6th July 2015

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Lord Darzi
Is he the most interesting and innovative man in the NHS?  Come and find out.

What's the future for robotics and what happened to the Darzi Centres?

Health Chat 15th July - King's Fund - London

 Details here.

Soft targets
News and Comment from Roy Lilley

I've found all sorts of stuff! The Duchess kept everything! Neat plastic bags full of birthday and Christmas cards. A bundle of my early watercolours. In tissue paper; my Christening Robe and first, white, chamois leather shoes...


Pictures... pictures...pictures... tiny, two inch squares of black and white memories on beaches, playing fields and back gardens. The first colour snaps of family get-togethers. Every event chronicled, remembered; life through the lens of Eastman Kodak.


And, the bills, the receipts, the advice notes going back to 1968! I overheated the shredder. It melted.


Not just a lifetime of memories but a small slice of social history that will never be repeated and in the days if digital pictures, e-cards and e-mails cannot be repeated. The iCloud will eat our memories and you can't put a pdf on the mantel piece. Social historians are going to have a tough time.


Personal gifts; cheap jewellery that is priceless and expensive jewellery that has lost its value because it has lost its context.


And, a little black box, tucked in beside the latest book and the spectacles. Unzip it to find two of the Duchess's best friends. Tiny ammonite shaped shells designed to be invisible. Without them life was a blur. With them came clarity, conversation, joining in, debate, laughter, independence and connection to the world.


Hearing aids. To be honest, I never thought she would wear them. I was wrong. Once the learning-fiddle-faddle was out of the way they became inseparable. My job, once a week; change the batteries and the wax filters. It was really work for a watchmaker. So tiny. 


But, I did it, willingly, as it gave me my mother back. No more shouting. Conversation with light and shade.  Subtle, context... I know what a difference well-fitting and maintained hearing aids can make.


Without them; depression and exclusion.  Vulnerability.  A life out of focus.  Muffled, confusing and dangerous.  To be seen as stupid, old and daft.  Stress and the silent road to mental health problems.


Three of England's CCGs have taken a hammering for attempting to reduce costs by restricting the number of hearing aids in order to save money.


A pox on them I say. May they be cursed with the tinnitus of a demented boiler maker.


In January the Guardian reported;


"The NEW Devon CCG has decided to provide only one hearing aid to those who have hearing loss in both ears, even though they need two. And, CCGs in North Staffordshire and Kernow in Cornwall are introducing eligibility criteria that will deny hearing aids to those with mild to moderate hearing loss."


May the hex of the three black candles visit them at midnight.


NEW Devon CCG came to their senses and dumped the idea


Research by the Action on Hearing Loss revealed 22 other CCGs had similar plans. Brent (north London), Trafford (Manchester), Gateshead, South Tyneside and Telford and Wrekin - are looking into "decommissioning" some audiology services.


Since 1948 hearing aids have been available on the NHS and this is the first time that routine provision has come under threat.


NHS Clinical Commissioners' head honcho, Steve Kell is quoted; "Clinical commissioners have to make difficult decisions..." Yeah right. How about taking one wheel off a walking frame, or push-out one lens from a pair of spectacles? Better still; prescribe a monocle or half a course of medicines. That would save money.


Restricting services to people with 'moderate hearing loss' is like saying we won't treat you if you are a little bit sick. Come back when you are really ill.


North Staffs have just agreed to ration hearing aids. May the curse of the seven toed toad be visited on them and the blue-screen-of-death jinx their IT systems.


An interesting report from the London Assembly is calling for urgent action to eliminate the disadvantages deaf people still face when accessing health services. Deaf people are more likely to suffer ill health largely because they face problems accessing health services.


Basic interactions, like making an appointment or getting advice from a doctor, are harder for deaf and hard of hearing people. Almost two-thirds of people have put off making use of the health service because they are worried about communication problems.


People disadvantaged by deafness are very likely to be old and alone; have the quietest voices and be the least vociferous in a clamouring world of special pleading and demands. 


I know CCGs have to make hard choices.  That means they have to be clever, not callous, innovative not insensitive.  Bullying is smoke, courage is fire.  Bullies have no brains; making budgets work is the work of the really smart.


There is no excuse for going for soft targets.  


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Lord Darzi
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>>  I'm hearing - Monitor is having second thoughts about its 'failure regime'.  The sooner the whole silly organisation is closed down and the money spent on the front line the better. 
>>  I'm hearing - that the TDA's Big-Bob-Alexander is flexing his muscles; telling foreboding tales about the Chancellor tightening accountability on Trusts.  Relax Bob; you may want the Big-Job but is it really worth selling your soul for?
>>  I'm hearing - a new breed of consultant has appeared; the 'bid writer'.  Is it true they charge 2k a day?
>>  I'm hearing I was wrong - about The Tinker-Man being unique in being reappointed after an election.  Ken Robinson in 64-68, Fowler 81-87 and Milburn 99-03.  Thank you Matthew!
>>  I'm hearing - the Carter Report was finished off in a hurry; the 'model hospital' dreamed up on the back of a fag packet and the guy who came up with the efficiency index has quit.
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