Monday, 23 November 2009

Marriage guidance counselling on the NHS? Whatever next? Beds for the insane?

I see that the NHS are proposing to offer marriage guidance counselling for free as one of its services. That's ripe. There's no money for drugs, beds, staff or research. A friend of mine is a scientist at the local hospital. She's working in oncology and attempting to find various cures for leukemias. It's a privately funded department because there are no government funds available for this kind of blood testing. Most of her colleagues have already been made redundant as a consequence of the recession. Private money is also wanting. She thinks that she will be next and doesn't know where her next job will be. But who will then be there to find the cures?

In addition to the above, the local hospital - in the midst of a huge refurbishment - and another hospital within the vicinity, are now the subject of a proposal to merge their two A&E departments. There's no money, you see, to keep the other, alternate, A&E open. This is also after a huge refurbishment of that particular hospital. The local hospital is already ill-equipped to deal with the huge catchment area for emergency medicine. How it could possibly cope with adding the fall-out from the other establishment is anyone's guess.

The psychiatric department where Zach has spent many moons was recently closed and a new one reopened. The problem is, though, that the local authority has to keep occupation at a minimum because there's no funding to offer the mentally ill the beds that they need. This is borne out by their 'criteria.' It used to be the case that if someone was considered a 'danger to him/herself or other people' then they would be sectioned. Well, this no longer seems to be the 'criteria' to which the NHS subscribe. God knows what it is. From experience, there's no 'criteria' at all.

NICE restrict medication that is proven to work for liver cancer sufferers; NICE operates a post-code for other medications and, this morning, I heard John Frieda on the radio proposing that hairdressers raise funds for a new operating theatre at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. An operating theatre? What is going on here? This is just after Children in Need, an annual private fund-raising event for the very same hospital raised hundreds of thousands of pounds. Great Ormond Street is an NHS hospital.

It's a scandal. Who is actually proposing that the NHS offer marriage guidance when there's not enough money for drugs, for childrens' operations, for mental health patients or even sufficient staff to provide urgent medical care for the elderly? Has anyone heard of the word priority?

Friday, 20 November 2009

SAD, Katie Price, celebrity and rattypoo

Hi guys. I'm sorry. I just haven't had the energy or the inclination to write the blog for a bit. I think it has to do with the days - they're so short and so dark and so dingy. I get up in the morning and it's dark and then it's dark again at 4ish and I get fed up. I didn't think that I would suffer from SAD. I crave the bright blue skies and the sunshine and the beach and the smell of the pine along the boardwalk, running towards the port. There's not much of that here. Only the floods in Cockermouth.

Zach's good. I ought to bring you up to date with that. He has put on weight and looks 'normal', for once. Doesn't have the gaunt, haggard, withdrawn 'Twilight' pallor. He's not shaking or drooling or shuffling his feet. He's eating and has developed a tummy. Of course he's not too happy with the tummy effect and I catch him looking down at himself or glancing at himself in mirrors, side on. He's usually concave, not convex.

The meds are working. Zach sleeps and eats and we have conversations and he's got ambitions to do something that doesn't entail finding a dealer or 'smoking brown.' It's a new sensation. He's applied for something and wants to start something else in January. It's small steps but they're steps.

Just as an aside, I've been watching 'Celebrity'. I know. I'm sad. (Apart from X-Factor, of course!) I've been wondering why the 'public' have been voting for Katie Price on a daily basis. What is it about her that they want her to do all the tasks, however ghastly they are. And, golly, aren't they nauseating? What sadist comes up with 'tasks' such as these? Is there a groundswell of wanting to see Katie suffer? Or a groundswell of wanting her to do well? It's pretty odd, whatever it is. I think that she's one ballsy lady, whatever... Dunking your head into slime and being showered in cockroaches? Ugh. What does she have to prove? Is she the masochist, being manipulated by the public or is she manipulating the public?

The above is, of course, quite a red herring to Zach's machinations. I don't know whether he watches any of that. I think that he prefers real animals. He's got his own ratty in situ.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

'Health and Safety' insanity

Can someone please tell me what is the point of 'Health and Safety'? I ask simply because I'm just so bloody frustrated with the all-purpose answer from anyone who works for anything to do with utilities. It's the saga of Zach's electricity. I spent half a day in his flat a few weeks ago, waiting for the man to turn up and 'do' something with the electricity meter. It's in a room along with every other tenant's meter - gas and electricity. At waist high. All you have to do is to bend over to read it. Nothing dangerous there, I swear.

The meter was supposed to be moved inside of Zach's flat on Tuesday, for 'health and safety reasons.' He waited in all day but no one turned up (at least he didn't see anyone from the electricity company). The appointment had been made weeks ago. I rang them for him to find out what had happened. He didn't have enough juice left on his mobile. 'Someone was there,' I was informed. 'But they couldn't do anything for "health and safety reasons".' What were those, I enquired. 'I don't know,' came the response from the very nice man at the end of the phone. There's nothing unsafe about the meter, I told him. It's got good company with everyone else's. They're not having to be moved for 'health and safety reasons.'

Zach was down to his last £1 on the meter and called out for an emergency add-on. You have to do that, I was told. Not before the last £1. Nuts. The meter man turned up first thing this morning, Sunday. Of course Zach was asleep. The phone rang once to say that someone was there but when Zach got to the door, the add-on man had disappeared. Now he's out of both gas and electricity. Sitting in the chill and the dark and unable to boil a kettle. He's effectively cut off. What a botch of a system.

When I rang the electricity company once again on Zach's behalf and explained the situation, I was told that if Zach had paid his bills, then he wouldn't be in this situation. I agree entirely. But we're not dealing with someone who necessarily thinks like everyone else. He's got problems, I told her. He's not unique. I'll bet there are plenty just like him. She agreed. Then, I posited, this is not a very effective way of dealing with vulnerable people who should benefit by health and safety but who, evidently, are being let down by those very same laws.

Meanwhile we have an extension cable. There's a plug in the hallway of Zach's block and, because the landlords have still not mended the stove, the doorbell, the shower unit or replaced the rotting carpet in the bathroom - not to mention their recalcitrance with dealing with Ratty - he can use some of their electricity while he waits yet again for someone to turn up and add on the electricity because 'health and safety' meant that no one moved his meter without him being there because god knows what could possibly happen to the meter man confronted with a waist high electricity meter.