Thursday, 26 June 2014

Is the UK Medical Profession about to erupt in civil war ?

Just a short post today regarding the events of the last few days:

The 24th June 2014 was a very important day in Wales, for it is the day the Welsh Government Public Health White Paper Consultation period ended. I submitted my views several weeks ago. But this week saw three very important responses submitted.

First out of the blocks was the official response from ECITA through the seasoned pens of Katherine Devlin and Tom Pruen. As one can imagine, it was a mine of information and scientific fact in regard to the efficacy and health benefits of the eCigarette. It was an extremely impressive (and long) read. But well worth your while.

You can find it here: ECITA Response to the Welsh Government Public Health White Paper

Just wish I could write something like that !!

The following day, I was quite astonished to read a story on the ITV Wales website that covered the news that the Royal College of Physicians (Wales) was completely opposed to any ban on vaping in public spaces. I admit it had not occurred to me that the RCP would even bother to respond the Public Health White Paper, but they did and their opposition to it's contents both surprised and gladdened me.

You can read it here (complete with video of Professor John Britton explaining why they oppose the ban and why he thinks that ecigs are a public health prize): Welsh Doctors will not support Welsh Government ecig ban

Less than two hours later, ASH Wales also released their response to the White Paper for public consumption. Now, I didn't agree with everything they stated in their response. However, I did find their overall response both supportive and well thought out. They also oppose the ecig ban the Welsh Government are proposing.

I have made an open invitation to Elen de Lacey (Head of ASH Wales) to engage with me in regard to ecigarettes. In particular to discuss the points in the response that I did not agree with as I believe it is down to a misunderstanding of ecigs on their part. I also stand prepared to work with ASH Wales on future policy and guidance they may issue in regard to ecigarettes as I feel this in an important issue that must be properly thought out and got right.

You can read ASH Wales response here: ASH Wales response to Welsh Government Public Health White Paper

Then we came to today. Now I have to admit to feeling a little down (and even jealous) today as I read all the tweets from various people as they started they respective journeys over to the Global Nicotine Forum in Warsaw, Poland.

However, my blood began to boil when I read Tweets from the Trade Union known as the BMA that they had voted to treat ecigarettes as tobacco products and that they would lobby to have ecigarettes banned from use in public places in exactly the same way as tobacco cigarettes are banned.

Now this does not make any sense on a number of points, not least:

1.  eCigarettes do not contain any tobacco, therefore they are NOT a tobacco product
2.  To create smoke, one must have a combustible source. There is NO combustion in an ecigarette therefore it does NOT produce smoke, therefore it CANNOT be smoking
3.  The ecigarette is estimated to be 100-1000 times less harmful than a tobacco cigarette so why can't supposedly learned medical professionals get their heads around the fact that this is a massive Public Health prize ?
4.  Why is a TRADE UNION trying to influence medical policy in Central Government ?

Now there are any number of Tweets on the subject that followed the announcement by the BMA, but I am not going to bore the reader with them here. Suffice to say, that the well known TV Doctor Christian Jessen's response was short, conscise and to the point when he was asked what he thought of the BMA announcement when he said it was 'Despairingly idotic of them' !!

However, the BMA have now placed themselves in direct contradiction to the RCP. Which begs the question of what will happen next ?

Personally, I believe that any Doctor that recognises the potential Health prize that is the eCigarette, and supports them, should cancel their membership of the BMA forthwith as it is not representative of their views. That would potentially starve the BMA of millions in membership fees and drastically cut both it's numbers and its influence.

Whether that will happen remains to be seen. However, what is certain is that an almighty argument is brewing in the medical profession with the RCP on one side and the BMA on the other.

I know that my GP is fully supportive of my use of ecigarettes. He is delighted that I have kicked my former tobacco habit and has seen the massive improvement in my health. I was be asking his view of the BMA stance the next time I see him and will see how strong his feelings are on what they are doing.

One thing is for sure, we are going to be hearing a lot more about this over the coming days and weeks.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Mark Drakeford - What Planet Does He Live on ?

It has been quite a long time since I last wrote a blog entry, but reading the news headlines yesterday started me wondering about what planet the Welsh Government Health Minister - Mark Drakeford - actually lives on. Because everything I hear coming from the man's mouth beggars belief.

There has been a debate in the Senedd where Mark Drakeford was defending standards in the Welsh NHS and trying (unconvincingly) to show how the Welsh NHS is in good hands under his stewardship.

Everybody knows I am no fan of this man following his ideological crusade against eCigarettes, where despite all the evidence from esteemed medical professionals to the contrary, he is convinced that he knows better and that eCigarettes are a Gateway to smoking, a danger to health and must be stamped out at all costs.

So I decided to look back on the state of Health in Wales as has been reported in the Press this year. Unsurprisingly, it didn't take me very long to find a huge swathe of his failings. So, I decided to chronicle how well Health Services in Wales are doing under his stewardship.

Mark Drakeford states that people were “being treated faster and living longer” than the situation inherited in 1999 when the National Assembly was created.

One look at the following news reports paints an entirely different picture.

Now I have to ask, reading all the below headlines that have occurred in just THIS YEAR, is this a man living with his head in the sand ?

Is he actually competent for the post he holds ?

Would you trust him ?

Make your own mind on how much ‘better’ Welsh Health is under his stewardship:

1.    Number Of Patients Waiting More Than 36 Weeks For NHS Treatment Reaches a New High – Reported on 09/01/2014

Full story here:

2.    Health Minister Mark Drakeford accused of using outdated figures in hospital closure plans – Reported on 17/01/2014

3.    Welsh ambulance response time target missed again – Reported on 30/04/2014

4.    Calls for full public inquiry into hospital care standards at Princess of Wales and Neath Port Talbot – Reported 31/01/2014

Full story here:

5.    WELSH patients needing hip replacements are waiting more than twice as long as people in England for their operations – Reported on 16/02/1014

Full story here:

6.    Heart patients could be transferred from Wales to England to avoid waiting lists  - Reported on 26/02/2014

7.    Waiting lists for heart and lung surgery reach 'record high' – Reported 04/03/2104

8.    Ann Clwyd warns of 'dangerously high' death rates – Reported 05/03/2014

9.    'No compromise' on minimum nursing levels in Welsh hospitals, says Royal College of Nursing – Reported 07/03/2014

10. Judicial review to be launched against Llanelli A&E closure plans – Reported 07/03/2014

11. Nearly 1,700 operations postponed in just five months due to lack of beds – Reported on 10/03/2014

12. Wales has disproportionately lengthy waiting times compared to the rest of the UK according to Nuffield Trust – Reported on 11/04/2014

13. Cancer patients in England 7 times more likely to access cancer drugs than Welsh counterparts – Reported 01/05/2014

14. Health complaints – numbers show significant rise across Wales since 2009 – Reported 02/05/2014

15. A damning report has found 'shocking' failures of care at two Welsh hospitals – Reported 13/05/2014

16. Fresh calls for public inquiry into Welsh NHS from patients and families – Reported 20/05/2014

17. Senior doctors: Welsh GP service 'in crisis' – Reported 07/04/2014

      Full story here: