For the health of the nation (3) 6

 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

Tagged with , , , , ,

This post has 6 comments.


For the health of the nation (1) 11

 A British citizen – which is to say, a victim of socialism – writes a letter to warn against state-provided ‘health care’. Just reading it might make you sick.

(The writer is Madeleine Westrop, who wrote Under the bed at Lambeth Palace, posted October 1, 2008.)

As it is long, we’ll be posting it in installments. 

Dear Americans,

I understand that many of you would like a Universal Healthcare System and I heard that some of you admire our National Health Service, the “NHS”, here in England.  I should say ‘sic’ when I say NHS because it is neither National (you get some medicines in some areas and not in others[1]); nor is  it healthy, nor  much of a service. 

My son has a condition which means that every now and again he will succumb to ordinary infections in an alarming way. He got tonsillitis a few days ago and, despite antibiotics, this became steadily worse until he had painful ulcers all over the back of his throat, on top of earache, fever, a runny tummy and a painful headache. We had to deal with this through our General Practitioner. In England we have to be referred for all treatment by our GPs and we are all registered with a GP practice. This was part of the original 1948 design of the sic NHS, and was a sop to the doctors who mostly opposed its setting up on the grounds that they would lose responsibility if the state controlled healthcare. The sic NHS is now a power sharing vehicle.

So,  on the coldest day of the year (minus 10, which is very cold for England), my GP said that she had done all she could for him and he must be seen by a hospital specialist in Ears, Noses and Throats.  Could I go to a private hospital just around the corner, I asked? No, I must come across town and pick up his notes and then drive to Selly Oak Hospital, go to entrance E4 and up to ward E5 where the emergency ENT doctor would be waiting for him. She  – the GP – did not know the name of the ENT doctor. I decided to forget the picking-up-notes bit. 

This is an interesting point. The National Programme for IT is meant to connect all GPs and hospitals. It is on a huge but vague billions[2] cost-overrun of  440-770%  and time overrun  of about 5 years.  I note that the Obama/Biden plan proposes a modification of existing data and reporting. You might well have the same crazy IT problems as we have. And over and above the expense, do you want the Government to know your health records?  These would include impertinent details such as your race and the fact you might have paid privately for something. The records are available to schools and social services too.  I do not know if they are available here to police or EU officials, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. What I do know  is that the records will be inaccurate, possibly completely wrong – but that is a whole new story.

Anyway, I got to Selly Oak Hospital and actually found a last parking place (£2.90 for the first hour) and then we slithered through ice and snow all around the vast complex of buildings searching for E4, E5 or any ENT ward. The head porter, whom I met on my wanderings, denied such a place existed.  We did find some ENT type of place but the girl there with a perfectly blank face did not know if we were expected and although she said she would ask the doctor, never did. The porter passed us and suggested there was an E5 ward at another hospital, up the road. So we went to there, to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.  

[1] The Postcode Lottery: various parts of the country have different access to treatment and medicines: for example, beta interferon, in vitro fertilisation, Alzheimer drugs, funding for care homes, and notoriously, cancer drugs such as the breast-cancer drug Herceptin. The Labour Government in 1997 promised to "renew the NHS as a one-nation health service".  They promised again in the 2001 election. For example, they want to force local health authorities to pay for drugs on an approved list formulated by ‘Nice’, the quango set up to approve drugs. However, Nice are notoriously slow and reluctant to approve new drugs so these are not available for some areas. About 600 appeals for drugs are turned down each year, often for non-clinical reasons (expense). If patients buy the drugs for themselves, they are then not allowed to have any NHS care at all for the same condition.

 [2] £12,000,000,000 ish at the last count.


[To be continued] 

Posted under Articles, Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, January 9, 2009

Tagged with , , , , ,

This post has 11 comments.