Category Archives: NHS

Theresa May’s Campaign Lies About Tory Plans to Sell off Britain’s National Health Service

Sharmini Peries speaks with Kam Sandhu of Real Media who says there is evidence that the Tories plan to sell off NHS assets which will lead to privatisation. (The Real News)


Hackers Hit Dozens of Countries Exploiting Stolen N.S.A. Tool

David E Sanger and Nicole Perlroth report for The New York Times:

[…] The connection to the N.S.A. was particularly chilling. Starting last summer, a group calling itself the “Shadow Brokers” began to post software tools that came from the United States government’s stockpile of hacking weapons.

The attacks on Friday appeared to be the first time a cyberweapon developed by the N.S.A., funded by American taxpayers and stolen by an adversary had been unleashed by cybercriminals against patients, hospitals, businesses, governments and ordinary citizens.

Something similar occurred with remnants of the “Stuxnet” worm that the United States and Israel used against Iran’s nuclear program nearly seven years ago. Elements of those tools frequently appear in other, less ambitious attacks.

The United States has never confirmed that the tools posted by the Shadow Brokers belonged to the N.S.A. or other intelligence agencies, but former intelligence officials have said that the tools appeared to come from the N.S.A.’s “Tailored Access Operations” unit, which infiltrates foreign computer networks. (The unit has since been renamed.)


Why It’s Unlikely The NHS Was Deliberately Targeted In The Ransomware Attack

James Ball reports for BuzzFeed News:

On Friday afternoon, NHS hospitals across England and Scotland fell victim to a cyberattack that caused ambulances to be diverted, equipment to shut down, and clinical services to be disrupted.

The attack has prompted fears among commentators and on social media of a deliberate attempt to damage the NHS, or even to interfere in the UK election. But early evidence suggests it was neither deliberately targeted against hospitals, nor aimed at health data.

It wasn’t just NHS computers that were affected. It also hit major corporations, such as Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica – the parent company of the UK mobile network O2 – as well as computer systems in Russia, the USA, Japan and France.

Identifying the source of a cyber attack is a lengthy process usually requiring forensic examination of both the code used in the attack and how it spread across the internet, meaning we don’t yet know with certainty how the NHS attack spread.

The NHS computer systems were hit by what’s known as ransomware, which locks the files on any affected machine and makes it unusable unless its owner pays a set amount, usually in the virtual current Bitcoin, to an anonymous account.


NHS Cyber-Attack: GPs and Hospitals Hit by Ransomware

BBC News reports:

Cyber attack on NHS EnglandNHS services across England and some in Scotland have been hit by a large-scale cyber-attack.

Staff cannot access patient data, which has been scrambled by ransomware. There is no evidence patient data has been compromised, NHS Digital has said.

NHS England has declared a major incident. The BBC understands up to 25 NHS organisations and some GP practices have been affected.

It comes amid reports of cyber-attacks affecting organisations worldwide.

A Downing Street Spokesman said Prime Minister Theresa May was being kept informed of the situation, while Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is being briefed by the National Cyber Security Centre.


Doctors to withhold treatments in campaign against “too much medicine”

Denis Campbell reports for The Guardian:

various medical pillsDoctors are to stop giving patients scores of tests and treatments, such as x-rays for back pain and antibiotics for flu, in an unprecedented crackdown on the “over-medicalisation” of illness.

In a move that has roused fears that it will lead to the widespread rationing of NHS care, the body representing the UK’s 250,000 doctors is seeking to ensure that patients no longer undergo treatment that is unlikely to work, may harm them and wastes valuable resources.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges wants to bring an end to a culture of “too much medicine” in which “more is better” and doctors feel compelled to always “do something”, often because they feel under pressure from the patient, even though they know that the treatment recommended will probably not work.

Many patients with asthma, prostate and thyroid cancers, and chronic kidney disease already undergo “unnecessary care” because they are “over-diagnosed” and thus “over-treated”, the academy claims.’


Here’s what Britain voted for and will get with a Tory government

Lee Williams writes for The Independent:

I never thought I’d say a Tory victory feels like Christmas, but it really does. It’s just that we, the electorate, are the turkeys.

No doubt we’ll get what we voted for – five more years of the same, with a little bit more thrown on top. So let’s just remind ourselves what that’s going to look like.

First of all there’s that little matter of £12bn worth of cuts to the welfare system which the Conservatives have kept, wisely, under their hats. This will hit hardest the people who can least afford it – the poor, the disabled, the disadvantaged. The death toll due to welfare cuts will continue to mount. But never mind, hey? At least unemployment will continue to fall as more poor people are forced into unfair and inadequate contracts. In turn the number of food banks will continue to rise – already up from 56 to 445 under the Tories – as they desperately try to keep up with spiralling poverty.’


TTIP: The US-EU Trade Deal Could Make the UK Election Mostly Pointless

René Lavanchy writes for VICE:

Picture the scene. It’s November 2015, and fresh from his unexpected election landslide in May, a smug Prime Minister Ed Miliband (bear with me) is admiring himself in the mirror of his office suite in Parliament, as he prepares for the Queen to deliver her annual speech in the House of Lords unveiling the new government’s policies. Top of the page is Miliband’s plan to bring the NHS back into full public ownership. This radical move has already had weeks of positive press coverage, even from the ‘papers that usually hate Labour, and now it’s time to seal the deal.

The phone rings. It’s an urgent call from the Attorney General, the government’s chief lawyer. “It’s, um, about the NHS thing, Prime Minister. I’m afraid we can’t do it – we haven’t got the legal powers”.

“What… What are you talking about?” stutters Ed. “We’re the government, we can do whatever the fuck we want… Can’t we?”

“Well, not quite, Prime Minister – remember TTIP?”‘


The Privatising Cabal at the Heart of our NHS

Tamasin Cave writes for Open Democracy:

The battle is on for the future of the NHS. Apparently.

Ed Miliband came out hard, declaring he will ‘put patients before profits and stop the privatisation’.

David Cameron’s camp countered with a commitment to fully fund the next wave of NHS reforms.

Like pro-wrestling, it’s a good show, but a phony fight.

How can you tell?

Just look at the players sitting round the table.’


‘Introducing the private sector into the NHS is madness’: Interview with NHA Party co-leader Dr. Clive Peedell

Dr. Clive Peedell, co-leader of the National Health Action Party, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about their plans to save the NHS in the upcoming general election. He argues that Labour is not doing enough to help the NHS, as they still want private sector provision to be part of the public health service. The NHS is still ‘wide open’ to the private sector, and especially at risk if TTIP goes through.’ (Going Underground)

1 in 6 attempting suicide whilst waiting for NHS help: Interview with Geoff Heyes of Mind

‘Geoff Heyes, Mental Health Charity Mind‘s campaigns and policy manager, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about the crisis in mental health treatment on the NHS. He says that two thirds of people feel their health gets worse whilst waiting for support after visiting a GP or nurse, with 1 in 6 people attempting suicide in that period and 40% self-harming.’ (Going Underground)

NHS hospital cafés and junk food outlets ‘are helping to fuel the obesity crisis’

Laura Donnelly, Rosie Shields and Lily Waddell report for The Telegraph:

‘Medical experts urged the health service to “get its house in order” and clear its hospitals of junk food companies such as Burger King and Subway and coffee shops selling muffins and high-sugar drinks. Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, said the health service had to take “hard-nosed action” to end the sale of junk food in hospitals, to help tackle the obesity crisis. Health campaigners said they were particularly disturbed by the march of Costa Coffee, which has recently come under fire for selling fruit drinks with four times the recommended daily sugar limits.

The investigation by The Sunday Telegraph found 92 branches of the company among the 160 NHS trusts, alongside a host of burger chains, pizzerias, muffin shops and patisseries. The latest figures show that two- thirds of Britons are overweight or obese. A leading cardiologist said allowing companies such as Burger King, Subway and Greggs bakeries to operate from NHS premises was damaging the health of staff, patients and visitors. Senior managers at some of the hospitals said they wanted to close fast-food outlets, but faced being stung by financial penalties from their subcontractors.’


UK public service whistleblowers ‘treated shockingly’, report finds

Rajeev Syal reports for The Guardian:

‘Whistleblowers who risk their careers to uncover wrongdoing within public services are being victimised by managers who nearly always escape sanction, a public accounts committee report will say on Friday.

MPs were told that only one senior manager who has victimised a whistleblower has ever faced disciplinary procedures, while many government departments are still failing to support employees who come forward in the public interest.

The report also accuses ministers of failing to put in place effective policies to protect whistleblowers despite their role in exposing a series of major scandals including avoidable deaths at Mid Staffs NHS hospital trust and policing of the Hillsborough football stadium tragedy.’


Virginia Mason Hospital: Where staff are proud to blow the whistle on themselves

Nick Allen reports for The Telegraph:

‘One day recently, Andrea Sangrey, an oncology pharmacist, mixed up two chemotherapy drugs while preparing a prescription. She could easily have kept quiet about her mistake: the error was caught by a colleague before the medicine reached the patient, and no one needed to be any the wiser. Instead, she immediately reported herself to the hospital management.

“Yes, I reported myself,” she says. “I put in a drug called Paclitaxel and it should have been Docetaxel. It could have caused harm to the patient. I was a little nervous filing a report on myself, but the reaction didn’t feel punitive. It was refreshing really, because I was actually thanked for calling myself out. They looked at how it happened and how you fix it.”

At Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle such honesty is far from unusual. A decade ago the hospital adopted a revolutionary approach that encourages all its 5,600 staff to report problems without fear of repercussions.’


Doctors often do more harm than good in a culture of over-investigation and over-treatment

Dr. Aseem Malhotra writes for The Guardian:

‘Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, Dr Harlan Krumholz, professor of medicine at Yale, described a syndrome that starts to develop close to discharge from hospital. Physiological systems are impaired, reserves are depleted, and the body cannot effectively mitigate health threats. It is instructive to note that this syndrome – created by the stressful hospital environment – is a significant contributor to hospital re-admissions. It is estimated that 10-20% of patients discharged from hospital in the UK and US will be re-admitted within 30 days, often with a condition entirely unrelated to their original admission. Poor sleep and inadequate nutrition have an adverse effect on physical performance and co-ordination, cognitive function, immunity, and even cardiac risk. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to being re-admitted with falls and infection, with one study revealing that a fifth of hospitalised patients over 65 had an average nutrient intake of less than 50% of their daily requirements.

[…] A culture of over-investigation and over-treatment is now one of the greatest threats to western health. In the US it is estimated that a third of all healthcare activity brings no benefit to patients. Examples include excessive use of antibiotics, imaging for non-sinister headaches, use of surgery when watchful waiting is better and unwanted intensive care for patients at the end of life who would prefer hospice and home care. In the US, a fee-for-service model encourages high volume and expensive procedures. But we should be alert to similar possibilities here: the UK’s “payment by results” – which in reality is a payment-by-activity model – potentially incentivises “doing more” on the part of physicians. As a profession we have also been guilty – unwittingly or otherwise – of exaggerating the benefits of medications often perceived as magic pills by patients when their benefits are often modest at best. This also detracts from more meaningful lifestyle interventions by giving the public the illusion of protection.’


Len McClusky: The NHS is being taken over by Wall Street, and Cameron won’t stop it

Len McClusky, leader of Unite, writes for the Guardian:

Brighton TTIP demo‘Will David Cameron go down in history as the man who gave away this country’s greatest achievement to Wall Street, the man who enabled big American healthcare access to our hospital wards? The answer will be yes – unless the prime minister makes it clear once and for all that he will protect the NHS from the world’s largest bilateral trade negotiations, happening right now in Brussels.

Make no mistake, we are in the fight of our lives to save the NHS from being sold off lock, stock and barrel. But to make matters even worse a trade deal called TTIP (the transatlantic trade and investment partnership) will mean that reversing the damage done by this government could be impossible unless Cameron acts.’


Tory party donors handed NHS contracts worth £1.5 billion under health reforms


UK needs four-day week to combat stress, says top doctor

Editor’s Note: Abby Martin recently discussed America’s obsession with working and how it is destroying their health and family life. Below the video you can also find links to other related information including a great article on “bullshit jobs“.

Denis Campbell writes for the Guardian:

Professor John Ashton said a four-day week could help ease mental and physical health problems‘One of Britain’s leading doctors has called for the country to switch to a four-day week to help combat high levels of work-related stress, let people spend more time with their families or exercising, and reduce unemployment. Bringing the standard working week down from five to four days would also help address medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and the mental ill-health associated with overwork or lack of work, Prof John Ashton said.

The president of the UK Faculty of Public Health said the five-day week should be phased out to end what he called “a maldistribution of work” that is damaging many people’s health. “When you look at the way we lead our lives, the stress that people are under, the pressure on time and sickness absence, [work-related] mental health is clearly a major issue. We should be moving towards a four-day week because the problem we have in the world of work is you’ve got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that haven’t got jobs”, Ashton said. “We’ve got a maldistribution of work. The lunch-hour has gone; people just have a sandwich at their desk and carry on working,” added the leader of the UK’s 3,300 public-health experts working in the NHS, local government and academia.’


David Cameron warned NHS could collapse in five years

From The Week:

NHS‘Senior Tories are calling on David Cameron to significantly increase NHS spending after a former coalition health minister warned the service could collapse within five years.

Lib Dem Paul Burstow, who was minister of state for health, says he believes the NHS needs an extra £15bn from the Treasury over the next five years “if you don’t want the system to collapse during the course of the next parliament”.

Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, who was a GP for 20 years before becoming an MP in 2010, said: “If there is not an increase, it is hard to see how we could maintain current levels of service given the rising demand.”’


How Jimmy Savile abused hospital patients and got away with it

NHS has been offered up to the private sector, says Britain’s chief doctor

Charlie Cooper reports for The Independent:

‘The NHS has been served up to “armies of lawyers and accountants” from the private healthcare industry, the leader of Britain’s doctors has said, accusing the Government of a double-pronged attack on the health service driven by privatisation and cuts to services. In a strongly worded attack, Dr Mark Porter, chair of council for the British Medical Association, accused the Coalition of ushering in a “a bumper year for multinationals” and of inflicting cuts to the health service driven by an “uninformed and arrogant assumption” that the NHS is inefficient. Speaking to doctors at the BMA’s annual conference, Dr Porter said that doctors would “fight every day” until the General Election to expose “the chronic lack of investment” in the NHS.

Fears over mounting pressures on the health service are dominating the final BMA conference before the 2015 election. In a sign of deep frustration with the Government, doctors voted to oppose their plans for a “seven-day NHS” in which non-urgent services would be available at the weekend – arguing that under current NHS budget constraints, hospitals would have to close in order to free up cash to pay doctors and nurses to work extra hours. Doctors are also furious over the increasing role of competition and private providers in the NHS. Although the Government maintains that its health reforms did not change NHS competition laws, Dr Porter said that “whatever the reassurances, a bizarre market culture has been created”.’


Margaret Thatcher’s role in plan to dismantle welfare state revealed

Alan Travis reports for The Guardian:

Margaret ThatcherMargaret Thatcher and her chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe were behind a politically toxic plan in 1982 to dismantle the welfare state, newly released Downing Street documents show. She later attempted to distance herself from the plans after what was described as a “riot” in her cabinet. The proposals considered by her cabinet included compulsory charges for schooling and a massive scaling back of other public services. “This would of course mean the end of the National Health Service,” declared a confidential cabinet memorandum by the Central Policy Review Staff in September 1982, released by the National Archives on Friday under the 30-year rule. Nigel Lawson, then the energy secretary, said the report by the official thinktank on long-term public spending options caused “the nearest thing to a cabinet riot in the history of the Thatcher administration”.’


Allyson Pollock’s TED talk on NHS privatization

‘The 1948 Act establishing the NHS gave the Secretary of State for Health the duty to provide universal health care. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 removes this duty and introduces a market. Allyson Pollock describes why we need to worry. Allyson Pollock is Professor of Public Health Research & Policy at Queen Mary, University of London. She is one of the UK’s leading medical intellectuals, and undertakes research and teaching intended to assist the realisation of the principles of social justice and public health, with a particular emphasis on health systems research, trade, and pharmaceuticals. She trained in medicine in Scotland and became a consultant in public health. Among her previous roles she has been director of the Centre for International Public Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh and director of research & development at UCL Hospitals NHS Trust. She is the author of NHS plc and co-author of The New NHS: a guide.’ (TED)

TTIP: NHS could be ‘carved open’ by US healthcare profiteers, warns Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham

Charlie Cooper reports for The Independent:

The NHS could be “carved open” for profiteering US private healthcare companies by the end of this year Labour has warned, as concerns grow over the implications of a landmark trade treaty between the US and the EU that critics say would give US healthcare giants, “irreversible” powers to bid for any NHS contract. Negotiations between the EU and the US over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which aims to remove barriers to trade, are at an advanced stage.

A&E data shows violent crime in England and Wales continues to fall

Dominic Casciani reports for BBC News:

Data from the Cardiff University study on violent crime, showing a drop in hospital visits

Violent crime is continuing a long-term fall in England and Wales, according to annual figures from NHS hospitals. There was a 12% fall in injuries from violent incidents in 2013, according to data from almost a third of emergency departments examined by Cardiff University. It found 235,000 people were treated following a violent attack in 2013 – 32,800 fewer than in the previous year.

The authors said the rising cost of alcohol might have played a role. They also said the figures mirrored other crime data. The 12% fall is the fifth consecutive year that NHS units have recorded a decrease in violent injuries.


Report: Aborted babies were incinerated to heat UK hospitals

Evan Bleier reports for UPI:

A new documentary by British filmmakers about stillbirths and miscarriages has reportedly revealed that hospitals across the U.K. burned the bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried fetuses to produce heat.

According to the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, the remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as “clinical waste” or burned in power plants to produce heat.

The Daily Telegraph reported that “10 NHS trusts have admitted burning fetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.”


NHS privatisation by Martin Shovel

Death is ‘core business’ of Scottish hospitals, university study finds

Eleanor Bradford reports for BBC News:

Hospital wardAlmost one in three hospital patients in Scotland will die within a year, and nearly one in 10 will die during their time in hospital, a study has found. The Glasgow University report says the findings suggest that part of the “core business” of hospitals is people who are nearing the end of their lives.  The research team studied 10,000 people who were in 25 Scottish hospitals on one day – 31 March, 2010. In total 3,098 patients, almost 31%, died within 12 months.

The study found that 9% died during their admission. Older patients were more likely to die, and men were more likely to die than women. Just over half of all male patients over the age of 85 died within the year… The likelihood of dying in hospital has been rising, despite the fact that surveys suggest most people would like to die at home. A recent international comparison of 34 countries by the University of Auckland found that 59% of all Scottish deaths occur in hospital, and a similar number in England and Wales. It means British hospitals rank among the top 10 countries with the greatest number of deaths in a hospital setting.


Big Pharma’s hidden links to NHS policy, with senior MPs saying medical industry uses ‘wealth to influence government’

Oliver Wright writes for The Independent:

NHS bosses allowed a lobbying company working for some of the world’s biggest drugs and medical equipment firms to write a draft report which could help shape future health policy. NHS England commissioned a group called the Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA) to consult with patients’ groups, charities and health organisations and produce a report feeding into its future five-year strategy for commissioning £12bn of services. But the SHCA has confirmed to The Independent that it is entirely funded by commercial “members”. Its director, John Murray, is also a lobbyist whose company lists some of the world’s biggest drug and medical device firms as clients.

Mr Murray put his name on a foreword to the NHS England document along with James Palmer, the clinical director of specialised services at NHS England, with whom he admits he has had “many meetings [on] a wide range of organisations and interests”. The findings raise significant questions about links between the lobbying industry and NHS England – a quango set up to run the NHS under the Government’s health reforms.

Unlike other government departments NHS England does not register its meetings with lobbyists. It also does not routinely publicly disclose all potential conflicts of interest of those who do work for it. While the report itself makes no specific spending recommendations, it does suggest that NHS England should set out a “clear commitment” to “disinvest in interventions that have lower impact for patients” in favour of “new services or innovations”. This could ultimately provide financial benefits to an industry keen to sell the latest equipment and treatments to the NHS, even if some of the benefits might be marginal.


MPs: Hospitals must stop providing certain services or shut to sustain NHS

Sir David Nicholson, NHS England chief executive.Denis Campbell writes for The Guardian:

Some hospitals must stop providing certain services or even shut altogether if the NHS is to remain viable, even though such changes are “notoriously controversial”, an influential group of MPs warns today.

The Commons health select committee said in a report that a dramatic expansion of the centralisation of hospital services was needed to help the NHS cope with the increasing pressures on its budget.

In a report on the finances of the NHS and social care, the MPs say that integrating the currently separate services, which ministers and NHS leaders say is vital for the NHS to remain sustainable in the face of rising demand caused by ageing, “will also require reconfiguration”.


UK Police And Companies Will Have Access To Database Of All England’s Medical Records

Glyn Moody writes for Techdirt:

The UK government is currently building a database called that will contain all of England’s medical records. It’s being promoted as providing valuable information for healthcare management and medical researchers that will lead to improved treatment.

Given the extremely sensitive nature of the material that will be stored, you might have expected this to be opt-in, but instead the UK government has chosen to make it opt-out. Not only that, but the relatively sparse information about what was happening was sent in the form of a generic, unaddressed letter that differs little from the dozens of junk mail pieces received by most households each week, and failed to include any easy-to-use opt-out form.

This has fuelled suspicions that the UK government is making it hard to opt out in order to keep the numbers enrolled in the database as high as possible. More recently, good reasons why people might want to avoid the scheme have emerged. For example, it was revealed that as well as being provided to research scientists, the database could also be bought by companies. Now we learn that the UK police will also have access.