More Summer Reading!

I’ve been digging around in book shops recently and I managed to pick up a second hand book which might be of interest to readers of this blog.

‘NHS plc’ was published in 2004 and was written by Allyson Pollock. I read quite a lot of Pollock’s work some years ago and what always struck me was that although Pollock undoubtedly knows exactly what goes on in the NHS, she was rather mealy mouthed when it came to admitting the full horror of it all. I always attributed this to Pollock being a policy advisor and therefore maintaining a discreet silence regarding patients’ being maimed and killed – I also was under the impression that Pollock had a background in social policy and such researchers very often do have trouble admitting just how much blood there is on the carpet. But I discovered yesterday that Pollock is actually a Top Doctor – she’s a Consultant in Public Health Medicine and has been since 1986. Since Jan 2017, Pollock has been Director of the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University. Prior to that she was Head of the Public Health Policy Unit at UCL and Director of Research and Development at UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Pollock set up and directed the Centre for International Public Health Policy at Edinburgh University (2005-11). Before then she was Professor of Public Health Research and Policy at Barts and London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London. Her earlier career is not mentioned on her wiki entry – but guess what can be discovered if one reads ‘NHS plc’? That Allyson previously worked at Sin City – St George’s Hospital Medical School! She mentions that she worked there ‘before’ New Labour’s 1997 election victory. As she has been a consultant since 1986, presumably she was a consultant at St George’s. So she was there at some point in the 90s then – when the madness and malpractice that I have detailed on this blog prevailed there (see post ‘St George’s Hospital Medical School, 1989/1990’), under the ‘leadership’ of the dreadful Sir William Asscher…

Allyson Pollock is best known for her work on the gradual privatisation of the NHS with the associated imposition of a ‘business culture’ and the introduction of ‘new public management’ techniques. Her work on this is very, very good. I have never been able to fault her analysis of what this process has resulted in or her historical detail of the steps by which it has taken place. But reading ‘NHS plc’, it is clear why Pollock’s work never details the chaos and tragedy that is happening in the NHS, although she obviously loathes the privatisation agenda and could add considerable weight to her argument if she was prepared to go public on the excesses of the NHS. It is because Pollock is only telling half the story. The bit that Allyson Pollock just won’t mention is the contribution of the Top Doctors themselves to the mess.

Throughout ‘NHS plc’, Pollock paints a picture of a medical establishment that always does and has always done the best for NHS patients and which has been forced off course by the privatisation agenda – an agenda which Pollock suggests that nearly all Top Doctors have fought against for noble reasons. She does name the occasional sinner, the odd Top Doctor who has encouraged and personally benefited from privatisation, such as the odious Dr Chai Patel. Pollock describes Patel as a ‘millionaire doctor’. He is far from the only one Allyson as you well know. Patel of course notoriously ran a huge chain of private ‘care homes’ which were eventually exposed as being riddled with the most dreadful abuse and neglect of patients – it was this that forced him to step down from his role as a Dept of Health advisor on the care of the elderly. Among Patel’s business interests was his acquisition and expansion of the ‘Priory Group’. That is the Priory Group that currently employs two of Allyson’s former colleagues from St George’s and the associated psychiatric unit Springfield Hospital, Dr Robin Jacobson and Dr Adrienne Key! Likewise Allyson names a few of the biggest scandals that there have been in the NHS – scandals so big that she can’t avoid naming them, such as the Bristol Children’s Heart Surgery Scandal or Harold Shipman. There is not a mention of the fact that actually the NHS for a very long time has been dogged by scandals in which patients suffered greatly and were known to be suffering but no-one acted. According to ‘NHS plc’ the problems only began when Thatcher’s administration began privatising the NHS, a process which escalated under New Labour. It is New Labour into whom Allyson really puts the boot – she hates them.

Whilst Allyson highlights the idiocies that that Tories imposed upon the NHS in the name of the ‘internal market’, she makes no mention of why they were able to convince voters at the time that this might be a good idea. It was actually because there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the NHS. I can remember the debates very well – the allegations made again and again were of Top Doctors who were so fucking arrogant that they would not listen to patients or respond to their needs. It wasn’t simply a case of affluent patients wanting a private room or special treatment, although that was indeed Margaret Thatcher’s personal interpretation. There had been for example massive dissatisfaction among women concerning the way in which many of them had been treated whilst giving birth, which led to practitioners like Michele Odent establishing private practices to which middle class women swarmed. There was the emergence of ME and the Top Doctors’ complete refusal to accept that this might have a physical cause – seriously ill people were dismissed as suffering from ‘Yuppie Flu’. People with an interest in alternative medicine also fumed at the way in which they were mocked and belittled by Top Doctors. I’m of the opinion that much ‘alternative medicine’ is indeed ineffective, but if one is a Top Doctor faced with anxious patients enquiring about such matters, taking the piss out of them to their faces is not the best way to proceed. The London surgeon Michael Baum was interviewed on TV regarding alternative medicine and he explained that patients enquiring about this were usually middle aged women wearing ethnic weave clothes who read the ‘Guardian’. That’s the sort of observation that is best made to one’s friends in private, not made on prime time TV – it caused massive offence and actually did him a lot of damage (which was unfortunate, because some of Baum’s opinions are worth listening to). I remember an episode of ‘Any Questions’ in which the biggest cheer from the audience was given to a Tory MP who when talking about the Tories reforms of the NHS, had robustly said of hospital consultants ‘they’re not God, they’re just guys doing a job’. People had really had a bellyful of the Top Doctors by the mid to late 1980s and that feeling was exactly what the Tories utilised to sell the voters their agenda for the NHS. Allyson mentions that ‘some’ hospital consultants were ‘downright arrogant’, that they were not ‘directly accountable to anyone’ and that team working was ‘often poor’, but she does not get anywhere near to admitting the extend of the greed, the bullying, the autocracy, the abuse of their positions and the overall preservation of their own vested interests that did – and still does – go on.

The attitude of the Top Doctors to patients was exemplified by the ‘reviews’ that the Top Doctors who fancied themselves as thespians used to put on themselves in medical schools at Christmas. Those stage shows were essentially a series of sketches in which the Top Doctors patted themselves on the back and sneered at patients for all being a bit ignorant or neurotic. I attended two such Christmas Reviews whilst I worked at St Georges – they were virtually identical and basically served to consolidate what someone the other day termed the ‘professional superglue’ that causes NHS staff to close ranks in the face of malpractice or patient harm.

Allyson mentions the concession to accept ‘pay beds’ that Bevan made when establishing the NHS. Bevan of course admitted that he was forced into doing this in order to get the Top Doctors to accept the idea of the NHS. (The Top Doctors REALLY objected to the idea of the NHS.) Pollock I note doesn’t quote Bevan’s most famous words – that in order to overcome the Top Doctors’ objections to the NHS he would ‘stuff their mouths with gold’. Allyson tactfully states that Bevan had accepted the existence of pay beds ‘in order to secure consultants’ participation in the new free health care system’. Pollock mentions that in 1975 Barbara Castle abolished pay beds – and my God wasn’t that one of her biggest battles – but her decision was later reversed and ‘by the 1980s pay beds were justified as an income earner for hospitals’. I don’t remember the Top Doctors objecting to their re-introduction Allyson – in fact when you and I were working at St George’s there was plenty of private practice going on. To be fair, some of the Top Doctors doing it were re-investing their earnings into their research programmes and of course there was a limit placed on the amount that medical academics were allowed to earn through private practice. Which was why so many Top Doctors didn’t want academic posts… Some of Allyson’s non-academic colleagues at St George’s were known to be very rich indeed as a result of their private practices.

Again and again Allyson portrays these very wealthy people with interests in private practice who ignored the wrongdoing of their colleagues as selfless barefoot doctors. She maintains that when ‘concerned NHS staff’ critiqued public-private partnerships they were dismissed by Gov’t as ‘self-interested’. However did anyone come to that conclusion? So who were the concerned NHS staff that Allyson was talking about? The cleaners? The canteen staff or the porters? The Angels perhaps? No, it was the BMA and the NHS Consultants’ Association.

There are plenty of clues in Allyson’s book as to what the beef of the Top Doctors really was. It was not that the Top Doctors were taking a principled stand against privatisation. It was a power battle. The Tories wanted to flatten the BMA in the way that they had flattened the NUM because the BMA were causing havoc behind the scenes and that’s what much of the obsession with imposing a business culture and managerialist practices on the NHS was all about. Unfortunately the Tories tried to fight the Top Doctors by giving huge power to an equally toxic group of people – NHS senior managers. The Tories were well aware of the damage that the likes of Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and Gwynne the lobotomist were inflicting upon the NHS and it’s patients, but their solution was to give as much power to the likes of Alun Davies and Martin Jones. It was not a good idea and for years now a full-on battle has raged between these two groups who are substantially made up of shites. Top Doctors who do have integrity are not going to be told what to do by Martin which is why so many of them are now leaving the NHS and good managers aren’t attracted to working in the NHS because most of the other managers there are like Martin. A few years ago I was friends with a newly qualified law graduate who landed himself a job in the management offices of Ysbyty Gwynedd. He memorably described Martin and co as ‘corrupt as fuck and thick as shit’. Of course, when the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was first established, they had an excellent CEO, Mary Burrows, who was very bright and genuinely committed to improving the dire state of the NHS in north Wales. Mary was effectively hounded out by the Top Doctors and Martin et al. The last thing that a bunch of unscrupulous, abusive Top Doctors lining their own pockets want is a high calibre senior manager. Which is why you don’t tend to find such creatures in the NHS.

Allyson writes of the battle that the BMA had with Ken Clarke regarding GP fundholding and describes how the BMA were ‘defeated’ and ‘would never again challenge the Gov’t on matters of principle’. Allyson is being somewhat economical with the truth here. The BMA continued to fight Gov’ts tooth and nail, but they adopted a new tactic. Instead of presenting themselves as Top Doctors Who Knew Best overtly confronting the Gov’t, they constructed themselves as People Who Cared About The Disadvantaged – which is exactly the way in which Allyson presents herself! ‘NHS plc’ is full of warm words for the BMA – except towards the end of the book, in which Allyson accuses them of selling out, upon the appointment of a particular Chief Exec. Allyson wrote that book in 2004. In 2007 the BMA famously screwed the Gov’t over regarding the negotiation of the GP out of hours contract which was so favourable to the Top Doctors that one of the BMA negotiators described it as ‘a bit of a laugh’. It was this that led to enormous problems concerning GP out of hours provision. But Allyson’s heart must have melted at some point because in 2014 she was appointed as a Member of the BMA’s Council! She is still there.

Pollock’s own attempts to categorise herself as a barefoot doctor are interesting. She mentions going to dinner with a merchant banker before the election of New Labour to discuss PFIs (I wonder why Allyson was doing that?) and describes how the dinner was held in the ‘bank’s private dining room’ with ‘black coated waiters’ who ‘served lunch that lasted almost three hours’. Allyson compares that dining room with the ‘hospital canteen’ at St Georges and how she ‘could not help thinking of the rows of terraced houses in the impoverished community of Tooting from which St George’s mainly female, mainly black ancillary workforce was drawn’.

I remember those rows of terraces in Tooting as well – I lived in one of them. As indeed did many of the female, black workers of St Georges. So what did the Top Doctors of St Georges think about those workers and the other people who lived in those terraces? Well, one Top Doctor described the midwives as being ‘really thick especially the black ones’. Another Top Doctor told one of the researchers about a ‘really scummy family who live in Garrett Lane’ (Garrett Lane was one of the most deprived parts of Tooting.) A medical student was ostracised because he lived in a shared house in Garrett Lane. It wasn’t only living in Garrett Lane that made one persona non-grata – I attended a departmental meal in a restaurant in Wimbledon during which the wife of a senior registrar refused to speak to a junior doctor after she was told that the junior doctor lived in Brixton. Many of the Top Doctors at St Georges lived in Wimbledon or Clapham or further afield in affluent areas. I only knew of one Top Doctor who lived in Tooting who, as a result of having a number of young children from a series of broken relationships, didn’t have the sort of disposable income that his colleagues had and could only afford to buy in Tooting. He resented living there – although his house was a good deal better than everyone else’s – and he complained at length about the lifestyle enjoyed by another Top Doctor from Kings, who was sufficiently loaded that she was having a house built to her own specifications with a matching bathroom for each bedroom. That was Professor Linda Cardosa – I didn’t ever see her house which caused so much envy, but if any readers did do e mail me and tell me all about it. Should anyone ever see Prof Cardosa on a BMA protest supporting a pay claim I suggest that they ignore her.

As for merchant bankers – the brother of one of the researchers in the dept in which I worked at St Georges was a merchant banker. One of his bonuses was bigger than the annual salary of his sister’s boss. This caused much gnashing of teeth, but no-one used it as evidence that merchant bankers should be paid less – they used it as evidence that they should be paid as much as merchant bankers. As for the merchant banker’s sister – she grumbled at length about her own salary although it later emerged that some sort of ‘special arrangement’ had been made for her so she was earning much more than all the other researchers anyway. Not that she needed a higher salary than everyone else – she drove a Mercedes, but ‘only an old one’ which her father had given her and when she had enough of living in the inner city her parents allowed her to live rent free in the cottage on their estate in Surrey which had previously been inhabited by the gardener. I’m only surprised that mum and dad didn’t supply her with a butler as well.

Not all of my former colleagues at St Georges were as spoiled, as fuckwitted, as snobbish and as shallow as this, but one didn’t have to work too hard to find people who were. There were a lot of them cluttering up the place. The source of their discontent was the fact that so many of them did come privileged backgrounds and they had friends and family who were earning even more than Top Doctors did. So many Top Doctors, despite being among the most highly paid people in the UK, managed to convince themselves that they were very hard done by indeed. It is this phenomenon that propels the BMA and it’s campaigns. The notion of ‘public service’ does not enter into the equation.

In ‘NHS plc’ Pollock is also very critical of NHS organisations selling off buildings and land – the ‘NHS estate’ – to raise money. Such sales are often a very bad deal for the NHS and are effectively fleecing the tax-payer, but the example which Pollock provides is yet another reflection of Pollock’s sleight of hand. She refers to the proposed sale of Springfield Hospital and the accompanying proposed deal with a private care company. Springfield Hospital was an appalling place, in a dreadful state of repair with completely inadequate facilities. It was in no way suitable to be housing mental health patients in the late 20th century. The care was dreadful, abuses of patients were rampant (see post ‘Some Very Eminent Psychiatrists From London…’) and eventually there was a public inquiry after a series of murders there. I do not know what the facilities and care standards at the establishment where it was proposed to transfer the patents to were like, but no-one could defend Springfield Hospital. This example reminded me of the articles that ‘New Statesman’ ran back in the 80s concerning the closure of institutions like the North Wales Hospital Denbigh. Those articles accused Thatcher of selling off the ‘homes’ of patients – I really don’t think that the readers of the ‘New Statesman’ would have wanted a home like Denbigh. Of course, the first Health Minister to propose closing the asylums was Enoch Powell – after visiting Denbigh, which appalled him. Pollock compliments Powell for his ‘political inspiration’ behind the 1962 Hospital Building Plan, but she doesn’t mention a word about him wanting to close institutions like Denbigh and Springfield.

Again and again Pollock lays the blame for notorious NHS shortcomings on privatisation. She rightly mocks the deals that were done with celebrities like Lloyd Grossman which resulted in private companies being contracted to provide hospital food that turned out to be awful. But hospital food was known to be awful before privatisation – it was, like British Rail sandwiches, a byword for dreadful food. Whilst I was imprisoned in the North Wales Hospital Denbigh by Dafydd Alun Jones Brown worried about my diet – because he knew how bad the food was in institutions like that. In Denbigh most patients lived on chips – the fare was so grim that chips were usually the most edible thing on the ‘menu’. One patient at Denbigh who was actually receiving regular visitors – unlike most people who had simply been illegally imprisoned and abandoned in there – got her daughter to bring her meals in. Things were no better in Springfield in 1991 where Pollock’s fellow Top Doctors worked. One inpatient was a young South Asian woman who, for religious reasons, was being given meals that differed from everyone else’s (they certainly couldn’t have managed that at Denbigh). So Springfield could therefore tick the ‘catering for a multicultural community’ box – but this young woman was delivered a meal each day which no choice offered or no say in what it was. On one occasion a meal was delivered which for dietary reasons she could not eat (one of the ingredients upset her stomach). She explained this to the vile abusive ward manager – an Australian called Stephanie whose standard method of communication was to shout and swear at patients – and was simply told ‘you’ve got to have it, these meals are costing us a fortune’. The young Asian woman went without dinner that day. This was before there had been any implementation of the idea of privatising NHS catering.

Pollock writes some scathing passages about the dreadful neglect of the elderly in the private sector – again this is endemic and she is quite right to draw attention to what is going on. But this was happening before NHS privatisation was on the agenda. As far back as the 1970s I knew of a notorious nursing home in the Somerset town in which I went to school. It was owned and run by a nurse who had been sacked from Taunton hospital and it employed schoolgirls as ‘nurses’ (my friend worked there – at 15 years of age she was passed off as a ‘nurse’). Every Top Doctor in Bridgwater knew about that home – they’d have never allowed their own relatives to end up there but no-one put a stop to it. When I went to university in Bangor in 1981 I found out about a very similar establishment in Menai Bridge. The man who owned the nursing home was a drunk and the ‘matron’ in charge was a nurse who had been sacked by the C&A Hospital in Bangor – after she was found having sex with a male patient in his bed on the ward. This was common knowledge, as was the neglect to which the residents were subjected – Dr D.G.E. Wood had some patients there and visited regularly. No-one had the place closed down. Furthermore Chai Patel is not to the only Top Doctor who owned care homes with questionable standards. Brig-y-Nant in Bethesda was owned by Top Doctor Dr K. Shah, a mate of Dafydd’s (see post ‘Hippocratic Oath or Hypocritic Oaf?’ for details of my encounter with Shah). Shah’s wife ‘managed’ Brig y Nant and I heard allegations from one former care assistant that not only were ‘difficult’ elderly residents dumped in baths of cold water, but when injuries were sustained, one doctor would always be called to deal with the problem – a Dr K. Shah.

Something else that Allyson attributes to NHS privatisation is the silencing of whistleblowers and the appearance of dodgy publications in the BMJ. I can kill two birds with one stone here. Back in the 1980s I remember reading an article that a particularly courageous doctor had penned for the BMJ. He was a GP from Devon and he wrote an account of how he had been called out to visit a patient in a nursing home and had arrived to find residents tied to their chairs with pairs of nylon tights and what he described as a ‘sloppy’ young woman on duty. He attended to his patient and as he prepared to leave he was stopped by an old lady who asked him if he was a doctor. When he said yes, the old lady pulled her skirt up and showed him severe, extensive scalding over her thighs. The old lady told him that someone had poured a kettle of hot water over her legs. This nursing home was owned by a local Top Doctor. A few days later the GP heard that the old lady who had been scalded had died. He was so worried about standards at this home that he contacted the coroner regarding his concerns. The coroner told him that there were no concerns at all regarding the home. The GP discovered that the coroner was a business partner of the Top Doctor who owned the home. The GP contacted the GMC and was told to take a running jump. So he penned an article for the BMJ to let the world now exactly what was possible on Planet Care Home. Was this caring and diligent GP supported in his efforts to expose this scandal? Not at all. In the next issue of the BMJ there were a number of letters published from other Top Doctors, all pompously declaring that the BMJ was not the place to air allegations about one’s colleagues. But that was not the worst thing that appeared in the BMJ in the 80s. On one occasion they debated Homosexuality. One old bigot wrote in and stated quite categorically that homosexuality does not exist ‘in the animal kingdom’ and that it is most definitely a perversion of Man. I’ve got news for that particular high-flier – homosexuality DOES exist in the animal kingdom as any zoologist will confirm. Such was the shite that the BMJ felt able to publish in days gone by.

As for whistleblowing – Allyson’s off in fairyland regarding this: ‘formerly doctors could and did speak out in the interests of their patients’ and ‘in the past doctors were free to speak out – in fact they were under a moral obligation to do so – if they felt it was in the interests of their patients’. Of course Allyson – that is why, for many, many years pre-NHS privatisation, Dr Dafydd Alun Jones et al were able to break the law, sexually exploit patients, sell drugs to addicts, lie on oath, illegally imprison people in Denbigh, conceal a paedophile ring and threaten and bribe people with many, many people knowing and no-one blew the whistle on any of it. In fact your own colleagues at St Georges and Springfield knew of at least some of what was going on and documented it – but told each other that I was ‘extremely dangerous’ and should be referred to the forensic services ‘for containment’ after I spoke to them about it. Other people who knew what Dafydd and co were up to included Dr James Earp from Leicester (see post ‘An Expert From England’), Professor Robert Bluglass (see post ‘Enter Professor Robert Bluglass CBE…’), The Medical Ombudsman for Wales Professor Robert Owen, Dr Chris Mawson (see post ‘Doctors Who Disappeared From The Medical Register’) and Dr Chris Hunter (see post ‘The Night of the (Dr Chris) Hunter’). Dr Mawson and Dr Earp did not, unlike the others, suggest that I should be banged up without trial in a secure hospital, but not one of them raised the alarm regarding what was going on.

‘NHS plc’ also takes aim at the various inspection regimes that have been introduced in recent years, such as the CHI (Commission for Health Improvement). Pollock describes such inspectorates as ‘ineffectual’ and mentions that the review teams are ‘inevitably less qualified and less experienced than the hospital staff they were inspecting’. Which is true and it is insulting to good hospital staff. But those inspectorates have been a Godsend to Top Doctors who aren’t doing what they should be doing – such as in Mid-Staffs. Or indeed in north Wales. Dangerous troubled services have passed inspections with flying colours. But it has always been thus – the Mental Health Act Commission were actively colluding with Dafydd and Dr Tony Francis (Dr X) in north Wales to conceal their criminal activity before privatisation was underway.

There is a glaring contradiction in Pollock’s writing, in that among her attempts to portray Top Doctors as helpless pawns in the face of power-crazed Gov’ts there are actually plenty of indications that she knows just how powerful swathes of the medical establishment are, including her own colleagues and the institutions in which she herself has spent her career as a senior member of staff. She clearly explains how the London teaching hospitals and medical schools are invested with prestige and status enabling them to attract high calibre staff, which in turn gives them huge influence even over Gov’t policy – just like Allyson and her Public Policy Units based in those medical schools have sometimes enjoyed.

Allyson mentions the idea to close Guys and St Tommy’s that was put forward some years ago – but she admits that the notion pretty soon died a death because of course Tommy’s is the hospital that serves Parliament. No, no-one’s going to shut down the most elite joint in town with plenty of friends in the Palace of Westminster. Allyson also mentions the enormous power and influence that Great Ormond Street Hospital has, due it’s legacy from J.M. Barrie and it’s very successful fundraising arm. She explains that in 2000, Camden and Islington Health Authority along with the Medical Director at UCL Hospitals Trust, planned to integrate all paediatric services across the area, but that GOSH disagreed with this plan, ‘was in a powerful position to put it’s own priorities before patients needs or planning’ and was successful in ‘silencing debate’.

Yet elsewhere in her book, Pollock holds up GOSH and it’s satellite hospital Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children as being all that is best about the NHS. Queen Elizabeth Hospital was linked to GOSH and a number of consultants at GOSH had shared appointments with Queen Elizabeth. Allyson explains how Queen Elizabeth served the severely disadvantaged area of Hackney where some of the poorest children in the UK lived. She states that Queen Elizabeth was a ‘model of how a hospital in a severely deprived inner city area should be run’, that it was ‘accessible, open and caring with exceptional expertise’ providing a ‘superb service to needy children’. My post ‘Ian Brockington’s Mischief’ mentions that Dr Robin Skynner, who had links with Top Doctors who were concealing child sexual abuse, was the Physician in Charge of the Dept of Psychiatry at Queen Elizabeth between 1965-70.

As for GOSH – that was the hospital that employed the negligent doctor who contributed to the death of Peter Connelly in the ‘Baby P’ case a few years. GOSH has also just been at the centre of the Charlie Gard storm. And I doubt that either of those cases had much to do with privatisation.

Another inconsistency in Pollock’s book concerns Richard Smith, the former editor of the BMJ. He’s mentioned in Pollock’s acknowledgements section as one of the people who have ‘inspired’ her. Yet Smith is named elsewhere in the book as a baddie who jumped ship in 2004 and joined United Healthcare as CEO.

There are clues in the text as to what irks Pollock so much about New Labour as well as the root of some of her inconsistencies. Pollock seems to get to meet some very grand people. Not only did she dine with a merchant banker whilst her heart remained with the St Georges canteen in downtown Tooting, but she had an audience with Geoffrey Robinson in his capacity as Blair’s Paymaster General who afterwards invited her for a drink on the terrace of the House of Commons – although obviously she really wished that she was having a cup of char at a cleaner’s house in Garrett Lane – and she even met Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor. She described them as being on a ‘charm offensive’ and wanted to be ‘seen to be listening’. Pollock also thought very highly of Blair’s first Secretary of State for Health (1997-99) Frank Dobson – ‘a well-liked and competent Minister’. Not many other people shared that opinion – Dobson was widely perceived to be well-meaning but a bit gullible and dim (‘Private Eye’ named him ‘Dobbo’). The NHS continued to go pear-shaped and Dobbo’s scalp was demanded. There was another perceived problem with Dobbo as well – he rolled over for the Top Doctors…

Now although the Top Doctors are a very conservative bunch, they really didn’t like Thatcher and she didn’t like them. Thatcher loathed the professions (as well as academics) and very much saw them as being conspiracies against the layman. So the Top Doctors were most glad to see the back of Thatcher – I remember loud cheering breaking out in St George’s when she resigned. But the Top Doctors are not a bunch of lefties no matter what the Daily Mail says about them. However I suspect that when Blair was elected, Allyson and her fellow Public Policy/Public Health specialists may well have thought that their boat had come in. A Labour Gov’t that wasn’t socialist, with an authoritarian streak, wedded to the notion that Policy Experts should tell the plebs how to live. Which is probably why Allyson broke a leg in her efforts to meet Blair’s Ministers. A similar phenomenon occurred among HE specialists committed to widening participation – Blair maintained that he was going to pursue this policy and educational sociologists all got very excited, but of course he didn’t listen to any of them and a lot of them ended up very miffed. I suspect that Allyson fell into the same trap. Indeed, she makes it clear in her book that she feels that New Labour discredited and intimidated it’s critics, including her. Which they probably did – but then the Top Doctors discredited and intimidated those of us who discovered that their colleagues in north Wales were concealing a paedophile ring. At least Blair didn’t try to frame Allyson for serious crimes or state that she would end up in an institution for the ‘criminally insane’ as dear old Dafydd and Bluglass did with respect to me.

For all her griping though, Allyson knows that the Top Doctors can pack a punch if they are able to successfully construct themselves as the defenders of the NHS in the face of Bastards In Government. She reminds us of the lesson that no politician has ever forgotten – the election of Top Doctor Dr Richard Taylor in Kidderminster, who unseated the Labour MP David Locke. Taylor of course did this by running on a ticket of opposing hospital closures. Pollock mentions another similar event as well – the election of retired Top Doctor Dr Jean Turner in Glasgow in the wake of plans to close Stobhill Hospital. Pollock states that the Gov’ts announcement in 2003 that there would be no closures of smaller local hospitals after the election of Taylor and Turner was ‘a notable acknowledgement of the power of popular mobilisation’.

No Allyson, it was an acknowledgement of how bloody-minded the BMA are – they were fighting ALL hospital closures, including hospitals which were unsafe and harming or killing patients. They didn’t admit that any hospitals were doing this and they didn’t even work behind the scenes to raise standards – they did what they have always done and told the Gov’t ‘touch us and we’ll brain you’. Which indeed they did.

As all good Top Doctors do when they wish to ram home their arguments, Allyson makes references to popular media images of Top Doctors. We are told that the ‘frantic atmosphere in ‘Holby City’ is quite typical of the acute hospital today’. Which is rather like saying that the ‘Carry On’ films with Hattie Jacques giving terrified weedy men bed-baths and Barbara Windsor wearing an Anne Summers style nurse’s uniform whilst her bra flies off were an accurate depiction of life in an NHS hospital in the 60s. There is one big difference between Holby City and ‘an acute hospital today’ – in Holby City the staff never make mistakes and the complex cutting edge surgery is always successful, unless it’s an utterly hopeless case and the patient’s chance of life was unfathomably slim anyway. And from the episodes that I’ve seen, a lot of the surgeons are proud of their upwardly mobile journey from their disadvantaged childhoods – in one episode a female surgeon called Jac even revealed that she’d grown up in care and had been sexually abused. Er, no, as we know from the fate of the kids who grew up in care in north Wales, Jac would not be a heart surgeon, she’d be banged up in Denbigh with everyone calling her a dangerous liar. That is if she hadn’t actually been found dead in suspicious circumstances after having given evidence against the paedophiles that were employed in her children’s home.

Pollock also makes reference to a film called ‘As Good As It Gets’, which she appreciates because it makes some barbed points about US privatised healthcare. It stars Jack Nicholson. As of course did ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’. Which was a film that one of Pollock’s colleagues at St George’s, the occupational health physician Nicky Mitchell-Heggs, had a real problem with. Mitchell-Heggs had previously been a psychiatrist and maintained that ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ set out to deceive because it was modelled on an asylum from the 50s but pretended that such places were still in existence. Which of course they weren’t. Indeed not Nicky – at Denbigh the patients didn’t wear uniforms and there was no piped music. But all the other ingredients were there – a lobotomist, Nurse Rached aka Janice Davies, sane people imprisoned and drugged up because they had dared challenge corrupt Top Doctors and staff terrorising and blackmailing vulnerable people by threatening to release confidential info about them. Except that Denbigh also had a psychopathic psychiatrist sexually abusing the patients who was also concealing the paedophile ring that his mistress facilitated. And those were the two people from whom Mitchell-Heggs and her colleagues were taking evidence regarding my ‘dangerousness’ so she must have known that they were there…. Mitchell-Heggs’s online profile describes her interests as theatre, opera and ski-ing! It’s those self-sacrificing Top Doctors again who fight tooth and nail for the NHS. I also seem to remember reading that both Mitchell-Heggs and her husband now run private practices.

In the initial pages of ‘NHS plc’ Pollock explains that she isn’t able to cover everything in a volume of that length, so there are some areas that she hasn’t commented upon. Such as mental health and learning disability services. Which is just as well considering how bloody shameful these ‘services’ are and were when she wrote that book. She also mentions that she doesn’t cover groups of staff such as cleaners, canteen workers, security officers and porters. In other words those staff who are treated and paid appallingly, whose presence is generally ignored by the Top Doctors and who are actually the very staff who have suffered most as a result of NHS privatisation.

At the beginning of her book, Pollock gives a long list of acknowledgments and names the people who have ‘inspired’ her. They include Dr Richard Taylor, ‘all members of the NHS Consultants Association’, ‘members of the Medical Practitioners Union’, ‘Brian Potter formerly of the Scottish BMA’, ‘Sir Sandy Macara at the BMA’ and Richard Horton of the ‘Lancet’. She mentions ‘many others’ to have come ‘to the aid’ of the Public Policy Unit which she was directing when she wrote ‘NHS plc’. Pollock pays tribute to the ‘special stalwarts of the NHS including Charles Webster, the former official historian of the NHS’. I mention on the front page of this blog that a number of people have written ‘histories’ of psychiatry in north Wales. These histories are at their best highly sanitised and at their worst have about as much historical accuracy as a Barbara Cartland novel. One of those ‘histories’ was written by a Bangor University lecturer called David Hirst and I’m fairly sure that it was his book that was co-authored or assisted in some way by an ‘NHS historian’ called Charles someone. I’m fairly sure that it was Charles Webster. I’ve been googling to try and clarify this but all traces of that book have vanished from the internet. I wonder why – after all it was proudly on display in Bangor University for years, so it definitely exists….However I note that David has co-authored with a number of the Top Doctors from the Hergest Unit! He arrived in Bangor to begin his work in ‘social policy’ in 1973 – Christ almighty, Gwynne and Dafydd were in full swing then, they will have been lobotomising and subjecting people to ‘aversion therapy’ if they dared to be gay til the cows came home. And of course Bryn Estyn was still under the direct management of the Home Office and the systematic sexual abuse of the boys there will have been well-embedded by then. Fancy publishing anything about that lot then David?

Pollock makes several mentions in her book of a man who has acquired superhero status in the eyes of any Top Doctor who wants to pledge their commitment to the NHS – Julian Tudor Hart. Tudor Hart is very elderly now, but he is one of the few Top Doctors still practising who was practising before the establishment of the NHS. He has written about just how grim things were in those days – Tudor Hart worked in south Wales among people experiencing very great poverty and hardship. I am interested in Tudor Hart, because although I do completely accept his account of how dreadful it was to fall ill or have an accident before the establishment of the NHS, he does seem somewhat blind to some of what goes on in the NHS. He is an intelligent man and a keen scholar, so like Allyson Pollock he will know. And being a man of his age from Wales, he will know what Gwynne the lobotomist and Dafydd got up to as well. Tudor Hart has been very rude about Ivan Illich and sees Illich as someone who simply plays to an audience of privileged middle class rebels, which is pretty much what the psychiatric establishment used to say about Thomas Szasz. There is truth in that argument – one had to be affluent to afford sessions with Thomas Szasz – but it ignores why the work of people like Illich and Szasz caught the imagination of so many. It was because of what folk like Gwynne the lobotomist and Dafydd were actually doing to them – people didn’t find it very helpful. There is also another factor about Tudor Hart that I cannot forget. He worked in the same practice as Dr Brian Gibbons, the former Health Minister for Wales. Who when I told him that I had evidence of the Top Doctors and managers in the Hergest Unit participating in criminal activities wrote me a letter saying ‘this correspondence is closed’. At the time the Hergest Unit had the second highest suicide rate for women in England and Wales.

I can only conclude that Allyson Pollock is one of the most articulate, useful PR mouthpieces that the Top Doctors possess and that she, along with the rest of the Top Doctors, are not very happy that Gov’ts are no longer commissioning their ‘research’ and seeking their ‘opinion’ on which to base policy.

As Corporal Jones of ‘Dad’s Army’ fame might have said – ‘It’s the Top Doctors. They don’t like it up ’em’.


There is one Top Doctor in particular who certainly doesn’t like it up ‘im – David Healy. I’ve been interested to note that since I reviewed his appearance on ‘Panorama’ the other day and observed that the voices of patients were noticeably absent from that programme and that whilst the Top Doctors scrap amongst themselves global capitalism continues to screw up healthcare, Healy has retweeted a couple of things. One was from a patient claiming to have ‘lived experience’ – the use of that phrase alone suggests that he falls into the category of a ‘professional service user’ (my neighbours don’t talk about ‘lived experience’ when they discuss their the local health services). Another retweet was from someone whom I have corresponded with, Finola Moss. Finola is a blogger who is doing some brilliant work exposing just how much money the Top Doctors who are involved with private psychiatric provision are now making. One company very much in Finola’s sight is Cygnet Healthcare and it was info relating to the billions that Cygnet is now raking in that Healy retweeted. The Medical Director of Cygnet is Robert Kehoe. Kehoe was the ‘expert witness’ who lied in a report about me, Brown, my PhD supervisor and even my lawyer after we had all made representation regarding the criminal activities and negligence of the Hergest Unit. David Healy was one of those named on the documents submitted to Kehoe in evidence. I later discovered that Kehoe’s business partner had a personal connection to Healy’s colleague at the Hergest, Dr Tony Roberts.

News Round Up, May 12 2017

Plas Meddyg, a GP’s surgery in Ruthin, has surpassed itself – Daily Post online are reporting that staff at the surgery refused to ask one of the doctors to help an 79 year old who had fallen and injured themselves outside because the doctors were all ‘too busy’. However a passing schoolgirl assisted the OAP. (Perhaps we should simply formally enlist the nation’s school pupils to run the NHS – after all, a schoolgirl was allowed into a clinic in Ysbyty Gwynedd to observe gynaecological investigations without patients consent – please see blog post ‘The BMA and It’s Ethics’.) In the wake of this story, patients of Plas Meddyg have come from all directions with their accounts of practices there. Allegations include: discrimination against the elderly by not allowing calls from landlines to be used to make appointments – appointments have to be made by text or e mail; two people who arrived at the surgery wanting to make appointments being told to go outside and phone in on their mobile phones to make the appointments; in February scores of patients receiving a letter saying that they would no longer be accepted as patients at the surgery due to the geographical area in which they lived – although many had been registered with the surgery for years – and that their medical records would be sent to a central office within 14 days of the date of the letter. One patient has commented of the surgery that ‘there is no empathy or compassion’. But there will be salaries of 100k pa or more for the doctors who work full time there… The surgery itself has stated that they have a ‘well documented complaints and compliments process’ and it is essential that patients use this to provide feedback. Well the surgery can find out what the patients think of them by reading the Post online now. Three local councillors have stated that they have had ‘constructive’ discussions with Plas Meddyg, with a view to the surgery ‘engaging meaningfully’ with the local community. They could try treating them as human beings deserving of respect. One of the councillors named was a Bobby Feely – a member of the Betsi Board no less. For readers who know no Welsh – ‘Plas Meddyg’ translates as ‘Doctor’s Palace’.

I reported recently (please read post ‘Those Who Care Are Concerned’) that the Top Doctors seem to be gearing up for a big scrap with the Westminster Government and as usual it hinges around their demands for more money. They’re pulling out all the stops now, the neurosurgeon Henry Marsh was given air time on Radio 4 this afternoon to vent his spleen about the state of the NHS. His solution? More money of course. Lots of it. Henry Marsh has recently retired but still does a bit of teaching. Where did he/does he work? None other than Atkinson Morley, St Georges Hospital Medical School! The employer of Prof Oliver Brooke who was imprisoned for the possession of huge quantities of child porn as well as all of those psychiatrists who ‘assessed’ me – and took as ‘evidence’ of my ‘dangerousness’ the word of a number of people in north Wales who were concealing a paedophile ring, although the letters written by those psychiatrists at St Georges demonstrated that they knew that the people with whom they were communicating were sexually exploiting patients themselves. As for Henry’s passionate defence of the NHS earlier today – at least two of the psychiatrists involved in taking advice from the associates of a paedophile gang defected to work at the Priory Group. Henry Marsh may well not have been involved in the sort of malpractice that I witnessed himself, but he will not have been able to spend his career working in that establishment without having some idea of the sort of things that were happening. One of Marsh’s bestsellers is entitled ‘Do No Harm’ – perhaps the subtitle should have been ‘do not remain silent about your criminal colleagues’.

I’ve just seen a newsflash on the Guardian’s website stating that NHS England’s (as well as parts of NHS Scotland’s) IT system has been disabled by a cyber-attack and that some doctors are reporting that they are receiving ‘demands for money’. That must have been a shock for them, it is usually they who are demanding money.

I was told that this was expected and now it’s official – Bangor University have announced that redundancies are on the way. Regular readers will know that I have discussed on this blog the activities of a number of Bangor University staff who have been involved in very questionable practices indeed. Sadly I fear that these will not be the people for the chop, particularly as Professor Jo Rycroft-Malone, the PVC for Research, is one of the culprits herself. No, Jo and her network in health, psychology and mental health research who have been involved in some truly shameful scams will sit tight and the people squeezed out will be the more junior staff on short-term contracts who are doing all the teaching and the most innovative research. And no doubt a few of the best professors who are sick to the back teeth of what Rycroft-Malone et al are actually doing to the University will take a lump sum and wave Bangor a fond farewell. So the only people who will actually leave are the people whom the University really needs – the others won’t go because they know that no-one else will employ them. I saw this again and again when I worked at Bangor. The problem at that time was particularly serious because the dreadful Lyn Meadows – now a member of the Betsi Board – was Director of HR. Meadows was the most ferocious bully and had a few chums like the psychopathic Professor Fergus Lowe and the extremely dim but mouthy Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott (please see previous posts) who were also the most frightful bullies and between them these three exerted a truly toxic influence. No-one could understand why this was allowed to go on, because there were/are loads of senior staff in Bangor who are great – the Vice-Chancellor himself was reputed to have been fuming at one meeting after Bangor was actually named in the Times Higher Education Supplement as a university with a bullying problem. But something was happening that most staff were unaware of. Lyn Meadows had a very comfortable relationship with one Eileen Tilley – who was actually the UCU Union rep. I knew staff who were paid up members of the Union who went to Tilley with serious problems re bullying, harassment and unfair dismissal and Tilley blithely assured them all that there wasn’t anything that she could do about that particular problem – although in at least some of those cases the law had been very obviously broken. Tilley doing this was the reason why I didn’t join UCU – I knew that I would be stitched up by Tilley and Meadows and would be afforded no protection at all should I ever have cause for complaint. But Eileen Tilley did something else interesting as well. She registered for a PhD – entitled ‘My Brilliant Career’ no less – and wrote much about the institutional sexism that she claimed was rampant at Bangor, ignoring the fact that the main problem came from three women ie. Tilley, Meadows and Lappin-Scott, who were doing the dirty work of a particularly unscrupulous man, Fergus Lowe. This PhD seemed to contain case material from some of the staff who had consulted her in her capacity as the Union rep – which I think was ethically dodgy from all angles. Another Interesting Fact about Tilley was that she was one of many who denied the serious problems in Ysbyty Gwynedd. I’m not sure what her connections with the NHS were – but there seemed to be something there. Of course the delightful Meadows was a former manager of the Welsh Ambulance Service and had disgraced herself whilst she was a Board member of a Trust in the north west of England by getting herself named in Hansard and on Frank Field’s blog as colluding with a fraud perpetuated by some of the medical staff. One day, after a PhD student had witnessed me being threatened and harassed by Martin Jones and Elfed Roberts, the former CEO and Chair of the North West Wales NHS Trust, this student made a statement for my lawyers and I was sitting with him in the library reading through it. I turned around to find Tilley standing behind us, looking over our shoulders, reading the statement. A senior member of staff whom I knew socially was also concerned about Tilley’s activities and told me that Tilley was due for retirement and, wanting a second career, was angling for a place on the National Executive of the UCU… Just the sort of person needed in such a position clearly.

Now for the latest political news. A young Plaid Councillor called Llinos Medi has been appointed to lead Anglesey County Council. Llinos will need all her ability – as well as a lot of luck – to run that show. Anglesey County Council has been dysfunctional for many, many years, it has featured regularly in Private Eye’s column ‘Rotten Boroughs’ and a few of the Councillors there managed to get themselves imprisoned. The dysfunctional old farts have already started appearing in the local media complaining about Llinos. She cannot possibly be worse than they are. The mainstream media have been hurling all the abuse that they possibly can at Jeremy Corbyn, suggesting that he is a closet ‘pacifist’. It is extraordinary to note that the term ‘pacifist’ has become like the term ‘Marxist’ – although both of these terms simply describe an ideological or political position, at one time perfectly respectable positions, they are now the equivalent of calling someone a serial killer. Meanwhile Theresa May, who refuses to debate with the other leaders, has followed up her vacuous appearance with her husband on the One Show (where she was asked mindless questions about who puts the bins out or does the cooking – in much the same way, Thatcher used to love appearing on the Jimmy Young show because she knew damn well that there’d be no awkward questions), with an appearance on LBC where she managed to shed a few tears whilst discussing her childlessness. It was about as genuine as when Bob Monkhouse used to cry when the guests won the jackpot on the 70s game shows that he used to host – as Private Eye used to quip ‘takes onion out of pocket’. Theresa is 60, her attempts at producing children – if indeed it is true that she did want children – will have been at least twenty years ago and she has found plenty of other fulfilling things to occupy herself with. Not ever having had children is not like the death of a child which is so shattering that people do cry years later when discussing it – furthermore Theresa May is every inch a female politician of today, advised and packaged on every aspect of her public façade, whether it’s being photographed on the cover of Vogue in staid naff gear or wearing her not very exciting kitten heels (those heels that landed Owen Smith in so much trouble when he stated that he wanted to smash her back on them) because that’s as radical as one can be at a Tory conference. She’ll have had the onion concealed about her person somewhere. Owen won’t be allowed to mention Theresa’s crocodile tears because he’s male and he’ll be framed as being the equivalent of a wife-beater if he does, but I’m in possession of ovaries so I’m free to state that no doubt Theresa’s LBC performance was very well-rehearsed and that it will have been her advisors who suggested possible topics for discussion to LBC. Especially after Andrea Leadsom was rude about Theresa being childless during the leadership race. Actually I remember Thatcher shedding tears in public when Mark got lost in the desert – just after she was in danger of being seen as a heartless cow in the wake of the deaths and serious injuries of British servicemen in the Falklands.


News Round Up, May 3 2017

BBC News Wales is reporting further on the Tawel Fan scandal (please see previous posts on Tawel Fan). It has now emerged that seven families of  patients involved have been told by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board that the ‘treatment’ at Tawel Fan may have contributed to their deaths. It is stated that a mortality review has been compiled but has not been made public. (One doesn’t need a mortality review to work out what’s going on in the mental health services run by the Betsi, one only needs to look at the tally of suicides that I’ve reported on this blog since I began keeping the tally last August.) Two investigations into the Tawel Fan scandal are ongoing. BBC News Wales reports that no-one has been dismissed or prosecuted or has resigned over Tawel Fan – what the BBC have not mentioned is that one person involved was suspended and has now left the Betsi’s employment and that is the nurse who blew the whistle on the abuse. She now works in England. So the abusive staff are all still in post and the one member of staff who behaved properly has been driven out.

The local politicians remain silent about the horrors of Tawel Fan – well there’s the votes of NHS workers to consider in the forthcoming election and they’re more valuable than the fate of elderly mentally ill patients who won’t vote anyway – but dear old Hywel Williams’s twitter feed is full of his campaigning efforts to establish a medical school at Bangor! Where the key figures will be the people who were responsible for Tawel Fan – another stroke of genius from the fool Hywel. I also note that Hywel has put up a new photo of himself on his twitter feed, Hywel in warrior mode, waving his fist. I’ve seen Hywel do this in person, when I went to see Leanne speak in Bangor during the last election campaign – he clenched his fist, waved it in the air, and made jokes about being part of a mafia no less. Did you do that when you used to section patients and detain them in the North Wales Hospital Hywel? A bit of intimidation if those patients started rebelling… By the way, a bit of advice to readers if anyone meets Leanne when she’s out campaigning – when you get sick of Leanne’s clichés about diversity, equality and Plaid’s ‘independence journey’, ask her a question about economics. She won’t be able to answer it. When I saw her speak in Bangor, she was in front of an audience full of loyal supporters, so no-one asked her anything difficult like ‘why did you try to derail a criminal inquiry into a vicious paedophile ring?’, but one man did ask a question about economics and Leanne looked very uncomfortable indeed and stuttered her way through a prescribed not very relevant answer with reference to the economic state of the UK post-World War II. I rather got the impression that if that man had been allowed to ask a follow up question Leanne would have been floored.

Various news outlets are reporting further on the case of Pip McManus, the teenager with severe anorexia who threw herself under a train days after leaving The Priory, Altrincham. There was much criticism of Pip’s care by the coroner, with serious failings identified. Pip’s family have stated that there were failings in her care from beginning to end and that Pip was simply abandoned to die. This is not really surprising when one considers the identity of the woman who is the Priory Group’s overall Medical Director for Eating Disorders – she is Dr Adrienne Key, who trained at St Georges Hospital Medical School and Springfield Hospital under Professor Arthur Crisp, where patients were abandoned and left to die if they were too ill to eat. (Please see post ‘News Round Up, April 19 2017’ for more information about Adrienne and Arthur.)

There is a row taking place regarding statins. There is a group of ‘experts’ – including the experts who are involved in the manufacture of statins – who vigorously promote the use of statins such as Rory Collins from Oxford, some of whom have argued that statins should be routinely prescribed to all middle-aged people. Other people have maintained that this is nonsensical and dangerous because there are side-effects being reported associated with statins and that the whole association between cholesterol and heart disease is based on bad science anyway. A Professor Peter Sever from Imperial College is maintaining that the side-effects of statins are entirely a consequence of patients negative expectations. The British Heart Foundation is backing statins. As with criminal trials held at Chester Crown Court involving people who have experienced north Wales’s child care and mental health care services, who could ever know the truth in all this? I don’t know Rory Collins or Peter Sever but I do know that some of their colleagues at Oxford and Imperial have been involved in some very dodgy research (please see previous posts). As for the British Heart Foundation – well their Director in Wales is now Ruth Coombs, the same Ruth Coombs who for years was a leading light in MIND Cymru and failed to speak out about the carnage in the north Wales mental health services, although she certainly knew all about it.

Before I sign off, back to the election. I am listening to the Today programme as I write this and they’ve just held an interview with a Welsh Conservative, one Angela Jones-Evans. Who is of course the wife of one Dylan Jones-Evans, formerly of Bangor University (please see post ‘News Round-Up, March 20 2017’ for information about Dylan’s less reputable activities). Dylan has effectively been run out of Wales now and has wound up at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Peter Hain gained some effective ammunition to throw at the Welsh Tories from Dylan’s blog a few years ago and I understand that the Welsh Tories realised that Dylan was somewhat of a liability. (Dylan was also mixed up in the enormous scandal that led to the dismantling of the University of Wales and at one point literally left the country to avoid the bad publicity.) I was always told that Angela was very much nicer than Dylan but after Dylan’s failure to get elected as a Tory in Wales (he lost when he stood for Aberconwy) Dylan made plans to realise his political ambitions through Angela who was a rather less toxic brand than he was. Should Angela be elected it will be Dylan pulling her strings and no doubt the Tories will come to regret it. However there has been a row over Angela’s selection for Newport – it seems that Angela was imposed by Conservative HQ in London and was not the choice of the local party. So how did Angela manage to come to the attention of Conservative HQ? Who has Dylan been ingratiating himself to there? As Private Eye would say, I think we should be told…

I Think That We’ve Been Here Before

The story of Ian Paterson, the surgeon from the midlands who has just faced a criminal trial for carrying out unnecessary operations – including full mastectomies – on women who did not have cancer, has exercised the UK press over the past few days. Much has been made of Paterson’s alleged ‘God complex’, his ‘charisma’ and the sheer scale of his malpractice – many millions have already been paid out in compensation and it is admitted that many more claims are expected. It is assumed that Paterson will be jailed when sentence is passed. Paterson mutilated women – as well as a few men – whilst working both within the NHS and in private practice with Spire Hospitals. We have now been assured that everyone is ever so sorry, that procedures have been ‘tightened up’ and that this can never happen again. Just as we were reassured after Rodney Ledward, Richard Neale, the Alder Hey Scandal, The Bristol Heart Scandal, Mid-Staffs and dear old Harold Shipman of course and many more. It won’t happen again because it was all a long time ago. Well Ian Paterson wasn’t a long time ago – he butchered people on a regular basis until relatively recently and of course the only reason why there is a bit of distance between this trial and his last bit of fun in an operating theatre is that this trial has been delayed, Paterson having produced medical evidence that he was unfit to stand trial. (Top Doctors have a habit of doing this when they’re in really deep shit – everybody else is dragged before the court even if they’re in the most dreadful state but if a Top Doctor senses a prison sentence looming and feels a tad anxious at such an eventuality, evidence will be produced that he/she is a complete wreck and cannot possibly stand trial. There is a lady in Harley Street, one Adrianne Reveley, who has assisted Top Doctors with such medical reports in the past – Adrianne will be featuring on this blog in the future.) Prof Ian Kennedy has produced a report in the wake of the expose of Paterson’s wrongdoing and has been busily giving his opinion in the media, stating that regulation in the private sector needs to be tighter. Ian Kennedy knows as well as I do that regulation in both the NHS and private sector is so lax that it might as well not exist, thanks to the GMC who have been found to consistently ignore complaints about dangerous doctors. But then Ian Kennedy has been a member of the GMC himself, so he’ll know how useless they are – however I do not know if Kennedy was a member of the GMC when they forged a letter from me in order to conceal the enormous problem that was Dr Tony Roberts at the Hergest Unit…

There are a number of features of the Paterson case that have not been explored as fully in the media as they should have been. It has been mentioned that he was dismissed from a previous post in 1996. Which post was that? Why was he dismissed? How did he land another job and who wrote his references? As ever, there were concerns about him among colleagues but these concerns were not acted upon. It was stated that he was ‘powerful’ and ‘charismatic’. He was only powerful because everybody colluded with him – had just one person had the guts to blow the whistle he would have been in prison years ago. Neither does a doctor have to be ‘charismatic’ to be allowed to spend a career harming patients – Gwynne Williams the lobotomist and Dafydd Alun Jones were both revolting specimens and just about everyone who encountered them noticed this. Charisma doesn’t enter into the equation but corruption does. I note that Paterson was practicing in Birmingham – there have been problems in the NHS in Birmingham but they have not led to the publicity that one would expect. Might that be anything to do with the fact that one Professor Robert Bluglass was a very influential figure in Birmingham and for a long time Chaired one of the Trusts there? Bluglass mysteriously requested that his name be removed from the medical register some years ago so he now spends his time as a Director of Compton Verney, one of the finest art galleries in Europe, and singing in a rather elite choir, where presumably no-one knows how dirty his hands are. But his wife Kerry Bluglass is still very much in action in medicine….

Ian Kennedy has shown great concern that Paterson injured patients in Spire hospitals (he injured very many more NHS patients but presumably they don’t matter quite so much). Should we be surprised by this? This blog has previously described how psychiatrists involved in the most appalling practices at St George’s Hospital Medical School and Springfield Hospital found their way into the Priory Group. The dishonest Robert Kehoe is Medical Director of Cygnet Healthcare. And the serial sexual harassing gynaecologist whom St Georges waved a fond farewell to many years ago is now employed at Cardiff Spire Hospital and a few years ago picked up an award from Dr Brian Gibbons who was at the time Health Minister. Dafydd himself constantly failed to turn up for his NHS clinics because he was busy at various private clinics elsewhere. And the appalling Raj Sambhi can now be encountered at the Spire Hospital in Wrexham if anyone is daft enough to part with good money to consult an obnoxious git like him.

It was an interest in Spire in Wrexham that led me to some interesting discoveries some four years ago. I discovered through friends that people in north Wales in need of joint work and other orthopaedic interventions were being put on very long waiting lists – but were told that they could be treated very much more quickly if they went private at the Spire in Wrexham. I compared the names of the surgeons involved – yes, they were the same people working at both Wrexham Maelor and the Spire. Which is of course why the Spire is just around the corner from Wrexham Maelor – it’s so the Top Doctors can come straight out of the Maelor, into their Porches and nip off down to the Spire to see the patients that they had put on the excessively long waiting list. If I remember rightly, it was the NHS secretaries at the Maelor who were handling the private bookings as well – and they won’t have been receiving a penny more, it will all be done in NHS time and on an NHS salary. (But the midwives at St George’s used to tell me how difficult it was looking after Prof Chamberlain’s private patients when they were on the delivery suite – the patients didn’t understand that the midwife looking after them was actually an NHS midwife who had six other NHS patients to look after as well and the midwife didn’t get paid anything extra for looking after a private patient. The only person who gets the extra dosh is the doctor, although to be fair to the likes of Geoffrey Chamberlain who hold academic posts as well there is a limit on how much they are allowed to earn through private work and I was always told that Chamberlain invested a lot of the money that he earned privately back into the hospital. But an unscrupulous old bastard like Dafydd Alun Jones won’t have been doing that and I bet the Maelor doctors aren’t.)

At the same time as uncovering this scam, I noticed that the Daily Post was choc full of articles regarding the sins of Mary Burrows (the first CEO of the Betsi) and Edwina Hart, the then Health Minister. A lot of these articles contained lies. I was well aware that  those we know and love had orchestrated a campaign to bring down Mary because they were boasting about it – and it was clear that the BMA absolutely loathed Edwina and were desperate to see her removed from her post. I began corresponding with Alison Gow, the then editor of the Daily Post, regarding the lies that were being published. I then noticed that as well as lies about Mary and Edwina, the Post was running ‘healthcare features’ concerning the wonders of Spire Hospitals – yet it wasn’t made clear that Spire were part of the private sector. These ‘features’ were effectively free plugs for Spire. I challenged Alison Gow about this and she fessed up that Trinity Mirror (the owners of the Daily Post) had a ‘commercial arrangement’ with Spire, but she refused to tell me how much dosh the Spire had actually handed over to Trinity Mirror. ‘Features’ involving Spire and its wonders had also appeared in the Western Mail, also owned by Trinity Mirror. Trinity Mirror were in very great financial difficulty at the time (and probably still are, like much of the print media). Now one thing that everyone knew about Edwina Hart because she was completely upfront about it was that she was ideologically opposed to private medicine and repeatedly maintained that she would do everything possible to prevent it flourishing in Wales. I rather suspect that was why the BMA had such a problem with her – the scams would have to stop if Edwina got her way. Another person who regularly appeared in the Welsh media at the time spitting venom at Edwina, Mary and the Welsh Government generally was one Dr Eamonn Jessup, a GP from north east Wales. Eamonn was Chair of the North Wales Local Practice Committee. Eamonn constantly represented himself as a caring GP whose only concern was for his patients who were going to suffer so badly under the wicked Edwina’s regime. But Eamonn was also a man keen on self-publicity and he was very active on Facebook, promoting numerous campaigns on there. One of those campaigns was ‘higher pay for doctors’ no less. So Eamonn, being one of the most highly paid people in the region, wanted even more. Eamonn Jessup’s surgery was one of those that recently handed back it’s contract and I presumed that he has retired. His pension will be higher than the wage of a lot of people in north Wales.

So Edwina didn’t give out awards to sexually harassing gynaecologists and she wouldn’t stuff the Top Doctors mouths with even more gold (although there’s so much gold already in there that one would not have thought it possible to cram in any more ingots) and she ordered Martin Jones to investigate complaints made about the North West Wales NHS Trust. No wonder the BMA were desperate to get rid of her. Which they did. And look at the bloody mess. By the way, a friend of mine currently needs orthopaedic work doing on his shoulder. He was told by the Betsi that the waiting list is some months long but that he could book in for private care regarding various aspects of the diagnostic and treatment process and everything would progress much more quickly. Like Edwina he is ideologically opposed to private medicine and found it offensive that he could obtain speedier treatment if he paid. He resisted – but within a few weeks was in such pain that he coughed up. Presumably the Top Doctor who examined that shoulder knew how bad the pain would be within a few weeks. Eamonn would no doubt be delighted to hear about this event.

However, it seems that Eamonn has now spread his wings further than north Wales. He’s available for appointments in Paphos in Cyprus! Specifically at the Peyia Medical Centre. And guess who shares the clinic there with him? None other than Dr D.G.E. Wood, a star of previous posts, the man who coerced me into seeing Gwynne the lobotomist then lied and lied in order to discredit me and have me labelled as ‘dangerous’ when I complained about Gwynne! The online advert for ‘Dave’ Wood describes him as very friendly and knowledgeable – it’s forgotten to add ‘completely corrupt’ and ‘has friends that concealed a vicious paedophile ring’. One wonders if Eamonn and Dave have headed off to Cyprus because their activities are becoming well-known in north Wales or whether they’re on a sort of late middle aged doctors massive 18-30 holiday involving huge quantities of alcohol, drugs and casual sex.





News Round Up, April 19 2017

Some potential horrors have come to my attention since I blogged about yesterday’s News Round Up, so I thought that I’d better write another post quite speedily.

To kick off, I want to bring readers attention to yet another ‘initiative’ being trumpeted on the Betsi’s website, aimed at improving ‘care’ and ‘communication’ on Aneurin Ward in the lethal Hergest Unit So ward manager Anne Ward is explaining how inviting patients and carers to ‘share’ their concerns over ‘afternoon tea’ once a week is going to enable staff to understand patients concerns, which Anne maintains have not been clarified previously. Er, they have actually Anne, you have received complaint after complaint about serious abuses in the Hergest Unit, including on the ward that you ‘manage’ and you have been instrumental in ignoring them or if the patients still won’t shut up in doing anything that you can to discredit the people complaining. This is the same Anne Ward who ALTERED PAPERWORK after I had made a complaint about Hergest Unit staff violence towards me in order to enable that Unit to build up a picture of me as being ‘dangerous’ (for full details of this sordid incident please see post ‘Who Is In Need of Restraining?’). This is also the same Anne Ward who was previously suspended from her job but was reinstated after a vigorous campaign from her colleagues – the colleagues who had also been the subject of patient complaints. Something tells me that no matter how many cups of tea that Anne has with patients to ‘improve communication’ nothing will change if ward managers are employed who forge risk assessments.

Now for some news from NHS England. The inquest has opened into the death of 15 year old Pippa McManus who had suffered from severe anorexia from the age of 12 and who killed herself whilst in the care of the Priory Hospital, Altrincham, after she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and detained there Interested readers who click on this link and read the full story will notice that a number of children and young people have died in Priory hospitals (these places are often funded by the NHS), that 47% of mental health placements in England are now in the private sector and that there is no ‘official’ collection of statistics regarding people who die whilst in the ‘care’ of the UK mental health system. On a more personal note, Dr Robin Jacobson, one of the people working at Springfield Hospital/St George’s Hospital Medical School who concealed abuses in the north Wales mental health system which he was aware of was later employed at the Priory in Roehampton. (Please see post ‘Some Very Eminent Psychiatrists From London’ for further details of the dreadful conduct of Robin and his colleagues.) Dr Adrienne Key, who was a junior doctor ‘training’ at Springfield at the same time as Springfield colluded with the north Wales mental health services to conceal serious abuse of patients, later also gained employment with the Priory group and became their Medical Director for eating disorders. Like Jacobson, she too ended up as a consultant at the Priory in Roehampton. She now has a Harley Street Clinic and dear old Adrienne also has a leading role with our friends the General Medical Council. At the time that Adrienne Key was ‘training’ at Springfield, Springfield and St Georges’s used to boast of their expertise in eating disorders, the eating disorders unit there being led by one Professor Arthur Crisp, who was alleged to enjoy great success rates. Interestingly enough a nurse from Springfield confessed to me that there was no great magic involved in Crisp’s success, it was simply a case of ‘if they don’t eat, they’re out’. Anorexia has a very high mortality rate, so presumably many of the patients who were so ill that they refused to eat and were then discharged will have since died. My main memory of Adrienne Key when she worked as a junior doctor at Springfield was of her arriving on the ward, ignoring distressed patients who were trying to talk to her and then shutting herself in the nurses office for extended lengths of time. On more than one occasion I saw her shut the door in a patient’s face or order nurses to get rid of the patients who were pestering her. Back in the 90s, St George’s Hospital made a big fuss in the wake of a documentary called ‘Minders’, which was a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary about those dedicated mental health professionals at Springfield and St George’s. Unusually the film-makers filmed what had really gone on without editing out the nasty bits and they filmed some very poor treatment of patients. Adrienne was one of the doctors involved… Her boss, poor old Tom Burns – now Professor Tom Burns of the University of Oxford – was so distraught that someone had caught them in the act that he demanded a right of reply and appeared on TV to argue with the man who had directed the programme. Tom memorably said that the film had made Springfield ‘look like the gestapo’. Well Tom they just filmed what you were doing – and what you and Adrienne were doing was appalling…

There has been more adulation of Cressida Dick in the media, she who has ‘broken the glass ceiling’ in the Met, but only after she was responsible for the shooting dead the Brazilian man Jean Charles de Menezes, who was then smeared by the Met when it became clear that they’d killed an innocent man. Cressida has not only stated that she is ‘in a relationship with a woman called Helen’ who works as an Inspector at Scotland Yard, but she is also maintaining that ‘diversity’ will be at ‘the heart’ of her efforts – and that she will issue more officers with tasers and that there will be an increase in stop and search. So if you are a lesbian who states that you are committed to diversity, presumably you hope that no-one will recognise the horror involved in you being keen to arm all your officers with tasers when you’ve already managed to kill an innocent man wrongly labelled a terrorist because he was a suspicious shade of brown, or notice the worrying personal connection with a senior officer at Scotland Yard which might well have been called into question if it were a male boss of the Met with a female girlfriend at Scotland Yard. But Cressida doesn’t stop there. She stated in the interview that she is determined to bring the killers of Stephen Lawrence to justice – these were the killers whose names are known but were alleged never to have been prosecuted because of police corruption in the Met. One of the alleged killers was the son of a high profile gangster who was known to have links with corrupt officers. Cressida has been the person ‘leading’ the efforts to nail Stephen’s killers for the last 13 years, so presumably she’s not doing too well there. But then Cressida has been part of the same Met that had corrupt links to those killers for the past 25 years, so perhaps that’s not surprising. Well now she’s the boss, she can have the killers as well as the corrupt officers with whom they had links arrested within the next few days… Cressida has also publicly declared that she is going to re-establish links between the press and the Metropolitan Police – she is most concerned that under Bernard Hogan-Howe, officers had to declare all their links to the press and she thought that this was unreasonable. Well if I remember rightly Cressida, the reason that people wanted to see those links broken was because of the enormous corruption that was being facilitated through such links – links that were even suspected of having led to the unsolved murder of a private detective from south Wales who was found dead in a London pub car park after having had his head chopped open with an axe.

Lastly, I note that a new CEO has been appointed to the very troubled Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, one Len Richards. It was reported on BBC Wales News that Len has come ‘all the way from Australia’. What wasn’t reported was that Len hadn’t been in Australia that long – prior to working in Australia, Len had a senior role at Barts and before that in a Trust on the Wirral. His time at the Wirral seems to have been very exciting with collective action from doctors and trade unions forcing him to resign. Now as far as I am concerned the jury is out on Len – he may have been a grade A bastard causing much unhappiness, but that Trust on the Wirral was riddled with problems (I think it was the same Trust where the delightful Lyn Meadows, now a member of the Betsi Board, had facilitated a fraud along with a number of doctors as detailed on Frank Field’s blog and in Hansard), so Len might have just made himself unpopular by challenging some truly appalling people who were determined to get rid of them so that they could continue to abuse their positions…