Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Does anyone believe that the NHS has been a success?

Recognise NHS success, says Blair
Tony Blair has admitted his NHS reforms have been "really tough" for staff but said waiting list cuts, new hospitals and more staff were a sign of success.He said he did not think there would be a reversal of the "essential course" of more choice for patients and greater competition between health providers.And he said he expected NHS staff to make a "more rational assessment at the conclusion" of the reform process.Both the Lib Dems and the Tories say the 10 years have been wasted.He was addressing a medical audience two days after junior doctors called for Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt to resign.On Saturday, the British Medical Association's junior doctors conference called the online Medical Training Application Service for doctors' jobs "shambolic".

If waiting lists have been cut and new hospitals built then I believe it has been because money has been taken from other places to pay for it. Peter has been robbed to pay Paul.

Nurses ready for action over pay
By Nick Triggle
BBC News, health reporter

Nurse leaders have threatened to take industrial action unless ministers make a U-turn on their "miserly" pay offer.The government has offered nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland a 1.5% pay rise this month with another 1% to come in November.But nurses at the Royal College of Nursing annual conference said the government should agree a full 2.5% immediately - as in Scotland.

Would Mr Blair be happy to live on this salary? Would he feel respected and appreciated if this is the salary he was offered after all his hard work?

The Nurses are not the only ones complaining.

Strike threat over NHS pay talks
Porters, cleaners and other ancillary health workers are threatening strike action after talks with employers ended without agreement.Their unions are unhappy with the government's decision to stagger a 2.5% pay rise, which they say reduces the value of the award to 1.9%.The offer to about 300,000 non-clinical staff is the same as that made to nurses.Unison has warned it will ballot members unless the offer is improved.Mike Jackson of Unison said the "impasse means that we have moved a step closer to staff taking industrial action."This is always a last resort but with living costs soaring annually to almost 5% it is hugely unrealistic to expect our hard-working health members to survive over the next year with effectively just a 1.9% pay increase."

And back to bugs!

Hospital bugs

Deadly hospital bugs have hogged the headlines in recent years.There are many different types of infections patients can pick up in hospital, but the two that have received the most coverage are MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

C. difficile is a bacterium found in the gut of up to 3% of healthy adults and 66% of infants, although it rarely causes problems.However, certain antibiotics can disturb the normal balance, allowing the bug to thrive and causing severe diarrhoea and in some cases severe inflammation of the bowel which can be life threatening. Over 65s are most at risk.MRSA infections occur where there is opportunity for MRSA to get into the body, such as at surgical wounds or where a catheter or needle is inserted.It is no more dangerous than many other infections, but because it has developed resistance to methicillin and other antibiotics, it is much more difficult to treat.
Combating MRSA and C. difficile.There has been a big push on ward cleaning and personal hygiene to combat MRSA.Tactics include providing disinfectant hand-rubs and encouraging more vigilance among patients and visitors.For C. difficile, the tactics are slightly different. Rigorous cleaning has an effect on the bug, but unlike MRSA, it is not resistant to antibiotics and can be treated relatively easily if identified quickly and the patient is not too weak.
MRSA rates hit a high in 2003-4 when there were 7,684. Since then they have been steadily falling, but not quickly enough to meet the target of halving the rate by 2008 to bring it under 4,000.
C. difficile has only come to national attention more recently. The rate of infection is still rising - up 8% in the last year to over 50,000.But experts point out the rate of increase is slowing, which may signify the corner is starting to be turned.The National Audit Office estimates that hospital-acquired infections are costing the NHS about £1bn a year.C. difficile is mentioned on more death certificates than MRSA.According to the Office for National Statistics, C. difficile was linked to 3,800 deaths in 2004-5 and MRSA, 1,629 deaths.But that has to be seen in the context that C. difficile is nearly 10 times more common than MRSA.

The National Audit Office estimates that Super Bugs are costing the NHS about £1bn a year (and many lives) and it has been said

' a big push on ward cleaning and personal hygiene'

is happening, then why doesn't the Government spent £1bn on more cleaners, nursing staff and education to combat the situation.

Surely that would work?

Prevention is better than cure.

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An Irish Blessing

(A Blessing from St. Patrick)
May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

May the rains fall soft upon your fields,

And, until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.