River Wissey Lovell Fuller


October 2010

The Doctor provides a strong warning on the security of the Government's decision to adopt Summary Care Records.

Before reading this article, it may be useful to look at the following analogy. We listen to the government talking about millions, billions and trillions of pounds in relation to government spending and national debt. The words trip off the tongue but do we really understand the numbers?

Let's work it out using time:

One million (1,000,000) seconds equates to 11.5 days

One billion (1,000,000,000) seconds equates to 31.7 years

One trillion (1,000,000,000,000) seconds equates to 31,710 years (thirty one thousand, seven hundred and ten years). This is long before Western civilisation and over 29,000 years before Christ. At the end of May this year, the UK public sector national debt was £903 billion, not far short of a trillion pounds!

The Summary Care Record. Looking back through my past articles, I see that, eight years ago, I started warning about the National Patient Database. The idea was that all patient record would be "uploaded" into the database where they could be accessed by anyone with an appropriate level of security clearance. My fears were that, with its history of botched computer projects, there was no way our government would succeed in creating what would be the largest IT system in the world and, secondly, I did not believe their reassurances about confidentiality.The project was launched in 2002 with an estimated cost of £2.3 billion over 3 years. Initially, four companies were contracted to provide the system. In 2007, Accenture withdrew and in 2008 Fujitsu had their contract terminated. Currently, the estimated cost has risen to £20 billion! One of our sons, who works with computers, has friends who have made so much money working on the failed part of the system that they have taken a year off work on the proceeds! A group of academics at University Hospital in London has evaluated this ruinously expensive project and has determined that it is not effective at improving health care but, more worrying is an article about privacy in the British Medical Journal by Prof Ross Anderson. The record is designed to gather data from various sources, GPs, hospital notes, etc., but no-one is responsible for ensuring either the accuracy or the relevance of the records. At present, your GP holds your records and he is responsible for the accuracy of those records. You would be surprised how often incorrect data is sent to practices from other parts of the NHS and has to be corrected by the GP before entry into the practice records. Tens of thousands of people will have access to these records, theoretically governed by security arrangements using a smart card. However, there are already numerous examples where this confidential arrangement has been breached. Those who might wish to opt out of this scheme should telephone 0845 603 8510 or download the necessary forms from nhscarerecords.nhs.uk.


A small advertisement read "If you are an alcoholic, ring this number". It turned out to be the number of the local off-licence!

Why is it better to be a drunk than an alcoholic? You don't have to go to meetings!

Deannie and I were walking through the red light district of Amsterdam a few years ago. We were mightily amused by the sight of a man negotiating at the door and seeking permission for his wife to go in and watch the proceedings between him and the girl. I was reminded of this when I heard the following joke - A man wanted to go into a brothel and to take his wife with him. He was told that it would be OK but he would have to pay corkage!

Is your wife outspoken? - Not often! Don't wake up grumpy - let him sleep.

An incontinent man rang the helpline. "Where are you ringing from?" "Oh, the waist down"

I am grateful to Judith and Ken Griffen for the following jokes from the "Farmers' Weekly". I have modified the slightly.

A nun, who cared for a lot of elderly folk, ran out of petrol while making her rounds. The garage had no can to lend her so she came back with a bedpan which she filled with petrol and carried it gingerly back to her car. As she was pouring the fuel into her tank, she was watched from the other side of the road by two Muslims, Paddy and Mick. Paddy turned to Mick and said "If that car starts, I'm converting to catholicisim!"

A little girl, wearing a fireman's uniform, turned up at the fire station and was admiring the big red fire engine. She had with her a toy fire engine, a dog and a cat. The fire officer noticed that the child's toy fire engine was tied to her dog's collar and to the cat's testicles. He suggested that, if she tied the fire engine to the cat's collar, the whole outfit might move faster. "You could be right", she replied "but then I wouldn't have a siren".

A drunken polish man, Paddy, sitting next to a priest, put down his newspaper and asked the priest "What causes arthritis?" The priest replied "Well, my son, it's caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, contempt for your fellow man, too much alcohol, sleeping with prostitutes and a lack of bathing. Why do you ask?" The drunk looked upset so the priest said "I'm really sorry - I did not mean to be judgemental - How long have you had arthritis?" Paddy replied "Oh, I don't have arthritis, Father, I was just reading here that the Pope suffers from it"

Best wishes to you all

Ian Nisbet

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