Saturday 10 January 2009

Chalk A Few More Deaths Up To The NHS

Thanks mostly to the illiberal, and some might say corrupt, activities of other arms of 'big charidee', I find it difficult not to feel like I'm being conned by another of the household names in righteous giving (the distrust is probably not warranted, but 'one bad egg' and all that). Nevertheless, despite the hard-nosed business approach of MenCap in pushing their Death By Indifference campaign, complete with orchestrated timely press releases designed to pile moral pressure on Government funded regulators, it's hard not to agree with them on the matter of ... MORE deaths at the hands of the NHS.

A vulnerable patient starved to death in an NHS hospital after 26 days without proper nourishment.

Martin Ryan, 43, had suffered a stroke which left him unable to swallow.

But a 'total breakdown in communication' meant he was never fitted with a feeding tube.

Mr Ryan, who had Down's syndrome, died in hospital in Kingston-upon-Thames.

An internal inquiry by the hospital found that doctors had thought nurses were feeding him through a tube in his nose.

By the time they found out this was not happening, he was too weak for an operation to insert a tube into his stomach.

He died in agony five days later.

This was just one of 6 deaths that MenCap submitted to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Another case was highlighted on their campaign pages.

Emma was admitted to hospital for tests – she was upset and in pain. The hospital found her behaviour difficult to manage and sent her home without any help to control her pain. When Emma and her mum went back to the hospital for the results they were told Emma had cancer.

There was a 50:50 chance that she would survive if she was treated, but the doctors decided not to treat her. They said she couldn't consent to treatment. Again Emma was sent home with no way to help with her pain.

A week later Emma wasn't eating or drinking, so her mum took her back to the hospital and tried to make the doctors treat her daughter.

Still having to watch her daughter suffer from the cancer, Emma's mum went to the High court to force the doctors to treat her daughter, but by the time the order came through, the cancer had progressed too far.

Emma was admitted to a palliative care hospice where she died a month later.

Another notch or several, then, to the NHS, whose employees like to lecture us about curtailing our lifestyles because we may die earlier than 140 years old, whilst simultaneously killing people in their thousands. How long is this going to be allowed to continue before we admit that the 60 year old institution has completely lost its way and is, quite simply, no longer fit-for-purpose?

Like the similarly ancient and bloated BBC, the NHS is increasingly overloaded with idealistic job-for-lifers whose idea of a day's work is to spend money that isn't theirs on righteous initiatives. Healthcare increasingly seems to take a back seat in favour of idealistic hectoring and contempt for the patients (sorry, clients) who pay their wages.

Amongst the hundreds of comments to the Mail article that berate the NHS and Labour, there is this one that, while correct, serves to emphasize the problem we have with Britain's health system. It's down to the fact that the vast majority of the population have completely missed the point.

Can't say I am a fan of Nu labour but you are deluding yourselves by blaming just them. The tories started the decline and Nu labour just carried on with it. I was in Hospital in 1993 and again in 1994. After my shocking experience in 1993 when I had to be operated on again in 1994 I left the Hospital as soon as I was concious and able to walk as my family and local doctor gave me better care than the hospital ever did.

woogie, Murcia, Spain

Why on Earth is the NHS always a Conservative or Labour problem? It doesn't really matter who runs it, the system is faulty and needs to be replaced, full stop.

A public sector-run health system operates by budgets and spending restrictions. Those spending the money will naturally make sure that their wages are ring-fenced. Healthcare is always going to suffer under that regime, after all the money is guaranteed and if you don't pay your premium, the Government send the bailiffs in. If the money isn't there for frontline services once the various 'health professionals' have taken their cut, patients suffer and the user is encouraged, cajoled, and then forced, to change their ways to fit in with the budget. Cuts to the budgets don't work either as it has the 'health professionals' squealing to the press with visions of doom and death (funny that, seeing as their killing spree is largely unchecked as it is!). No MP in their right mind can possibly advocate a reduction in spending on the NHS, no matter how much of that money is currently wasted unnecessarily, it is political suicide.

A private sector-run health system would be completely different. It would have to cope with whatever us, the public, threw at it. If we were being unhealthy, they could charge us more. If we didn't like the increased charge, we would quite simply change supplier. They could try to cut the service staff but customers would leave them in droves, they could try to tell us how to live our lives righteously but that would have the same effect. To keep customers, the healthcare provider would have to make savings elsewhere. Rigid budgets would fly out the window when the guaranteed income the NHS currently enjoys is under threat. All the waste would disappear pretty damn quick once the 'sales' account started to diminish. Actuaries would take the place of administrators and the service would improve.

The health service would fit itself around the public demographic, instead of the public being forced to fit itself around the health service.

All we have to do is stop believing that a system that was perceived as* ideal for 1948 is somehow still perfect now. Woolworths have just found out that is not the case, isn't it time we all woke up to this fact too?

* Added to assuage Mark Wadsworth


Mark Wadsworth said...

a system that was ideal for 1948

Wrong. It was shit then as well.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Fair comment, amended slightly to reflect your valid observation. :-)

Witterings from Witney said...

One of the blogs, whom I acknowledged in a recent post, corrected a remark he had made as follows:

That reminds me that I have seen Cameron twice. The other time was when he was at a "save the NHS from Labour" stall in the centre of Chipping
Norton, although I think he'd just dropped in to say hello to the activists there and he cleared off as I approached. I had a conversation along the following lines with one of the activists:

Tory: Do you want to save our NHS?
Me: Yes, but that would require some sort of extensive privatisation, which is something your party would never do.
Tory: Yes, that's right - we wouldn't. Good day.

banned said...

1. I know a chap who resigned as a trustee of his local PCT in disgust at the treatment his mother recieved in hospital.

2. Labour did not create a health service in 1948, they nationalised a country-wide network of pre-existing charitable hospitals. At the time access to healthcare was already available to the overwhelming majority by insurance, welfare clubs, Union membership and the like. The NHS has lived off the feel-good factor of its own creation ever since.

3. Currently, as patients get dangerously close to the target waiting list time, they are shunted off to private hospital for treatment, not on the basis of clinical need but to ensure that targets are met.
As I understand it, such are the relative efficiences of those hospitals, it does not even cost the NHS any more per operation for them to do this.

4. Anyone who has sold anything to the NHS will know that it is one of the worst sufferers of " End Of The Financial Year Syndrome ".
Any spare cash MUST be spent or that department will not only lose that cash this year but a similar amount will be deducted from next years budget and thereafter. For this reason vast amounts of money are wasted on uneccessary spening throughout the NHS.