Disgusted of Llandrindod Wells

Hart failure

Whoops (again)!

According to Betsan Powys’ blog the health minister has sent out a statement that clarifies (sic) the earlier one.

First, in January, the Minister said ‘to hell with NICE’ (paraphrased), there would be funding for Sutent and some other drugs. Then NICE announced they weren’t cost effective yesterday. The Minister ‘clarified’ her first position and said that January’s decision would be superceded by the NICE guidance. Hold the prescriptions for these drugs, in other words, they are not cost effective – repeat, not cost effective.

Then, as Betsan Powys revealed, the Minister had further clarified her position, to say she was mulling over NICE’s guidance and taking advice from clinicians. Just a thought, but perhaps the free prescriptions policy was coming back with a bite – given that if the drugs are NHS Wales-approved then they’ll be free to the cancer sufferers.

Disgusted’s opinion: the Health Minister is getting a little excitable and prone to announcements that she later regrets. Prescription (free of course): a cold shower or a spell in a darkened room with a damp cloth over the eyes.


Hart’s health mess up
26/08/2009, 12:02 pm
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Only months after ordering local health boards that cancer drugs should be NHS-funded Edwina Hart, WAG’s health minister, has had to announce the withdrawal of funding thanks to NICE’s decision that the drugs weren’t cost effective.

WAG’s very own Iron Lady started throwing her weight around at the beginning of year over the funding for the drugs – trade names Nexavar, Sutent, Torisel and the nautical-sounding Avastin.

Now she has flip-flopped on the decision, performing a complete volte face (farce, surely?), saying she expects health boards now to follow the NICE guidelines. This of course after she told them in January to listen to her orders instead.

The real boob was to misjudge the decision by NICE, which has been under fire for its decision not to fund these drugs. At the time Hart said she found it ‘unacceptable’ that people should have to wait any longer for Sutent, the kidney cancer drug. Presumably it is now acceptable that instead of waiting on the decision they now have nothing to wait for, since the drug is not available on the NHS.

Stories you might have missed
21/08/2009, 8:59 am
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The successful policy of Cardiff Council to gridlock the city during weekdays is extended to the weekend.

The gender gap in A-Level results reporting continues (97% of pretty girls were photographed celebrating their results, while only 65% of photogenic boys appeared in newspaper coverage).

The All Wales Convention deadline for responses closed. Skies all over Wales responded in biblical fashion with torrential rain.

That’s the spirit!
04/08/2009, 8:39 am
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Welsh booze has had an unlikely plug from the head of Russia’s supporters’ association, VOB. Russian footie fans had been warned off travelling to Wales by their health ministry, for their World Cup qualifier in Wales next month.

Alexander Shprygin, the head of VOB, said, “We urge our fans to drink a lot of Welsh whisky as a form of disinfection.” Let’s hope WAG has the sense to exploit this opportunity by offering samples and offers on the whisky when the Russians are over next month, with perhaps a promo push in Russia to follow.

PS This story also seems to have caught Peter Black’s eye.

Calls for deck chair rejig
30/07/2009, 8:48 am
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Today it’s reported that former WDA employee Professor Brian Morgan has called for the return of the WDA.

It’s a shame that we’ve become so bogged down with institutional reform in Wales: WDA, health boards, local authorities…and of course the Assembly and its powers. You might say part of the problem has been the more limited settlement that Wales received and the relative novelty of having access to new levers.

It can’t be a coincidence that the WDA abolition was announced in the wake of Tony Blair’s personal rejection of the Richard Commission proposals. If you can’t take power from above, take some from below.

Another Labour AM pre-empts 2011 pasting
27/07/2009, 10:27 am
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Unlike quite a few of the chair-warmers who have announced their departures in 2011 Val Lloyd actually did some stuff, particularly as Petitions Committee chair. Unfortunately, of course, there has not been a lot to work with on that committee – a few dribs and drabs, here and there.

Lloyd has promised to “give her all” over the next two years. Giving your all certainly generates an appetite. She claimed £2,114.85 for food a little while back, while her colleague Andrew Davies further away in Swansea West managed to claim nothing. It doesn’t seem to have done him any harm.

Welsh minister admits Wales behind England
24/07/2009, 9:58 am
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“Wales is well behind the curve compared to areas of England…” began the Welsh health minister, Edwina Hart. Had she taken some kind of truth serum? No, she continued “…in terms of the numbers of swine flu cases.”

The decision not to join the pandemic flu hotline at the moment seems sensible – existing primary care providers can deal with the cases in Wales so far.

But Disgusted in a little concerned by this advice from Edwina Hart:

“People with flu-like symptoms should not go to their A&E, local GP or pharmacy in case they spread the virus to others. Such visits cause undue pressure and potential delay for other patients who are in need of emergency services.”

Swine flu cases can be managed from the home quite easily. And, of course, time-wasters with non-serious conditions always need to be discouraged . For instance, whenever there’s a survey about calls to 999 there’s always a shocking number of vexatious busybodies calling about a paper cut or to say they’re lost and can’t find their way home. But there is also meningitis, which produces symptoms that can easily be mistaken in these hysterical times for swine flu.

Time is of the essence in diagnosing and treating meningitis, so people ought not to feel like they’re undermining the war effort by presenting themselves to A&E in cases of genuine medical emergency.