Saturday, 28 November 2009

Smoking at Sandwell hospital

Reply from chief exec above:-
Bobs comments.
I do wish our civil servants would not give such willy nilly responses to what are serious complaints. This letter says to me sorry old mate we know about this problem but we don’t ever intend to do anything about it. I don’t think this response is adequate in any way. In view of my experiences at the hospital a few days ago and the recent reports and concerns about Basildon and other hospitals I am concerned that other more serious poor practises might be revealed.
What to do about it though is another matter. A second letter now seems pointless. Going up the tree might be the only option.
To see the image larger double click the image.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

F for Foxtrot

Having family in America we have over the years sorted most of the language differences. Things like trunk, in English boot. But occasionally we get one which is new. Over there the grandkids and Dad are on holiday for Thanksgiving. As is our practise now we Skype at these times. Yesterday I told them the joke about my mate who had Gammon flue, he said he had a touch of swine flu but he is now cured. My son in law thought this funny but the grandkids never understood. Gammon of course is ham over there.
Son in law then had to read out a long identity number which for some reason got confused in the email. Things were going well, he improvised with the letter id D for delta etc until we came to U he then said U for udder which at the English end caused us to burst out laughing.
There must be a dictionary somewhere of these ID codes because they are used by police and emergency services. A google search is required I think.
Anymore swine flu jokes?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Getting behind or making excuses

I guess you noticed my posts have been a bit sporadic lately. Having a couple of days at the pleasure of our local hospital trust and this week being packed with fun activities like meeting with consultant and chemo. Life’s a little thwart at the moment. Never mind and no ahhhs please. I mentioned in an earlier post how the entrance to the hospital seemed to have improved with no fag ends or smokers on one visit. I’m afraid I can’t report the improvement as being maintained. The fag ends are back at both entrances and smokers puffing away like there’s no tomorrow. Best couple of examples I saw whilst I was checking in were the guy who was leaning against the wall between two No Smoking notices. I counted the notices in the area at seven. Another was a young Muslim man in a wheel chair who got his wife draped in scarf to push him outside to the same spot for a ciggy.
Having made enquiries of staff I know other complaints have been made so I wonder what it will take for hospital security staff to fulfil their duty and do something about it. The chief executive appears to have ignored my letter so perhaps it is time for letter number two a little harsher perhaps or a complaint to the Health Authority. I am not scheduled for a return to the hospital for three weeks so who knows there may still be time.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Ah yes I remember it well.

Fellow blogger Fat Prophet sent me his book on his early life. I wrote a similar effort many years ago now and entered it in a British Library Life Story competition. Fat Prophet is 14years younger than me so the differences between his early life and mine are quite significant and show me the progress being made to rebuild our country after the war. My thanks to FP for stimulating those memories.
My book was written in the early eighties mostly during my lunch breaks at a particularly bad time when people all around me were being made redundant. Immersing myself in writing helped to block out the horrors of what was going on around me day after day. My close family of course have all read it and have pressured me a little to publish but I’m having none of it. Youngest daughter has requested I leave it to her in my will so that she can publish it. I have also had requests to do a later volume on my career. Perhaps now is a good time to do this and perhaps the blog is a good place to do it.

Chapter ??? Extracts from my probable book “can yer read a drawin it” or something like it.

Back in the early eighties; at this stage my daughters and grandkids usually raise their eyebrows start to yawn and make excuses to leave. As you are still here I guess I should continue.
Back in the early eighties during one of the Tories recessions I was working for a large engineering company. Six months earlier I had been made redundant but saved at the eleventh hour and given a new job. I had found myself another job so it was a bit of a dilemma as to whether I should stay. Although I was enjoying what I was now doing redundancies were still a common occurrence near the end of almost every month as new business was hard to find. I had a couple of very talented daughters at school so I needed to keep my job.
We were a jobbing foundry but we had some other sophisticated services many of our competitors didn’t. Tool design, repair & manufacturing, Lab testing and a top end quality control system coupled with some excellent metal pouring facilities.
Our directors had decided to concentrate on one product which we were very good at manufacturing to see out the recession. I knew the technical & manufacturing aspects of this product very well. Getting towards the end of every month I expected to get the call to the Works Directors (WD) office. My wife was on full alert so that when a call came for me to see him by appointment I feared the worst. I telephone her and told her. At the appointed time I knocked on his door and entered. After the usual niceties I sat facing him at his desk. The conversation went something like:- WD why are you looking so down in the mouth? BBCB well I don’t suppose this is good news is it? WD (smiling) why would you think that Bob in fact your stars are on the ascendency. I thought what the bloody hell he is talking about. He went on to explain. The directors had decided that when we came out of recession we would need to embrace new technologies if we were to stay competitive and ahead of our competitors. I thought what the hell does this have to do with me and I wish he would get on with it so that I could start to look for another job.” We want you over the next year or so to do some research, get out into the wide world, look at new technology and how it can impact on us and make recommendations has to what we should invest in”. I was gob smacked, at first I must have sounded like a blithering idiot before I finally got my head around what he was offering me. We discussed the project at some length but it was pretty open ended and down to me. When I got up to leave as I was approaching the door he said “oh and by the way you will have to run it in with your existing job. I never argued.
Back at my desk I pondered the situation for awhile and then phoned my wife. When do you leave she asked. I don’t I blurted out I’ve got a new project. Did you get a pay raise was her next question. She seemed disappointed in me when I told her no and I still had to do my existing job. Having more or less guaranteed employment for at least a year did not seem to impress her or the potential the project offered us.
Three weeks later I was on a plane with our MD bound for Hamburg to look at some machine tools. I was 42 and this was the first time I had been on a commercial flight. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. Six months later my salary had doubled and I had my first substantial bonus.

The above was a taster on what the book might contain. I wonder if I continued to write extracts like this the stories would be of interest to anyone? No perhaps not!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The patient’s journey

A couple of days ago I was taken to A&E at Sandwell by para medic. This was the result of a “funny turn” a medical term when they can’t establish what caused it. I accidently tried head butting our kitchen floor from a standing position. When they mentioned funny turn I thought I better get on stage quick before it wears off. I digress. I possibly fainted but when I was lying on my side on the floor I noticed the bottom edge of our sink unit and thought, “that is starting to break up”. The misses quick as a flash dials all the nines then her mate from down the road. It wasn’t long before I was on a trolley in A&E then relatively quickly transferred to Medical Assessment Unit where I was kept overnight for observation. It was early hours of the morning when I got a bed so I was very tired. I was awakened very hour with a bright light shining in my eyes followed by blood pressure, pulse, temp ect. I had difficulty getting back to sleep and this routine continued all night. Come the morning I was, well; knackered. I don’t want to go into the gory details except to point out the good bits and unfortunately the bad bits.
The good bits; they did a very thorough job of checking me out. They were straight and honest throughout even when the news was not particularly good.
The not so good bits. In the morning they took away my bed and never found me another. I was there all day with nowhere to lie down. It is essential I stretch out during the day. Although I asked for a bed and told them why they never took me seriously. So by late afternoon I was in pain and really stressed out. I felt abandoned and neglected. It wasn’t until the wife started to make a fuss that action started. The ward does not have adequate washing facilities and I did not have the motivation or strength at that time to shower.
But the worst bit is the food and the way it is served. I can honestly say lunch was the worst meal I have ever had, in fact it was uneatable. I asked for lamb casserole but got some sort of pie which was almost cold. I got my wife to bring in a sandwich when she came in mid afternoon. At tea time no food at all was served. The service was poor. When I asked for toast at breakfast she said something like toast (with a sneer) you must be joking mate, bread and butter or cornflakes or porridge. I watched the porridge served to another patient and decided against it. As for B&B in the mornings when I’m not feeling well is not an option. I thought the hospital trust had been praised recently for the quality of its food. Not on this performance. More needs to be done.
The good news though is I’m now back home bruised and sore but without any more major damage.
Our PCT used to organise a training course call “The Expert Patient” I’m becoming an expert in all the disciplines and all the departments.
Am I really becoming a moaning old git?
Perhaps if someone from the PCT reads this blog they may want to ask the hospital trust some searching questions on this.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Smoking at Sandwell hospital II

You will remember (I hope) I wrote an open letter to the chief exec of the hospital trust concerning the above. My minder and I had to go to outpatients this morning and I have to report that not a fag end or smoker was seen at this entrance either going in or coming out. Could my letter have worked? I have not yet had a reply but I’ll settle for the entrances kept like this.

Thank you.

I wish to make a big public thank you to fellow bloggers Fat Prophet and Methodist Preacher and to my friend Gerry. A couple of days ago I was taken into Sandwell hospital by para medic because of a fall. Because of the blogs prays have been said for me by these folks which I appreciate very much. I am happy to say I got away with it quite lightly and although I am still very sore and feeling sorry for myself the news of their concern cheered me up.
I’ll do a more detailed blog on it later.
Many thanks BBCB

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Local politics & such

I haven’t blogged much over the past few days because a) my minder (the misses) keeps finding me “little” jobs around the house and b) our local Labour councillor asked me to help him design a newsletter. I was flattered by the request and very happy to do it. He and his wife have helped the misses and me on several occasions over the last few months without being asked. He is also a leading member of TAG Tanhouse Action Group which is lobbying for our clinic. I couldn’t do much worse than the bland effort put out recently by the Liberals I thought. Although I say so myself I’m pretty good at these things. It is something I can do well and am not prevented by my physical limitations from doing.
I was given a free rein in terms of design. Dave outlined what he wanted to say and a rough idea of layout and then left it to me. I have to say Dave is delighted with the design and so am I. It covers more on the front page than the last two Liberal efforts put together. I will perhaps publish the front page at a time I am sure no political advantage will be given away. The content is reminiscent of “Election Specials” put out by a now deceased ex councillor who could make a something and nothing story sound like he was saving the world. Well our ward anyway. This one contains none of the usual swipe at the opposition or any outrageous claims. In fact in a piece on the clinic, councillor colleagues are thanked for their support. I coined the quote “Keeping his promises, no outrageous claims and no knocking the opposition” at the finish of the leaflet. It’s full of surprises like that and those of you who get a copy I hope you enjoy it.
I referred to the bland nature of recent Liberal efforts and I suppose they lack the input of the ex councillor I mentioned. Newton as always been the battle of the leaflets. Martyn Smith realised this some 30yrs ago when he started his quarterly newsletters. Residents thought somebody was actually working for them. Labour never engaged with this process and as for the Tories we get one very poor quality leaflet just before an election. They spend most of the leaflet complaining about THE PUBLIC in West Brom and little else. It will be interesting to see if this starts a leaflet war so to speak. Will the Liberals raise their game? Will the Tories actually print one? Will Labour match the quarterly output of the Liberals? I ought to offer my services to the other two parties. I would of course have to make a small charge for Liberals and a much larger fee to the Tories to help pay for my health care and the education of my grandkids if they do come back into power. I might have to learn to talk propa. You know plumb in the gob.
Casting becomes carsting Sandwell becomes Sarndwell etc. Gi us good ol black cutra any da.
If anyone wants a good quality leaflet/newsletter designed I’m your man. Have computer, have software but can’t travel far.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Round up of the week

I never intended for this blog to become an online diary. "Dear blog went to bed early tonight etc etc." That could get incredibly boring but looking back over this week I have seen some ups and downs. With my disease I suppose just living with it is bad enough particularly at the stage I now find myself. The stress on me and my wife is enormous. She copes very well and we continue to try to live as normal a life as possible. Today for example I am incredibly tired; in fact I can hardly keep my eyes open to write this. With this tiredness comes a feeling of great frustration because I am so capable yet today almost incapable.
I mentioned in my previous post bad driving which seems to have been prevalent during my journeys this week. We are trying to cut down our mileage in line with the latest fad 5 miles per week but walking for me or the bike is not an option.
I have mentioned many times traffic conditions at our major road junction The Scot Arms. The Birmingham side of the Scots is a duel carriageway with three cross over points within about 500 yards of the junction. Going towards Birmingham the first crossover is for traffic coming from Brum side only and is designed to allow buses to turn. The other two allow traffic to turn both ways. Simple enough wouldn’t you think? Thursday I was driving from the direction of Brum on the north bound carriageway and was forced to stop partly blocking the one way cross over. This crossover has two signs on the south bound carriageway instructing “Non entry” I happened to look to my right where a large LDV high sided, long wheel base van was ignoring the sign and attempting a U turn from south bound to north. Because I was waiting for the lights to change it never dawned on me the vehicle was performing an illegal move and I moved up to assist him. It was at this stage the lights changed and I moved off and I realised what he was doing. Yes girls it was a bloke and he gets wanker of the week award. But dur to yours truly for not realising earlier what he was doing. This must be the ultimate in driver idleness because he only needed to drive another two hundred yards to be able to do it legally.
No response yet to my letter to the Chief Exec of Hospital Trust. Watch this space. I have to go to the Hospital on Friday so I’ll see if there is any improvement and report back.
We had a good press from our local freebie newspaper concerning our Clinic campaign. I understand the PCT are putting out a press release which I hope includes some pictures. More on that later I’m sure. The Tahouse Action Group or TAG was mentioned. Legit or what?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Animal behaviour

No I’m not talking about our local drivers although I could talk for hours on their behaviour this week. I mean the local bird (feathered variety)life and squirrels.
My second picture shows one of only two remaining pigeons visiting our garden. One you will remember was eaten by a sparrow hawk and two have since committed hari kari on my patio windows. This one which I’ve called “I’m the king of the castle” is looking for his now deceased mates.
Picture one shows a squirrel trying to get into our new small bird feeder. He and his mates have been crawling all over it but so far without success. The picture I have entitled “I know there’s food in there somewhere” The lid is designed to tilt to allow easy access to refill the table. I fully expect to see the lid on the lawn one of these mornings.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Smoking at Sandwell Hospital

I have commented many times in my “Bulletin on the railings” series on the disgusting habit by smokers at my local hospital. Despite notices to the contrary smokers continue to bloke the main entrances puffing away in complete oblivion. Last week was the worst ever with about ten around the main entrance blocking my escape and the car park pay machine. I’ve had enough. The following is an open letter to the Chief Executive of the trust asking for some action. Let’s see if the power of the web can get something done.

"John Adler Chief Executive.
Sandwell & West Birmingham NHS Hospital Trust.

Sandwell Hospital.
Dear Mr. Adler,
Because of a serious illness I have to attend Sandwell Hospital has an out patient on a regular basis. I am pleased with the treatment I have received over the last two years.
There is however an issue that needs to be brought to your attention. At both entrances to the hospital there are notices advising people that they are no smoking areas and you have supplied a smoker’s cabin where smoking is allowed. I have to advise you that these notices are being ignored. Because the pay machines for the car park are situated near the main doors it is impossible to avoid breathing in second hand cigarette smoke. Because of the blatant disregard of others it is time I feel for further measures to be taken against these smokers. I have no objection to them ruining their health and putting at risk any treatment they may be getting but I do not want my health to be put further at risk by their behaviour.
I propose to make this an open letter to you and publish it along with your reply on my web site at
Something needs to be done and urgently.
Yours sincerely,"

Monday, 9 November 2009

Clinic update

On Friday afternoon, along with a couple of other action group members I attended a meeting at our local PCT headquarters to get an update on progress with our clinic at Tanhouse Community Centre. My wife has been working on a snappy name for our group and finally came up with Tanhouse Action Group or TAG. It does what it says on the tin and gives us a bit more legitimacy I suppose, but I digress. The meeting had initially been with elected representative and we had been invited at the eleventh hour a fact not missed by one councillor who sitting next to me ringed up the fact on the meeting papers which were handed out. This particular Cllr. I have not been well pleased with lately because of what I see has spurious claims on her web site and in the press. I found her meeting etiquette unacceptable interrupting other speakers and she was very rude in fact at one stage I though my wife was about to jump on her. This Cllr. was more concerned with a clinic for her ward which however way you look at it is a long way off but she persisted although she was careful to prefix her remarks with the caveat that she did not want to prevent this project going forward. It was not until another Cllr. pointed out quite forcibly that we were there to discuss the Tanhouse Clinic feasibility that she quietened down.
The feasibility study is progressing well and we were shown architects drawing of what the site might look like. Two local Doctors have expressed an interest in going into the new facilities. The proposal along with full costing is to go before the PCT board in January and in February the Council who are the other partner, should sign off any funding if it is required from them. We were given assurances that the costs would be included in the PCTs financial projections for next year. A consultation process will take place but I have concerns at how this might be conducted. The PCT do not have a good record in doing surveys in our ward. Why do they have to waste money on this consultation when it is the local community who have been pushing for the facility?
The time line for completion gives me concerns because if you listen to what they say you could be mistaken for thinking they are building the Forth Bridge instead of re-furbishing an existing building. My estimate for completion would be May next year; theirs is August to Christmas 2010.
So, progress I hope. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep TAG together just in case further protests are required. I requested a joint press release but I don’t think that had much support.
I’m convinced that without a Labour Cllr. in our ward forcibly pushing for this facility within the controlling Labour group and the work of TAG and support by MP Tom Watson this project would not be moving forward. All our ward Cllrs. are behind it but clearly adjoining ward Cllrs have their own agenda. The Tories never turned up. Can they be trusted with the NHS? Not on this occasion.
What did surprise me was the amount of money that had been spent on refurbishing the PCT headquarters. The loos were so posh it was a shame to pee in them. I do hope they don’t try to tell us a little further down the line that they can’t afford our project.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Busy week end

Although I was not feeling 100% we decided to continue with our plans for the week end. Saturday evening we went along with some friends to Hamstead annual fireworks display at Tanhouse Community Centre. This is one of the best value for money events throughout the year and attracts a good crowd. Nice display of fireworks and the kids having a great time. Because of the amount of time I would have been required to stand and the fact I was in some pain we decided to take the wheel chair. My friend who accompanied us is wheel chair bound permanently these days and his wife is very good at manipulating him. The misses is a delicate lady and inexperienced at pushing a chair so it was going to be fun. The first problem was drivers who left their cars parked across the pavement so that a wheel chair could not get passed. The worst piece of parking though was from a large BMW who parked across the wheel chair cross over point which was at the road junction. Only one car with a blue badge was allowed to park inside the perimeter and I wonder why? Before the display started I needed the loo and decided I would propel myself to the toilet inside the centre. There is a ramp for chairs but I have to say I could not propel myself up the ramp it was too steep, despite me “having a run at it” A couple of kids decided to help, despite me telling them I wanted to do it myself they pushed me up the last bit. Getting into the loo in a chair is not possible without a lot of manipulation. Using a chair in a crowd can be a harassing experience because people do not look where they are going. The entrance ramp needs to be re-designed because I don’t believe a chair user was consulted on this design. Finally for the inconsiderate drivers who had parked illegally, when they are caught they should be sentenced to spend a week in a wheel chair they would soon become more considerate. Grrrrrrrrrrrr
I’m thinking of producing some “Polite Notices” telling them about their inconsideration and warning them that their parking will be reported. Now should I be polite or down right rude?
Interesting footnote there were plenty of cops at the event enjoying the show but non on the approach roads making sure drivers parked correctly. Ummmmmm
Perhaps Ch. Supt. Dugmore you would like to look into this?
Sunday morning the misses and I attended the memorial service at the war memorial in Dartmouth Park. What a splendid turnout and a very emotional service. I can’t remember seeing that many for a long time there must have been 2000 people there of all ages.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Nice surprise

I was feeling a bit below par (BBCB terms “crap”) this morning so the wife got up to make the tea. When she came back she had a small package in her hand addressed to me. Be careful she said when opening that it could be from Cllr X who I have been giving a hard time to lately. I fondled it carefully and decided it was safe to open. Surprise surprise it was a copy of the book “A bang or a whimper” written by fellow blogger over at Fat Prophet
The accompanying note said to an honorary black contra man; hope it cheers you up during your treatment. Thank you FP I will treasure it and I’m sure it will cheer me up. Your web detective work in tracking me down is also very impressive.
Best wishes BBCB

Friday, 6 November 2009

President Blair

Or not depending on which newspapers you read. Personally I don’t give a toss who gets the job but I have some concerns on what the post represents and how much it is going to cost us Euro tax payers. He will technically not be elected so who does he represent? I suppose he/she will be a bit like a Lord Mayor chairing the council but largely ceremonial. Tony would I’m sure turn it into a powerful role and would be respected abroad. I can’t understand why we need one and why now? If some Europhile in Brussels think that having a single voice for Europe is going to work he/she must be off their trolley. Britain can speak for itself in the world and long may it continue. We have enjoyed peace in Europe for all of my adult life and I think this is largely due to the reliance the Euro nations have on each other. With the rise of far right parties and with some of them getting MEPs elected I have concerns for the future. I was listening to the Today Programme when they interviewed Lord (on your bike)Tebbit who as I understand was defending Cameron’s stance on referendums as more or less what ever it takes to get rid of “this wretched government”. I can remember when he came out with his now famous “On your bike” statement the state of our economy and the uncaring approach they showed to the unemployed at that time. If ever there was “a wretched government” it was the one he was associated with. I’m afraid the nearer the election gets and the more I listen to his smug lot the more I realise a vote for them would be putting us back 25years. Leaking school roofs, waiting lists and run down hospitals etc. No, not for me, I like fairness in our society and we will certainly not see it under Cameron & Co. Brown has done a poor job for pensioners but I prefer his approach to the alternative. The lesser of the evils not much of a choice is it? Coming from a dedicated anti Brown campaigner this seems like a U turn but not so, just a realisation of what we now face. It would seem inevitable that Labour are going to go with Brown whatever the consequences. I wish I understood this strategy. Cameron’s smuggies on the other hand don’t seem to have any real policies except that they expect to win. Remember Kinnock?

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Bulletin on the railings

His majesties blood numbers continue to give cause for concern. The medical team looking after him advise me that the disease has not spread to other organs. A more intensive course of treatment is now required. We do not expect his majesty to be able to continue much of his voluntary and charity work in the short term.
No further bulletins will be posted unless there is significant change in his condition.

In real life;- Oh s**t Its disease 1 Bob 0 which I suppose is not a bad result. My defence played well against overwhelming odds but the mid field and strikers played total rubbish. I’d put the lot on a free transfer if I could but I guess I’m stuck with em. The treatment regime is has I expected and I started the first cycle yesterday. I have not been very reliable recently and I expect this to continue at least until I see what after/side effects of the new treatment are. So far so good if this continues I should be out and about a lot quicker than I thought.
Three of my regular readers are what I would describe has religious and I envy them in some ways having the commitment they do to their respective churches. I was discussing this on the phone the other day with one of them when she said in answer to my doubting frame of mind that god finds you not the other way around. Well he better hurry up in my case. But thank you all for your good wishes and prayers. Something seems to be working so keep up the good work.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Blogging & such

Blogging is likely to be a bit sparse in the next few days. I have a crunch meeting at the hospital this afternoon and the treatment options are not likely to be pleasant.
The action group campaigning for our clinic have finally been invited to the meeting with Councillors/PCT on Friday and I hope to be well enough to attend. I will report on that in due course.
I expect a “Bulletin on the railings post “sometime later in week might allow me some time to continue blogging. In the meantime please be patient I still have plenty to say.