Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Yet more misinformation

Some journalists have been covering the exceedingly worrying trend of rising maternal mortality rather well, this excellent piece in the Independent draws quite a few strands together rather eloquently:

"The report reveals that the mortality rate among mothers giving birth is up to almost 14 per 100,000 people – an increase of more than 50 per cent since 1985-87."

This is a very scary statistic and these comments by Dr Gibb are a terrifying indictment on this government's management of this issue:

"The rise in deaths is no surprise to Dr Donald Gibb, a consultant obstetrician formerly based at King's College London who now runs his own clinic in Harley Street. "There's a lack of consultant input, not through lack of will, but through lack of numbers and time, as well as the ongoing shortage of midwives," he said. "I think we need to look at systematic failures of the organisation of care. There is a lack of availability of specialist expertise. The standard of 40 hours of consultant cover per week for every obstetrics unit, set eight years ago, has still not been met.

"The Government has not acted on repeated warnings, he added. "What really annoys me and other consultants, many of whom work in the NHS, is that in spite of repeated recommendations to increase the consultant cover in labour wards, nobody seems to have done much about this. A lot of consultants are disillusioned and burnt out.

"It seems as if the Department of Health doesn't listen to what doctors tell them. There's a political imperative to run units as cost-effectively as possible. But when things go wrong, for the small number of women that run into trouble, we're talking about life and death. The stakes could not be higher." "

The truth of the matter is that the government's drive for more deliveries in an environment with less back up is downright dangerous. There is also a serious problem with inadequate staffing levels of specialist doctors and nurses resulting in poor care.

The BBC chooses to take a rather disingenuous stance on this issue, strangely seeming to bury the fact that maternal mortality is rising so fast and concentrate instead on the role of obesity:

"Obesity is the fastest growing cause of women
dying in pregnancy or childbirth in the UK, a report shows."

This is a bizarre piece of misinformation in my eyes as:

"Substandard care accounted for 40 per cent of maternal deaths in the last
report and I am fairly sure the same will be true here"

So I wonder why the BBC chooses to highlight the obesity link, when such a staggering percentage of the deaths are so very preventable? The BBC also choose to buy into yet more cynical misinformation spreading concerning GPs by the Healthcare Commission, that 'independent' body:
"The watchdog found family doctors had measured the body mass index - used to
identify obesity - of 12.5m patients - but this was over 2m less than planned. "
This is yet another example of dishonest anti-GP propaganda. In fact the idea of measuring the BMI of millions of people is completely pointless, just another of the government's poorly though out exercises in gathering useless information for the sake of it. A tactic employed by the government to undermine GPs is to blame GPs for the obesity problem, when in fact GPs can do very little to stem the tide; primary care can only really pick up the pieces when it comes to obesity, the problem is a result of many decades of short termist policy making from central government in areas outside of health. The Healthcare Commission claims:

"The watchdog said these were essential in helping to prevent people with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma ending up in hospital."

I wonder how much evidence they have for this baseless statement. Putting people on registers for the sake of it doesn't keep people out of hospital, however good medical management of their chronic diseases does; I think it is rather more that good GPs help keep people out of hospitals, not the government's registers. The Healthcare commission appears to be yet another branch of HMG's health dictatorship that seems intent on bullying GPs, rather than adopting a more productive cooperative strategy.

The rising maternal mortality rate needs addressing, and this will involve dealing with staffing levels and the incompetent top down management of the health service by the DoH. Health inequalities need tackling too, and the best way to do this is by cooperating and engaging the medical profession, not by dishonestly bullying and intimidating doctors. The BBC should better represent the real issues and not swallow government propaganda piecemeal. It should be remembered that centralised registers do very little positive for people's health, and that GPs are capable of doing a lot more good work if encouraged so to do. As currently GPs are stifled by brainless top down diktats.


Henry North London said...


Wonder if you'd be kind enough to blogroll me

Im on DNUK as you might know

Under a different name

HAve a look at my blogs


Henry North London said...

Do you know whats happened to Dr Crippen

He hasnt fallen in his own acid bath has he?