Tuesday, 30 November 2010


An impromptu day off today due to the snow. I have never known it like this in November. Inconvenient though it is this sort of weather brings extraordinary beauty. This picture was taken on Sunday just a few miles from my home.

Thursday, 25 November 2010


For the first time in it’s history the NHS is to allow a private company to run one of it’s Hospitals. I do not think I am a closed minded individual and I will not say that this is in principal a bad thing, though I do not think that, even among tory voters, this will sit well.

What does strike me however is the dishonesty and deceit which is already being employed in presenting this extraordinary precedent to the public. 

Dr Stephen Dunn, director of strategy at the strategic health authority, said, among other statements “This is not privatisation” 

Dr Dunn, you fucking blatant liar. Yes it fucking is! Whether, as a tactic, it succeeds or not, it most definitely is privatisation. Denying this fundamental fact reminds me of the saying; “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining”
Denial of this is simply an insult to the intelligence. If Dr Dunn came clean on this we might be more inclined to give this experiment a chance. Treating us like fools Dr Dunn can only generate hostility and resistance, and the view that you are trying to hide something.

Freedom of expression

A teenage girl in Birmingham has been arrested for posting a video on YouTube in which she allegedly burned a copy of the Koran. The police may be charging her with incitement to religious hatred. 

I don't see at all how expressing disapproval, or even contempt, of a religion or belief constitutes incitement to religious hatred. To quote West Midlands police "West Midlands Police will investigate and monitor any crime reported by individuals who may have been targeted because of their disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender."

Which individual has been targeted here? It seems to me that the only person who has been targeted is the girl herself, presumably because of her religious disbelief. 

To quote again from a previous post about freedom of expression “Article 10 applies not only to information or ideas that are favourable and inoffensive but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or a sector of the population.”

I think that W Mids police are acting like bully boys here and should be resisted and defied with all vigour. By their logic I too am committing an offence by expressing my view that Islam is a nasty, intolerant, oppressive, tyrannical, misogynist delusion, though it is not the only religion I would describe in this way.

So come on coppers, come and get me.

Extra bank holiday

So April 29 is to be an extra bank holiday so we can all sit round a TV watching a fairy prince and princess get hitched. It is not my idea of fun and I will be volunteering to work that day in the hope of steering clear of a TV set. If my offer is not taken up I will probably take off into the hills where anyone else I meet is likely to be of like mind

Unfortunately the next 5 months is going to be nothing but build up as the whole affair is going to be treated as some vast ghastly soap opera by the media.

The daily mash as usual has a refreshingly different slant , reproduced below

Royal engagement newspaper bullshit round-up:

Each and every one us will be deeply affected by the looming royal marriage... (Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph)

In an important sense, this betrothal has far more to teach a new generation about relationships - and fidelity, too. (Bel Mooney, Daily Mail)

For Kate and William, their engagement has profound national significance. They will help form our collective imagination. They are now part of what we are as a nation, how we define ourselves as individuals. (Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph)

As somebody whose business it is to study the human heart.. (Bel Mooney,Daily Mail - she actually wrote those words)

Today we are wiser and perhaps more humane. The unrealistic expectations that destroyed Charles and Diana have gone. (Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph - he's playing a blinder)

It is rare these days that we glimpse broad sunlit uplands, but this is one such moment. (Daily Telegraph editorial - sweet fucking Jesus)

And the winner is (obviously)...

Diana, the bride at every royal funeral and the mourner at every royal wedding, was present in more than just the engagement ring which sat so heavily on the hand of this young woman who must now walk a mile in her bloodied shoes, on a road leading who knows where. (Julie Burchill, The Independent)

Pass the sick bowl someone.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


The Public Disclosure Act became law in 1999.  It is the so called “whistleblowers law”, and applies to all employees. In the NHS specifically it is supposed to allow employees to draw attention to failings on the part of their employer, without having to fear any retribution from that employer.

Unfortunately it does not work.  It would be illegal for any NHS employer to pursue an employee specifically for such  an act of disclosure. What happens in practice however is that employees who have made an act of disclosure can find themselves the subject of disciplinary proceedings for all sorts of other reasons and can find themselves suspended or even dismissed on the vaguest, and most insubstantial of reasons. This is a loophole in the act big enough to drive a tank through.

A few examples of this can be found here, where the cases of two doctors and one nurse who endured exactly this sort of underhand treatment can be found. 

I have written about the case of Sharmila Chowdury before, and it now looks certain that she will win her case. Ramon Niekrash has already won his, and Henry Fernandez has had a large out of court settlement, or as it is otherwise known, a total admission of wrongdoing.

With medical staff, for these things to happen requires the collusion in bullying and harassment of two principal individuals, the Chief  Executive and Medical Director. Although others may be involved these two are key. Such targeting of victims can not occur without their malign and dishonest intent. But in all the media reporting on these cases these people are not named, responsibility being attributed to the Trust. 

These people should be named and shamed, and in the case of the two doctors involved this not too difficult.

So here is the bullies roll call.

In Ealing Hospital those responsible for the underhand and disgraceful treatment of Sharmilla Chowdury were the CE Julie Lowe and the Medical Director (and Deputy CE) William Lynn. 
In Woolwich Ramon Niekrash was apparently targeted by one man. David Robson was Medical Director until February 2008 and then became Chief Executive, raising the possibility that Dr Niekrash was the victim of a grudge by one unscrupulous, ambitious  malicious and shameless individual.

These are people manifestly unfit to hold the positions they do. Sadly they are not the only such self serving millstones we have to carry in the NHS. 

Thursday, 18 November 2010

That was quick

It is only two weeks since I predicted that this would happen.
Do you suppose Andrew Lansley reads my blog?
If you are reading this Mr Lansley please note that I am available for the still vacant post of CMO.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Free Speech and libel law

This article by Simon Singh is being reproduced widely on the blog circuit, and I am pleased to reproduce it again.

“This week is the first anniversary of the report Free Speech is Not for Sale, which highlighted the oppressive nature of English libel law. In short, the law is extremely hostile to writers, while being unreasonably friendly towards powerful corporations and individuals who want to silence critics.
The English libel law is particularly dangerous for bloggers, who are generally not backed by publishers, and who can end up being sued in London regardless of where the blog was posted. The internet allows bloggers to reach a global audience, but it also allows the High Court in London to have a global reach.
You can read more about the peculiar and grossly unfair nature of English libel law at the website of the Libel Reform Campaign. You will see that the campaign is not calling for the removal of libel law, but for a libel law that is fair and which would allow writers a reasonable opportunity to express their opinion and then defend it.
The good news is that the British Government has made a commitment to draft a bill that will reform libel, but it is essential that bloggers and their readers send a strong signal to politicians so that they follow through on this promise. You can do this by joining me and over 50,000 others who have signed the libel reform petition at:
Remember, you can sign the petition whatever your nationality and wherever you live. Indeed, signatories from overseas remind British politicians that the English libel law is out of step with the rest of the free world.
If you have already signed the petition, then please encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign up. Moreover, if you have your own blog, you can join hundreds of other bloggers by posting this blog on your own site. There is a real chance that bloggers could help change the most censorious libel law in the democratic world.
We must speak out to defend free speech. Please sign the petition for libel reform at http://www.libelreform.org/sign.    ….”
Simon Singh


War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

John Stewart Mill (1806 - 1873)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


It is often said that at 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns fell silent, but this statement is deceptive. They did not stay silent for long. Since 1918 the British Armed Forces have been deployed on active service almost constantly somewhere in the world. Major actions in that time have been; 

1919/20 Military support to the Russian White Army in the Russian Civil War.
1919-23 Military action against rebels in the Turkish War of Independence.
1920 British Somaliland
1919-21 Irish War of independence
1919/20 Third Anglo Afghan War, the first had been in 1839-42, and the second 1878-80
Numerous actions on the North West Frontier of India in the Inter war years.
1936-39 Palestine uprising
1939-1945 WW2
1948-60 Malaya
1950-53 Korea
1952-60 Mau Mau war, Kenya
1956 Suez War
1962-66 Borneo
1963 Cyprus
1963-67 Aden
1969-2007, Op Banner, Northern Ireland
1982 Falklands War
1991 First Gulf War
1991-95 Yugoslavia.
2001- present, Afghanistan
2003- present Second Gulf War, Iraq.

There have also been numerous other minor deployments of varying degrees of activity, both overt and covert.

The bodies of British servicemen lie on every continent, though the traditional practice of burying soldiers where they fall has now been replaced by repatriation.

Here are a few more of their faces.

Wear a poppy.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Mystery object 6 answer

Grumpy RN's suggestion that this could be used as an illicit drug delivery device is probably feasible but it is not the correct answer.

The answer can be found here sort of, as it does not go into details and I only have the vaguest idea of what you are supposed to do. If anyone out there knows the exact details, please keep them to yourself.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Mystery Object 6

This is not actually presented as a mystery object. Even to non anaesthetists this is clearly recognisable as a piece of anaesthetic equipment and any anaesthetist would identify it as a Magill type Mapleson A system, once the commonest system used in the UK for delivering anaesthetic gases.

It is now all but obsolete and you would have difficulty finding one unless you knew where to look.

The question is.

This system has found a new lease of life. A new niche. What is it?

No prizes

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Told you so

I would like to say that I hate being proved right all the time, but I don’t. When I am proved right I get a sense of superior smug satisfaction, and recent news events have given me a double dose.

Firstly my previous comments on the working time directive, where I have argued that increasing doctor’s hours will not necessarily lead to better training. Well the cynical attitude of Trusts to their trainees is highlighted here. The statement “Many employers want us to work longer hours, not to give us better training, but to fill the gaps in rotas.” sums up exactly what I have been saying.

Second, my previous suggestions that CEAs are for the chop have been proved right, in Ulster at least. NO CEAs at all there this year. The Government are clearly testing the water and using Ulster as a pilot. I predict they will find only verbal opposition to this and then roll it out over the rest of the UK. 

Perhaps I will do the lottery this week.