Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Family do

On Monday I had the pleasure of going out for a family get together, which these days doesn’t happen that often, given that one member of the family is in Malaysia, but he and his lovely wife were over for a few days, so we got together for a nice family meal. It meant that Z was getting to meet the family for the first time.

She was looking so pretty, classy, and made a great impression on my family. I hadn’t seen my brother and his wife in about a year, so we had a lot of catching up to do, and finding out how things are in Malaysia compared to here in London, finding out about a lot of different things, how the rules are very different, more strict in Malaysia in a lot of ways, but also a lot lot lot cheaper to live there. A better standard of living it seems especially for those who are educated, unlike in this country.

The family do went very well, it was a great night, apparently I managed to run the show, which is a bit like when I appeared on TV with the family, and I dominated proceedings then, not intentionally, but it just seems to happen. I am usually a wallflower in most social situations, so I don’t know why.

The best bit of it all, is that Z was very well received by the family, they love her, they think she is a really lovely lady, just perfect for me, which matches my feelings so I am more than happy

A response from Northwick Park Hospital - shocking

Finally got a response from Northwick Park Hospital. Have to say I am disappointed, but then what was I expecting, a miracle to occur!!!

I got two letters and here they are in their fullness with names covered to protect the innocent!!

Letter one

Dear XXX

Further to your e-mail to XXX on 16th August 2005 I am pleased to inform you that the investigation into your concerns has now been completed and I am, therefore, in a position to enclose our response from XXX, General Manager for our Cardiology directorate.

I hope that you will be satisfied that a full investigation has been conducted and that XXX has outlined the action she intends to take to improve the situation in Cardiology.. However, if you are not happy with our response or if you require further information please do not hesitate to contact XXX on XXX to discuss your complaint further or if you prefer do write to me again. We can also arrange a meeting to discuss our response to your complaint if you would find this a more suitable way forward.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the Local Resolution process you are entitled to go to the second stage of the NHS complaints procedure and request that your complaint is considered by the Healthcare Commission. This should be done within 2 months of the date of the final response from the Trust. You should write to the Complaints Investigation Team at the Healthcare Commission, FREEPOST NAT 18958, Manchester, M1 9XZ or contact them on tel: 0845 601 3012 or e-mail:

If you would like to discuss any of these options you are welcome to contact the Patient Relations Office on 020 8869 2026, or alternatively if you would prefer independent advice regarding the NHS Complaints Procedure please note that that you may contact the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS) on telephone number: 0845 120 3784.

I hope this is helpful.

Letter two

Many thanks for your email to XXX, dated 16 August 2005, in which you express your concern regarding your experiences with the Cardiology Department. As the General Manager for the Department, XXX passed your email to me to investigate. I hope you find the following comments helpful.

As you quite rightly state, a six month delay in the typing of an urgent referral letter is inexcusable and I can only apologise that this occurred and assure you that I will not allow such a situation to occur again. Administratively, the Cardiology Department has been short-staffed for some time, and various correspondence has been delayed, but the worst back-log situation occurred in relation to XXX’s clinic letters. I have recently started as the new General Manager and one of my key tasks was to sort this situation out.

Firstly, I have made two permanent appointments within the admin team so only one temporary member of staff is still working in the Department and all posts are now covered. I have also out-sourced the typing of the XXX back-log and all the letters will have been completed within the next 2 weeks. Today, I started a month's free trial, with the same typing company, to handle all of the clinic letter typing. The company guarantee a 48 hour turn around time, or no charge is made. I am hopeful that this will provide a cost effective, efficient system. In parallel with this, we are also looking at using short, proformas for straightforward patients, to reduce the volume of typing, and making sure that all clinic letters contain a clear management plan. Additionally, the Trust is looking closely at voice­recognition technology, so this aspect of the service will be changing significantly.

I am also very sorry that your 24 hour tape was lost. In actual fact it appears that the tape was not lost as such, but the results were not saved correctly on the analyser machine. When some new analysers were introduced into the Department there were some training issues with the staff and unfortunately some results were lost. This has now been addressed with all of the technicians and all are now fully au fiat with the new machines.

I hope that this adequately addresses your concerns and I am very sorry that you have had such a bad experience with the Department. If there is anything else I can help you with, please let me know.

Yours sincerely

General Manager, Cardiac Services

As you can see a nice response, but one that I can't be sure will fix the problem, and one that doesn't really help the situation what happened in the first place.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Getting a National Insurance Number - Very difficult

You would think this would be relatively easy to do, simply because it means the person who has the number will then be paying tax and national insurance to the government, filling their coffers up, instead of working on the black market or not working at all.

Well let me tell you that to get a national insurance number in this country is nigh on impossible.

I know of a person who has spent all week trying to get one, and is looking to work in this country and wants to be working officially, paying tax, NI, etc, being above board in all ways.

Firstly they have to ring a number, when they finally got through, as the line was either engaged or no one could be bothered to answer, they then got told to ring another number. After trying for a day to get through, they managed some success and got through, only to be told to ring a third number. They then set about ringing that third number which was engaged for 3 days, 3 days I tell you, no matter how hard they tried or even I tried when assisting them, neither of us could get through, that is how crap it is.

So being the ever resourceful person, this person is, they decided to see if they could get around the problem on my suggestion by going to the local jobcentre as this would have to be where they would have the appointment/interview for the national insurance number. The local jobcentre proceed to tell them that they have to ring a number and get an appointment, which was already known, after explaining that they have spent days trying to get through, they are told, sorry we can’t help that, and only on insistence by this resourceful person did they get the address of the jobcentre where they will have to have the interview/appointment when they are fortunate enough to get through, if ever. It isn’t local, it is a good way away, why it isn’t being done local I don’t know, though there is a rumour they are closing the ones that are local to the person, mmmm, that seems clever, and all because they are moving everything possible to call centres, see other blog entries for more details.

None of which takes into account the problems one has in getting through, and it also assumes that each person can hear on the phone and can get through a long phone call. I am just one person who struggles on a phone, so how in hell would I be lucky enough to get anything now, typical really that this government is making sure that anyone who needs anything they are being shut out of their entitlement.

Anyway back to the main thrust of this blog entry. The person still doesn’t have an appointment, is still unable to get through on the phones, and is getting more and more distressed and frustrated at what is quite simply a bloody farce. We should be encouraging people to have NI numbers so that we get them to pay tax and NI, it should be of paramount importance. These people can’t claim for 2 years at least, so what are the government worried about, what running out of numbers to give people, come on, that can’t be it, and I have to wonder what it could be.

Any European who wants to work in the UK and their country is a member of the EU is allowed to work here, and should be encouraged to do so, especially if they are intending to be above board and be 100% legit, pay taxes, NI, etc. So why is our totally inept government wanting to ensure that these Europeans go through a process which isn’t easy, where they could be led around the houses and still end up where they started. There is no way for them to complain, trust me I looked on the DWP, JobCentrePlus and even HM Customs and Revenue sites to try and do so, not a damn thing, so basically they are untouchable, unaccountable, and worst of all letting money disappear by the sheer ineptness of this.

It isn’t difficult to do, to issue an NI number, it is I believe computer generated based on date of birth, name, place, etc, so it takes what, 5 minutes to do, not exactly a taxing job, and not exactly rocket science. My guess is that they have just one person manning the phone for the whole country, and that is it, either that or they simply take them off the hook when they get to work and pretend they are doing something.

Once I find whom to complain to, I will be passing the information on to the person and thus they can make a complaint, as this is simply unacceptable in this day and age to be unable to get through and to have spent 5 days ringing a line, and still have no joy. Bring me the head of David Blunkett as it is his job as the minister for the DWP to ensure these cock-ups don’t occur.

London Underground getting something right…..

Yep, shock and horror, I know it is amazing, but in this weeks computing there is an example of how systems can be developed properly and lead to much improved processes and efficiencies gained as well

Metronet reaches a milestone in tube modernisation programme

I was amazed, one of the PPP companies, in this case – Metronet, have actually made savings and will supposedly make maintenance of the trains, rails, stations, etc much much better. I will hold on to see if this really happens, but I have to congratulate them for at least trying to condense the wide variety of systems that they inherited into a single system which makes it easier to find out the current health of the system. This is a good example of how things can be done correctly.

This shows some of the history prior to reaching this point.

IT takes the tube into 21st century

£150m upgrade to Underground

More bad news re the governments benefits system

In this weeks computing there was more bad news on the benefits system which I wrote about recently. This is just more fuel on the fire at just how stupid and inept the government are at handling IT systems, and implementing them.

What makes this situation worse is that, the government won’t let the National Audit Office make sure these signed contracts ensure the people of the country get good systems, and good value for money, and then we end up with more and more horror stories like this which could easily be avoided, by either, having in house teams develop the projects, which in the long term would save the government a lot of money, or they could which would be a wise thing, penalise these overpaid consultants and companies when they get it wrong.

If a company says they will deliver a system on a certain date, and to a certain spec, and then it all goes belly up, well in most private businesses you either don’t pay the company, or you penalise them in some way, yet all our government does is throw more money at it, and not hold to account the companies that don’t do what they sign up to do. In this case it is EDS, whom are not meeting the targets and aren't being penalised for it.

Benefits system slammed

London eye judicial review

At the moment, the high courts are going to be asked to sort out a mess which is easily a farce, and shows the ugliness of one man’s attitude to London. This man is Lord Hollick and what makes this story even more fun in terms of politics is that, this moron, and I use the word with ease, is a Labour man, a man who was instilled into his current position by the current Labour government. This same government who can and should be doing something about the farcical situation down at the London eye, are sitting on their hands, and have washed their hands of it, despite the fact that it is basically the most popular attraction in London, it has become iconic on our landscape, and the thing is in serious debt, and because of Lord Hollick, it continues to suffer this debt, because of his ludicrous demands of an annual rent of £2.5 million a year for a piece of land that is only big enough for one leg of the wheel to be positioned, that is it, nothing more.

London Eye rent row heads to the High Court

Hollick speaks out on London Eye rent

These stories show the attitude of the man, and I do so so hope that he doesn’t end up forcing an iconic structure on our landscape to be lost, simply because he is being a money grabbing moron. He fails to account in his sums just how much money the area is gaining from the eye being there, and that includes the SBC, which has seen its turnover increase ever since the eye has been running. Talk about short sightedness.

Sadly this is going to run and run, and all the while, the eye continues to be weighed down more and more by a debt, which never should have happened, and this stupid idiot Lord Hollick wants to make it worse, you have to ask what gives.

New Housemate Update

Well it has been nearly a week now since Z has moved in, and a lot has happened in a week. I am quite tired, not just due to Z moving in, but that has a hand in it, and I will leave your own imaginations as to why.

I have less space of course, though Z has taken things out of the bathroom now, as she was concerned she was taking over, not at all, but there is a good balance there.

It has been a hectic week for Z, getting everything sorted out for the upcoming course she is on next week, a lot of pre-course work to be done as well as a lot of learning too, so poor Z will be spending the coming week continuing to do her learning whilst I try and crack on with my OU studies.

I am glad Z is here, it makes a good difference, and with my stressed out week, nice to come home to as well, a little bit of relaxation, well as much as I can relax given my general nature which tends to be on tender hooks a lot. I am sure that is aging ones body at a rate that it shouldn’t, but cram things in why not????

Still getting use to the idea of someone being in the house with me, not happened in so long, and it still seems odd that Z is here when I get home, pleasantly odd, but still odd. For the first couple of days, I was expecting her to disappear and go somewhere else, which was always the way in the past when she was in her last role, and thus we would get maybe two days or nights at most, or get called away, and so I was expecting it to happen again, thankfully it hasn’t.

I am looking forward to how things will go and I already know that there are some things that we will do together in the upcoming weeks and months, and it feel good to be sharing the time with her.

Plenty more will follow in the adventures of me and Z that I am confident of.