Sunday, January 24, 2010

Surgical Strike

OK Judith, so to the report from last Thursday’s Coffee Morning where we had Rob Meaker and Adrienne Noone, from Redbridge NHS, as our guest speakers. They wanted feedback, and they got it, no mistake. We had the forthright Cllr Sladden and Bill Howe present. Adrienne did most of the talking and also took copious notes.

The reforms are driven by a study that showed that if you take the train from Westminster and travel East, the life expectancy of the local population is reduced by 1 year for every station. B21 is considering increasing its life expectency by 20 years by relocating as Westminster 21 subject to suitable hostelries being available. We were also told that the proposals are driven entirely by clinical needs and not finance, and that there will be a heavy emphasis to prevent people getting ill in the first place. Ummm!

On that last point cue me. The thing is that for most of us, the only time we get to see a hospital [barring visiting, assuming there is no outbreak of Norovirus] is when we are very young, pregnant or old. You can’t prevent people being born, getting pregnant or getting old. Most of the stuff the NHS deals with is related to these areas. We are all living longer [on average] and age related conditions and illness are a major drain on resources. Prostate conditions for men and Osteoarthritis for women means broken bones are common, especially when it snows.

We also learnt that the King George Accident & Emergency facility is not an A&E after all. It’s a walk in clinic. All Major Traumas go to the London Hospital and any heart conditions go straight to the Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green. Now I’m gonna be controversial here.

I’ve seen a major local trauma, a road traffic accident. The London Air ambulance touched down in the field opposite. I’ve also seen it in the car park by Gants Hill library, [I advised the pilot he needed to get a ticket from the machine] and in the middle of the crossroads at Angel Islington. I’m also aware of a local heart attack who was stabilised by the paramedics before being whisked off to Bethnal Green. If these things work, and they appear to, then I do not necessarily object to KGH A&E being downgraded.

The other thing here was a well placed comment from JW, who observed that “we” are not clinicians and don’t necessarily know the difference between an emergency or not, so are likely to err on the side of caution, which does rather stretch A&E resources. Take me. I’m bitten by a dog. Some people would immediately think Rabies and be off to A&E. I popped into the GP asked the receptionist what I should do, she looked me up on her computer, pronounced my last Tetanus jab was over 10 years ago and told me to sit down. Five minutes later the GP was giving me a Tatanus jab. Sorted. On this we were told that there is to be a concerted effort to educate and inform people on how to use the health services available to them. That would be really good, we don’t want people turning up at A&E because they’ve sneezed, do we?

Finally, almost, KGH is safe [sic!]. The plan is to develop it as a major planned procedure venue rather than an emergency venue.

And to round off, here is the Guardian - NHS to close hospitals across London to cope with spending squeeze. Sometimes the medicine can be rather unpleasant, but it is still medicine.

Note1: we didn’t really get round to discussing Polyclinics, but there may well be another opportunity.

Note2: London’s Air Ambulance [pictured above] is a registred charity and they run a Lottery to raise funds. Fancy a flutter? It's the only one I do.

Note3: For the technical among you the London Air Ambulance site has been built by a *osser by the name of David Carty who thinks he is being clever by designing the site completely using Javascript. This means I can't give you a direct link to the Lottery page. What a *anker. You'll just have to wade your way through the menu system, but you probably won't, will you!


  1. Thank you for this, O Great and Wondrous Scribe.

    Which train did they take? The Central Line to Woodford or the choo-choo to Ilford? You could be travelling East to Monkhams Ward (very affluent) or East to Loxford Ward (very deprived) or East to Romford (lots of middling to affluent).

    'The proposals are being driven by clinical needs not finance'...what a load of Jackson Pollocks.

    Too cross to write more now.

  2. I think you will find that Westminster is on the District Line.

  3. "Osteoarthritis for women means broken bones are common". I think you mean Osteoporosis there.

    Although Osteoarthritis is still a good example of your argument about age-related conditions, causing extreme pain and lack of mobility for both elderly men and women.

  4. OMG. There's another age related condition known as "using the wrong word"!

  5. Yes, B21 - a "senior moment". And Westminster is also on the Circle and Jubbly lines.

    I can confirm that osteoarthritis is a condition shared by both men and women - hence my 2 new knees in the last 5 years.

  6. Ah yes Morris. The Circle line is, as it's name suggests, a circle and turns West at Aldgate. The Jubbly line terminates at Stratford. Well short of us in the North East.

  7. Simply factual correction, B21, about the lines serving Westminster; and does the "Circle" Line turn West at Aldgate, or North? Also, is it still the Circle Line or now, perhaps more accurately, the "Tadpole" Line? Starting from Edgware Road it runs anti-clockwise via Westminster and Aldgate round the circle back to Edgware Road, and then via Shepherd's Bush to Hammersmith, and return (clockwise Edgware Road via Aldgate and Westminster back to Edgware Road).

  8. Our Great and Wondrous Scribe is a bit out of date because the Circle Line, unlike what it's name suggests is no longer a circle! As it now runs from Hammersmith to Edgware Road, it has been dubbed The Tea Cup Line!

    Nice to see my let's all move to Westminster and improve our life expectancy quip appear! Being 'tail-end Charlie' in the question queue, I never got my turn - but I had been mentally updating the count while I was waiting - which our Great and Wondrous Scribe failed to do! Actually, it's only 18 years for most of you and 17 for me because I live one stop closer!

    The route I assumed was District to Mile End, then Central to Barkingside.

  9. Pardon me for being pedantic, gentlemen, but what a typically masculine diversion into railway minutiae, away from discussion of the medical theme.

  10. Just don't mention buses, oops I have, blast!

  11. Au contraire, Judith - the Circle Line serves both St Bartholomew's and Paddington hospitals.