The robots helping NHS surgeons perform better, faster – and for longer | Society | The Guardian

It is the most exacting of surgical skills: tying a knot deep inside a patient’s abdomen, pivoting long graspers through keyhole incisions with no direct view of the thread.

Trainee surgeons typically require 60 to 80 hours of practice, but in a mock-up operating theatre outside Cambridge, a non-medic with just a few hours of experience is expertly wielding a hook-shaped needle – in this case stitching a square of pink sponge rather than an artery or appendix.

The feat is performed with the assistance of Versius, the world’s smallest surgical robot, which could be used in NHS operating theatres for the first time later this year if approved for clinical use. Versius is one of a handful of advanced surgical robots that are predicted to transform the way operations are performed by allowing tens or hundreds of thousands more surgeries each year to be carried out as keyhole procedures.


Source: The robots helping NHS surgeons perform better, faster – and for longer | Society | The Guardian


What does the NHS need to survive for another 70 years? | Richard Horton, Clare Gerada, and others | Opinion | The Guardian

As the health service marks its 70th anniversary, experts offer their prescriptions for keeping it going


Source: What does the NHS need to survive for another 70 years? | Richard Horton, Clare Gerada, and others | Opinion | The Guardian

The DWP has been caught trying to ‘coerce’ GPs into saying their patients are fit-for-work | The Canary

The DWP are saying that their DWP Assessors know better than GPs on whether a person is fit to work, on what basis, surely the evidence is says otherwise.

The DWP letter to GPs is showing the contempt is has for GPs. GPs are highly trained professional, what training have the DWP assessors had?


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Social care funding crisis leaves the NHS in limbo | Healthcare Professionals Network | The Guardian

Four themes dominated this year’s gathering of the health service clan at the NHS Confederation’s annual conference in Manchester: priorities for the new money, avoiding another winter crisis, re-energising the redesign of clinical services, and finding, keeping and training the staff to do it all.

The health and social care secretary, Jeremy Hunt, indicated the shape of the offer to be made to taxpayers over more NHS funding. It will be tied to “simple goals” on priorities such as cancer treatment, maternity, waiting time standards for mental health support and integrating health and social care.

Hunt and the NHS leadership are pinning their hopes on avoiding another winter dominated by the wholesale cancellation of elective surgery by freeing up 4,000 beds through slashing the number of long stayers. The plan is to cut the number of patients in hospital for more than three weeks by a quarter over the coming months. It is curious that there is not a parallel push to reduce inappropriate admissions of frail elderly people.


Source: Social care funding crisis leaves the NHS in limbo | Healthcare Professionals Network | The Guardian

A ‘senseless and unfounded’ DWP policy is causing harm to claimants and costing the NHS millions, says a charity | The Canary

A new campaign by the charity MS Society is calling on the DWP to scrap a “senseless and unfounded” policy that’s harming claimants and costing the NHS millions.

The 20 metre rule

MS Society represents people who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a “condition which can affect the brain and/or spinal cord”. It causes a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, trouble walking, numbness, muscle stiffness / spasms, and problems with balance.

The charity’s campaign is focused on scrapping the ’20 metre rule’ which governs access to the mobility component of the PIP disability benefit. A press release for the campaign seen by The Canary states:

People with MS have been increasingly losing vital support since Personal Independence Payment (PIP) began in 2013. The biggest change has been the introduction of the 20 metre rule, used in PIP assessments to determine eligibility for the higher rate of mobility support. Under the previous benefit – Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – the measure was 50 metres. Now, if you can walk just one step over 20 metres, roughly the length of two double-decker buses, you won’t qualify for higher level of mobility support. Under DLA 94% of people with MS were receiving this higher rate but this has fallen to just 66% under PIP.

The charity has also released a campaign video highlighting the callousness of the 20 metre policy:


Source: A ‘senseless and unfounded’ DWP policy is causing harm to claimants and costing the NHS millions, says a charity | The Canary

Make social care free to save NHS, say ex-Labour and Tory ministers

As well as that being said further savings could be made by amalgamating Social Care and the NHS, for after all we now have one Minister over both areas, so it is the natural progression.

Govt Newspeak

Means testing rules can leave people with substantial needs paying hundreds of thousands for carePeers also call for ‘radical streamlining’ of damaging reforms under former health secretary Andrew Lansley. The government should make social care free to everyone who needs it to take pressure off the NHS, former Labour and Tory health ministers have said.

Conservative, Lord David Prior and Labour’s Lord Ara Darzi also called for a “radical streamlining” of NHS organisations to roll back the damaging reforms implemented by former health secretary Andrew Lansley.

Abolishing means testing of social care would end the scandal of people with significant care needs facing bills in the hundreds of thousands of pounds for care, they said.


Cuts to social care funding under the Conservatives have seen the numbers of people receiving state-funded care falling…

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Shock figures from top thinktank reveal extent of NHS crisis | Society | The Guardian

The NHS has among the lowest per capita numbers of doctors, nurses and hospital beds in the western world, a new study of international health spending has revealed.

The stark findings come from a new King’s Fund analysis of health data from 21 countries, collected by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. They reveal that only Poland has fewer doctors and nurses than the UK, while only Canada, Denmark and Sweden have fewer hospital beds, and that Britain also falls short when it comes to scanners.

“If the 21 countries were a football league then the UK would be in the relegation zone in terms of the resources we put into our healthcare system, as measured by staff, equipment and beds in which to care for patients,” said Siva Anandaciva, the King’s Fund’s chief analyst.

“If you look across all these indicators – beds, staffing, scanners – the UK is consistently below the average in the resources we give the NHS relative to countries such as France and Germany. Overall, the NHS does not have the level of resources it needs to do the job we all expect it to do, given our ageing and growing population, and the OECD data confirms that,” he added.

The report concludes that, given the dramatic differences between Britain and other countries: “A general picture emerges that suggests the NHS is under-resourced.”


Source: Shock figures from top thinktank reveal extent of NHS crisis | Society | The Guardian

Is the NHS still fit for purpose? : BBC

I have just watched The Big Questions – The NHS is it still fit for purpose, in which I was in the audience. This was a debate which was presented by Nicky Campbell from the Manor CE Academy, York.

Many aspects of the NHS were debated, such as, funding from Central Government, should it still be free at point of delivery, privatisation, structure, treatments which should still be provided, end of life care, assisted suicide, etc.

I did respond to the comments made about assisting to end life as this is not straightforward. There are those, due to their conditions who do choose to end their life and there are those that do not. Suicide is not illegal but assisting those to die is (Assisted suicide is prohibited by section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 and voluntary euthanasia is considered murder under UK law.). Many wish a change in the Law to allow, for those that wish it, to end their life with help from another person, which would mean that when this occurs the person helping would not be subject to arrest for providing this help, assuming all the checks and balances created by the Law were adhered to. There are many, especially some with long term disabilities and other life-long health condition who do not wish for this change in the law as they fear their life my be taken when it is against their choice and this choice also needs respecting.

This was just one aspect of the debate there was charging for treatments and visits to the GPs (General Practice Doctors), again an aspect that I disagree with, as we should continue with the original concept of being free from the point of delivery. For just a small charge would be a charge too many and what about the cost of the administration, as was mentioned in the debate. But another reason for this not to occur is, when would this small charge be increased by successive Governments and what about those who could not even afford a small charge.

Here are some of my other views

  • the lack of funding  on Social Care and its impact then on the NHS, which, while not being deprived of funding on the scale of Social Care, the two services run in tandem with each other. Problems with one are bound to affect the other, especially on bed blocking through insufficient access to social care being either home care or residential. The beds are blocked or patients are discharged before a sufficient care package is  effectively put in place and many more. This not only means the patient is not sufficiently supported to carry on with their life, but could mean a re-admission due to the lack of required care. This could cause a safeguarding alert, which could have been easily avoided, with sufficient funding for both the NHS and social care.
  • social care is suffering due to lack of suitable trained staff as is the NHS. None of these services can effectively operate on a ‘shoe-string budget.
  • do the Government have an agenda on the NHS, which their lack of funding of social care is adding to the problem, which could be political to show the status quo is not working and that privatisation could be the answer, hence the requirement for services being required to tender, with the service being allocated to the cheapest bidder, without any sufficient checks being made as to whether the tender is covering all aspects to the specification of the required service. So the privatised services become non-effective and non-efficient, leading to the call for more tendering and creating more privatisation.
  • there is no transparency or accountability, only profit taking from the private sector and it is the population as a whole who suffer both short and long term. Those within the decision process do not care as they have sufficient resources to bypass the NHS and use private health facilities. This creates a growth in private health who then further deplete the staffing resources of the NHS,  Then the cycle goes around again and again and so on.
  • funding is not the only problem, which is a major factor, but the root cause is not being addressed. To me the route cause is too many changes being brought in year on year without thought of the resultant outcomes to improve the facilities
  • also with no accountability and transparency of both the NHS and social care, they can effectively do as they please. The powers that be are always wishing to cover their own backs and therefore whistleblowing is not encouraged and is effectively not at the starting gate. By looking at mistakes and problems, including complaints these should be used as a learning tool to improve for the future.
  • the pay gaps of the frontline to the CEOs and other senior management are too vast and when there is a problem in one authority, the senior staff, if there is any investigation are allowed to resign and then gain similar employment in adjoining  authorities, maybe doing similar roles. Where problems occur there needs to be accountability to stop bad practice being ignored and transferred from one authority to another and then another and so on.

I have a, somewhat, controversial consideration, as we now have a Secretary of Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt, whether you agree with his suitability or not, is it not time to have one organisation covering both Health and Social Care. Currently, around the UK, do Health and Social Care really work together and if they do is this sufficient. With one organisation would it not be easier to work as one team for the betterment for all concerned, including the population of the UK. Yes I am well aware that the many areas within the NHS do, now, not work together, but is that down to the various structures, individual management and many other areas. I can well believe that when the frontline personal are involved there is much more team working, if they are allowed to by their respective managements.

In doing this there will be cost savings, especially within senior management as there would be one management structure, instead of the two or possibly more currently in place.

However, funding would still be a major obstacle and each area of the UK would need to expressly calculate their funding requirements and the Government would have to listen

Also I have come across an article from digital health which I have made into a blog post  NHS digital programme to benefit from £760m government funding : digital health, perhaps this is part of the answer to improve what is there.
There is also another article I have come across from Denmark see my blog post Healthcare DENMARK – New inspiring White Paper: Denmark – A Telehealth Nation, could this be a solution
 The NHS is a wonderful concept and should be held as a great asset to the UK, if only the problems could be sorted by persons who care for what they are doing, which in the main is the frontline, whereas the management are only looking after number 1, themselves.

To view the debate Is the NHS still fit for purpose?

I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me : The Guardian

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.


Source: I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me : The Guardian

Government takes small step over risk of NHS care home discrimination

It should be an individuals right to be able to live where they chose to and not where an authority states they should. Care is personal to the individual and should never be reduced in quality or quantity.

Long term care should not be metered by cost, but by individual need in accordance with their choice. Why should having a disability or a life long condition mean their choice cannot be respected.

Govt Newspeak

The government has taken a small step towards addressing the discrimination faced by service-users with complex healthcare needs who risk being forced into institutions.

Last month, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) wrote to 13 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) as the first step in a potential judicial review of their policies on long-term NHS funding for care outside hospital, known as NHS continuing healthcare (NHS CHC).

But the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) now appears to have quietly altered key guidance on NHS CHC, making it harder for CCGs to continue to discriminate against disabled people receiving such funding.

Concerns about the policies of more than 40 CCGs were first raised in January 2017 by Fleur Perry (pictured), herself a recipient of NHS continuing healthcare.

Her research showed that many CCGs had drawn up policies suggesting they would move disabled people eligible for NHS…

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