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Bonkers Blog February 2011

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23 February (Part 1) - Don’t shoot the messenger

James Brokenshire has posted a letter about the closure of Queen Mary’s Hospital (QMH) from the Health Secretary on his website. As expected, local objections and Mr. Brokenshire’s own publicly stated views have been over-ruled and a plan involving local GPs is to go ahead. I hope mine isn’t included. It’s not that he isn’t a good doctor, he may be, but his surgery is a shambles and as a result I’ve seen him only once in the seven years of my registration there. When I phone I am always told that all the appointment slots are taken and I should call again next day and when I do so I get the same. The receptionist quite clearly takes great delight in playing this game and when a year ago I was really unwell and in great pain I was told to dial 999. I did so and was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s A&E. (QEH). Don’t go there if you can possibly avoid it. Last time I was at QEH for a check up I told the doctor about that incident and he said waiting up to 14 hours is now commonplace but at least now that the government has relaxed the four hour target they are no longer tossing sick people out on to the streets after 235 minutes.

The sick are not well served in Bexley. I don’t suppose my own GP is alone in having callous receptionists and operating an appointments lottery but at least I have been able to jump on the train to Crayford and see a doctor there at any time without an appointment. A great service for Bexley residents but Bexley Care Trust has decided to close down the walk-in surgery. The last patient gets seen next Sunday.

The health authorities are as bad as Bexley council in their dishonesty and often they are in each others pockets. When one of QEH’s consultants became so worried about the management killing his patients through enforced neglect he blew the whistle on them and was promptly sacked for his pains. If you Google the name Ramon Niekrash you will find scores of pages on his battle with the authorities which cost him around £140,000 of his own money to pursue. He was eventually rewarded with his job back and the knowledge that hospital management had been found guilty of criminal acts. Some of them were promoted as their reward and Dr. Niekrash has gone back to caring for his patients and nursing a large hole in his bank balance. I did hear that there is to be a support event for Dr. Niekrash at QEH next Monday but I can find no confirmation on the web.

Why do whistleblowers get so badly treated? Bexley council has published its whistleblowing policy but almost by definition whistleblowers are an embarrassment and must be sacked in the stampede to hide the truth while the wrong-doers are given protection. Events at the Thames Innovation Centre illustrate this unfortunate routine and councillors condone it. This particular case is still rumbling on so I cannot say much about it but one day I hope to be able to expose councillor Campbell as the malign accuser, judge and executioner I believe him to be.


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