Sunday, 17 February 2008

Into the sunset

It's been a while since I wrote anything on this blog and I owe an apology to the small circle of readers who visit regularly.
Some of you will have read about the huge public demonstrations against school closures in Herefordshire which were provoked by Nulabour attempting to do to local schools what it is currently doing to local hospitals. I'm proud to say that Dr Ray will be able to look his grandchildren in the eye and say that he played his part in the Great Herefordshire Revolt. Although I have now taken a back seat, the campaign was draining and I now need a rest from blogging and political rabble-rousing.
I do have other excuses.
I originally set up this blog to help publicise UK-radiology, our profit-sharing private scanning and radiology setup in Herefordshire. Along the way the blog exposed the poor value the taxpayers were getting from the Mercury Healthcare (now Care UK) 2nd wave diagnostic contract and soon after the contract was canceled. The blog also documented the experiences of what seems to be the only hospital consultant to attend one of the early Darzi rallies and revealed the scam that was passing for consultation. The Department of Health was forced to admit to offering "expenses" to only some groups of participants and, having attended a meeting myself since, I sense the blatant vote-rigging has been reined in.
The original aim of website promotion has achieved its purpose, with UK-radiology, or one of its many variants, on the first page of Google for all the relevant search terms. In fact this has led to its own problems because I now get a large number of emails which, either have to be deleted (penis enlargement and money making scams mostly-poor targeting I say, being well provided for in both departments!) or individually answered.
Many of the genuine enquirers fall into two groups. One group are unhappy with the medical care they received locally and are really after a second opinion. When I get the details, the advice they had received seems to me, in fact, usually quite reasonable. The problem is that expectations are often unrealistically high. The other group of enquiries are from people wanting total body scans just to check things out. I made a conscious decision not to offer this type of scan when we started out because I am not satisfied that these scans are ethical. The problem is that explaining all this is very time consuming and I still have my full-time NHS job to do.
As any consultants reading this will know this is also a busy time in hospitals. The annual mutual arse-sniffing exercise, more commonly referred to as "Appraisal" has come around again and everyone suddenly realises they don't have enough Continuous Medical Education points (because reading the textbooks and journals doesn't count, whereas attending a meeting to listen to a manufacturer's sales pitch does) and that they haven't done the requisite annual audit (because discussing a diagnosis with the surgeon and pathologist doesn't count whereas documenting the number of toilets in the department with jammed paper hand towels does).
The other thing that has come around again is the so-called Clinical Excellence Awards which link consultants' pay to ability to exaggerate and fill in forms. I don't think an anonymous blog counts towards such awards though I am so desperate for material I might try it this year.
Finally, one of our number is on maternity leave and we decided to do her work between us rather than employ a locum. Radiologists suffer a credibility problem in hospitals and a bad locum can undo, in a few weeks, what has taken years to build up. Fortunately it is working quite well but its another chunk out of my evenings.
What I am getting at is that the blog has to go, at least for the present. I will return when I have more time or if I need to get something off my chest but for now I will stick to reading other blogs and posting the occasional comment.
As a football manager might say: "At the end of the day, the sun will rise again"