can be treated, none are pre-eminent enough to be included in this guide.


Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Good

Britain's leading national and international referral centre for diseases of the bowel is the only hospital in the UK and one of only 14 worldwide to be recognised as a centre of excellence by the World Organisation of Digestive Endoscopy.

It is a chosen site for the NHS bowel-cancer screening programme being rolled out across the country, which seeks to detect and treat changes in the bowel before cancer develops. Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in the UK but often goes undetected because sufferers can fail to report important symptoms, such as blood in the faeces, often out of embarrassment.

Bowel cancer can be treated via colonoscopy, to find and remove polyps – growths on the wall of the bowel. The hospital's education programme attracts clinicians from across the UK and overseas with the aim of spreading good practice elsewhere.
The hospital is part of the North West London Hospitals Trust.

The liver unit at King's is the largest in the world. It is one of 31 specialist liver units in the UK, but none can match it for expertise, facilities or state of the art equipment. It offers investigation and treatment for all types of acute and chronic liver disease, which is increasing in the UK.

The unit performs 200 liver transplants a year, and more than 200 patients with liver failure are admitted to its intensive care unit each year.

King's carried out the first successful transplantation of islet cells – part of the pancreas involved in producing insulin – in a Type 1 diabetic, greatly reducing his need for injected insulin. Last month, the Department of Health announced plans to establish six new islet transplantation centres round the country, based on the research at King's.

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Excellent

No bargain price, I am afraid.

The Maudsley Hospital

The Cockroach Catcher was there too.

One of Britain's oldest hospitals, the Maudsley's contribution to mental-health care stretches back at least 760 years.

Today it is a centre of excellence for the delivery mental-health care. Its addictions centre offers new treatments for drug abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders and smoking, it provides innovative care for disturbed children and adolescents and is the largest mental-health training institute in the country.

It has pioneered new approaches to the treatment of heroin addiction and its specialists have raised concerns over the link between cannabis and schizophrenia which have led the Government to review changes to the law.

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Good

If you have a child with a rare or complicated disorder, this is the place to come.

And they do and many are from the Middle East.

So the bad press would not matter, good for the Medical Tourist trade.

It is the largest centre for research into childhood illness outside the US, the largest centre for children's cancer in Europe and delivers the widest range of specialist care of any children's hospital in the UK.

Great Ormond Street won't treat just any patient, though: it only accepts specialist referrals from other hospitals and community services – in order to ensure it receives the rare and complex cases and not the routine.

I have done that: see Teratoma: An Extract

Paediatrics is one of the most rewarding areas of medicine for doctors because it has seen some of the most spectacular advances over the past 30 years, especially in cancer, where survival has improved dramatically.

Many of those cared for at GOSH still have life-threatening conditions but they are promised the best care both because of the expertise of its medical staff and because of the trust's extraordinary success in attracting charitable donations, which have made it among the best-funded medical institutions in the country.

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Excellent.

Baby P or no Baby P.

My eyes still well up when Moorfields is mentioned. Honest.

The largest specialist eye hospital in the country and one of the largest in the world, Moorfields was founded in 1805. It treats more patients than any other eye hospital or clinic in the UK and more than half the ophthalmologists practising in the UK have received specialist training at Moorfields.

However, in recent years the hospital has relied too heavily on its reputation and grown complacent. Though standards of academic excellence are still high, it has neglected the services it offers to patients, which were rated weak on quality by the Healthcare Commission in its annual health check last year.

The hospital carried out 23,000 ophthalmic operations last year, providing surgeons with extensive experience on which to hone their skills. The reputation of the trust is such that it has started to run clinics in distant hospitals, capitalising on its brand. The hospital employs 1,300 staff who work on 13 sites.

Perhaps it is not so good to be following on commercial branding. Stick to medicine!!!

Despite its recent problems, Moorfields remains Britain's most highly-regarded eye treatment centre. No alternative hospitals have a comparable reputation.
Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Weak

For bargain hunters then.

Material drawn from The Independent.

So do you really think that hospitals are not necessary, or not necessary for the average citizen of England. Soon they will be sold and it will be costly to buy them back.

What about medical training? If these hospitals are sold, who pays?

And watch out, someone, your parent, your spouse, your child and even your MP may need a Hospital Consultant one day. 

Say something now.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves."
Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

If you think you have read this before: you have indeed. As NHS reform is just re-cycling of earlier political dogma, the Cockroach Catcher can re-cycle his blog posts!!!