‘7 day NHS’ sounds more stupid every time I hear it

Most people when they hear “7 day NHS” probably think, “GPs open 7 days a week”. Beyond that, nobody knows what it means. The more I’ve thought about it, the more ridiculous it sounds.

Let’s ignore GPs for a second. I’m a hospital specialist so I tend to ignore them because they probably save thousands more lives than me and that makes me feel inferior. Bastards.

To put this into context, there is no elective service that runs 7 days a week.

Specialist stuff

For instance, there is a neurologist – let’s call him Dr Brain (obviously) – who comes to the hospital I work at once a week. He’s does an outpatient clinic there and occasionally sees inpatients if he gets the referral at the right time.

Dr Brain works primarily at a central teaching hospital. He does this clinic to facilitate patients requiring neurological outpatient care who live nearer my district general hospital. This is a good service and most patients will make time in their day to attend their neuro appointment at the local hospital on a Tuesday rather than have to travel into the city, though that option is still available.

However, this is not a 7 day-a-week service. Arguably, for a true 7 day-a-week service, Dr Brain would provide a clinic every day, am and pm for the whole week. This would be a colossal waste of resources.

Not-so-specialist stuff



Let’s take something more routine.

Colonoscopy is a procedure where a surgeon or gastroenterologist inserts a fibreoptic camera into your colon via your anus to look at the inside of your colon. Lets assume a colorectal surgeon – let’s call him Mr Bumcutter – does a colonoscopy list once a week. There may be one or two other surgeons who perform colonoscopies – Ms Bottomcamera and Miss Anusvideoer.

Altogether, let’s say there is a colonoscopy clinic on Monday and Thursday, am and pm. This is probably not an unreasonable representation of a district general hospital. However, a theoretical 7-day NHS would have colonoscopies performed every day because, well, 7 day-NHS.

Why this matters

I’m being slightly facetious here but “7 day-NHS” is completely meaningless. Either, the Health Secretary is suggesting every single service should be provided 7 days a week, a clearly ridiculous proposition (see above).

Or he’s suggesting that instead of colonoscopies happening on Thursdays, they should happen on Saturdays or Sundays. If you can find me a study that shows more patients would rather have their colon examined on a Sunday than a Thursday or that inconveniencing Ms Bumcamera by asking her to attend on Sunday improves her performance, please do. Otherwise, it would serve no worldly purpose other than inconveniencing what are currently perfectly functional services.

If the Health Secretary is arguing that certain services should be provided 7-days a week, fair enough. He should make that case. He isn’t.

I have no idea what it means

Being somebody who was a young adult during the social media boom of the past 10 years, I struggle not to instinctively add “literally” to everything. But I do literally have no idea what 7 day NHS means.

I don’t know who anybody does.

PS: colonoscopy is a safe procedure and if your doctor, surgeon or gastroenterologist recommend you have one, after discussing risks and benefits, you should have a very good reason for saying no (though it’s your absolute right to do so). Although it can be uncomfortable, most are sedated during the procedure and so remember very little.

Click here for a link to Guy’s and St Thomas’s Having A Colonoscopy leaflet.



Deletion of all references to Iceland total coincidence, say Brexit campaigns


Vote Leave, Leave.EU, and Grassroots Out have claimed that their near-simultaneous deletion of all mentions of Iceland from the campaign websites was unrelated to the Panama papers revelations surround the country’s Prime Minister.

“It was a coincidence,” said a spokesman from Vote Leave.

“We were doing it anyway,” said a spokeswoman from Leave.EU.

“We were mostly talking about the supermarket anyway, ” said GO!

There was no comment from either the Icelandic Prime Minister or the supermarket group Iceland.

There’s a difference between bailing out banks and steel

In light of Tata Steel pulling out of Port Talbot Steelworks, a number of people are calling for the nationalisation of the plant. Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out nationalisation.

The commonest argument for nationalisation currently runs: “we bailed out the banks run by the rich, why not bailout the poorest who work at the steelworks?”.

The bank bailout was not about bailing out rich bankers. It was about bailing out the entire financial system. Without banks, every industry fails including the steelworks.

The town of Port Talbot relies heavily on the jobs that the steelworks bring. There is a legitimate argument that temporary nationalisation could facilitate purchase of the steelworks by a private buyer. As with the Longbridge plant, this is a possibility but runs the risk that in all likelihood, it merely delays the inevitable.

As a well-paid single man with no dependants living in a city (albeit one which was equally reliant on steel three decades ago), I cannot imagine what it means for the steelworks in Port Talbot to close. It will be costly to retrain steelworkers, particularly older workers for whom trying to learn new skills is challenging and getting a new job more challenging.

That is a testament to the failure of the welfare system to properly turn around those who are unemployed back into stable jobs. Even with a functioning welfare system, this would be a challenge.

Nonetheless, Port Talbot Steelworks and RBS and Northern Rock are not analogous. The failure of Port Talbot will have an appalling effect in the short- and medium-term, particularly in the local area. Nationalisation will likely not change that.

As destructive as it would be, nor however will its failure bring about the next recession or great depression.

Sajid Javid offered as sacrifice to steelworkers, announces Cameron

2015 General Election - Cabinet
Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he will be using Sajid Javid as a political ‘human shield’ against attacks from Port Talbot steelworkers.

Mr Javid is renowned for justifying his Euroskepticism and anti-immigration stance by mentioning that his dad was a migrant bus driver. His father was a bus driver. A driver. Of buses.

He has received criticism for remaining on holiday whilst the crisis was ongoing. This is largely because his response to the crisis was to stay on holiday.

Mr Cameron has deflected criticism that he was also on holiday by pointing at Mr Javid whilst shouting “LOOK OVER THERE!” and then running and hiding.