Reality check: Thousands of women are NOT giving birth in hospital toilets! Are you stupid!?

Terrifying news from the guys and gals at the Daily Mail. An attention grabbing headline announces that: “bed shortages forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets”.

Are you asking yourself what is this country coming to? You’re an idiot. This headline just screams bullshit. For one thing, most hospitals would tend to have more beds than lifts, suggesting that the elevator isn’t the preferred second choice amongst medical staff.

Delving into the article, they don’t even try to substantiate the claim, saying:

63 births in ambulances and 608 in transit to hospitals;
117 births in A&E departments, four in minor injury units and two in medical assessment areas;
115 births on other hospital wards and 36 in other unspecified areas including corridors;
399 in parts of maternity units other than labour beds, including postnatal and antenatal wards and reception areas.

Not too scary. Although they do ominously add:

Babies were born in offices, lifts, toilets and a caravan, according to the Freedom of Information data for 2007 and 2008 from 117 out of 147 trusts which provide maternity services.

How many though? One thousand? Two thousand? Or the four thousand you claim in the headline! They don’t say. Fortunately (before I school myself in midwifery to make up for the NHS’s obvious failings – the logical solution), The Guardian provided more statistics:

The 2008 figures reveal that as well as 1,548 unplanned home births, there were 333 births in transit to the hospital, 171 in an antenatal ward or area, 38 in an ambulance, 63 in A&E.

In addition, 26 births occurred on a postnatal ward, 11 in a maternity reception, 34 in a maternity ward other than a designated labour ward and 52 in other wards. A total of 22 births occurred in other parts of the hospital, one in a corridor and eight in a car park.

Call me underly sensationalist, but that seems more symptomatic of uncontrollable baby-spawning (what’s the scientific term for that?) than anything else.

At the heart of this particular issue, removing all the waffle, seems to be this: On 553 occasions in 2008, overstretched (under-resourced?) maternity units were not able to admit any more women in labour.

Who’s at fault here and what should be done about it, if anything? Discuss….


Marvels of nature: Spanish newt is real life Weapon X potential

You’d have been forgiven for thinking the real-life equivalent of the X-Men’s Wolverine would’ve been, y’know, a wolverine. You’d have been forgiven, but dead wrong.

Wolverine newt

In one of the coolest forms of defence since Ripley used a power loader, the Spanish ribbed newt will force its bones through its skin creating, as the BBC say, a set of poisonous barbs (or, as I say, nature’s equivalent of Wolverine’s retractable, stabby claws – CCCHNG!!). The newts do this without any apparent ill effects, withstanding their own considerable poison and displaying an “extraordinary ability to repair their skin” – clearly ticking the ‘mutant healing ability’ box and proving that they’re not just nature’s Wolverines, they’re nature’s Wolverines with added muthafucking poison.

I, for one, fully support lacing the skeleton of one of the little critters with adamantium. Seriously, what’s the point in studying this kind of stuff if we’re not going to do anything cool afterwards!?

Read all about it.

What are people looking at on my Flickr? Part one: South Park

southpark characters

This, in a South Park representation, is what my buddies and I looked like seven or so years ago – made during that time. In this fast-moving age, that’s like a digital fossil of my youth.

It was created using a free version of CorelDraw I got from one of those computing magazines that used to come with a CD packed full of demos. I used to spend hours on that CorelDraw; bizarrely creating dozens of 3Dish Star Trek, federation-style spaceships. Anyway, this South Park pic is the most viewed image on my Flickr photoset.

You’ll have to take my word for it, but that is an EXACT replication of how we used to look every day. I’m the second in on the right (holding the cigarette and scowling). I still have that hoody but have been banned by my girlfriend from wearing it out in public – even in private I’m only allowed to don it on “Scruffy Sundays”.

Thousands of Brits celebrate their granny-killing, evil, socialist euthanasia engine [NHS love]

Health facts - via BBC

I’ve been following the American healthcare pantomime with the usual morbid fascination I reserve for their insane media (you can include political leaders and citizens under that adjective for that matter). After a while, however, I started to be genuinely concerned that this madness is going to cost the non-crazy Americans a chance for real healthcare reform. Hmm… not so funny anymore.

And into this shitstorm was unfairly thrust the good ol’ NHS, better known across the pond as an evil and Orwellian socialist institution that would have let Stephen Hawking’s die, had he been cursed to be born British (I can understand the confusion; as Ricky Gervais said, born in Oxford but speaks with an American accent? Pretentious). Even worst, one of our own (meant very loosely) joined the attack. Tory MEP Dan Hannan tears into the NHS (on Fox News, no less!), seemingly lending weight to the nightmare perception of the British system. Mikeno12’s comment sums things up succinctly.

We weren’t going to put up with that shit. The #welovethenhs Twitter campaign mobilised us Brits to shout our support for the ‘cradle to the grave’ free health care provided to everyone – whether rich, poor, sick, dying, hypochondriac or just a small-breasted teen who fancied a bit of a cleavage.

Yesterday, Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah Brown, joined the campaign with an emotive Tweet (an oxymoron?) and, since then, the British media has been covering this story pretty extensively (something that does not seem to have been echoed in the US, unfortunately – though the only reference to this I would ever expect to see on Fox News would be along the lines of “do you want British socialist scum recommending US policy?”).

Possibly the most interesting development in the whole tale was the Conservative leader, David Cameron, interrupting his holiday to publicly distance his party (the British equivalent to the Republicans) from aforementioned NHS-basher, Daniel Hannan. Rule #1 of British politics: fuck with the NHS at your peril.

Note to Americans: I’ve read some comments suggesting health care reform would decrease accountability. In this country, dissatisfaction is voiced in the most powerful way, by decisive elections! Perhaps, this is why the Republicans are so scared of reform? They’re worried it will prove so popular and benefit so many people, they’ll either never win an election again or have to completely change their ideology. Best to keep the public stupid and scared, eh?

Looking at the facts (a rare practice in this debate) provided by the BBC, US health isn’t the ‘best in the world’. Of course, the NHS isn’t either, and this explosion of support shouldn’t make us ignore some of the very real problems people have had with the system (for the record, not me; I’ve had three pretty significant operations with the NHS and have no complaints – if you’re looking for anecdotal comparisons, I recommend reading this moving account by someone who’s experienced both).

My own, considerably less moving, account of my own surgery last year:

Hospital face
As a patient, I was an absolute cunt
Where's my belly button!?
Spent the first three days angrily asking where's my belly button!? Still got it though
No, not some lovely NHS nurses. Gorgeous Crunkettes lending some moral support (with custom tees!)
No, not some lovely NHS nurses. Gorgeous Crunkettes lending some moral support (with custom tees!)

I guess the point is that having shitty health care that may bankrupt you so private companies can get grotesquely wealthy just sounds offensive to my British delicacies. It makes me feel ill thinking about it. I suppose the saddest thing is that some American’s seem to be so obsessed with the ‘dream’ of corporate greed that they don’t see how innately unfair their system is.

I rule


Red Remover was all like, “nah, you can’t beat me”, and I was like “quit your jibber jabber fo’ – prepare to get pwnd”. True story. I completed Red Remover, spots & par & all. I’m not sure if that’s a great achievement, but it’s sure more worthy of celebration than another evening scratching my balls and playing fuck or chuck with the Littlewood’s catalogue.

Play it here.