Sunday, 25 November 2007

Mercury Health's second failed venture

I don't normally get many comments on my blog and I don't think I have a very wide readership so I was surprised to get so many comments on my previous piece on Mercury Health having their contract withdrawn. There were two or three genuine ones from people who regularly read and comment on medical blogs but most were from employees of Mercury itself and even a couple from people claiming to be satisfied customers of the service. My first thought was that my story had been picked up by CNN or the BBC but I have found no evidence of this. The conclusion I have reached is that Mercury has ventured into news management and set up a Blog Rebuttal Unit. I presume their employees were told to get on their computers and try to rubbish my story.

To a man (or woman) they chose to make it a personal attack on me while seeking public sympathy for their individual plight, now that the grunts at the front line have lost their jobs.

It hasn't gone terrifically well for them. Unfortunately most of their employees don't seem to be able to write English and even the ones who can missed the point that my piece was about the reversal of government policy and not a personal attack on Mercury employees or the quality of their scans. Rather than delete the worst of the comments I left them on because they portray better than anything I can write the nature of the people who will be providing health care if the Nulabour reforms succeed.

I will even go as far as giving additional prominence to some of the comments:

Rubenac Beaaaverr said... I am a radiographer who came to UK to join the Mercury team . My line manager is Claire and throughout the whole induction period and competency testing she has shown me values that I have never experienced before. I have loved working as part of this team, I am proud that I have been involved. I go home with regret, a distrust of Uk politics and a firm belief that Uk radiologists are complete wankers....

Anonymous said...

Dr Ray's face in this focal spot is a true representaion of yourself ! From your method of argument which does not really centre on objectivity but selfishness and greed,it really looks like you have got no grey mater in that empty skull.No wonder you had to hide your ugly eyes inside that dark spectacle !! Ha Ha Ha ! You know wat,I am a radiographer with mercuryhealth,I have worked in several places in the UK and I can authoritatively tell you that mercury is the place to be...Stop being jeaolous ray,with or without the DOH contract,we will still be out there saving patients from people of your ilk !
Am sure you must have included mercuryhealth in the body of ur x-ray reports lately,poor patients ha ha ha....

Does anyone else have trouble understanding this? It's no wonder they were told to stop posting later in the day when the quality of these front-line staff was becoming clear for all to see.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

DoH pulls plug on MercuryHealth mobile scanners

Tuesday was a truly horrible day in the West Midlands.
I took a day out to attend a radiologists' meeting at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, only 70 odd miles away, and spent a total of 5 hours on the road driving (or sitting in stationary traffic) in heavy rain and half an hour queuing for lunch for the sake of around 4 hours of lectures.
I did, however, end the day a happy man. During the meeting, Tom Goodfellow, a radiologist in Coventry, announced that the Department of Health had terminated the contract with Mercury Health to provide "2nd wave diagnostics" scans in the West Midlands. Care UK, the company which bought Mercury Health earlier this year for £77million, makes a curt announcement on their website. The news was also briefly covered in the Guardian.
I have written about the Mercury Health contract before on this blog. The second wave diagnostics program was a central pillar in support of Nulabour's plans to close down District General Hospitals (DGHs). The plan was to divert the easier scans to the private sector leaving the complex, difficult and unprofitable scans to the DGH x-ray departments. These would not support continued investment in staff and equipment and within the five year period of the contract most DGH x-ray departments would have become obsolete. Modern medicine demands on-site access to MRI and CT for a DGH to be viable so this would result in a downgrading or closure of the DGH.
The news was greeted with clapping and cheering from the 150 odd consultants and trainees at the meeting. As it happens, the radiologists at Heartlands Hospital were involved in the Mercury contract and we heard from the horse's mouth that the failed endeavor will cost the taxpayer £84 million in compensation payments. From the figures given to us by Mercury last month (see earlier blog) I would guess they have done a total of around 840 scans, costing the taxpayer £100,000 per scan compared to £200 which we charge for a private scan at uk-radiology. The reason the contact was canceled was the lack of demand. It seems that Mercury was only working at 5% of anticipated capacity.
Dr Ray is not one to gloat over Nulabour's discomfort caused by this pigheaded pursuit of political dogma against the advice of almost every radiologist in the UK, the National Audit Office and a House of Commons Select Committee on Health but I will make an exception in this case.

Ya boo sucks-- We told you so!! Ha Ha Ha!!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

China gets recycling bug

Not posted for a while due to work but here is an interesting item I nicked off the doctors-only website, Univadis:

Used condoms are being recycled into hair bands in southern China, threatening to spread sexually-transmittable diseases they were originally meant to prevent, state media reported Tuesday.

In the latest example of potentially harmful Chinese-made products, rubber hair bands have been found in local markets and beauty salons in Dongguan and Guangzhou cities in southern Guangdong province, China Daily newspaper said.

"These cheap and colourful rubber bands and hair ties sell well ... threatening the health of local people," it said.

Despite being recycled, the hair bands could still contain bacteria and viruses, it said.

"People could be infected with AIDS, (genital) warts or other diseases if they hold the rubber bands or strings in their mouths while waving their hair into plaits or buns," the paper quoted a local dermatologist who gave only his surname, Dong, as saying.

A bag of ten of the recycled bands sells for just 25 fen (three cents), much cheaper than others on the market, accounting for their popularity, the paper said.

A government official was quoted as saying recycling condoms was illegal.

China's manufacturing industry has been repeatedly tarnished this year by a string of scandals involving shoddy or dangerous goods made for both domestic and foreign markets.

China's manufacturing industry has also been tarnished by accusations of non-sustainable development and environmental pollution so I suppose we should be pleased they are trying to do something to remedy this.