Author Archives: Catherine Royce

Are we being led by the science?

Well, that’s what we are told at the daily press conference, but is it true?

It’s becoming evident that the 2-metre social distancing rule is exceedingly problematic if it’s to be continued once businesses re-open, particularly for small cafes, restaurants and shops which are too small to implement it and will cease to be viable. So, the evidence to support it must be very strong, mustn’t it?

I have not been able to find that evidence anywhere, and significantly the WHO has settled on a much more pragmatic, achievable and sustainable one-metre distance. I made a few more discreet enquiries yesterday, and the answer came back that ‘there is no evidence’.

Does Chris Whitty, Patrick Vallance and SAGE know something we don’t?  – we certainly hope so, but if this secret society does not publish its membership and meeting minutes how can we trust the government to have taken their advice seriously, rather than manipulated it, particularly now we know who else attends these meetings.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 30 Comments

We need to talk about the healthcare workforce

As a nation, we have spent the last month endlessly talking about PPE, testing and even ventilators, remorselessly picking over the technical details of things which most people still do not understand. The government is pleased for us to do this because it keeps us off the one topic they have no answer for; the elephant in the room of a totally inadequate healthcare workforce stretched to breaking point. Even with all the goodwill in the world, re-calling retired doctors and nurses doesn’t solve it.
There are many good reasons why the NHS is supposed to run at 85% of capacity; one is so that there is then some slack in the system for unforeseen emergencies. That has not happened in the last few years as successive Conservative governments have squeezed the service harder and harder driving capacity dangerously close to 95% and beyond, not addressed staffing shortages at all levels and reduced the bed numbers by too much (by at least 7,000) Eventually acknowledged by Jeremy Hunt himself towards the end of his 7+year tenure as Secretary of state for Health and Social Care.

The summer ‘respite’ for the health service didn’t happen last year or the year before, or the year before that, and the workforce has remained thousands short across the board; GPs, hospital specialists and trainees, nurses and care workers, result; an exhausted workforce close to burn-out. Add to this the wanton neglect of an able and willing EU workforce over 100,000 which was pushed out by a hostile environment as Brexit became a reality at the end of 2019 and here we are reaping the whirlwind.

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July meeting of Liberal International in London

You might have been so be-dazzled by the London Pride parade back in July that you missed the 202nd Liberal International Executive Committee meeting which took place on the same day at the National Liberal Club (and which incidentally gave perfect grandstand viewing of the parade in the streets below) .

I’ve only recently started going to these international political meetings (since I retired and now have the time!) but the dynamic is quite different from UK political meetings and very energising. There are many younger participants and many, many more women to offset the usual pale, older males, and where else could I sit next to the Foreign Minister of Somalia? -and very interesting he was too.

Posted in Europe / International | Tagged | 3 Comments

Assisted dying – an expression of individual freedom

This resolution proposed by PLC, Partido Liberal de Chile and supported by D66 of Netherlands and LIBG Liberal International British Group was hotly debated during the Human Rights Committee session at the 200th Executive Committee meeting of Liberal International held at the headquarters of the Free Democratic Party of Germany in Berlin this weekend.

Despite strong reservations from several delegates to the original wording and a proposal to refer back, a ŷlast minute re-write during the session which addressed all of the reservations expressed led to success, with a large majority of delegates voting for the resolution during the following …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Will the last doctor to leave the NHS switch off the light

 

Whilst the media concentrate on  shortages of beds, longer waiting times and the increasing indebtedness of Trusts,  all of which can easily be solved by investing more money, ie. a choice (or not) of the government of the day, something far more fundamental is happening – doctors are leaving the NHS.

This cannot be solved by money, or government dictat,  because the goodwill of medical staff which successive governments have taken for granted has run out, and frankly, doctors have sufficient skills to go anywhere in the world.

From its inception, the NHS has relied on imported staff from abroad; in the ‘50s and ‘60s it was mainly porters, cleaners and cooks from the Caribbean. In the ‘70s and ‘80s it was doctors from the Indian subcontinent and nurses from south East Asia and since the ‘90s from Europe.

The UK has never produced sufficient home grown doctors, partly because of the idiotic insistence of the system in pretending that almost no-one is academically gifted enough to get into medical school. Getting 4A* has little to do with becoming a good doctor; it’s just an effective way of stopping perfectly good candidates getting into medical school. The medical school expansion programme in the ‘70s didn’t fix the problem and neither will Jeremy Hunt’s offering of 6,000 more places over the next five years; the problem is much, much worse than that.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 13 Comments

Update on progress tackling Female Genital Mutilation in the UK

February 6th was Zero Tolerance Day for Female Genital Mutilation.

Mandatory reporting of all cases of female genital mutilation identified in the UK has now been in place for about 18 months and useful data are emerging.

However, there has still not been a single successful prosecution in the UK, although several cases are currently under police investigation.  A major barrier to prosecution is the understandable unwillingness of girls to give evidence in court against family members.

In the last 12 months 8,656 cases were reported of which 5,702 were new referrals to the specialised clinics that treat and care for these women and girl survivors. 106 cases were below the age of 18years. These are people living in the UK who have previously suffered FGM either in their home country or since arrival the UK. 

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Profound Brexit implications for the UK’s Life Science industry

Last week I was hoping to hear Liam Fox speak on ‘Maintaining the UK life sciences’ leading position’ at a Royal Society of Medicine symposium ‘Brexit; the Implications for the UK’s Life Science Industry’.

He cancelled (what an (un)surprise). The implications for academia, industry and the NHS are profound.

Already universities, research institutes and individual researchers are feeling the chill, particularly for long term EU grants.

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The junior doctors’ strike is about the existence and future of the NHS

I’d like to clarify a few points raised in the LDV comments thread related to the Doctors strike and Tim Farron’s remarks about it. First, I will state my potential conflict of interest: I’m a doctor (retired) a life-long member of the BMA (yes, I do still pay my union subscription) and my daughter is also a junior doctor.

The strike is happening because Jeremy Hunt has stated that he will impose a new contract on juniors against their will in August 2016. Negotiations, which have been conducted over the last three years with the BMA, have broken without any agreement and, thus, junior doctors are withdrawing their labour, as a last resort.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 36 Comments

Opinion: Time to dump the 4 hour A & E target

To be frank, as a doctor, I have been underwhelmed by our Liberal Democrat offering on health issues over the years; certainly we are not as strong on health as we should be.

The almost daily drip feed from the right wing press on NHS shortcomings and failures is demoralising to staff and frightening to patients and designed to be so. It serves no-one except those who want to undermine the public’s confidence in the NHS. The service treats three quarters of a million patients every day of the year, and for most people there is no alternative.

So I am  relieved that at last we have something distinctive to offer with Norman Lamb’s ideas on mental health; parity of access and delivery, more  research and funding. This is important, and we need to ‘own’ it as Liberal Democrat policy.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRabi Martins 10th Aug - 9:52am
    @Peter Hirst I partly agree with you that simply dwelling in the past will not being about the change we need But neither will ignoring...
  • User AvatarAndy Hyde 10th Aug - 9:41am
    Ian, I don’t think the situation has changed in the last 100 years, but the Sligo Corporation Act of 1918 a private bill, introduced STV...
  • User AvatarMartin 10th Aug - 9:35am
    This is an important opportunity for Layla to speak up on education. To me there is an inexplicable lack of criticism of the ideologically driven...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 10th Aug - 9:23am
    @ David Raw, PS I should, in the interests of scientific integrity, and you'll know this isn't a partisan point, say that there were, according...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 10th Aug - 9:23am
    Giving money away? What’s not to like? Not if it’s MY money, mate! Just what IS a ‘sensible UBI’ in any case? Another opportunity to...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 10th Aug - 9:11am
    I refer you to the Gospel of St John, Chapter 8 Verse 7. OK, who is going to be first?