For the health of the nation (3) 84

 Continued from below.

Many NHS workers see the NHS as something holy and private medicine as wicked. I do not believe, having watched your elections in the US, you have any idea of the class war going on here.  Yet. 

When, this year, some dying cancer patients bought their own drugs because the Government committee, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Ecellence – “NICE” – would not approve the drugs for the NHS, the patients were then told that, once they had paid for something, they could have none of their care on the NHS and must pay for every blood test and bandage.  It was said that any favours to those who could pay were a fraud on everyone else and all must be equal in the NHS.  Patients “cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the N.H.S. and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs,” the Health Secretary (and  Marxist and militant Trades Unionist,) Alan Johnson, told Parliament.“That way lies the end of the founding principles of the N.H.S..”

This is not true. The 1942 Beveridge report, which was the basis for the NHS, said: The state " should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility; in establishing a national minimum, it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family".  We all know that the bought cancer drugs were available in some areas and not others on the NHS anyway; that NHS patients have always paid towards some treatments.  In fact, the country could not afford the NHS if top up payments were banned. The doctrinaire Health Minister however, did not know this (but as he left school with no qualifications at all, I am not terribly surprised).  What is more, none of the people concerned, who bought their own cancer drugs, was rich but simply ready to sell their homes or use up all their saving in their desperation to get the drug concerned.   

You may be thinking that your system will be different and will embrace private insurance more and a dual system can operate.  Indeed that is what the Obama/Biden plan says. But, I have just pointed out that this was the stated original point of the NHS.  Give the state (and overpaid doctors) power, and they will want more and more control over your lives. 

Back to our nightmare-day.  My husband was trying to get us admitted to the private hospital without the referral; but the private hospital would not do this.  That’s the thing.  The NHS was designed to keep doctors and the state in charge.  There is a protocol between doctors and it has to be observed.  The state controls access to public healthcare, but in a way it also controls thereby access to private healthcare. The Obama/Biden plan seems to say that the state will now be interfering in private insurance arrangements.  If it was just a question of making it more competitive or of taking anti-trust precautions, I would think this fair enough. But the plan is to offer what Obama calls a National Health Insurance Exchange which will oversee the private insurance companies.  It is nuts. Do not do it or you will compromise the part of your system that works.

When my son was eventually seen, in an even dirtier room that was itself a corridor to a staff room with a constant flow of people in and out, we had to have a long chat with the doctor where she made very pleasant conversation and enquiry, little of it relevant to our plight. The NHS trains  our new doctors here in  England: this encourages allegiance to the NHS. This doctor  did not diagnose anything but did want to know all about us – what my son was studying. We also filled out a form which asked us our race and background.  A consultant finally appeared. He wore a suit. He was hard to talk to. He simply looked in my son’s throat, sprayed anaesthetic and stuck a scalpel into a huge ulcer on his tonsils, whereupon an effluvium of blood and puss was collected and it tasted so vile that my son, usually stalwart, said ‘Dear God’ and started to shake.

The consultant, I would say on oath, never washed his hands. He did diagnose Quinsy and he did do something.  But the thing is that everyone I know, at work or socially, knows someone who has had infections of  MRSA or C difficile, contracted in a sic NHS hospital.  My own mother has said she would rather face death than go to an NHS hospital, and nearly proved her point recently, saved by  finding a private hospital that would take her on a referral from a doctor friend.  Generally, death certificates do not always say if the patients are infected so the figures are unreliable.  The MRSA Action Group say that “the number of MRSA bacteraemia’s for 2007/08 is 4438” and there were “55,393 cases of Clostridium difficile”.  “MRSA Action UK … has come to the conclusion that we can no longer believe anything this Government says in respect to Healthcare Infections and that going into hospital is now a lottery for patients.”  Mr Brown the Prime Minister recently ordered a one-off deep clean of all wards. One off? Lister is spinning in his grave.

The consultant seemed a bit cross with us.  He said to us that my son had a life-threatening condition and should be in hospital on IV antibiotics. I think he wanted us to apologise for hanging around in his dirty waiting room all that time. Instead, I said that we wanted a transfer to the private hospital and he said that he would do this but we would still be under his care. I said I didn’t mind about that, but I did want to move. The thing was that the invasive procedure was done and I was desperate to go somewhere clean.

The first thing I noticed at the small Priory hospital was that it was easy and free to park and easy to drop off my son at the door so he could get in from the cold. The next thing I noticed was that there was a lady on the stairwell dusting under the brackets of the banister and another in the corridor dusting the skirting. I said to them with some emotion, “I’m really pleased you are doing that.” Everything was clean and linen was laundered.  A mouth rinse was provided straight away, we were shown to a clean private room with its own bathroom. Nurses and doctors fussed over drips and pain-killers.  My son, as all NHS transferees are, was put in isolation and swabbed for MRSA and C difficile. The nurses wore aprons and gloves and regarded him as a source of infection.  Somehow, they each had the ability to think and act whereas the NHS hospital staff had all been in a kind of professional coma. When I went to the nurses station to ask something, I found three staff members discussing my son and his blood sugar level, instead of their boyfriends or celebrity favourites. When I asked, I was given helpful and polite answers. It wasn’t just that we were paying, it was that the whole culture  and professional focus was utterly different from the NHS.

But, you may cry, not everyone can afford private health insurance. We need a public health service for the poor or the uninsurable. Sure. But be very afraid. We pay three times over for health care in my family.  We have insurance through my husband’s employers, worth about £5,000 for each of us but costing the company a bit less but costing  us tax;  extra civil service insurance (because it is a great deal and we are entitled because of a previous job) costing about £500 a year and on top of this we pay about 11% of our salary (with a further contribution from our employer) for National Insurance. Taken all together, this comes to just under 1/5 of our income.

In effect, we subsidise the poorer people and unemployed people who are ironically known as  “deprived” as if we were taking things away from them.  But I don’t believe it does actually help anyone to make us pay so much.  The sic NHS is just too big and it doesn’t work.  If the public service de-centralised, scaled down and copied the private sector a bit more, it would work better.  Who would pay for the indigent pensioner’s hip?  I just don’t know.  I would like her to get a hip and I feel that people who have paid National Insurance all these years cannot now be defrauded of their dues.  But the sic NHS will have more and more patients in an ageing population and fewer funds to pay for anything.  

Unaware of any constraints,  under this Government the NHS has had not just huge budgets and plans but vaulting ambitions. This particularly applies to screening and preventative “education”. I notice the Obama/Biden plan includes promotion of public health and preventative screenings. Here, in some places the NHS also pays for IVF, counselling, complementary medicine such as homeopathy and reflexology, hands on healing (although you cannot find out how much is spent on this in the sic NHS),  fresh fruit vouchers for low income families, £200 shopping vouchers for drug addicts who keep up treatment (under the guidance of Dawn Primarolo, our “Red Dawn” of the Labour Party – I know this last incentive has been tried in the US too).  Somehow, drug addicts, who cannot be bothered to work, must be given money by people who do work. There is a dependent class in Britain, paid to be idle, living unhappy lives and messing up. The Left only has eyes for them and ambitious unrestrained plans for providing things for them.

The NHS must treat illness not bad behaviour, encourage top up private payments, allow opt outs, forget the ambitious screening, education, IT plans and forget quackery. We must be encouraged and incentivised to help ourselves without the nanny state. A recent study showed that when we were taxed less we gave far more  to charity. Our Mediaeval oldest and best hospitals were all endowed by charities. Something less on the scale of the Chinese army would be more efficient and cost less. After all, there was a considerable and very successful cheaper health insurance option for the poor, before the NHS was dreamt up by our socialist post war Government. 

Sir William Beveridge, author of the famous 1942 report which laid the foundation for the NHS, wanted to fight the five ‘Giant Evils’ of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. But at the QE I believe we met those five Enemies at close quarters despite our funds and best efforts to avoid them. Will you also be meeting Disease and Squalor sometime soon, too? 

Yours sincerely, 

a wicked pro-capitalist,

M Westrop.

PS. My son is fine now, thanks to the excellent treatment he was given in the private hospital.


Posted under Articles, Commentary by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 10, 2009

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