4 4 mins 11 yrs

It’s an argument that has been running in these pages, and elsewhere, for years! I suppose my views have changed little; I believe there are some good people doing their best to provide a first class service in the NHS. I believe the management structure is incredibly inept though driven by political need, not health requirement. I also believe that the NHS can be LETHAL for your health and this morning I read that the Royal College of Surgeons agrees!

A new report  highlights figures that show that about 170,000 patients undergo emergency abdominal operations each year. Of these, 100,000 will develop complications and 25,000 of these patients will die. Among the elderly, deaths can climb to 40%.

The report also says that while survival rates vary from hospital to hospital, there can even be significant differences from day-to-day within the same institution.

The report says that poor access to facilities such as scanners and operating theatres means diagnosis is sometimes slow, not enough patients receive critical care after surgery and when they do it is for too short a time. It also says less experienced junior staff are often left to deal with complex and dangerous cases.

There is also the suggestion that elective or planned surgery has been prioritised over emergency surgery and some may link this to the pressure on hospitals to bring down waiting lists.

I believe the fatality rate is 400% HIGHER than in the USA, where the wicked private sector…erm…provides a much superior service. This is a damning report which will be met with supreme indifference. The NHS is a law onto itself, it’s too big to care about such minor statistics as a 40% death rate amongst patients in this important category.

Have you ever been in an NHS hospital in the late evening, or at the weekend? Consultants are rarer on the ground than women drivers in downtown Riyadh and that is one reason swift care levels fall. The reason you cannot find a consultant about the place is because their contracts allow for this. There are important golf courses to be played and Monday comes soon enough. Do you blame the Consultants or do you blame those who agreed such contracts? Do you blame the hospitals or the politicians who insist socialised healthcare uber alles is the only way forward?

The bottom line is that if you elderly and require weekend emergency surgery, best you don’t start reading any long books.

The NHS can kill and unfortunately our society has become inured to the dysfunctionalism that lies at the heart of this “envy of the world” by decades of propaganda. I’m not necessarily saying that the NHS must be privatised but I am saying it needs radical surgery.

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  1. “I believe there are some good people doing their best to provide a first class service in the NHS.”

    A bit mean of you David. In my experience, the majority do their best.

    Your comment about Consultants and weekends is also well wide of the mark.

    That said, there are of course major problems caused mainly by political interference at all levels. “Privatization” may be the only option.

  2. Matt

    I stand corrected and accept your first point.

    I can only speak from experience re point two.

    I agree with point three on the grounds that the politicians (of all hues) make the job impossible for the medical folks.

  3. Are we being given a coded, and none too subtle, warning that at some time in the not too distant future it will be suggested that above a certain age, nothing more than minimum care will be given?

    With the all too frequent news on the extremely poor aftercare received by the elderly, in some of these ‘mini-city’ types of centralised establishments – (‘hospital’ becoming more of a euphemism, with each passing year), – is the dreaded red star&#42 on one’s medical file being used more frequently than in the past? – it cetainly seems so. Perhaps it is a new procedure for effecting a cure, – not of the patient, but for the financial health of the ‘not-so-local’ ‘Primary Care Trust’…

    &#42 a.k.a. Do not revive…

  4. Matt is quite correct, it is the very small minority that tarnish the reputation of the whole, but isn’t that really a management problem? from a patients pov all that matters is the quality and effectiveness of the treatment being received.

    Rather a poor defence to expect the patient to make allowances for procedures, whether of the medical, nursing or time-tabling kind.

    Being myself, in the midst of such a slow motion excercise between testing, results and consultation, – ten weeks, and waiting, for a simple ultrasound scan! – I have some sympathy for the role of the G.P. – but even they seem to be prone to the ‘part time practioner’ syndrome, my ‘named doctor’ only being at the clinic on a part time basis.

    Somehow I really cannot muster much confidence in a junior filling in as an intern, who stares fixedly at a computer screen with rarely a look at the patient.

    Unfair criticiam? – possibly, – but how much dissatisfaction does it take to spoil a reputation? – especially in a business so very personal as personal health…

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