Category Archives: health

Charlie Gard


My sympathies go out to Charlie Gard’s parents. A sick child is a terrible thing for any parent to have to endure and all the more terrible when the prognosis is life threatening or, even worse, terminal.

I have personal experience of this. When my grandson was born, his blood sugar levels were so low they couldn’t be measured. He suffered – like Charlie – from a genetic disorder which would kill him if untreated. This is CHI or Congenital Hyper Insulinism. In simple terms it’s reverse diabetes. The pancreas bangs out massive doses of insulin which destroys blood sugar levels.

We got lucky. There was a doctor on duty who had worked at GOSH and recognised the condition. He was rushed into intensive care and tubed up. Sugar was pumped into him to keep him alive. A few days later he was rushed to GOSH in an ambulance, blue lights flashing.

He stayed there for four months. 95% of his pancreas was surgically removed. He received live saving drugs every four hours. He was fed through a tube directly into his stomach.

When he got home, his mother had to inject him. At night a feeding pump kept him alive until morning. This went for years until a new drug was developed the meant he only gets injected once a month. This meant the feeding tube was eventually removed. He’s ten now. Checks his own blood sugar and eats something when it drops too low. He’s back at GOSH for a few days every six months for tests and monitoring. There is no cure.

Charlie’s condition is, of course, far more serious but there is no more terrifying an ordeal for any parent than losing a child. I remain convinced from personal experience that everyone at GOSH did everything they could in Charlie’s best interests and am appalled at the vilification they have received from people with no detailed appreciation of the situation.

I have no more knowledge of the facts other than what I have gleaned from the media and, from experience, that can’t always be trusted.

What I do know is that GOSH do not deserve the abuse they have received. I only hope that the people dishing it out never find themselves in the same situation I did.

If they do, then they might come to regret their current behaviour…

Smile! You’re on the picket line!

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So – yet another strike by junior doctors. This time 48 hours and the promise of more to come.

I’ve never quite understood why this is happening. Yes, I know that the contracts are being changed and that one of bug bears is the redefinition of out of hours working, weekends and all that. But whenever I see the union bods talking and being asked to define their grievances, they just bang on about the wicked heartless Tories, putting patients at risk, not privatising the NHS and saving the NHS for the people. They never actually answer the question.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that these strikes are mainly political. After all, continually striking like this makes me more inclined to use private medical care. I appreciate not everyone can afford it, but let’s not kid ourselves it’s always been there. I see no creeping privatisation.

And if we’re going to try to take the moral high ground about patient safety, then why does the next strike planned for later this month remove the emergency care cover currently being provided. Won’t this put patients at risk?

Furthermore, they’re going to stop covering ITU. The clue is in the name. People are in ITU because they’re critically ill. They’re in danger of dying. So maybe the removal of this cover is just to grab the headlines when the first patient dies? Of course, it won’t be the fault of the striking doctors; it will be all down to Jeremy Hunt for forcing them to let people die. Let’s up the political stakes and to hell with the poor bloody patients we’re shouting so loudly about putting first.

And Mrs D made me think yesterday morning as the BBC and Sky News covered the picket lines outside hospitals. They were all smiling happily and seemed jolly pleased to be there. Smile – you’re the telly!

No, I’m afraid any sympathy I had for junior doctors has evaporated. You’ve lost my support – and I suspect the public’s patience will soon run out too if you keep playing politics with people’s lives.

Statins. Oh fuck!

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My regular reader may recall that I wrote a series of articles last year regarding my experiences with statins. My cholesterol was going up and the doctor convinced me I should be taking them to avoid the increased risk of heart problems.

The offshoot was that having tried three different types, I simply found that my system cannot tolerate them. Thankfully a different doctor accepted that and tried me on Bezafibrate. She didn’t expect it to work but thought it was worth a try. To everyone’s surprise, they worked! My cholesterol is down.

Now, according to the latest news to break about these popular government health sweeties, it seems I might have had a lucky escape. Researchers say that statins, which are taken by around 12 million patients in the UK, are more likely to cause calcium deposits in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack. They might lower cholesterol, but they also block a molecule needed to produce vitamin K, which prevents calcification of the arteries.

Strangely, the side effects of statins – in my case the worst being muscle pain and weakness – include decalcification of the bones so it would appear that they suck the calcium out of where it is needed and dump it where it can kill you.

NICE do, of course, have a way of wriggling out of the catch-22 situation. They say ‘Patients should firstly think about stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol and changing their diet and exercise; then they should consider taking statins if they are appropriate.’

Funnily enough, that not what they were saying before this story broke. Then they were recommending that everyone over 40 should be taking the damned things!

Still, if you’re looking to reduce the burden on the NHS then I suppose killing your patients is one way of doing it…

Don’t get cancer in Wales

There’s a lot wrong with the English NHS but it pales into insignificance when compared to the Welsh NHS – especially when it comes to playing politics and treating cancer patients.

On the BBC this week was Irfon Williams who was refused a cancer drug because it’s not available on NHS. NICE didn’t approve it because it’s expensive. The drug cetuximab costs around £23,000 to treat a man for 8 months. Mr Williams decided to relocate his family to England so that he could get the drug through the Cancer Drugs Fund which is not available in Wales.

The guy was given two years to live but the treatment has been successful in shrinking his tumours to operative size so his future looks somewhat rosier than it did before. Is he happy? Well, no. It seems that now he’s a lot better he’s using his time to bleat about having to live in England. Well, you could have stayed in Wales and raised the £23,000 yourself couldn’t you Irfon? Or did you just want to be the richest bloke in the cemetary?

This story highlights Welsh cancer tourism to England because Irfon is far from being along in seeking treatment in England. But Wales is, of course, responsible for their health service under devolved powers and is governed by a caring sharing Labour Party so why are these people being saved by the wicked uncaring Tories? Well might you ask.

Labour naturally turn the story round to their twisted lefty thinking. They say that the Tories providing money for these drugs in England demonstrates that the Cancer Drugs Fund is a failed policy. But it’s not the policy that stopping Welsh patients from getting the treatments they need, it’s the policies of the Welsh government. As with lots of Labour propaganda, it’s never their fault and they don’t want facts interfering with a good story.

It’s hard to see how patients getting treated can be described as a ‘policy failure’ when surely the failure is that of the Welsh NHS not providing the same level of care. But if they can drive their own people across the border in fear of their lives, then it works out a lot cheaper for the Welsh doesn’t it?

Croeso i Corbynland…

The smoking debate…

There’s been a lot of heated exchanges on this blog lately about smoking and, frankly, I thought I’d write a post on the issue so you can all have a chance to write hundreds and hundreds of comments about it.

And seeing as how Mr Osborne’s has left the duty of fags the same and taken a penny off beer, here’s a pertinent song to listen to while you read on…

Here’s my position on smoking :  I couldn’t give a flying fuck one way or the other! To put this in perspective, back in the 1970’s I smoked between 60 and 80 cigarettes a day. I gave up in 1979 – not because of pressure from do gooders or governments or ASH or any other interfering busybody but because they hit £1 for a pack of twenty and I simply decided that it wasn’t worth the cost. Simples.

It was my decision. My belief is that it should always be the decision of the individual. It’s your body and your life and you should be free to do what you like with it. Much as I hate the expression, it’s your basic human right.

You know the risks of smoking and you’re a grown up able to balance those risks and make your own choice as to how you behave. Insurance companies will up your life insurance premium if you smoke which is also fair enough because there an increased risk. You know that, so stop wingeing and cough up (pun intended). On the other hand, when you retire, your annuity rate will improve because they reckon you won’t be collecting the dosh for as long ‘cos you die younger – so you see there are some positives to be had as well.

This brings me round to the hypocritical medical profession. Nothing pisses me off more than when a GP tells me to quit smoking and drink less – and then pops down the local for fag and a pint. Well, at least he could have before the smoking ban so now he has to stand outside with a fag and a pint so all his patients can see what a hypocrite he really is. Seems fair to me…

And then there’s the packaging debate. What a load of steaming horseshit that it. Let’s put these things in plain packets. That’ll stop people buying them. Well, no it fucking well won’t. They tried it in Australia and it was an abject failure. But never mind because our nanny government knows best and last week voted to try the same futile crap over here.

Let’s be honest, they might shout about it but the government doesn’t really want you to quit smoking – or drinking for that matter – because the taxes bring in billions a year for exchequer.

And now the UN is saying we should make tobacco illegal all over the world by 2040. More horse shit. Look at what happened in the USA when the banned alcohol in the 1920s. And look at how making class A drugs illegal has stopped people using them. That worked well too, didn’t it?

No. Cigarette smoking is here to stay. You want to smoke? Fine by me. You want to quit? Fine by me. You want to tell me how I should live my life? Well, you can fuck the fuck right off, pal…!

Now fill yer boots on this in the comments, and let’s move on FFS!