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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.

Monkeybird Tue 15-Apr-08 14:56:59

How will the government manage the balance needed over the next decade between the health care needs of older people, which will expand, and those of, for example, babies, children and pregnant women?

I've voted labour for years but like everyone else am heartily sick of the patronising notion of choice, when you know that we know that choice is merely a euphemism for poor quality spread thinly.

Be brave: raise taxes... Scandi style is the only answer.

feb Tue 15-Apr-08 15:14:55

Why was the postnatal ward so short staffed that was I unable to get any breast feeding help after the birth of my child, and even then only because i transferred out of the consultant unit to the midwife unit?

why were there no postnatal groups in my town?

why have antenatal classes been scrapped?

why did I have to deliver my dead baby on a busy labour ward, passing new mums with their perfect newborns along the way?

why was i not seen by anyone for 6 weeks after this traumatic event?

the service i have received during the pregnancy and birth of my 1st child, and the loss of my 2nd pregnancy, were on the whole excellent, but this was largely due to the exceptional support i received from individuals in the NHS rather than the system itself, which seems to hinder their efforts.

pyjamarama Tue 15-Apr-08 15:27:35

Mr Johnson,
I am a doctor, and have worked in the NHS for the past 7 years. My first child is due in a few weeks, and after maternity leave i would like to work, and continue to train, part time. However, the government has withdrawn funding for flexible trainees, meaning I am forced to either return to work full time, or sacrifice the career I have spent the last 7 (12 if you count med school)years working towards. This penny pinching will result in the NHS losing many dedicated and experienced doctors it has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds training, and is further increasing the flood of hospital doctors into general practice.
Your excuses please.

alanjohnson2008 Tue 15-Apr-08 17:06:26


sagacious Tue 15-Apr-08 17:24:35

yes you are dear

itscoldtoday Tue 15-Apr-08 18:07:20

Mr Johnson,
Perhaps you would like to explain your "personal NHS offering maximum choice" when surveys show that the majority of patients want to be treated at their local hospital and aren't much interested in the choice of further flung places?
Isn't it the case that the NHS is a very expensive burden that the government has to shoulder, and that what you would really like is to start privatising it as much as possible? And isn't it also the case that the huge amounts of negative press you are giving to GPs is a part of trying to make primary care as unpopular as possible, easing the transition from free at the point of service care to pay as you go polyclinics? Can you admit that the government, when negotiating the new contract, were wanrned by GPs that if we were given targets to achieve, we would achieve them; so it is a bit unfair to whinge when we do in fact hit those targets and our pay goes up in accordance with you contract? Yes, we are expensive, but you made us that way. Shame you can't pay the nurses, porters, and so on a wage equal to their hard work too.
Is it possible to see that as much as the politicians want shot of the NHS, we'd be quite happy to see the end of the politicians making headline grabbing 'initiatives' instead of addressing problems that need solving.
You shut down 2 of our local Cottage Hospital 2 years ago, and we have had an almost constant beds crisis at the local DGH ever since, with patient care suffering as a consequence. Today I had to argue with that same DGH to keep a patient in because the family could not cope with him at home; had my Cottage Hospital been open I would have kept him there. The hospital had no quarrel with the fact that the patient needed admission, they simply had no beds.
The NHS is a money pit, I agree, but the moeny thrown at it if often thrown in the wrong direction, from the ridiculously over budget computer system to costly consultations with management directors over whether or not the Health Board will save a few quid shutting a Cottage Hospital.
Oh, and while you're here, perhaps you can help me: where am I going to find child care for my 2 children for me to work the extended opening hours that our patients have never asked for, for which there will be no lab back up, and potentially no out of hours coverage for either. The same goes for our receptionists who will be manning the desks - possibly on their own, late at night in an isolated rural practice.
Thanks so much.

JT Tue 15-Apr-08 18:12:22

Hello Alan, I've got a little tip for helping with the superbugs. When my sister did her nurse training in the late 60's woebetide if they went home in their uniform never mind pick the kids up, go for a Tesco shop, stuff their pockets with goodness knows what. Nurses are bloomin marvellous but they look like cleaners. Elderly patients in particular can't work out who is who.

Btw closing down my local A&E means if I have a heart attack I have a 45 minute journey before I get any proper help. Oh yes, I know the paramedics are trained but a ride down country roads ain't gonna help me much.

willow Tue 15-Apr-08 18:48:46

I've got another tip re dealing with superbugs. How about making sure the cleaning staff actually clean? I was in hospital for ten days following the botched birth of my son - for the entire time a huge clot of blood - like a piece of liver - from another mum remained lodged in the plug hole of the bathroom I had to use. (Fortunately I was only allowed showers at that point.) I was way, way too ill to deal with it - and, more to the point, why should I have had to? It was visible to anyone who used that bathroom - that it was never cleaned up (in what is considered a flagship hospital) gives a massive pointer as to one area that needs dealing with sharpish. So what steps are you taking to make sure hospitals are cleaned properly on a daily basis?

JT Tue 15-Apr-08 19:00:19

it interests me this cleaning bit.

I mean WHY should it be any different to years gone by? Maybe the cleaners aren't being managed properly, paid enough, what?

I mean, you've got managers coming out of your ears, but they just don't seem to be, er, managing .....

Monkeybird Tue 15-Apr-08 19:01:52

As I understand it, cleaning is contracted out in many NHS hospitals. Not surprisingly, it isn't done well.

That is surely one thing that can be changed?

brimfull Tue 15-Apr-08 19:21:15

The Project 2000 way of training nurses has led to a reduction in their practical skills ,a ward full of health care assistants some trained to NVQ3 level some untrained.

The trained nurse is left to do drug rounds and paperwork rarely clapping eyes on the patients.

I think HCA's are the backbone of the ward and the NHS would fall apart without them ,but shouldn't the backbone of the ward be actual trained nurses?
Research based degree courses are unsuitable for such a practical job.

Bring back the old style nurses.British nurses used to be admired the world over for their exemplary training.Sadly this is no longer the case.

So my question is ,will you change the way nurses are trained to allow them to actually care for the patients not the paperwork?

kikidee Tue 15-Apr-08 20:27:06

Mrs Pnut - very good question indeed. We are in Scotland and will having to spend a lot of money to attend AVT. Our DLA would cover the appointment cost but won't go anywhere near travel from Scotland.

Anyway, my own question to Mr Johnson is this. My one year old daughter is about to go on the waiting list for a cochlear implant. On the NHS she is entitled to only one implant yet she wears 2 hearing aids and is profoundly deaf in both ears. The first draft of the NICE report on implants recommended 2 for prelingual children but then withdrew that recommendation in the second draft. I wonder why. Could it be that the English PCTs campaigned for the recommendation to be withdrawn on cost grounds? I do understand that NHS resources are finite and need to be allocated on some sort of cost benefit basis. However, we are talking about an extra £20,000 per implanted child to give them a second implant which is effective for their entire life. Several other countries give 2 as a matter of course and the UK is lagging behind. Would Mr Johnson be able to comment on that?

Finally, on a more positive note, we have been extremely well supported by the various healthcare professionals involved with us as a family. She was diagnosed through the Newborn Hearing Screening Program. I cannot stress how glad I am to have had such an early diagnosis for her and I think the UNHS Program is a very good thing indeed.

tatt Tue 15-Apr-08 22:48:54

1. When will the government stop pretending that seeing a paediatrician with an interest in allergy is adequate? My child has seen both allergy consultant and paediatrician (we moved) and there is no comparison. I would like to chose a hospital with an allergy consultant but I don't have that choice!

2. Alternative medicine is sometimes more cost effective than traditional medicine. Why not allow doctors to prescribe it when cheaper?

3. Please look again at the provision of dental care, if you move it is almost impossible to find an NHS dentist.

flossish Wed 16-Apr-08 09:11:26

Dear Mr Johnson,

I too would also like to know about nurses pay. We are encouraged to no longer call the people we treat patients, instead clients or service users. Quite rightly we are constantly striving for a patient centered approach. We are criticised for not smiling enough, the state of our attire and for poor hand washing skills.

We are expected to take on extended roles and do more and more, paperwork and computer work levels constantly increase. And yet we are expected to do all this, smilingly when we are becoming worse and worse off due to below inflation pay rises. The recent changes to taxation means again that nurses working part time are even worse off. Unfortunately our main trade union has no backbone. I fail to see any other reason why we are valued less than teachers, say.

Also If I can raise the subject of budgets. As I understand it, the ward budget has to allow for many factors. If we have a client with expensive dressings it comes out of the wards budget. Some dressings cost thousands for a relatively short course of treatment. Some wards are more likely than others to require this type of dressing and therefore the budget suffers. Another rising cost seems to be the use of interpretors, which can cost hundreds of pounds for only a few hours work.

Also I work on a ward where the nursing staff is mainly made up of young women and there also seems to be something in the water! There have been up to four or five members of staff off on maternity leave at any one time, when the budget only allows for two. Therefore the ward budget paying for maternity leave, plus the extra cover costs incurred by this leave means that the money left for basic supplies and equipment is diminished, basically affecting client care. How can this be fair? Could there not be a central budget within each hospital to cover costs like these, which probably balance out over the whole NHS trust?

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that nurses are feeling very demoralised and undervalued. Surely for the government to want NHS clients to receive the best care this issue needs to be addressed and steps made to improve it?

pigleto Wed 16-Apr-08 09:49:31

Dear Mr Johnson

Why is the breast cancer survival rate in this country so low compared with other western countries?

RTKangaMummy Wed 16-Apr-08 09:53:23

Hello Mr Johnson

Why do the PRESCRIPTION CHARGES go up in England

BUT down in Scotland


Why is that fair???????




crumpet Wed 16-Apr-08 10:03:22

Agree with the cleaning - had a cleaner come through the ward regularly (not sure why it had to be before 6am), but while she might have been able to tick a box to say that she pushed tbe broom around, no actual dust/dirt was in fact removed, just rearranged. And don't let me get started on the state of the bathrooms.

At the time I just wished Hattie Jacques would come along and lay down the law - these were obvious and fundemental problems...

And this is not to disparage the understaffed nurses or the cleaners who were probably inadequately trained contractors, but someone must surely be responsible for checking that things are in fact clean. Who are they and why are they not doing this? Not rocket science.

FeverishFish Wed 16-Apr-08 10:05:33

helo mr johnons
i am poorly

FeverishFish Wed 16-Apr-08 10:05:54

(p.s is he the one wiht the groovy son?)

Jampot Wed 16-Apr-08 10:19:34

Why is it that despite obesity being a massive problem in this country and one which will surely put a huge strain on the NHS due to associated health risks such as diabetes, heart disease etc, do GPs not really take this seriously enough?

saltire Wed 16-Apr-08 10:24:48

Why are GP's allowed to charge patients ridiculous amounts of money for a signature on a form?
It doesn't take up hours of their time does it? In most cases, the recptionists fill in any bits of the form that need filled in and all GP has to do is sign it

grouphug Wed 16-Apr-08 10:25:38

Why do you not get a antenatal scan until 20 weeks in Bristol, this is very close to the abortion deadline should a woman need to have one and your family, friends and employer would know you were pregnant by then.

minimymy Wed 16-Apr-08 10:39:18

Hi Mr Johnson.
Am I the first person to post a message?

I am 27 weeks pregnant expecting my 3rd child. Are you going to give mothers the choice of going private if they are not happy about their local maternity provision? I have had horrid experiences with my last 2 births that my husband and I are looking to see if we can afford to have the baby privately this time round.
I cannot go to the other side of London to a better hospital because they are over stretched. What advise would you have for me? thanks

grouphug Wed 16-Apr-08 10:41:13

Why are formula companies able to advertise follow on milk for 6 month old babies as it is not classed as a breastfeeding substitute?? You are not able to give cow's milk to babies until they are one year's old, so how is this not a breastmilk substitute?

grouphug Wed 16-Apr-08 11:15:54

Sexually Transmitted Diseases are increasing. Most sexually transmitted diseases can be cured if they are diagnosed and treated in their early stages so why is access to genito-urinary medicine clinics so difficult and insufficient education being given in schools.

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