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Alan Johnson, Health secretary, Live webchat here on Weds 16th April 12.20-1.15

(189 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 14-Apr-08 21:18:14

Alan Johnson, Labour's Secretary of State for Health, will be here on Weds to answer your questions about the NHS. He's happy to talk about anything health -policy related, but some of the topics he's specifically covering during "health week" are: access to NHS services, hospital cleanliness, midwife provision, and a "personal" NHS offering maximum choice and control over the services they use.

As always, those of you who can't make it on the day can post your questions in advance here. Or grab a sarnie (healthy of course wink) on Weds lunchtime and come and pose your questions in person.

LittleBella Mon 14-Apr-08 21:31:36

Ooh I larve Alan Johnson. <Simper>

So Alan, what are you going to do about the piss-poor support from the NHS for breastfeeding? One of the most shocking and dismaying things for a new mother, is to find that having read a couple of books about breastfeeding, she actually knows more about the subject than most of the midwives and health visitors she comes across, because they are so badly trained and ill-informed. And yet the long term benefits of breastfeeding are so well-established, that we know it would save the NHS a fortune if our breastfeeding rates were as high as those of Norway, Sweden et al. How high is this on your priority list and what measures are you considering to ensure that BF rates are improved, if any?

wrinklytum Mon 14-Apr-08 21:38:36

Hello Mr Johnson

I have no reason to moan about the NHS from my own recent experiences in my local area.My sn child has received excellent care from paediatric services and an excellent portage service.However from doing a small poll on the special needs board of mumsnet it appears that access to services such as SALT,physiotherapy,portage and so on can be quite patchy countrywide,a bit of a postcode lottery really.How do you aim to improve access to such services for special needs children???Thank you.

sophiebbb Mon 14-Apr-08 21:40:55

See thread above Mr Johnson

TallulahToo Mon 14-Apr-08 22:23:16

Hello Mr Johnson,

Following on from wrinklytum and sophiebbb regarding special needs children. I find that although these services are essential it also helps if diagnosis services are easily available for autistic spectrum children. According to gov stats, autism diagnosis is on the increase but god knows how! hmm

My own ds is approaching 8yrs old and only just about to begin access to this service. He is certainly not alone in this. How long before the NHS stats include a target for access to diagnosis services that doesn't leave a child to go through years of school asking "why am I different?" or "am I normal?" sad

sfxmum Tue 15-Apr-08 09:52:50

wow MN HQ thank you for taking my suggestiongrin

anyway Mr Johnson welcome

my questions are about
1 - miscarriage - this is a very troubling and upsetting event for most women and as someone who has had a few I am shocked at the variation in care women receive.
can we please make sure there are some clear standards of care and common procedures to follow

we need appropriate immediate and sympathetic care we adequate follow up

2- regarding vaccinations I gave my child the MMR vaccine but isn't it better to make the singles available rather than just leave it for those who can afford it and allow others to go without?

3 - breastfeeding like others have said the level of support is shocking most of the support comes from voluntary organisations and places like this but given the low levels of BF in this country can you please do something to start awareness and support much earlier - by the time you have a baby n your hands it is a bit late

many thanks

RubySlippers Tue 15-Apr-08 10:00:48

I don't want choice and control over services - i want to go to my local, clean hospital and not have to wait for months to see a consultant about an ongoing health problem i have

with regard to maternity services, this Government should be hanging its head it shame

The midwives in my area, do homebirths in their OWN time - they are seriously over stretched but still give amazing care

The hospital where i gave birth was fine, and the MWs were excellent in helping me establish breastfeeding, but the HVs that visited afterwards were not helpful in this regard <<puts it mildly>>

RubySlippers Tue 15-Apr-08 10:01:47

should add, the MWs etc give great care, in spite of the circumstances in which they are working

SirDigbyChickenCaesar Tue 15-Apr-08 10:10:03

i also would like to bring up the subject of Breastfeeding.
not only is it important to get midwives and health visitors trained properly but GPs also need to be brought up to speed on the health benefits.
Many of us have been to the GP and are faced with shock and at times even disapproval when we are nursing a child over 6 months.
I'm not suggesting they be trained in proper latch or anything (though in an ideal world...) but just so that they know that breastmilk is best for babies and the health benefits that go along with that.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Apr-08 10:38:56

Thanks for these. Please keep the questions coming

Monkeybird Tue 15-Apr-08 10:42:51

excellent, good choice and good timing.

will cogitate on questions...

sfxmum Tue 15-Apr-08 10:46:12

and btw I will personally blame the government if Boris wins London <finger wagging>

meant to ask about dentists too what on earth is going on? we can only get private atm and seriously at least for kids under 18 it should be available in the NHS including proper orthodontics

lulumama Tue 15-Apr-08 10:47:49

so, we are around 10 000 Midwives short, leaving women worried that they cannot have the birth they want as there are not enough staff.. women are being told they cannot have a home birth as there are not enough staff....women and babies are being compromised, nationwide. Women are losing faith in the system.. independent midwives are beyond the financial reach of the majority and due to lack of insurance now, people are put off..

so when are women going to get the midwifery service they need?

one woman , one midwife

a real choice of where to give birth, not just lip service

and also, birth centres and MLUs are being closed, thus taking away real choice

there is no choice if the staff are not there to ensure choices can be met.

a botched delivery or a woman traumatised by her birth experience due to lack of staffing will ultimately cost the NHS more in terms of repairing the woman physically and emotionally...

so how is this going to be addressed?

SquonkTheBeerGuru Tue 15-Apr-08 10:55:12

I heart Alan Johnson.

Will try to think of a question, but I just wanted to say that he is one of the (very) few politicians that I would trust and actually believe what they say.

And may I also thank him for his support to the people of Hull and East Riding during the floods last summer?

Thank you.


ahundredtimes Tue 15-Apr-08 11:05:13

I heart him too.

I shall try and think of a sensible question.

CatIsSleepy Tue 15-Apr-08 11:19:06

sorry haven't thought of a question just wanted to agree with 100x and squonk and say how much I like him

was v. impressed with him on Desert Island Discs

ahundredtimes Tue 15-Apr-08 11:25:23

We're pathetic. We can't just hang about saying what a nice and authentic person he seems. We need to ask penetrating and insightful questions about Health.

CIS - you think of one.

SilentTerror Tue 15-Apr-08 11:42:49

Derar Mr Johnson,can you tell me why myself and my colleagues are under threat of redundancy on a very busy acute paediatric ward,given that we struggle for staff now?
We are undergoing a 'service review' and have been advised by management that jobs may be lost.
Any comments?

Rowlers Tue 15-Apr-08 12:11:26

Mr Johnson,
Or may I call you Alan?
I'd like to ask you to explain and justify increasing gp's pay enormously and simultaneously reducing their work load yet offer nurses (and teachers and police officers etc etc) paltry pay rises below inflation for YEARS and YEARS.
I'd be impressed if you could explain it to me as I do struggle to understand these things.

Sidge Tue 15-Apr-08 12:27:44

Why is dental provision no longer available on the NHS?

Why are you trying to turn primary care services into a service industry akin to something like Tesco?

Why are you closing cottage hospitals and centralising services in massive megahospitals, so that people have to travel further and be away from home to access needed services?

why is paediatric speech and language therapy so difficult to access and therapists working with such massive caseloads that they can't see existing patients more frequently?

bitofadramaqueen Tue 15-Apr-08 13:47:27

I live in Scotland so health is devolved to the Scottish Executive government but I would like to ask him about maternity services. I dont think you can discuss midwifery without discussing the wider area of maternity services.

Given my own experiences over the last year, I'd like to see UK-wide standards for the provision of maternity services. In particular:

1. Like sfx mum, I'd like to see set standards of support and care for those who have miscarriages.

2. Those who are pregnant following a miscarriage should expect the same support and care from a local EPU no matter where they live. Some women have to really fight to get an early reassurance scan. I can only comment on my experiences of early miscarriage, but without early scans, women have to go through an terrifying ordeal wondering whether their baby is still alive.

3. An end to the 'postcode lottery' of ante-natal care. All women in the UK should be offered the same tests and routine scans wherever they live. Like many women, I had to pay £150 for a 20 week scan, which is offered routinely in other parts of the UK. Not every pregnant woman wants every scan/test available but they should be able to make an informed choice about whether to have them without having to consider whether they can afford to pay for them privately. Examples include nuchal fold scans and Group B strep testing.

I know that Alan Johnson cannot influence Health policy in Scotland, but he can ensure that the maternity services in England and Wales are something for the rest of the UK to aspire to.

Hassled Tue 15-Apr-08 13:47:51

I'm with Sidge in wanting to know whether there is anything specific the Government are doing about paediatric speech and language therapy provision, both pre-school and beyond. There seem to be particular difficulties in dealing with the transition to school and maintaining consistent levels of support; the child is transferred to other therapists with enormous caseloads and can very easily just drop out of sight.

As an example, I have a 5 year old with a severe phonological disorder who despite a Statement of Special Needs which stipulates that he needs regular SALT input, has now not been seen by a SALT since January. This is is contrast to the weekly therapy sessions he had been receiving pre-school. The SALTs I have dealt with are hard-working and professional - but either there just aren't enough them, or there is insufficient funding to employ sufficient.

mrspnut Tue 15-Apr-08 14:17:40

I'd like to know why when PCT's were merged last year were trusts that were performing well made to take on other underperforming trust's debts.

Harrogate and Craven PCT was an excellent authority but since taking on the debts of all the other PCT's in the area has had to cut services dramatically in order to make savings.

Why should the public have to suffer due to mismanagement of funds by incompetent managers in the NHS?

Why aren't there enough NHS dentists to go around and why has NHS funded paediatric orthodontistry been cut?

mrspnut Tue 15-Apr-08 14:21:16

Whilst I'm already on my soap box

Why is there only one centre in the country offering auditory verbal therapy for children with a hearing impairment (and why is it a charity, and not a service routinely provided by the NHS)?

alanjohnson2008 Tue 15-Apr-08 14:56:31

Just testing the login smile

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