THE grandmother of the girl with the congenital dislocation of the hip, an adult of about 35 years now, asked in her kindly letter published last week in the paper – “Where did it all go wrong ?”
She said “I think back to the 1980s’ and the skill and care she received.” There is still skill and care but it is more difficult to find, and often after vast delay, writes retired consultant, Doctor David Halpin.
I have written of the planned dismantling of OUR NHS in previous pieces but will now attempt to summarise this vicious process now resulting in widespread and deep distress in so many citizens of our country.
I add the delay in diagnosis and treatment, added to by the draconian responses to a virus engineered in laboratories – not just in Wuhan, so that those with symptoms and signs of potential cancer for instance are less likely to survive.
This is because the delay in starting necessary treatment, say by excision of a bowel cancer by laparoscope or incision, limits the chance of cure. Common sense. And I repeat again, £400 billion was spent in response to ‘covid’, including the £70 billion spent on ‘furloughing’ - putting often fit young men and women off work to go cycling. This bankrupting amount of pounds is three times the NHS budget! You really could not make it up.
I started at the coal face on qualifying as a doctor in 1964, and very fortunately for me at St Mary’s W2. So I have had the joy and great privilege of helping my fellow man since then, but at the same time I have seen OUR NHS being treated as a political football for too many decades – by each of the three ‘parties’.
This started with real vengeance in the late 80s under the then Conservative government of Mrs Thatcher, with the ‘Centre for Policy Studies’, this ‘think’ tank being the engine. If you have a computer read
This had at its centre a nonsense – a ‘policy’ involving competition between hospitals in particular, when instead hospitals co-operated.
For instance – specialists say at the RD&E would come at our request to advise on patients in the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital (PEOH) where the little girl with the CDH was treated successfully in the 80s. I refer to the Internal Market, and the ‘idea’ guess – yes, came from the US and its Rand Corporation via ‘Professor’ Enthoven. I find this link to his own writing
Another professor, Milton Friedman of the ‘Chicago School’ of economists was central too. Incidentally, the Rand Corporation was set up in 1946 to deal with weapons for war!
I was serving at Torbay in trauma surgery, and in elective ie planned orthopaedic surgery at the PEOH where I had mostly been trained.
Unlike many fellow consultants I briefed myself on the proposed ‘market’. This included attending a debate set up at Torbay by the BMA between two health economists.
One put forward that which was closing some hospitals in the US which had failed in this spurious market, and the other speaker for enhancing what we had.
After the talks I asked what this market was costing in its administration. The answer – no one knew! I guessed that it would at least double this part of the NHS budget which stood at about 5% of the whole.
There was a meeting of the consultant body at Torbay to hear the then General Manager of the SW NHS – an ex-nurse, present this plan.
Ms Hawkins gave her spiel accompanied by boring blue slides from the Dept of Health. In the Q&A afterwards, Halpin asked from the back of our Medical Centre ‘would this scheme not at least double the cost of administration?’. With a sweep of the hand Ms Hawkins said 7% at the most. I rose again when the chairman David Gudgeon who I counted as a friend said ‘Sit Down’! I still feel that sabre cut.
I continued to oppose this plan publicly and vehemently because I saw it as the first big stroke to kill OUR NHS – but quietly so few noticed. And for that opposition evidence shows I have been under surveillance since and things made difficult for me in my work at Torbay. Fact.
When I had recovered a little from the mental breakdown in February 1992 I was called to a meeting at Torbay by Mr Gudgeon and my contemporary colleague McKay.
That breakdown was caused by undiagnosed thyroid failure added to by very hard work which I enjoyed and fighting like hell for the life of the PEOH and of the NHS. I was encouraged in my very vulnerable state to retire, and succumbed. A pension followed, and this was enlarged a little by an annual amount arising from ‘industrial injury’ ie deliberate harm to my working.
I should have instead been encouraged to continue but with some ease in my programme and encouraged to teach young surgeons more, which I loved. I went back to operating but on a contract basis, and very usefully saw patients in six general practices.
You will understand that I could write a book, as I intend, on ‘Where did it all go wrong?’. Know that I have been doing my best to tell people over these years but so many do not care enough about this vital and essentially loving service. They think ‘they will take care of us’. Only now has the penny dropped.
Symbolic of the deliberate and frankly fascist - ‘destabilise>demoralise>destabilise>destroy’ was the bulldozing of our fine PEOH in 1996, ten years after this hospital of 120 beds had been re-engineered in 1986 with the building of a new ward and four fine operating theatres. By political diktat.
Is it too late to rebuild OUR NHS? NO. As I said in a previous article, we can and we must rebuild it, firstly for those needing expert help now, but also for our children, and for the soul of our nation. And it has to be a co-operation between patient and doctor based on a deep mutual respect.
Simplification is vital, and a return to the essentials of good medicine eg seeing the patient face to face for the initial consultation. Not to do this is frankly negligent.
The essence of what I write here is in a video of a talk I gave to ladies in Bournemouth in 2012, giving the background to the Health and Social Care Act of APRIL FIRST 2012. 43 minutes with good editing by a lady member of the audience.