Early in 2012 TEK reported on the plight of many women in the UK who had PIP breast implants. Whilst some had undergone surgery for these implants due to a cosmetic reason, some had done so following treatment for breast cancer.
However patients had come by these PIP breast implants though they were bad news. It was reported that they contained a low grade of silicone and could cause health problems. As the mainstream media reported world wide many of the women involved became extremely anxious. That was understandable. Initially the private clinics in the NHS where some women had received the PIP implants refused to act.
There was an outcry and a great deal of publicity and then the story faded away. That as we all know does not always mean that any issues have been resolved.
This latest report agrees that the implants are substandard but claims that they do not pose any significant health risks. The silicone used in PIP implants has been proven to be industrial grade and not suitable for use in an implant for a person.
Today the UK has published its latest findings regarding the French PIP implants. They have decided after a study that although they may carry a higher risk of rupture they do not cause cancer and are not toxic. Many women will see this as a cost induced finding.
In 2010 the use of these PIP implants was banned world wide. The PIP company went bankrupt later that same year and the death of a woman in France from cancer was said to be as a result of one of these implants.
The product has caused problems in many countries. It is not approved for use in the US. The UK's latest report will not please those who feel that they have had a raw deal at the expense of PIP. NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, who ran the review, said, "This has been an incredibly worrying time for women."Repeated tests on different batches of PIP implants have been carried out in the UK, France and Australia according to international standards. "Those tests have shown that the implants are not toxic and therefore we do not believe they are a threat to the long-term health of women who have PIP implants".
Sadly only time will tell.
The advice for women who experience health concerns is to contact their GP. The removal of the breast implant can still take place. What however is shocking is that "so far 750 women have already, or will, have their implants removed on the NHS - 490 of whom had the implants put in at private clinics." That is a disgrace.
Having pocketed the money for implanting the PIPs their removal should be funded by those clinics also. Of course many have claimed that the burden would mean these clinics would have to close. With a government focused on increasing private health care that is bad news.
However so is the additional burden on the cash strapped NHS.
Previous Tory governments in the UK have always been fans of privatisation. De-regulation has carried both pros and cons. The biggest pro seems to be less expenditure for tax payers and money to be made from any market flotation. The cons have been many including a poor service, a more costlier service, a postcode lottery as far as service and cost went in the long run and in some cases chaos.
Personally this blogger was thinking of British Railways as far as chaos went. We now have the track owned by one company and many regional companies operating their own passenger services. Whilst there are now some bargain tickets to be had for many rail users in the UK prices have gone through the roof. Booking tickets can also be a nightmare and a relatively short journey the length of the UK may involve the use of various train companies and multiple changes.
Today, David Cameron had announced that the UK coalition is looking at privatising our road system. This important infrastructure would seem too important to hand over to any old Tom, Dick or Harry. Of course when State owned services are privatised there are always big winners. These may be the CEOs of various companies plus shareholders. They are more often than not rank and file Tories.
Cameron has been at pains to say that the planned reform of the NHS is not privatisation. Many people in the UK believe that it is but in the case of the NHS that it is by "the back door". It would seem that as fr as the roads go the Coalition is at least being upfront.
Cameron announced the government plans during a speech saying, "We need to look at innovative approaches to the funding of our national roads - to increase investment to reduce congestion. "Road tolling is one option - but we are only considering this for new, not existing, capacity. For example, we're looking at how improvements to the A14 could be part-funded through tolling." Downing Street went on to insist it is not about tolls but most Brits will be saying "yeah, yeah, heard that one before".
According to Sky News Cameron went on, "The Government wants to explore the option of contracting out the maintenance and running of motorways and major A-roads to sovereign wealth funds, pension funds or other investors. In return, vehicle excise duty could be reduced and a new charge introduced that would be paid to the private companies who would take control of the roads on long leases" The new charge would be set by an independent regulator which would also monitor the companies.
His question though that, "Why is it that other infrastructure - for example water - is funded by private sector capital through privately-owned, independently regulated, utilities... but roads in Britain call on the public finances for funding?", left this blogger close to hysteria.
Want to know Mr Cameron? Because the UK saw sense and finally removed the Tories from office before they sold the whole country to the highest bidder. Now you are back in office, albeit as part of a coalition you re up to your old tricks. Choosing the Water Board was if I may point out a bad example. Water Rates have gone through the roof since privatisation, regional boards offer a great deal of variation in service and management of that precious commodity water is a disgrace. It is not simply weather changes that have depleted our water stocks but poor management of supplies.
Perhaps the final thought should be, will the privatisation of UK roads create jobs and wealth for the UK? Then again will the job be given to a French Company, for example, which it seems we are good at doing these days? Watch this space. The new charge would be set by an independent regulator which would also monitor the companies.
Most people in the UK will accept that the National Health Service is a great asset and institution but that it is flawed. Some would say it has grown into a monster but most, like myself, believe it is still worth saving. Successive UK governments have used the NHS as a political tool and more. One of the Conservative government's election campaign promises was that the NHS was safe in their hands. That they would cut the debt but not the NHS.
It seems that this was just another, in a long line of, lies.
Today November 10, 2011 news has broke that one UK hospital is being taken over by a private firm. Is this the beginning of the end of the NHS?
In recent years the NHS has utilised private initiatives. Under Labour some new hospitals were built with private industry taking a leading role. However not at any time did a private firm take over an entire hospital.
In a first in UK history, private firm, Circle, is to take over the running of a financially failing hospital. The hospital in question is Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire. Circle's role will be the hospital administration. Staff at the hospital will still be employed by the NHS but be given shares in the company. These will be linked to performance and seniority. No doubt the fats cats at the top will benefit the most. Quite possibly those who have led this hospital to fail finanically.
Circle have been undergoing a two year tender process which they have now secured. The deal gives them a 10-year contract. Circle hopes this will be the first of other such deals for them. Circle is part listed on the London Stock Exchange and was established by Ali Parsa, a former Goldman Sachs executive. It will take over Hinchingbrooke in February 2012. The 10-year deal is said to be worth around £1 billion.
Hinchingbrooke is known to have been in severe debt. The government's current line on hospitals with spiralling debts is to offer them for a take-over rather than bail them out.
Hospital treatments and finances across the country vary for many reasons, not least the financial pull on busy hospital trusts in inner city problem areas.
A hospital representative said, “It’s a hugely original deal – we’ve managed to avoid the possibility of closing the hospital. We’ve got a solution to the debt - and have plans that allow us to meet the efficiency challenges the NHS faces.” Mr Parsa said he envisaged a hospital “with everyone who works there in charge of the hospital, letting them own the problems and solve them.” He likened it to a "John Lewis" style of management. The problem is Mr Parsa a hospital is not a store. Or perhaps it should not be treat like one.
Parsa also said, "At a time when some healthcare commentators say the solution for small district general hospitals is simply to merge or be shut down, we believe NHS Midlands and East’s courage and zeal for innovation will enable us to show how clinician and staff control can provide a more sustainable alternative. Circle arrives not with a top-down plan to impose change, but with a proven methodology of unleashing NHS professionals' talent through clinical leadership and devolved decision-making”.
Circle pulled out off another hospital takeover when it did not have the control over change it desired. 20 more hospitals in the NHS have been identified by the Department for Health as failing and therefore presumably as possible take-overs.
It seems Dodgy Dave Cameron has been telling yet more lies. "Safe in our hands" You having a laugh?
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog