21 September 2008

NHS247

Have you heard of NHS247? Perhaps. You might even be reading this on the NHS247 web site. Dr Grumble, you see, is one of a select group of NHS247 bloggers. The web site claims that the prime minister uses NHS247 as the principal source to "listen and lead" on healthcare. Dr Grumble does not really believe this but that is what it says on the web site. Of course the idea that Gordon Brown might be reading this does give Dr Grumble a little frisson of excitement. But, of course, he doesn't. Perhaps his civil servants give him a little précis. There are certainly civil servants whose task it is to read the blogs and tell those in power roughly how the populace are feeling.




As regular readers will know Mrs Grumble does not read the blog. She never has so presumably she never will. Dr Grumble doesn't mind. The blog is not for her. But on Sunday morning Dr Grumble may blog in bed and today Mrs Grumble's attention was drawn to some cloying musak eminating from the Grumble laptop. Dr Grumble had been checking over the NHS247 web site. Mrs Grumble took a look and immediately thought that NHS247 had all the hallmarks of a government site - especially the dreadful music.

Many readers will guess that a large pay cheque comes from NHS247 to the Grumble account for his scintillating input into NHS247. It might be unwise for Dr Grumble to bite the hand that feeds him. But fortunately Dr Grumble does not get paid so the issue does not arise. Not that it would have stopped Dr Grumble taking a swipe at NHS247 if he thought that was appropriate.

So who are NHS247? Dr Grumble really has no idea. There is a strong implication that they are paid for by government and that they have "insisted on independence" presumably to reassure the likes of Dr Grumble. Nevertheless Dr Grumble is a little uneasy. He has been keeping a wary eye on NHS247.

And that brings Dr Grumble to a comment on NHS247 which read as follows:


Reading around some medical blogs I came across the story of ***** ******.
There was not much detail about what happened, but from what I can gather he has been suspended for something he said in a doctor’s forum. Is this true? Does anyone know any details about what he said or why he’s been suspended?

If this is true, what on earth happened to freedom of speech? It’s absolutely ridiculous that somebody who has worked so hard to become a doctor to help save people’s lives is being suspended for having a bit of a rant out of work hours in an private forum, which has nothing to do with how he does his job!

Does anyone know more about what happened?


Dr Grumble knows quite a lot about what happened. And anybody who has been "reading some medical blogs" and clearly has an interest in the story should know quite a bit. (For those that don't know the story here's a summary.) But the one thing they shouldn't know is Dr Scott's real name. There have been some vague clues as to the young doctor's name but nobody has spelt it out. The medical bloggers and the press have been very responsible in this regard. Fortunately the name on the NHS247 web site is not accurate. But there was never a need to put anything other than a pseudonym.

Dr Grumble has conducted a google blog search with the real name of the suspended junior surgeon and has found not a single mention. He has also tried every permutation and variation on the name. So who has posted this comment? What enabled him to have a stab at the doctor's name? Can we trust NHS247? Just who are they?

Somebody from NHS247 kindly copies the Grumble blog across onto their web site. Dr G can't be bothered to do it himself. Probably she will read this post. They wouldn't want anything too subversive on NHS247. That's why they invited Grumble rather than Rant. So let's see if this provokes a comment. Those of us who work in the NHS would like answers to the following:
  • Who are you?
  • Are you are private company?
  • Who owns you?
  • What is your real purpose?
  • How are you funded?
  • Is this an attempt by government to wheedle its way into our private thoughts?
  • How do you feed back what you uncover to government?
  • Why is there a lack of openness about who you are and where you are coming from?
  • Can we trust you?

27 comments:

Jobbing Doctor said...

Like you, my dear Grumble, I can't make it out.

Like you I want to know who these people are and who funds them.

Why have they chosen you and not me (for example)?

Certainly the enormously irritating music and celebrity interviews with A. Johnson and A. Milburn make me think that someone is pulling the strings. But who?

Maybe we can have interviews with Allyson Pollock and George Monbiot?

Some money has gone into this, but whose?

Curious indeed.

Dr Grumble said...

Dr Grumble was first invited some considerable time ago so it may be that the Jobbing Doctor was just not on the scene then. The main advantage for Dr Grumble is that his hospital colleagues seem to be able to access NHS247 whereas Dr Grumble proper is often blocked by hospital software. And, of course, it is nice to known that Gordon Brown is reading the blog.

Jobbing Doctor said...

People are treated differently in General Practice. Although we use the portal to the internet that is run by our local PCT, the access to the internet is not blocked.

I also (as a long established GP educator) have an office in my local postgraduate centre. I have been unable to access any blogs from this office as they are blocked by the private software/hardware firm that has the contract.

One set of rules for one......

nickynockynoonoo said...

It may be worth posting on badscience
http://www.badscience.net/forum/index.php

I'm sure one or two people will be willing to have a dig around

dan said...

Dear Dr. Grumble

While reviewing blogs that discuss health related topics, I noticed that yours seems to be well-read and well-informed. Your readers may be interested in the redesigned healthfinder.gov. The site offers quick and easy prevention information and tools to help people stay healthy and prevent disease.

Healthfinder.gov’s new Quick Guide to Healthy Living uses everyday language and examples to:
• Describe “small steps” users can do to improve their health
• Give users positive reasons to change their behavior
• Provide tools and encouragement, such as personal health calculators, menu planners and recipes, tips for caregivers, and printable lists of questions to take to the doctor

The new “myhealthfinder” tool gives users personalized health recommendations based on sex, age, and pregnancy status, from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The redesign of healthfinder.gov was informed by health literacy and usability principles, and the site was tested with more than 650 users. We’re excited about the result – a consumer health Web site that’s easy to understand and navigate, especially for people with limited health literacy.

The healthfinder.gov project is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) and its National Health Information Center. Thanks for helping us spread the word.

Regards,
Dan Jeffers
Internet Marketing Specialist for
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Dr Grumble said...

Thanks Dan. Dr Grumble didn't realise the US government was also onto him!

The health literacy thing is very important. Vocal patients and the internet savvy are not the majority. That's what the middle classes fail to realise or don't want to know about. Doctors need to make sure all their patients get looked after. Not just the rich worried well. Unlike the city slickers and the investment bankers doctors are exposed to the full rich tapestry of humankind. Dr Grumble applauds your work.

jayann said...

The 247 editor's "a former Medical Correspondent for the Daily Mirror.
She wrote and edited the Department of Health’s official NHS 60 commemorative brochure"

the site was registered by:

Maurice Roth
296 Golders Green Road
Roman House
London, London NW11 9PY
UK

it doesn't read quite like a govt site to me (but I can't make it out either)

Dr Grumble said...

Thanks Jayann. That's a bit more than we knew before. I suspect that the detail is being deliberately hidden. My own feeling is that the site is genuinely independent of but close to government. Presumably they somehow communicate what they have learned to Gordon Brown (or his sidekicks anyway).

The background to such a site is that all this internet communication from a restive populace - especially within the NHS - is unnerving a government that has tight control of the media. Politicians are genuinely baffled as to why pouring much more money into the NHS has resulted in disaffectiion rather than gratitude certainly from staff and it seems also from the public. They probably really do want to understand why that is. It's part of their unfortunate focus on spin rather than substance. Which is, of course, their fundamental problem.

Dr Grumble said...

This post is now on NHS247 and they have made this comment:


Dr Grumble, we are happy to clear up any misunderstandings you may have about NHS 247.

NHS247.com is run by a private company, is completely independent and has no affiliations with any public sector organisations.

The purpose of NHS 247 is to provide NHS professionals with a forum to discuss and debate the issues that affect their working lives. NHS 247 is there to give a voice to all hardworking NHS individuals, who are often undervalued and unappreciated for the heroic jobs that they do.

For NHS 247.com to fulfil its purpose we have to be completely independent from any government organisations so that NHS employees can criticise, and voice their concerns without any fear of censure or reprisals.

As we are not associated with any government organisations, NHS 247.com is not an attempt to “wheedle a way” into your thoughts, but merely an outlet for NHS employees to get their voices heard.

However, we welcome any user feedback on how to improve the website, and will take your “dreadful music” comment on board.

**********

So there you have it. From the horse's mouth. And they may even fix the music!

Anonymous said...

Hi All..

I Just knew this site would course problems, and on looking it up I found just that... Here...

Let me explain.

I worked at the Company responsible for NHS247, they are called CYWORKS, I only managed a short period of time before leaving, as was so shcoked at how we we're to sell advertising space to small businesses as if we we're the actual NHS themselves!! ..and that this was to be an actual NHS intranet for all NHS personnel to use whilst at work, when in fact its run by a two-bit greedy media 'Company' in Golders Green, with a terribly annoying MD...

Example - "I wheely, wheely, wheely want more sales this morning" (whilst waving hands up and down dramatically)

We were trained to ring up any small business you can think of within the UK and for £99 they could """""POTENTIALLY"""" offer all the many thousands of local hospitals and Care Trust staff discounts therefore enticing them there. A completely missold concept that has absolutely nothing to do with the NHS. But our key selling point being we ARE the NHS!

For each small business we got on board we earned a tenner.....

In training we were almost sold eeh concept as this website was formed OFFICIALLY by the NHS for the NHS 60th brithday celebrations, and we were working on behalf of them.. Us all realising early on we wound up our trainer no end commenting on the logo being the wroing shade of blue, and many things not quite adding up. Eventually they told all the staff that it was indeed nothing to do with anyone else but this greedy Company.

Integrity hit fairly quickly and I legged it!

Regards
Hayemaker

Anonymous said...

As the "terribly annoying" MD of NHS 247 allow me to set the record straight.
Our site quite clearly states that we are an independent organisation, and all our competent staff are trained to approach local businesses on that basis.
Clearly this disgruntled blogger did not make the grade with us, and judging by the spelling mistakes and poor grammar of this entry it is obvious why.

Dr Grumble said...

That's the first time Dr Grumble has had a comment from a 'terribly annoying MD'. It is good of you to respond.

Dr Grumble would agree that the independence of NHS247 is emphasised on the web site. In fact it seems to be a selling point.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone give me information on NHS247 regarding their alleged documentaries which will be shown on Sky TV BBC and ITV freesat networks. They promised me coverage on TV if I paid a huge amount as a small gesture to advetise my products at the same.

Anonymous said...

I've just had the same sales pitch. They make it all sound too good to be true - so it probably is. The fact that they are unable to send any kind of media pack or other info is strange...

Anonymous said...

just had the same sales pitch from a guy called Paul Smith. Wanted us to appear in a documentary (and pay for it) and when i asked for email information he got very rude - would avoid in future.

Anonymous said...

If the annoying MD is still reading, having just had the sales pitch myself I'd like to ask why I should pay for the priviledge of offering "at least" 5% discount to NHS247 users?

Essentially I don't pay £99 + VAT for advertising our chalet company, I pay £99 + VAT + 5% of all bookings that we could sell for full price.

Anonymous said...

If you can sell them at full price in this current economic climate, then maybe that's what you should do?

Anonymous said...

I am regularly called by this company. Each representative puts the usual bullshit spin that this is an NHS site, accessed regularly on the NHS intranet by well paid medical professionals, desperatly seeking discount professional services. Give me a break.

Anyone else who has stumbled onto blog trying to learn more about this seemingly amazing opportunity, AVOID.

Anonymous said...

I've just had the advertising call to saying NHS247 is the intranet site for the NHS. That they are the first screen that pops up whenever a NHS member of staff logs on. I was most interested to learn that NHS247 'run' the NHS database and therefore have access to the work emails of all NHS employees.

I was also told it was originally set up by Dr David Todd with money donated by Gordon Brown!

If I pay my £299+vat (seems to have gone up since the previous entries) then I get a whole page to myself to sell my wares.

Does sound great but more than a smidge suspicious. Is there a way of finding out how many NHS people actually use the site?

I'd happily offer a 20% discount via the site if I know it's as legit and popular as it says.

Dr Grumble said...

Can't you just ask them. anonymous? Get them to tell you how many people actually use the site. If they can't or won't produce the evidence you need, draw your own conclusions.

Anonymous said...

quite frankly im astonished why everyone thinks its so bad. i use nhs247 on a regular basis and their discounts are fantastic, not to mention their competitions! right now my colleague is one of the finalists for the Healthcare Hero award which is about rewarding nhs employees, showing the good they do...please tell me where else does that??? why is everyone so annoyed because its a private company? at the end of the day they do a better job in supporting nhs employees than the nhs do!!

Anonymous said...

NHS 247 is an advertising scam, pure and simple. I run a small business and they call me every couple of months to try and sell me yet more advertising.

I nearly signed up a couple of years ago (for £600 and *EXCLUSIVE* coverage in their directory!!) but when the salesman handed me a copy of the directory (which was unimpressive in itself) in which the ads were placed, I called one of the companies who advertised in my category, and asked if it had been worthwhile. Their response - absolutely not and that it was a complete waste of money.

Steer clear, and if they really have anything at all to do with the NHS I'd be bloody surprised.

Anonymous said...

Having worked for this company I can confirm that it is a scam. I was promised £8 an hour + commission, I only actually received £6 an hour, most of my commission was 'withheld until I left' but I never received it, nor my final wages or holiday pay. They claim that all NHS employees receive regular updates through their intranet, this is a lie. They do specific mailing campaigns at a very high cost to doctors from pharmaceutical companies wanting to market their new products but most businesses who take out a 'page' do not see any return.
They used to publish NHS publications but no longer do so, the NHS Database is just another part of the company and nothing to do with the NHS.
Yes, there are some good discounts, especially in London but most NHS employees aren't aware of them and most advertisers DO NOT SEE A GOOD RETURN ON THEIR OUTLAY. Also, anyone can apply for an 'NHS Discounts' card so the people taking up the offers aren't necessarily part the group that the advertiser wanted to target.
They are now calling health clinics around Europe insisting that if they take out a page in their directory (£6,000+), every GP in the UK has a copy available for patients who want to 'skip the NHS queue' to get treatment abroad, especially for dental or cosmetic surgery. NHS 247 TV is just another scam too- nobody watches it it's on some obscure Sky channel for an hour a week or so.

Anonymous said...

...continued
The MD is deranged, he used to shout at us for at least an hour a day, I have seen him bully vulnerable people repeatedly and another senior staff member made endless passes at me which is totally inappropriate especially considering that he is married. They are heartless and only interested in making a profit for themselves. The daily news is just put on the site to make it look official, all they care about is selling advertising space. The 'Employee of the Month competition' is not honoured- look at past winners yourself to see that they don't bother with it, it's just a ploy to make the advertisers think they are kosher.
It is a shame as small businesses are really pressured and many ask to be 'deleted from the list' or say that they have 'opted out' of receiving cold calls but they don't use any software, they just find businesses through Google or YELL. They even told us that people who had already advertised through YELL were ideal as they 'understood web marketing'.
No-one is going to be aware of your business unless they physically log on the site, they are NOT going to be sent a direct email about your business: part of the sales spiel is that 'NHS247 contacts all NHS employees in your area, from cleaners and admin staff to doctors and consultants letting them know about your business and discount', this is a total lie, if you have advertised with them take them to court.
They drive around in Rolls-Royces and yet leave someone like me (and many many others) seriously out of pocket, it's scandalous. Don't be fooled!

Anonymous said...

They are scum, pure nd simple.

Their MD's direct lines are 02084577801/802

Call and waste their time like they waste ours!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
As the "terribly annoying" MD of NHS 247 allow me to set the record straight.
Our site quite clearly states that we are an independent organisation, and all our competent staff are trained to approach local businesses on that basis.
Clearly this disgruntled blogger did not make the grade with us, and judging by the spelling mistakes and poor grammar of this entry it is obvious why."

THIS IS FUNNY CONSIDERING THAT I WORKED WITH YOU GUYS FOR A DAY BEFORE I REALIZED HOW MUCH OF A SCAM IT REALLY WAS. YOU SPEAK OF SPELLING MISTAKES YET YOUR "SCRIPT" WHICH YOU TRAIN EVERYONE TO MEMORIZE LIKE THE BIBLE IS RIDDLED WITH GRAMMAR & SPELLING MISTAKES THE LIKES OF WHICH AN 8 YEAR OLD WOULD BE EMBARRASSED TO PRODUCE! "DIDN'T MAKE THE GRADE?" WHAT GRADE IS THAT EXACTLY? HOW TO PRESSURE PEOPLE INTO BUYING A SERVICE WHICH CLEARLY DOESN'T WORK. THERE IS NO EMPHASIS ON QOS ONLY HARD BALL SELLING TECHNIQUES WHICH BULLY PEOPLE INTO BUYING. I ALSO DIDN'T MAKE THE GRADE BECAUSE I WALKED OUT. AN IT CONSULTANT BY TRADE I WAS SICK OF BEING BOSSED AROUND BY A SHORT UMPA LUMPA WHO KNEW FUCK ALL ABOUT SALES AND A HELL OF A LOT ABOUT SOCIAL ENGINEERING/MANIPULATION. MR MD YOUR COMPANY RUNS ON GREED AND THE CLIMATE IN YOUR OFFICE SMACKS OF GREED, AND YOUR EMPLOYEES LOOK LIKE THEY HAVE ALL JUST COME OUT OF PRISON. NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU DELUDE YOURSELF YOUR COMPANY STINKS! THANK GOD I LEFT BECAUSE I AM NOW A PROUD EMPLOYEE OF A TOP SOFTWARE FIRM.

Anonymous said...

http://www.bustedmugshots.com/florida/miami/maurice-roth/38910881

Thats the owner - Maurice Roth when he was last arrested.