Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just don't fall ill

Is anyone really shocked to discover the National Health Service betrays Britain’s elderly?

The report by NHS Ombudsman Ann Abraham details ten cases where patients have been neglected, left hungry, without water, in squalor and in pain.

As anyone involved with the sordid saga of Stafford Hospital could confirm, these are not isolated incidents. Shabby treatment is commonplace.

Surely the time has come for us to accept the NHS is not the magnificent social benefactor we like to think it is.

Free health care – or, at least, care which is free when we need it – is a wonderfully humane ideal we all enjoy. The last thing we want is to be reaching for the credit card in the middle of a heart attack.

On the other hand, the very nature of the NHS leads its vast army of employees to see themselves not as the servants of their patients but as their masters.

The NHS is an organisation whose principle aim is to care for the welfare of its own staff. Second come politicians who claim credit for pouring our money into its ever-open maw. The patients come a poor third.

Horror stories of maltreatment at the hands of the NHS are legion.
After Ms Abraham’s report, the finger of blame has been pointed firmly at nurses whose duty it is to tend to the basic every-day needs of their patients.

Nurses do, indeed, deserve much of the blame. According to an old-school “angel” I was talking to the other day, what many modern nurses lack most of all is compassion.
There is little fellow feeling for the human beings they are supposed to be looking after.

My friend said she recently held the hand of a very sick man who was on his last legs. He smiled wanly at her and said: “Do you know, you are the first person in this hospital who has showed me any sympathy?”

It is not all the fault of nurses, though. The whole of the NHS culture needs to change.

Because we patients do not pay directly for our treatment, NHS staff see no need to treat us as customers who pay their wages.

They think they are doing us a favour by deigning to minister – however half-heartedly – to our needs.

At the start of the fifth inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal, his second as chairman, Robert Francis QC said he’d already heard “many stories of appalling care”.

As he listened, “the question that went constantly through my mind was, why did none of the many organisations charged with the supervision and regulation of our hospital detect that something so serious was going on, and why was nothing done about it?"

After his last inquiry, Mr Francis said: "The deficiencies were systemic, deep-rooted and too fundamental to brush off as isolated incidents."

The terrible truth is that the “systemic, deep-rooted and fundamental” deficiencies at Stafford Hospital can be found throughout the NHS.

In some cases, our hospitals kill patients who should survive. In others, they cause pain and humiliation.

Yet still we regard the NHS as some kind of totem, to be worshipped and protected from every attempt at change or reform.

One terrible day, each of us will fall into its clutches. When we do, of course we want happy, well-paid and well-trained staff to care for us.

The Government’s plans to reform the NHS, by giving family doctors the money to buy services, may help. Perhaps they will refuse to send patients to the most inhumane and degrading hospitals which will, as a result, be forced out of business.

Somehow I doubt if it’ll work like that. GPs are part of the problem. Every time I see my own doctor’s BMW with its personalised number plate, I think we must be paying him too much.

I never get a chance to discuss this with him, however, because it’s almost impossible to get an appointment in less than three weeks’ time.

Perhaps he thinks that, by delaying it so long, the patient will either be cured of their ailments and won’t need to be seen at all or they’ll be dead.


Anne Palmer said...

You wrote, "The Government’s plans to reform the NHS, by giving family doctors the money to buy services, may help". Are you sure about that Nigel?

Yet The Times (In 2003), which reported that if (and we may not have that option of “if” one day) we join the Euro, the European Central Bank had warned Britain it might have to give up its National Health Service. Even the Bolton Evening News, May 2003 reported that, “Britain would be forced to scrap the NHS if we joined the euro, so warns the ECB, saying free health care could be slashed to just emergency services”.

Also, “The ECB recommends jettisoning the NHS in favour of private health care, saying Britain’s aging population will send NHS costs soaring, and euro-zone rules would not allow Gordon Brown to borrow necessary funds to foot the bill”. Does Britain have an aging population more so than any other country?

William Hague has stated that, "Britain will not join the euro in this Parliament"? Yet quite clearly in the Treaty of Lisbon, it states, “That the Currency of the Union shall be the Euro”, and although the UK has an “opt out” on it, I jog your memory that there was an ‘opt out’ on the European Investigation Order (EIO) yet the first thing this Government did was to “opt in” when there was absolutely no need to do so (Mrs May looked most uncomfortable when she made that speech). So, how long, once the NHS has been ripped apart, will it be before this Country “opts it” to the Euro? The nex Parliament eh?

Anne Palmer said...


Do not bother to get old in England,
Or expect Councils to help you at all,
Do not expect to have help or a “Carer”
For such hope’s are going to fall.
If you live on your own and are lonely,
And you have a job to look after yourself,
Your “file” will be put with others,
Way up high on the Council’s shelf.

Never get old in THIS Country,
Never admit you are as old as your age,
Too old to get out for the shopping,
Far too old now to get in a rage.
It’s so easy to pick on the old,
For they are vulnerable as well,
With no one around to speak for them,
Or to care if their lives now, are Hell.

Take heed of this advice I give you,
Whatever you do, don’t get old,
I know that I’m getting on a bit,
At least, that’s what I’ve been told,
There are, I believe expert “Carers”,
That will “care” for you, at times,
As long as you don’t live in England,
For you won’t ‘fit their Criteria’ you’ll find!

For years folk have paid their rent and their tax,
Without any ‘hand out’ or help,
Paying out all of their working days,
With never a thought for their self.
Who would have thought such times would come,
To the old, in this Country of ours?
When those in “high places” cared not about
Those that survived those wars?

So many friends not here now,
Like shadows in the night, now gone,
Just memories in fleeting moments,
But quiet in dignity, the old have won.
For come the day when the young grow old,
And there is no one that gives a ‘toss’,
Only then will those in high places,
Realise what this great nation has lost.

Had they cared for the old and put first
Their country and their own land,
They would not fear getting old,
At least, not in their own ENGLAND.