Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The National Un-healthy Service

Debi has been posting for a while about her trials and tribulations with her dad and the health service that we are all very proud of, yes, we are, aren't we?. Her almost daily rounds of mailing and making phone calls about the care her dad should be receiving are enough to make me grind my teeth to stumps (oh no, can't do that - dentist bill!).

I am not a sicky, and neither is anyone in my family, but every now and again we get something that can't be treated with homeopathy, or a nice rest in bed. I know that my family are no different from any other, and we trot off to see the quack maybe once a year, hardly a drain on national resources.
In our sparse sickness careers it has come to my attention that not once, but many times, the NHS has failed us badly. We have nearly paid the Ferryman for one adult and one child ticket thanks to the NHS - one undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy (me) and one urine infection cleverly disguised as pneumonia (small fecker). At the time you sort of count your blessings that you managed to survive, thanking the Great Gods of Alive n' Kicking that no matter how hard they tried they couldn't kill you off.
It is only in later months/years that you look back and say "Whoa, hang on a minute". It's not just your 'life in their hands' business either, the small things are often the ones that grate. When my dad was busy dying from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma he didn't notice the filthy oncology ward or the fact that we had to bring him in extra blankets from home because they had run out. When Big Fecker had a gall stone removed, he was left alone for hours on end because there was only two staff on for a ward of about 30 teens and kids.

We could blame this debacle on the fact that all our small hospitals have closed and one huge city-like monstrosity has replaced them - top heavy in management and bottom light in care makes us all a little nervous if we have to have some sort of procedure. I was extremely grateful for giving birth to both the Feckers in record time and escaping before they could add us to a growing list of complainers.

I have worked full time for most of my adult life. I am a middle income earner - meaning I can claim for nothing and yet pay full whack for everything. I don't begrudge a penny to the needy but when my family is needy I would expect to get the treatment I deserve.
The rest of the world still holds us up as an example of how it should be - health care on an equal footing for all, but it isn't, it's lies. You can pay for private medicine and receive the best care but are still expected to contribute to this sickly elephant. I totally believe in a National Health Service but I am starting to think that a stay in hospital is more akin to death row than a place in which to return to health.

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16 comments:

Shameless said...

My few experiences in French hospitals have been good ... there seems to be plenty of staff and resources, which is probably why the country's not well off in terms of growth and cutting its deficit! I hope Sarkozy doesn't take a hammer to too much of what works well.

Minx said...

Oh, there is stuff that works, Seamus, but there seems to be so much more room for error and sloppy service that wouldn't hold up in private medicine.

Debi said...

One of the reasons I don't go down the road of making complaints is that I'm scared of diverting already scarce resources away from patient care and into handling complaints.

More than a single problem - one is under resourcing (big time), another is piss poor pay for the workers at the sticky end, and then there's bureaucracy, targets, inefficiency ...

Oh don't start me off ...

Verilion said...

To be honest I'm not sure that the rest of the world is looking at Britain anymore. They are certainly not here, patients get sent over to France for hip jobs to cut down waiting lists.
The NHS was left to flounder and hemorrhage in the 80's and there is so much wrong with it now that it's like throwing good money after bad. Treatments that are readily available in Europe are turned down in the UK because they are too expensive. It's a crying shame, the idea of the NHS was a great one, but somewhere along the line we all got a little greedy and decided to have a little more money in our pockets and pay less for public services. The legacy of Thatcherism hey!

apprentice said...

I'm not sure what the solution is, but part of it was getting rid of dedicated support staff, cleaner and auxilaries all to save on their pittance of a pension, when thery'll have to claim a means tested benefit anyway.

That and high bed occupancy, 90% on some wards, so there's no time to clean up as a revolving door of patients pass through.

The NHS saved my life, but it also failed to diagnosis my breast cancer for well over a year, simply because the GPs, generalists, were not keen to refer me to the breast unit as 90% of the time it's nothing to worry about.

gregra&gar said...

For all my loved ones who have passed, the hospital was the last stop before the funeral home. Homeopathy to treat communicable illness and self awareness to prevent accidental injury have kept me from talking to a doctor since my hypochondriac, registered nurse of a wife left thirty-five years ago. At 68, I've never felt better.

mutleythedog said...

You want to check the number of MRSA cases in private hospitals...??

I think it is still none.

Roberta said...

Maybe we will send Hillary over to fix it for you. (She said "tongue in cheek)

john.g. said...

I must be lucky, as I haven't seen a doctor for over seven years(accident).

Saaleha said...

and i thought it was only a south african problem...

Minx said...

Debi, I've found that when dealing with your own family's health the only answer when you have to fight for them is to purchase a pair of platform boots and a megaphone. If we hadn't done this then my Small Fecker would be dead.

That woman has a lot to answer for, V, but then so has every government since. They will never get it completely right but if they stopped blaming everyone else maybe they could concentrate their efforts.

I maybe should not have made the statement, Apprentice, without having some inkling of an answer.

I strongly believe, G&G, that a positive mind keeps the body healthy and able to heal quickly. I go to the doc when there is no other answer.

Muts, you're right, we have to pay for cleanliness.

Thanks, Roberta, but she may be better off dealing with you lot!

I think you attend the pub surgery quite often though, John G - heh.

Possibly global, Saaleha. Alternative medicine is growing here and I am sure that the way forward is is to treat the whole person rather than the symptoms. Dehumanising the service has just caused more problems.

That's so pants said...

Hi Minxie

My (thankfully) limited experience of the NHS is that you are jolly lucky to survive it. I think many people feel the same way as Debi - that initiating a complaint simply kicks in a massive bureaucracy that focuses on addressing the complaint and completely ignores the person on whose behalf you're attempting to advocate.

It's frightening. Sorry, Halloween.

xxx

Pants

Minx said...

But do we just sit back and watch those we love not getting the care they deserve?

NO!

Major foot stamping is required right now otherwise we may as well just buy a twelve bore and have done with it/them and save us/them all the suffering.

leslie said...

Thank you Minx for creating this discussion. American pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are running the show here. How much of a part do they play there?

Debi said...

Ah but you see I've found the foot stamping is best done in private. The best way to get what I need for dad seems to be by being uber nice, understanding and non-critical. It costs me - big time - but I have to keep my priorities clear.

And then turn to homoeopathy to deal with the stress!

pundy said...

The thing that gets me about the NHS is what makes the politicians think they are competent to run such a huge organisation. I simply don't believe their constant meddling makes for efficiency or proper strategic direction. The end result is fair neither to the people who work in the Health Service nor the patients whose lives depend on it.