Friday, January 02, 2009

Hit by the truck

Which newspaper did this appear in?

[The NHS] sentences thousands of critically ill people to death by putting them on waiting-lists a year or more long, or by denying them life-saving drugs made in Britain and exported elsewhere. Those told they may have cancer often wait months for diagnosis and months more for treatment, delays that mean curable cancer becomes incurable for thousands of people. The NHS forces poor people who have spent their lives paying tax to sell their houses to pay for private treatment. It forces doctors to lie to their patients, telling them there are no drugs that can help them, when it is just that the NHS won't pay for them. Britain has the worst survival rates for almost all forms of cancer of any Western country.

IF YOU NEED a hip replacement, you will have to live in pain, even if you are incapacitated, for years before you have any hope of treatment. One in 60 of the British population is on a waiting-list. One of the first stories I had to write was comparing our waiting-lists to those in other countries. It was a short piece: most other countries don't have waiting-lists - you are diagnosed and then treated.

Our revered system strips the world's poorest countries of nurses and doctors they can't afford to lose, and sends old and sick people on planes to get treatment in countries far from their home and relatives. It overworks, pressurises and underpays staff so much they retire early, emigrate or simply leave the profession. It manages the remarkable feat of ensuring within the same country a critical shortage of nurses with an army of trained nurses too demoralised to work in the profession. We have fewer doctors per head of population than any country in Europe except Albania. During the flu season, we end up with just two spare intensive care beds, and patients shuttled across the country in search of somewhere to stay. Occasionally, they die en route .

It is institutionally cruel, callously inflicting unnecessary misery. Thousands of patients undergo the stress of preparing for a long-awaited operation only to have it cancelled after they have arrived at hospital, not just once, but twice and more. Patients don't eat because they cannot reach the food put at the end of the bed.
The Guardian. Because:
... two years ago, I became health editor of The Observer , the very same day that Alan Milburn became Health Secretary. And what I have learnt about the health service and its workings has appalled me and completely eroded my faith in the NHS.

[I can't find where I saw a link to this. If it was you, let me know and I'll link back to your post.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was only a few months ago that I learned that when Beveridge proposed an NHS, it was the Libs and Tories who accepted the idea immediately. Labour rejected it for some time until the pro-NHS faction in the party got the upper hand. I suppose the consequence of the Labour win in '45 was that we got the stupid chaps' version of the NHS; the Tories might have introduced a more intelligent version. I did say 'might'.