Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The NHS - 2007

Mr X is 82 years old, almost 83. He lives in Mid Wales and he suffered a heart attack this summer, which necessitated a triple by-pass. His first appointment at a specialist heart treatment hospital at Stoke in the West Midlands was cancelled approx. three weeks ago. However last week his family was contacted at midday to say that the operation would take place the following day - and could they bring Mr X in by 9.00 the next morning. The family set off at 6.30 and arrived in good time. Unfortunately there was no bed available, but Mr X was told that one may well become available if he waited. At 12.30, the family was informed that there was a bed after all, and that the operation would take place at 14.00 hrs and last for 3 hours. Mr X went for his pre-med, and his family returned home to Mid Wales. At 17.00 hours, they received a telephone call informing them that the previous operation had overrun, and as a result Mr X would not be having his operation after all - and could he be collected. The family set off from Mid Wales and returned home with Mr X at around 22.30 hours. During what must have seemed to have been the longest and most stressful day of his long life, he had been given some toast, jelly, tea and an apple. Do you feel the same sense of outrage as I do?


Anonymous said...

My dad a pensioner, had a heart attack @ Easter. Aberystwyth was full, as was Shrewsbury. They wanted to take him to Hereford or Cardiff. All a considerable distance.

Instead he landed in Shrewsbury, and spent 3 days on a trolley, pumped with drugs (no beds). It was one week before they could fit him in for an angiogram. This revealed that he needed 5 bypass plus a new valve immediately. Had to wait a further 3 days before he was transferred to Stoke, and had his operation the next day.

Whilst in hospital, we got the opportunity to witness the treatment of other patients. Someone else from Newtown, had their operation cancelled three times, which meant packing of a suitcase / waiting all day, then being told it wasn't going to happen. When the operation was scheduled, as soon as he got out of the ambulance was immediately wheeled into theatre. Furthermore, several other patients got turned away ... arrived at hospital and told there was no space available.

When space is available, you cannot fault the service. However, this whole scenario highlighted to us the bed and budgetary constraints, in addition to the large catchment area served. Believe me, driving to the West Midlands from Montgomeryshire every day for 3 weeks is hard going!

Dr. Christopher Wood (avatar: "Farscape") said...

Sounds bad. But remember this, they got their operation, there were no hospital bills running into tens of thousands of pounds, there was no intention to cause stress to any of the patients. Imagine this scenario: can't go to the doctor (can't afford the doctor visit's bill let alone any surgery, let alone any heart surgery, let alone the after care, let alone the post-operative care ... let alone ...

Honestly, until you have a senior who has no access to the NHS, who has no medical insurance, who has next to no savings, yet paid an Insurance stamp, paid UK taxes, but has no medical cover AT ALL, whose prescription costs cost a lot of money ... then you might have something to complain about.

One great thing - let me say, "GREAT THING" about the NHS is that it is THERE. That it does its very best to give emergency cover at no direct cost to the patient. When you don't have access to the NHS - then you might have something to complain about.

What is really strange about the so called US-UK 'special relationship' is that there is no reciprocal medical arrangement where UK citizens get access to free care at point of need, whereas Americans who happen to be in the UK get free NHS care at the point of need.

OK, so why be in America at all if you don't have medical insurance - well, if you are a 70+ Brit/Welsh person you can't get meaningful insurance cover in the USA, but a 70+ American in the UK/Wales gets NHS treatment FREE. So y be here in the USA? Because you are lonely, and have a son that cares about you deeply but happens to be in the USA, and you can't carry shopping because you have arthritis, can't manage stairs, can't manage changing a light bulb, can't manage basically without some help from a loving son. So you move to be near your son, and you hope and pray that you can manage without the NHS even though you have severe arthritis, a leaky heart valve, can't grip things properly, but you have son that makes sure you are OK, but he's over there far away from the NHS, then you think, you think the NHS REALLY IS THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD, and you count the NHS as the best thing since sliced bread and you wish dearly that you had free access to your NHS doctor, but you don't. Moral of this story: BE GLAD THAT YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THE NHS AND ULTIMATELY CAN GET HEART SURGERY AT NO DIRECT COST. One thing that is great about the UK/Wales is the NHS.

In the words of 10cc, "I say", God Bless The NHS and all who sail in her, patients and staff alike. "I say."

I say I don't like NHS treatment, oh no I love it!

Glyn Davies said...

anon - I'm sure there are a huge number of similar cases happening. It may well be the price af 'efficiency' in that there is less 'slack; in the system - but its an absolute b*****r for those who lose out.

Christopher - Mr X has not had his operation, and when I spoke with the family yesterday, he didn't know when to expect it.
And what's this about the NHS being free. Perhaps you don't pay taxes in the UK! Mr X certainly has and I don't think he is getting much of a return on his investment.

Paul said...

And which party messed up the NHS in the first place Glyn?

Left Field said...

My father-in-law, who lives in Stoke is having breathing difficulties due to his heart. But the doctor has said that she will try to keep him out of the North Staffs Hospital because of the chances that he may get an infection. She also said that there is a lot of building work that isn't helping, and this is the largest hospital in the area.

I believed the problem with the NHS was funding. That has now been tripled, and is it any better? I'm not sure what needs doing (apart from sacking the thousands of new administrators who seem to be clogging up every hospital), but what is currently being done certainly isn't working.

Anonymous said...

So sort the bed blocking out.
That's a social services problem. No places for old people to go, so they occupy medical beds. I, for the life of me cannot see why we cannot set up a string of facilities/rest homes etc with the money that is wasted because of the bed blocking problem. Get some retired business people and people with care experience together and set it up as a third sector initiative as they are doing in England - we have plenty of people with the ability here in Wales on all level, may be not within the in crowd, but then lets be subversive

Glyn Davies said...

Paul - Labour have been in power for over 10 years. And most people tell me that things were as good or better in the 80's/90s. If you want to go historical, the last time there was an actual cut in investment in the NHS was under Callaghan in 1978. Perhaps you should try looking beyond your political prejudice.

Left field - thats fair comment. I think that the people of Britain decided in 1997 that they wanted to invest more in 'schoolsnhospitals'. But it has not been done well. I would not pretend to know what should be done - except that we must find some way of harnessing the expertise and committment of the professionals.

valleys mam - I do so agree- in part. Which is why I have decided to become involved in a private sector business which builds and manages residential homes/nursing homes/ EMI units. There will be some people of the 'left' who will not approve of this - but I am convinced that if this issue is to be tackled effectively, the drive and initiative of the private sector is vital- my tory insticts coming through again.