We are Health and Social Care professionals blogging on practice, news, research and opinion about disability issues from within the sector // follow us @winclusion // //

38 Degrees are doing amazing things to save our NHS.

I wish all GP’s were singing from the same hymn sheet as Dr Louise Irvine. She is campaigning for 38 degrees to save our NHS. I want to raise awareness of this amazing group, they are doing good things. Read on……and hopefully join in engaging into their worthy protests….

My name is Dr Louise Irvine. I’ve been a GP for 27 years, and a 38 Degrees member for the last two. Last night, I spoke at our patient-sponsored event with some of the senior GPs who have been put in charge of deciding the future of local health services.

Together, more than 22,000 38 Degrees members sponsored the event. Thank you so much for being part of it. It was really quite something. And not just because plenty of senior GPs turned up, despite already having spent all day being schmoozed by private healthcare companies.

The event last night helped convince me that although we didn’t manage to stop Lansley getting his NHS changes through parliament, there is still lots we can do to protect our NHS. Those “RIP NHS” headlines were premature. I think the NHS is now like someone with a chronic illness: if we don’t look after it, bits might start falling off. But right now, the NHS is a living body, and one we’re all part of.

I heard senior GPs say how glad they were that 38 Degrees members want to continue to campaign to protect the NHS. They responded positively to 38 Degrees members’ campaign ideas, and many said they were willing to work with us. I heard speaker after speaker say it’s never been more important for citizens to get involved and make themselves heard.

We know we can make a difference. Now we need to decide together what our priorities are. The 38 Degrees office team have just launched a poll to give all us members a say. I’ve just voted on my favourite ideas - can you take a couple of minutes to do the same?

I’m lucky. As a GP I see every day how important the NHS is and the difference it can make to people’s lives. So I’ve never doubted that the best future for our health service is a people-powered one.

Being involved with the 38 Degrees campaign to Save the NHS showed me how many of us know that our health service is precious and worth protecting. Like most of us, when the government pushed ahead with its plans and ignored our concerns, I felt sad and worried.

But the response from 38 Degrees members since the law was passed has been incredible. Ideas have poured in for ways to continue to support the NHS. The office team has worked through those ideas, and asked NHS experts for their advice on what could work. Now we have a chance to decide which ones to prioritise in the weeks and months ahead.

Like you, I’ve donated, signed petitions, and emailed my MP. I saw the effect of our huge billboard campaign and the thousands of letters and emails we sent to MPs and Lords. I know we’re at our most powerful when we get together to set priorities, plan, and make things happen.

So please get involved in setting 38 Degrees’ priorities for the next stage of the campaign - vote now:

Thanks for being involved,

Dr Louise Irvine

No Disabled Children Matter?

Today a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was released. The introduction is pretty clear about what the CQC were looking into:

  • The availability of specialist health services for disabled children and young people and their families.
  • An assessment of the quality of support in a geographical area linked to primary care trusts (PCTs).
  • The ‘building blocks’ of the care pathway that are of particular importance to families.
Every Disabled Child Matters have been quick on their feet to publish a response entitled ‘CQC issues damning report on disabled children’s health services' and I have to admit it's pretty thorough and, well, damning.

A couple of points (amongst many) I really wanted to pick up on were the following:
  • Five PCTs claimed that no disabled children and young people lived in their area
  • In response to a self assessment questionnaire, PCTs reported ‘high levels of access and user-centred care’. However, this is at odds with highly negative comments from families with disabled children. These comments reveal extremely long waits for diagnosis, disjointed provision and lack of responsiveness when things go wrong

I find these 2 points very very difficult to comprehend. I’m going to start with the first bullet regarding the claim made by 5 PCTs that they had no disabled children in their area. This one I find the hardest to fathom. The sheer disconnect between some individuals within the hierarchy of the NHS and the service users/customers/patients is massive. But for me, when you look at the statement they are essentially making; ‘There are no disabled children for us to provide services to’ I just think.. whoa. Does that statement not sound entirely stupid? Did no one in their respective PCT think.. ‘wait, surely that can’t be right!?’. Have any of the people completing this survey on behalf of their PCT actually walked around a hospital lately? Ever?

Maybe not.

In respect of point 2, I have first hand experience of the ‘extremely long waits for diagnosis’ when I have supported service users, parents and families to explore this route. I have personally felt that some health professionals, particularly in regards to learning disability and Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) diagnosis, take a very ‘medical model’ approach in the sense of ‘How could you know if X has an ASC? You’re just a Family Support Worker/Teacher/Social Worker/Occupational Therapist’. I’m surprised no one has mentioned yet just how typical this disconnect is of an organisation that is incestuously obsessed with a ‘we know best’ medical model approach of working with disabled children and young people. When I have previously asked to speak to a line-manager of a consultant paediatrician when a service user has made a specific complaint, I have been informed that ‘there is no one above the consultant paediatrician other than God’. It’s moving away from the medical model into a theocratic model now. Of course, it’s not. But for some people engaging with the NHS for services because of these reasons that is exactly how it can feel to them, an unknown divine hand just sweeping and moving their chess pieces. 

I am interested in the sheer ego of the PCTs that they can honestly believe they are doing a good job when if you actually take the time to listen to what people have to say about provision, the answers contrast starkly. Not all PCTs do a bad job to be fair, but thankfully the CQC did go and listen to real people, and their answers were open and honest and wildly different from the ‘self-report questionnaire’ that PCTs completed themselves.

I’m not even going to get started on the issues the CQC identified with the Common Assessment usage and monitoring. I still meet professionals who consider the CAF to be ‘that new thing that gets ya a Social Worker’. 

Please take the time to look at the report itself and the wide variety of follow up comments from organisations if you have any form of interest in the field. It is scary, really scary, to think that the people we trust with our most vulnerable young people’s health needs have no idea about the scale and type of need in the communities that they work for. I say work for, because that seems to be something that some people forget.

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Informal Introductions

Welcome one and all to Winclusion. A new blog started by two health and social care professionals working in and around the field of disability. Specialising in different fields but sharing a common passion, it is hoped that this blog will inform and be of interest to an array of professionals and service users with an interest in matters concerning disability. We will be updating with news features and interesting areas of research relevant to our interests, and discussing our own thoughts about practice issues within our respective fields and beyond. Please be warned, there may be occasions of intermittent satire and humour and all opinion is ours alone. We hope you enjoy the blog as we start to get it up and running. Please spread the word! You can follow us on twitter @winclusion and you can e-mail us on