River Wissey Lovell Fuller


November 2010

Ian is delighted that someone in Government has listened to the concern over Patient Records.

The power of the village press: Last month, we discussed the Summary Care Record, the national patient database where patient details are "uploaded" into a national database for access by other healthcare professionals, cleaners, passing schoolboys or insurance companies! We discussed how I had been warning readers about this system for over eight years and described how the projected cost had risen to £20 billion and expressed serious concerns about the confidentiality issues and the fact that no one person would be responsible for the content of the record as all and sundry would be entering the details of patients' illnesses and conditions. I am delighted to say that our article has been brought to the attention of someone in Government and the whole project has now been scaled down amid concerns over privacy. Ministers have acknowledged that it was too difficult for patients to opt out of the scheme and, in future, the remaining 20 million people not yet contacted will receive an 'opt out' form with the letter informing them about the system.

The new database will only include the patient's age, address, allergies and adverse reactions to drugs and, possibly, current medication. A result! (Just to remind you, the current opt out number is 0845 603 8510 or you can download the forms from nhscarerecords.nhs.uk).

The Resurrectionists: When my great great grandfather began to study medicine in Edinburgh in 1830, the study of anatomy was detailed and scrupulous. Eminent anatomists' lectures were accompanied by the dissection of a corpse and many corpses were required each week. These were supplied by gangs of thugs known as "Resurrectionists". During the dark of the night, a new grave was selected and a hole was dug at the head end of the coffin, using wooden implements to minimise noise. Two big hooks were then inserted under the lid of the coffin at the head end and, with a mighty yank, the head end of the coffin lid was wrenched off and the body was pulled out through the resultant hole. The shrouds were removed from the body and pushed back into the coffin. The soil was replaced and the grave returned to its original condition, not too difficult as new graves are always covered in sods of turf and some disturbed soil. Although the grave was six feet deep, the job was usually completed within an hour.

Eventually, as the number of bodies required increased, and the price rose accordingly, the rival parties of resurrectionists became very aggressive and many affrays took place as rivals sought to plunder the same grave. The authorities took an interest and began to patrol graveyards; the public began to erect steel cages over the graves - still to be seen in Edinburgh graveyards - and the anatomists found that there were not enough corpses to go round. The price of a corpse rose to £20, increasing the temptation to become a resurrectionist. A new gang of professional bodysnatchers arose and, for them, the step between stealing the dead and murdering the living was decidedly blurred. A Mr Burke and his mistress set up a boarding house with Mr and Mrs Hare, lured their victims, plied them with alcohol and then suffocated them, the body showing no sign of violence. They became careless - one of the guests noticed a body beneath Burke's bed and alerted the police. Next day, as Burke delivered the body to the anatomist, the police swooped. Burke was proved guilty and, on 28th January, 1829, his hanging was witnessed by 20,000 spectators, many of whom had paid between 5/- and 25/- for window seats overlooking the scaffold. Next day, the body was dissected by an anatomist,Professor Munro, and 24,000 people filed past the dissected remains. His skeleton still hangs in the Royal College of Surgeons Museum in Edinburgh.

Acronyms: If I asked you what RNLI stands for, you would tell me "The Royal National Lifeboat Association". Similarly, RNIB stands for The Royal National Institute for Blind People, RNVR stands for Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, RAMC stands for Royal Army Medical Corps, and so on. All sensible acronyms for names which have stood the test of time and are self explanatory. So, what about RNID? The Royal National Institute for the Deaf, I hear you shout. Well, no, actually. They have just written to Deannie, one of their supporters, a two page letter and an A4 information sheet with "exciting news". They have been examining the RNIB "brand" over the past 12 months and, from June 2011, they will change their "trading" name from RNID to "Action on Hearing Loss" as this more accurately reflects what they do and is "more positive than RNID". "Our new name and revised brand will help us to increase our profile and fund even more life changing projects". Mmm, I wonder how much all that cost.

Blown up by a spider: I actually quite like spiders and brought the kids up to think similarly. Management, however, definitely does not like spiders, hence the house full of conkers! I read the other day of a 28 year old IT engineer. His wife had seen a spider and had sprayed it with an aerosol can as it ran behind the WC. Called to the scene, our engineer searched for the spider using a cigarette lighter for light in the dark recesses behind the WC. The flame ignited the aerosol gas and the resulting almighty explosion blew the man off his feet and into the hallway and lifted the loft door off its hinges. No-one knows whether or not the spider escaped and I am happy to report that the man made a full recovery from the flash burns to his head. legs and torso!

Best wishes to you all

Ian G. Nisbet

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