Wednesday, 31 December 2008

What is the world coming to?

Last night I went along to my GP surgery. Nothing unusual about that except I had a little time to study the notices. A series of notices pasted to the wall proclaimed “Free condoms available at this practise” I got to thinking about the first packet I bought I think it took twelve months before I used them. Later in the evening I was reading our local paper and came across a piece proclaiming our MP was delighted that three theatres in Birmingham had signed up to a government scheme to provide free theatre seats for people under 26. There must surely be some qualifying criteria to both these initiatives but on the face of it life’s great if you’re young these days. Get your date, the government pay for the theatre tickets the NHS pay for the jonnies so all you have to do is “enjoy” Well I console myself I get a free ride on the bus and free prescriptions. I hope there is a logical explanation for the apparent freebies but I can’t help thinking “what is the world coming to?”

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Roll on the bed

Ok hold onto your dirty minds this blog is not going smutty.
In bygone days a roll on the bed had a completely different connotation than it does for me today. I won’t go into its past meaning because I guess most of you can guess what it meant. Nowadays when I suggest this the misses knows it’s time to change my surgical stockings. I can just about manage getting them off and showering is OK but putting clean ones back on requires some assistance. The wife gets into an awful sweat as we pull and shove grunt and grown to get the wretched things back on. Romance is out of the question, nothing remotely attractive about seeing me half naked in surgical stockings. Oh the humility of getting old. Good job I have a good memory and the wife a good sense of humour.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Primary care

I’m never quite sure where Primary Care ends and Acute Care begins. Our GP seems quick to send me off to A&E these days. Anyone would think I’m an awkward old git instead of a sick old gentleman. We have had a long running campaign against our PCT over the provision of a clinic in our area and over the number of GPs we have. We’ve been mislead, blatantly lied to and politically manipulated with a patient survey that was amateurish in its content and designed to give the PCT the result it wanted. The person responsible for Primary Care provision in our area is not trusted and we have a major difference of opinion in what we see as adequate GP provision. I have commented before on how we have lost doctors and how when a surgery had building repair problems it had to be closed for two weeks whilst the work was carried out. Our PCT claim it is a perceived view that we have inadequate facilities but during the surgery closure about 1300 patients had virtually no health care. Our MP did get an apology from the chief exec over the surgery closure but it was the patients who should have had the apology. Although our local politicians give some support to our complaints as far as I can see our MP who could make a difference seems to accept that things are OK. From a sick patients point of view primary care in our area is poor. I can give many examples of not being able to get appointments or having to wait for hours in a surgery full of people with coughs and colds (last thing I need these days is flu and before you shout get a jab, I can’t at this stage of my treatment) The problem is not with our GPs but I think with the system. We have little choice of GP provision so it’s a case of take it or leave it which I feel is unsatisfactory to many patients in Newton. Our Primary Care Trust won an award recently from HSJ as the best trust in England. Things must be pretty bad in other parts of the country. But until we get full political support for the campaign we will get nowhere. It’s difficult to see how this can happen in our ward with two lib dem councillors, one labour and a labour MP. It will take a major incident for things to change; I just hope I’m not it.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

An evening at A&E

A visit to Sandwell A&E dept can be a great leveller.
A couple of days ago I displayed some symptoms that we were a little concerned about. I rang the emergency doctor because it was out of hours and I was advised that I needed to be checked out at A&E we’ll send an ambulance they said. I didn’t think it was an emergency so I offered to be driven in by my wife. Will you tell them we’re coming? Oh no we can’t do that just go along to reception they’ll triage you, you wont have to wait long. This seems absolutely potty to me they’re quite happy to send an ambulance for me which means they have to notify the hospital but to tell them I’m coming by car, sorry can’t do. In Sandwell we have a new A&E dept attached to our local hospital. Opened only a couple of years ago it should be state of the art, it is a smart facility which is being ruined by the people who are using it. There were bloody rags left on the floor and spilled fluids. Most of the patients like me were suffering in silence. The majority were Asian with some afro Caribbean and a few whites. The silence was broken when a family who I can only describe as “shameless” were brought in by ambulance. The injured party was a young woman in her early twenties, very vocal and dissatisfied with her lack of attention. She was followed a little while later by what I assume was her dad and then her boy friend. These were equally as vocal complaining about being here all night. I was ashamed of my own race. Seeing a doctor was in my opinion very quick and he ordered some blood tests which were done quickly and I assumed sent off to the lab. I discovered later that the samples had not been identified and as such not tested. Another doctor comes along takes some more blood and advises us to wait in the waiting room for the results. Shameless family are still making a fuss. They loudly announce they are leaving. Plonk the girl in a wheel chair and exit the hospital to the relief of the rest of us. The boy friend had tried to intimidate me while I was sitting waiting for my test results. We ignored him and my wife threatened me not to make a fuss. I’m not sure what I could have done except wave my walking stick at him. A few minutes later a couple of Bobbies arrived but as usual too late. I noticed a wheel chair abandoned in Little Lane when we left. Hospital staff and sick patients should not have to deal with this kind of behaviour. They have the details of the patient so perhaps proceedings can be taken against them although I’m not sure what laws they broke except for perhaps disturbing the peace and intimidating me. We are all entitled to health care but we should also respect the care providers and fellow patients and leave the hospital in a condition in which we would expect to find it.
I suppose the question we should be asking is how safe are our A&E depts?

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Light on the blogging

This is because my health has not been so good lately. Trying to blog while you are in pain is to say the least difficult. I was very unhappy with the results of my scribbles so I have not published them. Because a bit of real anger came out I might also have got sued. The wife propped me up in my computer chair surrounded by pillows so that I was as comfortable as possible which made for some light relief. I’m pleased to be able to report that a couple of days ago the pain subsided and although I am very stiff in all my joints I’m able to look more positively at the world. Getting up stairs is a bit of a problem and getting up from low chairs is almost impossible without help but I’m getting there. The other aspect of this was that as health issues seem to have taken over my life completely these days who the hell wants to hear the ramblings of a sick old man? I’ve become an expert on the workings of our local NHS and I’ll comment on the short comings of our primary care and A&E in the next few days. In the meantime it’s good to be back.

Friday, 19 December 2008

The proud granddad bit

We went along to see 12yrs old Hippy perform in his school’s Christmas play. This was a production by sixth form but included a couple of first years as urchins. Well he looks the part most week ends in fact he looked smarter dressed up in his costume than he prefers. Excellent production, really well acted and produced. As it was the last night they had a photo spot after the production. Little Mr. was in his element he enjoyed every minute of the attention he got and well deserved. He made a small part all his own with a wonderful performance. I guess some of the older kids were thinking never work with kids and animals.
For his first term at this school he certainly made his mark. The down side that it was little too much for granddad and I am suffering for the long day this morning but I would not have missed it for the world.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

It’s not just a case of taking the pills

I went along to the Anti coag clinic for the first time this morning and I got a bit of a shock. I’m under the impression my clots have cleared and the rat poison is just a precaution to make sure no others form. Not so the nurse tells me it takes three to four months for a clot to clear and my other health conditions can cause clots to form. So you need to take great care. Was I wearing the special stockings? Well no I thought they were just for use in the hospital. I got measured for a special pair of tights to wear for a least 23hrs per day. Given a long list of things to look out for and advised if in doubt call the clinic or an ambulance and as for getting back to normal that is a long way off. On the plus side though, no hoovering, this action can apparently cause the clots to move which might cause a stroke or heart attack. Every cloud has a silver lining. Looks like we may be looking for a cleaner in the New Year.
Despite this being a very busy clinic I wondered why the nurses knew the patients by first name, well it’s because they see a lot of us over the first few weeks.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Double standards

A couple of days ago Vince Cable, who I regard as one of the outstanding Liberal Democrat front bench politicians, embarrassed the government by revealing the mess up with public sector pensions. This was of course originally a conservative cock up but happily carried on by labour. What is interesting and alarming is how quickly the minister concerned came forward and said no one would be asked to pay back the over payments. Apparently this is a mistake that could date back 30yrs. So increases on the over payments have been compounded over that period. Public sector pensions are largely inflation proof and the majority are the better off pensioners. It was a different story last year when anomalies were discovered in pension credit over payments which were clawed back in a very aggressive way (although when the outcry became loud enough the aggression eased). These were largely very poor individuals without any other source of income. What a shabby pensions service we have.
I would like to know what the government are going to do about the thousands of people who they are deliberately under paying pensions to. I refer of course to all those pensioners caught in the Pensions Protection Fund trap who are being slowly stripped of their pensions by Brown & Co. Will we eventually see the people responsible for the mess fired and who will foot the bill? My guess is no one will be fired, the tax payer will foot the bill and PPF pensioners can go starve.
When Turner looked at pensions I thought that perhaps we might see a light at the end of the tunnel but all that seems to have happened is the mess gets worse.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The big energy con

I got my quarterly gas & electricity statements last week. Three months ago I complained to them about the amount they were asking for direct debit. I am now 80 quid in credit on my gas and 20 quid in debit on the lecky. What annoys me is that they are asking for an extra 14 quid a month on the lecky but not offering a reduction on the gas. To me this is profiteering. They know that eventually they will have to reduce the price because of world energy prices falling. They were quick enough to increase charges when it went up let’s have the same response now and bring it down. Or the government should step in and put a windfall tax on their profits. In the meantime they are holdoing on to my money and getting interest on it such as it is these days.

Monday, 15 December 2008

He’s done it again.

Back in October I likened our PM to my old comic hero Captain Marvel and not Superman who one of his parliamentary colleagues referred to him as. Those of you of my age group will remember Capt. Marvel’s role was to save the world from all sorts of super villains. Whilst I was away twiddling my thumbs in hospital he let it slip (Gordon that is) that that was what he was doing saving the world. Ooops what about saving his own patch first?. He also announced big increases in pensions which is going to help us hard pressed old uns through his slump er sorry recession. What he has announced is exactly what it should be based on the inflation figures he uses to calculate pension increases in September and not a penny more. So once again he has tried to hood wink us into believing he is generous during these hard times. The extra 60 quid we are getting in January seems to me to be another of his bribes. Last time just before the election he gave 200 quid to each pensioner household for help with council tax and then hurriedly clawed it back. Based on his history I predict an election in the spring of next year. That is if anyone wants the job of trying to sort out his economic mess.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Carted off to hospital 2+

My regular readers (both of you, thank you for your patronage) will have realised I have not posted for about ten days. This is because I have been detained at NHSs pleasure in Sandwell Hospital. The first emergency visit and subsequent diagnosis and treatment were way off the mark and I was taken by paramedic car this time, back to Sandwell A&E and this time admitted. Amongst other things after a lot of prodding, stabbing and a CT scan they discovered I had a blood clot in my right lung. When giving me the prognosis the young doctor said “oh and by the way one of the treatments for this is complete bed rest” This had to be explained to me in more detail I’m thinking I’m in here what more do you want. Well it means just that virtually confined to bed and bedside chair for at least four days. I was banned from even drawing the curtains around the bed and from leaving the space bordered by the curtain. I never realised how tiring it can be doing nothing. Pee bottle delivered and taken away, commode delivered, well you get the idea. I’m pleased to say that the treatment is now working and I’m back home on ward leave for now.
Some comments on Sandwell Hospital and its staff. Well run, efficient, friendly and spotlessly clean wards. The staff are totally dedicated and once on the ward I felt safe. I met some wonderful people. Sister Kelly Cooper is an inspiration to her team, leading from the front she demonstrates the best of the best in NHS care. This was the first time I had been in hospital for a protracted stay and I became the longest serving patient. Great camaraderie with other patients.
Sadly it was not all good the gents bathroom had a cracked loo which leaked onto the floor and a broken window catch which meant the window could not be closed. It’s been pretty cold during my stay so nobody lingered in the loo.
Food was good, typical canteen stuff but warm and tasty. The menu is designed so that all options give you a balanced diet. The staff were so helpful. Cleaners, health care assistants’ student nurses, staff nurses, junior doctors and med students. We are going to have some great doctors and nurses coming through in the next few years.
With just a little more tender loving care of the infrastructure we could have a first class hospital here. Why should we be planning to close it for a hospital with less beds and many miles further away?

This is also a significant day for me in that it is exactly one year since I started to blog. So a very happy birthday to Bob the Black Country Brummie. My thanks to all those people who have commented during the past year and passed on you views by phone.

Monday, 1 December 2008

It’s back

Litter and dog shit as been found on the grassed reservation in front of my house. Some time back I posted a poem for the dogs’ looks like a Christmas greeting might be in order. If I can catch em it will be so much easier but that may not be possible so I suppose it’s back to the poetry, that seemed to work for months. I get so angry with irresponsible dog owners who can’t be bothered to clean up after their pets and as for litter louts grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Better go and have a lie down.