The following has been distilled from “Best of The Web Today”, by James Taranto for the Wall Street Journal, under “Great Moments in Socialized Medicine”. This is what we can expect when ObamaCare is fully implemented (now pretty much guaranteed with a second Obama term).
The British National Health Service (and other great moments in Socialized Medicine)
One million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain, according to a major report released today,” London’s Daily Telegraph reports:
In the last six years, the Patients Association claims hundreds of thousands have suffered from poor standards of nursing, often with “neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel” treatment.
The charity has disclosed a horrifying catalogue of elderly people left in pain, in soiled bed clothes, denied adequate food and drink, and suffering from repeatedly cancelled operations, missed diagnoses and dismissive staff.
The Patients Association said the dossier proves that while the scale of the scandal at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust–where up to 1,200 people died through failings in urgent care–was a one off, there are repeated examples they have uncovered of the same appalling standards throughout the NHS.
Well, if not a one-off, no more than a 1,200-off! The report is here. But don’t worry, everything’s cool. “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors,” notes former Enron adviser Paul Krugman. “We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
The famous scene from the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was as good a depiction as any of how Britain’s National Health Service operates in the early 21st century, as described by London’s Daily Telegraph:
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.
Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.
But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.
As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.
“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.
“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients.”
Oh yeah? Do any of those guys have Nobel Prizes?
If you ever find yourself traveling on the Liverpool Care Pathway, you’ve taken a wrong turn. London’s Daily Telegraph explains:
Rosemary Munkenbeck says her father Eric Troake, who entered hospital after suffering a stroke, had fluid and drugs withdrawn and she claims doctors wanted to put him on morphine until he passed away under a scheme for dying patients called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP).
Mrs Munkenbeck, 56, from Bracknell, said her father, who previously said he wanted to live until he was 100, has now said he wants to die after being deprived of fluids for five days. . . .
Last week The Daily Telegraph reported a warning from experts that some patients with terminal illnesses were being wrongly put on the NHS scheme and allowed to die prematurely if they ticked “the right boxes.”
London’s Daily Mail, meanwhile, reports that the LCP is for very young patients as well as very old ones:
Doctors left a premature baby to die because he was born two days too early, his devastated mother claimed yesterday.
Sarah Capewell begged them to save her tiny son, who was born just 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy–almost four months early.
They ignored her pleas and allegedly told her they were following national guidelines that babies born before 22 weeks should not be given medical treatment.
And the Sunday Times of London reports on the British medical system’s treatment of adults in the prime of life:
Parents are being threatened with having their children taken into care [state custody] after questioning doctors’ diagnoses or objecting to their medical care.
John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP, who campaigns to stop injustices in the family court, said: “Very often care proceedings are used as retaliation by local authorities against ‘uppity’ people who question the system.”
Cases are emerging across the UK:
The mother of a 13-year-old girl who became partly paralysed after being given a cervical cancer vaccination says social workers have told her the child may be removed if she (the mother) continues to link her condition with the vaccination.
A couple had all six of their children removed from their care after they disputed the necessity of an invasive medical test on their eldest daughter. Doctors, who suspected she might have had a blood disease, called for social services to obtain an emergency protection order, although it was subsequently confirmed that she was not suffering from the condition. The parents were still considered unstable, and all their children were taken from them.
A single mother whose teenage son is terminally ill and confined to a wheelchair has been told he is to become the subject of a care order after she complained that her local authority’s failure to provide bathroom facilities for him has left her struggling to maintain sanitary standards.
Putting all this in perspective is former Enron adviser Paul Krugman: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.” Don’t worry, be happy as you meander down the Liverpool Care Pathway.
Last week we discussed the “Liverpool Care Pathway,” Britain’s socialized scheme for dying patients. London’s Daily Mail reports an audit of the pathway finds that “more than a quarter of families are not told when life support is withdrawn from terminally-ill loved ones”:
Peter Millard, emeritus professor of geriatrics at the University of London, said: “The risk as this is rolled out across the country is that elderly people with chronic conditions like Parkinson’s or respiratory disorders may be dismissed as dying when they could still live for some time.
“If patients tell their doctors that they wish to die at home, that shouldn’t be taken as an excuse not to treat them in hospital if their condition deteriorates but they still might recover with proper care. . . .
“Discussions about the future of patients are being bypassed; the supportive nature of hospitals has gone. We are hearing complaints from all round the country.
“Governments have got rid of respite care and geriatric wards, so we’re left with a crisis. The Government has said let’s develop a service to help people die at home–what they should be doing is helping them live. Only when death is unavoidable should you start withdrawing treatment.
“The problem is that there isn’t enough discussion between doctors and patients and their relatives. Nobody is talking to them.”
More tales of British socialized medicine, from London’s Daily Mail:
A young woman died in hospital after waiting nearly two hours for a blood transfusion that could have saved her.
Sally Thompson, 20, lost two litres [4.22675284 pints] of blood when a doctor punctured her jugular vein after failing to follow NHS guidelines while inserting a drip into her neck.
Doctors at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) made an urgent request for blood from the hospital’s blood bank to help revive her–but none arrived before Sally died, one hour and 45 minutes later.
Now a coroner has ruled that the inability to supply the blood was a ‘significant failure’ that contributed to Sally’s death. . . .
Sally’s father, John Thompson, 62, said after the inquest into her death: ‘This hospital is supposed to be the cornerstone of the NHS in Manchester, but they couldn’t get any blood for two hours.
According to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.” Feel better, Sally?
The hits just keep on coming. “A jobsworth ambulance boss refused to allow his staff to enter six inches of water to treat a man with a broken back–because it breached heath [sic] and safety,” reports London’s Daily Mail:
[Bystanders] were stunned when a paramedic arrived and refused his pleading staff to enter the water–because they weren’t trained to deal with water rescues.
They had to slide a spinal board under him themselves and carry him to ambulancemen, who were stood [sic] on the bank just 6ft away.
One onlooker said: ‘The paramedic wouldn’t treat him.
“Two colleagues arrived in an ambulance but he stood in their way and told them, ‘I’m incident commander–you aren’t getting into the water.”
The good thing about this is we learned a new word: Jobsworth is a Britishism that means someone who goes by the book in order to be unhelpful.
Then there is this report from the Sun:
This crippled plumber horribly broke his arm TEN months ago and is still waiting for surgery to repair it.
Torron Eeles busted his left humerus bone leaving it grotesquely out of shape when he fell down stairs.
Today he slammed the NHS for “unacceptable” delays–claiming they have cancelled FOUR separate operations.
His arm hangs limply by his side meaning Torron cannot work for a living and now faces the prospect of losing his home.
The story includes a photo of Eeles’s grotesquely twisted arm. Suffice it to say that his humerus is not humorous.
The Daily Mail reports that “thousands of NHS patients with previously untreatable rheumatoid arthritis could be denied a new ‘smart’ drug to ease their agony because it is too expensive. . . . The drug has been licensed throughout Europe, but the cost has led the Government’s rationing body to issue a preliminary rejection of its use by NHS patients in England.”
The Courier of Dundee, Scotland, reports that Ninewells Hospital has become something of a menagerie:
Bats were seen on the general medical Ward 6 on September 4, and on the surgical Ward 9 five days later.
The shocking revelation is contained in a breakdown of incidents of pests over the last year in Tayside hospitals obtained under Freedom of Information legislation.
It shows that between October last year and this September pest controllers were called to NHS Tayside hospital premises on 462 occasions to deal with rats, mice, seagulls, dead birds and even a dead rabbit.
The majority of incidents involved insects including, ants, flies, cockroaches, wasps, silverfish, beetles and even hornets.
Now for the good news. According to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
AN 80-year-old grandmother who doctors identified as terminally ill and left to starve to death has recovered after her outraged daughter intervened,” reports London’s Times:
Hazel Fenton, from East Sussex, is alive nine months after medics ruled she had only days to live, withdrew her antibiotics and denied her artificial feeding. The former school matron had been placed on a controversial care plan intended to ease the last days of dying patients.
Doctors say Fenton is an example of patients who have been condemned to death on the Liverpool care pathway plan. They argue that while it is suitable for patients who do have only days to live, it is being used more widely in the NHS, denying treatment to elderly patients who are not dying.
Fenton’s daughter, Christine Ball, who had been looking after her mother before she was admitted to the Conquest hospital in Hastings, East Sussex, on January 11, says she had to fight hospital staff for weeks before her mother was taken off the plan and given artificial feeding.
Ball, 42, from Robertsbridge, East Sussex, said: “My mother was going to be left to starve and dehydrate to death. It really is a subterfuge for legalised euthanasia of the elderly on the NHS.”
Another Times story reports on the case of Matthew Millington, a 31-year-old British army corporal and Iraq veteran, who died after a lung transplant:
The organs were from a donor who was believed to have smoked 30 to 50 roll-up cigarettes a day. A tumour was found after the transplant, and its growth was accelerated by the drugs that Mr Millington took to prevent his body rejecting the organs.
The kicker: “Because he was a cancer patient, he was not allowed to receive a further pair of lungs, under hospital rules.”
According to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.” That will come as a relief to Hazel Fenton–and to Matthew Millington, if there is life after death.
London’s Daily Telegraph reports on an even more chilling euphemism used in a country that long ago instituted “health-care reform”:
“Mrs ——- has breathing difficulties,” the night manager told her. “She needs oxygen. Shall we call an ambulance?”
“What do you mean?” my friend responded. “What’s the matter with her?”
“She needs to go to hospital. Do you want that? Or would you prefer that we make her comfortable?”
“Make her comfortable.” Here’s what that meant:
Befuddled by sleep, she didn’t immediately grasp what was being asked of her. Her grandmother is immobilised by a calcified knee joint, which is why she is in the home. She’s a little deaf and frail, but otherwise perky. She reads a newspaper every day (without glasses), and is a fan of the darling of daytime television, David Dickinson. Why wouldn’t she get medical treatment if she needed it?
Then, the chilling implication of the phone call filtered through–she was being asked whether her grandmother should be allowed to die.
“Call an ambulance now,” my friend demanded.
The person at the other end persisted. “Are you sure that’s what you want? For her to go to hospital.”
“Yes, absolutely. Get her to hospital.”
Three hours later, her grandmother was sitting up in A&E [the accident-and-emergency ward], smiling. She had a mild chest infection, was extremely dehydrated, but was responding to oxygen treatment.
As Hunt notes, “Withdrawal of fluids (and drugs) is one of the steps on the controversial palliative care programme known as the Liverpool Care Pathway, which has been adopted by 900 hospitals, hospices and care homes in England.”
Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman disagrees: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.” But is it possible that Reich is right and Krugman is wrong?
Nine-year-old Bethany Dibbs of Poole, England, “was struck by a car as she crossed the road on her scooter and ended up in a coma with a fractured skull,” reports London’s Daily Mail:
An ambulance crew arrived and called for help, only to be told by their operator that under strict meal break regulations the closest additional crew still had a few minutes left on their lunch break.
The paramedics were informed it would take 20 minutes for another crew to arrive.
In the end one of them called their colleagues directly and they abandoned their lunch and raced to help. . . .
A spokesman for the South Western Ambulance Service Trust said it took its health and safety duties seriously.
He added: “In line with national guidelines which must be adhered to by all ambulance trusts, it is important all staff have dedicated 30-minute rest breaks which cannot be interrupted.”
There is, however, a silver lining for young Bethany: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors, observes former Enron adviser Paul Krugman. “We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
“The National Health Service has spent £1.5m [about $2.5 million] paying for hundreds of its staff to have private health treatment so they can leapfrog their own waiting lists,” London’s Sunday Times reports:
More than 3,000 staff, including doctors and nurses, have gone private at the taxpayers’ expense in the past three years because the queues at the clinics and hospitals where they work are too long.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information act show that NHS administrative staff, paramedics and ambulance drivers have also been given free private healthcare. This has covered physiotherapy, osteopathy, psychiatric care and counselling–all widely available on the NHS.
British health care, it seems, resembles American elementary and secondary education, in that the government has a monopoly but there is an expensive private opt-out–and many of those who run the monopoly avail themselves of the private system. If you like the public schools, you’ll love ObamaCare!
One wonders, though, don’t the NHS docs and other staffers read the New York Times? After all, as former Enron adviser Paul Krugman has noted, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
Patients who do not get the treatment that they need from the NHS within 18 weeks are to be given the legal right to free private care,” reports London’s Times:
The Cabinet agreed this week that the legislation, placing maximum waiting times on the statute book for the first time, should be rushed through Parliament before the next election.
Cancer patients, in particular, will receive funding for private treatment if they have not seen an NHS specialist within two weeks of GP referral.
Downing Street says that the two legal rights, which will be unveiled in next month’s Queen’s Speech, are designed to entrench the dramatic reduction of NHS waiting lists over recent years.
Hmm, so the British medical system has waiting lists. It also has death panels, another Times story suggests:
A father whose son was born with a rare neuromuscular condition will go to the High Court today to try to stop a hospital withdrawing support that keeps the child alive.
Doctors treating the one-year-old boy say that his quality of life is so poor that it would not be in his best interests to keep him alive. They say that they are supported in their action by the baby’s mother. The couple are separated.
The child, known for legal reasons as Baby RB, was born with congenital myasthenic syndrome, a muscle condition that severely limits movement and the ability to breathe independently. He has been in hospital since birth.
If the hospital doctors succeed in their application it will be the first time that a British court has gone against the wishes of a parent and ruled that life support can be discontinued or withdrawn from a child who does not have brain damage.
And the Independent, a left-wing London paper, reports that “NHS whistleblowers are routinely gagged in order to cover up dangerous and even dishonest practices that could attract bad publicity and damage a hospital’s reputation”:
Some local NHS bodies are spending millions of taxpayers’ money to pay off and silence whistleblowers with “super gags” to stop them going public with patient safety incidents. Experts warn that patients’ lives are being endangered by the use of intimidatory tactics to force out whistleblowers and deter other professionals from coming forward.
On the other hand, according to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.” That’s a relief!
“X Factor judge Simon Cowell showed his more generous side [yesterday] when he gave £100,000 [about $160,000] to help save the life of a cancer-stricken youngster,” reports London’s Daily Mail:
The pop Svengali donated the money for 18-month-old Sophie Atay–from Birtley, Gateshead–to fly to the US for pioneering treatment at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York.
He acted after learning the youngster’s family launched a last-ditch appeal for £500,000 to pay for the treatment last week after they were told Sophie was suffering from a rare form of neuroblastoma and needed treatment within days.
Alexandra Burke, last year’s X Factor winner, broke the news to Sophie’s mum Karine, 33, on the telephone today that Simon had now dipped into his own pocket to top up the total to the necessary amount.
Wait, we’re confused! Why does a little English girl have to come all the way to the U.S. to get medical care, and why does this Cowell fellow have to pay for it? We thought Britain had free medical care!
But wait, another Daily Mail story reports on what happens to older people who get cancer in Britain:
Alarming research is showing that elderly cancer patients are missing out on the breakthroughs in chemotherapy and surgery that have dramatically improved the outcome of younger patients.
In fact, up to 15,000 elderly people with cancer in the UK are dying prematurely every year when compared to the rest of Europe and the U.S., according to a report published by the North West Cancer Intelligence Service (NWCIS) which compiles cancer statistics. . . .
A major concern is that the NHS Cancer Plan, introduced in 2000 to improve cancer survival in the UK, has a cut-off point at 70. This results in hospitals having less interest in the elderly. “Yet half of all those diagnosed with cancer are over 70,” says Dr Tony Moran, NWCIS research director. “It’s an area that has been grossly neglected. . . .”
Yet according to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
Europeans like to think of America as racked by street crime, and also as neglecting its citizens’ medical needs. But this story from London’s Daily Telegraph suggests there may be an element of projection in this stereotype:
Nearly 170,000 violent incidents take place in England’s NHS hospitals each year, data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed.
Labour’s laws on 24-hour drinking are being blamed for alcohol-fuelled violence in accident and emergency departments in particular.
There have been several murders and rapes at hospitals in recent years and thousands of attacks annually involve the use of knives and other weapons.
Almost one in four attacks results in injury, yet only a fraction of them are ever reported to the police.
The statistics reveal the dangers that doctors, nurses, paramedics, patients and visitors face in our hospitals on a daily basis.
Some hospital A & E [accident and emergency] departments have been described as “war zones” on a typical Friday or Saturday night.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that “the decision to designate patients as ‘do not resuscitate’ is falling to junior doctors in one in five cases, a report has revealed”:
Usually a consultant should make the final decision–after talking to the family–in cases where elderly patients are not expected to survive.
But senior doctors were involved in dealing with just one in three patients admitted to hospital shortly before dying, says the report from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death. . . .
The findings come amid continuing controversy over elderly patients near the end of their lives being assigned to “death pathway” schemes.
Experts claim doctors and nurses need more training in how to care for people who are dying, because wrong diagnoses can result in withdrawal of food and fluids when they might otherwise have survived.
Then again, according to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
If women are discouraged from getting mammograms, as a U.S. government panel recently advised, some will die, but at least others will be spared the discomfort of getting mammograms. There isn’t a similar upside to the following decision by Britain’s socialized medical system, described by London’s Daily Mail:
Liver cancer sufferers are being condemned to an early death by being denied a new drug on the Health Service, campaigners warn.
They criticised draft guidance that will effectively ban the drug sorafenib–which is routinely used in every other country where it is licensed.
Trials show the drug, which costs £36,000 [about $60,000] a year, can increase survival by around six months for patients who have run out of options.
The Government’s rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) said the overall cost was “simply too high” to justify the ‘benefit to patients’.
Buck up, liver cancer sufferers! “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors,” former Enron adviser Paul Krugman assures you. “We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
If you’re an Englishman and you have colon cancer, you’re out of luck, reports London’s Daily Mail:
Trials show Avastin can extend life by almost two years.
But the Government’s rationing body, Nice, says it is not cost-effective. . . .
Last week Nice rejected the use of a liver cancer drug on the NHS.
Around 35,000 Britons develop bowel cancer each year, of which 4,000-5,000 with advanced cancer could benefit from the drug.
Avastin, also known as bevacizumab, costs around £18,000 [about $30,000] for a course of ten months’ treatment given as intravenous infusion with chemotherapy. . . .
But the complex formula used by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which looks at quality of life and overall cost effectiveness, says the annual cost is £36,000.
This breaks the maximum limit set by Nice of £30,000–a figure which has not changed in ten years despite inflation.
Even Canada, Australia and several Continental European countries with socialized medicine let patients have Avastin. According to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.” Isn’t that NICE?
Poor nursing care, filthy wards and lack of leadership at Basildon and Thurrock University NHS Hospitals FoundationTrust led to the deaths of up to 400 patients a year,” London’s Daily Telegraph reported Thursday:
Figures compiled by a health watchdog showed death rates at the Essex trust were a third higher than they should have been.
Among the worst failings discovered by the Care Quality Commission were a lack of basic nursing skills, curtains spattered with blood on wards, mould in vital equipment and patients being left in A&E for up to ten hours.
Concerns about death rates at the foundation hospital trust were first raised a year ago, but an internal investigation failed to find anything wrong and managers dismissed the concerns.
But the new report found “systematic failings” in the trust’s management, all of whom are still in their jobs. The CQC said its confidence in the management’s ability had been “severely dented.”
Perhaps the only good news in the whole story comes from former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, who observes: “And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason–treason against the planet.”
Sorry, wrong quote. We mean this one: “I predict that in the years ahead Enron, not Sept. 11, will come to be seen as the greater turning point in U.S. society.”
Whoops, wrong again. OK, let’s try once more: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
That’s it. Third time’s the charm. And do you know what, Krugman is right. The Daily Mail has the number of deaths cited in the “shocking report” as just 70–well, “at least 70.” Oh, but wait, the Mail’s Saturday follow-up raises the figure to 3,000. The left-wing Observer, a Sunday paper, says 5,000.
But does it really matter? As Stalin is said to have observed, while one death is a tragedy, a million are a statistic. And here’s a first for this feature: a tragedy–or prospective tragedy–here in the U.S. It comes from Krugman’s New York Times colleague, Nicholas Kristof, who has no connection to Enron.
It seems that 23-year-old John Brodniak has a cavernous hemangioma, “an abnormal growth of blood vessels, and in John’s case it is chronically leaking blood into his brain.” He suffers from constant pain, impairments of memory and coordination, and nausea and vomiting. There is a danger of premature death should a blood vessel burst. Surgery could relieve his condition, but he says doctors won’t operate on him because he’s uninsured, and he can’t get insurance because he has a pre-existing condition.
If any of our readers are in a position to help this young man, please email us and we’ll pass the information along to Kristof.
From the standpoint of public policy, though, the key passage in the Kristof column is this one:
In August, he qualified for an Oregon Medicaid program, but he hasn’t been able to find a doctor who will accept him as a patient for surgery, apparently because the reimbursements are so low.
Somehow Kristof thinks he has made an argument for more government control over health care, when in fact the case he has made against it is nothing short of devastating.
A mentally ill, suicidal teenager was ferried around for hours by an ambulance crew because no NHS [National Health Service] unit would accept her,” reports the BBC:
[A paramedic] wrote that the first hospital they took her to, believed to be the main psychiatric hospital in Ipswich, St Clements, “declined to accept the patient as she was a juvenile” so the ambulance was diverted to the local juvenile psychiatry facility.
They were unable to accept the patient as the staff were on an “away day”, the memo reports. It is understood this facility would not have been the agreed “place of safety” for such a patient anyway.
The receptionist suggested they contact someone from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service nearby.
When the crew got there, they were told the patient could not be accepted.
Another unit was suggested, but this would not be open until four days later.
The patient was then taken to A&E at Ipswich Hospital, but the crew was again told the patient could not be accepted there because she had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
The paramedic said: “As there was no alternative available, we had to convey the patient to the police cells as a place of safety. This was the wrong environment for this sick and vulnerable child.”
A Suffolk Police custody log confirmed the girl was kept in the cells for six hours between 1700 GMT and 2300 GMT.
None of this would have happened if the paramedics had listened to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
“The eligibility age for state-subsidized breast cancer screening has been raised from 40 to 50 by the California Health and Human Services Agency, which will also temporarily stop enrollment in the breast cancer screening program,” reports the North (San Diego) County Times:
Advocates for low-income women, whose health care the department helps pay for, say the cuts put a two-tier system in place that is based on money rather than medical standards.
But don’t worry–ObamaCare will reduce the number of tiers to one, so that rich women won’t be able to get tested either.
British health care is little better than that of former Communist countries, which spend a fraction of the billions poured into the NHS”–the National Health Service–reports London’s Daily Mail:
British cancer and heart attack victims are more likely to die than almost anywhere in the developed world;
Asthma and diabetes patients are more than three times as likely to end up in hospital as their neighbours in Germany;
Life expectancy in Britain–79 years and six months for a man–is far worse than in France, where men expect to live until 81. The deficit is similar for women.
Britain performed only marginally better than former Communist states whose governments spend only half as much on healthcare.
But there is also good news for Brits, courtesy of former Enron adviser Paul Krugman: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
No Krugman quote today, because this Great Moment is actually from the U.S., in an Associated Press dispatch from Albany, N.Y.:
As the economy falters and more people go without health insurance, low-income women in at least 20 states are being turned away or put on long waiting lists for free cancer screenings, according to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.
In the unofficial survey of programs for July 2008 through April 2009, the organization found that state budget strains are forcing some programs to reject people who would otherwise qualify for free mammograms and Pap smears. Just how many are turned away isn’t known; in some cases, the women are screened through other programs or referred to different providers.
If, as we have argued, the threat of ObamaCare is having deleterious effects on the economy, then people may die because Congress and the president refuse to give this up. But also, how much confidence do you have that if the federal government took over health care, budget shortfalls wouldn’t eventually lead to similar reductions?
The 1983 film “Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life” opened with a scene in a British maternity ward, in which the hospital administrator is visiting and the doctor shows off the fancy “machine that goes ‘ping’ ” while ignoring the patient, who lies off to the side on a gurney.
Actual maternity wards in Britain’s National Health Service are even worse, former NHS staffer Verena Burns writes in London’s Daily Mail:
I longed to sit with this poor young woman, calm her and remind her gently to breathe deeply through each contraction.
Just half an hour of my time could have made all the difference. Instead, I put on my cheeriest smile and followed hospital procedure. “Would you like a painkiller?” I asked.
Ten hours later, after she had been drugged to the eyeballs to dull the pain, I heard she’d given birth.
Her baby was healthy, but I knew I’d let her down.
As I watched her being wheeled into the ward, I felt eaten up with guilt. She’d effectively been ignored from the moment she turned up until the moment she gave birth.
Plonked on an antenatal ward until her time came, with no one to reassure her during what was most likely the most terrifying moment of her life.
No woman should have to give birth in these conditions–let alone in a modern hospital with professional staff at hand.
Welcome to the modern NHS maternity ward. A world of shoddy practice, poor hygiene standards and a shocking disregard for patients’ individual needs.
Every time we highlight a story about the NHS–almost always from British newspapers–former Enron adviser Paul Krugman weighs in with the same mantra: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
We have to admit, we’re beginning to think he may be wrong.
Lawyers representing patients in clinical negligence claims frequently take more money from the NHS”–Britain’s National Health Service–“than their clients receive in damages,” the Times of London reports:
The rise of no-win, no-fee actions against the health service has been blamed for a sharp increase in the proportion of payouts ending up in the pockets of the claimants’ lawyers.
Law firms representing patients made more than £100 million [about $160 million] last year from successful claims concluded against the NHS. Their costs, at rates of up to £400 an hour, were more than double those for lawyers representing the health service. “Success” fees charged by lawyers working on a no-win, no-fee basis–which cover their risk of losing some cases–can double the cost, according to the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA).
But wait! Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman has noted: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.” Do you hear him, they’re false! That means these claims of neglect must be meritless.
Accordingly, we look forward to Krugman’s next column, on Britain’s urgent need for tort reform.
Newfoundland and Labrador is one of Canada’s smaller and lesser-known provinces. Danny Williams is its premier, so his rough equivalent in “the states” would be the governor of Delaware or South Dakota. CBC reports Williams is having some heart trouble, for which he will be having surgery–in the United States!
Why? The report doesn’t say, but we can rule out geographic proximity, as Newf-and-Lab is the remotest of Canada’s 10 provinces. According to Google Maps, getting from the capital, St. John’s, to Portland, Maine, the nearest half-decent-sized U.S. city, is a 2,242 km drive, including a 176 km ferry to Nova Scotia. We don’t know what “km” means either, but the point is, Williams is going a long way.
Why? We thought Canada had a great system of socialized medicine for all! Apparently even a provincial premier can get better care in America. What would Williams have done if ObamaCare had passed and turned out to be no better than CanucKare?
Ouch! I expected you would bring this up. While Mr. Williams is already a very wealthy man, and could have had this procedure anywhere, at any price, his cardiac issue is extreme, and his own doctors in the province referred him to this U.S. clinic as a result. The required skills, just as if this were someone in South Dakota, do not exist locally, and he went where the best talent is located. This is not to say the standard of care is better or worse, but that within his geographic area, just as in large regions of the United States of America, you cannot have an expectation of a specialist on standby for relatively few people.
As a second matter, it was more likely that Mr. Williams could be just another nobody at the U.S. clinic, whereas if he were at a clinic in Canada he would have been hounded by the media, as this fellow has gone against his own party at the national level to ensure a better deal for his province in terms of mineral rights and related matters.
For the record, you can head up to Ottawa where–rather than having an artificial heart valve installed–an incredibly talented surgeon will repair it by hand, which is itself an exceedingly rare skill at the level at which this is done there.
The surgery Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams required may not be available in his home province, but chances are it’s available in his home country, experts say.
Williams–an outspoken proponent of public health care–went to the U.S. Monday morning for a heart procedure his office said couldn’t be done in Newfoundland and Labrador. . . .
Dr. Arvind Koshal, a prominent Alberta cardiac surgeon, told the Globe and Mail Williams is sending the message that if you have money, you can forgo the hassles of public health care and pay for quicker service south of the border.
“The optics are very poor, especially for people who are proponents of the Canadian health-care system,” said Koshal.
So let’s acknowledge that Canada has some excellent doctors, who in some areas provide superior care to Americans. The trouble with the Canadian system isn’t quality, just dealing with “hassles” and forgoing “quicker service.”
Though come to think of it, if you need heart surgery, quick service would be a plus.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph reports on allegations of corruption against Belinda Neal, a member of Parliament:
Last night Ms Neal denied allegations that she had offered to help a 72-year-old senior Labor Party branch figure get her hip-replacement surgery performed earlier if she voted for Ms Neal in the pre-selection.
The allegations have been made by Louisa Sauvage, the acting president and treasurer of the Wamberall/Terrigal branch of the ALP, in Ms Neal’s seat of Robertson.
Ms Sauvage said Ms Neal visited her home last Friday to ask whether she would sign the MP’s preselection nomination form.
“She saw me with a walking stick and asked me what was wrong,” Ms Sauvage said.
“I told her what the problem was and she said, ‘I think I might be able to do something for you.’ I said that would be nice,” Ms Sauvage said. . . .
But last night Ms Neal denied acting improperly. She said: “After I visited Ms Sauvage and requested her support . . . she then raised her pain and her distress at having to wait a long time for an operation.
“She asked if I could help. I told her I was happy to try but it was sometimes successful and sometimes not.
“Over the next couple of days I investigated and determined it might be possible for her to have her operation earlier if the operation were undertaken by a doctor who might have an earlier available vacancy.
“I rang her on the Monday and told her that I would do a representation on her behalf and that I might have some success if she was prepared to consider another doctor.
“She said she would consider that and I said I would go ahead and do a representation. I directed my staff to make this representation and they were sent the morning of the following day.”
We’re afraid the differences between the two ladies’ accounts is lost on us. We’re not sure why Sauvage’s version amounts to an act of corruption while Neal’s is innocent. What is horrifying, though, is the thought of living under a system where you need political pull in order to get a hip replacement.
Damning reports on the state of the National Health Service, suppressed by the government, reveal how patients’ needs have been neglected,” reports London’s Sunday Times:
They diagnose a blind pursuit of political and managerial targets as the root cause of a string of hospital scandals that have cost thousands of lives.
The harsh verdict on the state of the NHS, after a spending splurge under Labour between 2000 and 2008, raises worrying questions about the future quality of the health service as budgets are squeezed.
The reports found that “a damaging rift between doctors and managers,” “pointless new structures” and “a culture of fear and slavish compliance” led, among other results, to a disregard for “basic hygiene” so as “to cram in patients to meet waiting-time targets.”
What we don’t understand is why the government would suppress the reports. That makes it look as if officials have something to hide. Instead, they could have published the reports but put on the cover this authoritative disclaimer from former Enron adviser Paul Krugman: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
Thank goodness these stories are false, because some of them, like this one from London’s Daily Mail, is truly horrifying:
A man of 22 died in agony of dehydration after three days in a leading teaching hospital.
Kane Gorny was so desperate for a drink that he rang police to beg for their help.
They arrived on the ward only to be told by doctors that everything was under control.
The next day his mother Rita Cronin found him delirious and he died within hours.
She said nurses had failed to give him vital drugs which controlled fluid levels in his body. ‘He was totally dependent on the nurses to help him and they totally betrayed him.’
Meanwhile, here’s a story of someone facing bankruptcy owing to medical costs. The twist is he’s Canadian. From the Toronto Sun:
Suffering from brain cancer, Kent Pankow was literally forced to go to the ayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. for lifesaving surgery–at a cost to family and friends of $106,000–after the health-care system in Alberta left him hanging in bureaucratic limbo for 16 crucial days, his tumour meanwhile migrating to an unreachable part of the brain, while it dithered over his case file, ultimately deciding he was not surgery worthy.
Now, with the Mayo Clinic having done what the Alberta Cancer Board wouldn’t authorize or even explain, but with the tumour unable to be totally removed, the province will now not fund the expensive drug, Avastin, that the Mayo prescribed to keep him alive and keep the remaining tumour from increasing in size–despite the costs of the drug being totally funded by the province for other forms of cancer.
Kent Pankow, as it turns out, has the right disease but he has it in the wrong place.
Had he lung cancer, breast cancer, or colon cancer, then the cost of the drug–$4,555 per treatment, two times a month–would be totally covered by Alberta’s version of OHIP [Ontario Health Insurance Plan].
But he doesn’t.
And so he is not only a victim of brain cancer, he is also a victim of arbitrary discrimination.
The good news is that President Obama remains committed to bringing U.S. health care into line with Canadian standards. If he succeeds, sick Canadians will eventually be set free from the ruinous temptations of places like the Mayo Clinic.
The Montreal Gazette reports from a “thinkers’ conference” held by Canada’s opposition Liberal Party:
In a morning session on health care the conference was told that Canadians and their governments must face up to some hard facts and have “an adult conversation” about the future of the country’s health care system.
The advice came from David Dodge, the past governor of the Bank of Canada and former deputy finance minister who said medicare costs will inevitably rise in coming years at a greater rate than government revenues and the country’s gross domestic product, and require some unpalatable choices to be made.
Choices he suggested include new taxes specifically dedicated for health care or a steady reduction in the scope and quality of services provided by the public health system that would require people to either pay for private care themselves or suffer ever greater wait times for service in the public system.
“These are stark and unpalatable choices that we face with respect to health care, but there is no magic solution,” he said. “We absolutely must have an adult debate about how we deal with this. Finding solutions in this area is extraordinarily difficult, but it is imperative.”
No magic solution? Dude, haven’t you heard of Barack Obama? He just signed a law that will reduce the deficit by giving totally awesome health care to all Americans! Why don’t they just pass a similar law up north? What’s the matter with Canada?
The Boston Globe reports on the unintended consequences of requiring insurance companies to sell policies to people with pre-existing conditions:
Thousands of consumers are gaming Massachusetts’ 2006 health insurance law by buying insurance when they need to cover pricey medical care, such as fertility treatments and knee surgery, and then swiftly dropping coverage, a practice that insurance executives say is driving up costs for other people and small businesses.
In 2009 alone, 936 people signed up for coverage with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts for three months or less and ran up claims of more than $1,000 per month while in the plan. Their medical spending while insured was more than four times the average for consumers who buy coverage on their own and retain it in a normal fashion, according to data the state’s largest private insurer provided the Globe.
The typical monthly premium for these short-term members was $400, but their average claims exceeded $2,200 per month. The previous year, the company’s data show it had even more high-spending, short-term members. Over those two years, the figures suggest the price tag ran into the millions.
Other insurers could not produce such detailed information for short-term customers but said they have witnessed a similar pattern. And, they said, the phenomenon is likely to be repeated on a grander scale when the new national health care law begins requiring most people to have insurance in 2014, unless federal regulators craft regulations to avoid the pitfall.
And federal regulators are great at avoiding pitfalls! Ironically, the Massachusetts medical misadventure may be a problem for Republicans in the 2012 election. Former governor Mitt Romney, in many ways an attractive candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, led the Bay State “reform” effort and to this day refuses to admit he made a mistake.
Courtesy of Mitt Romney, the Boston Globe brings us another look at America’s future under ObamaCare;
A half-dozen health insurers yesterday filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to reverse last week’s decision by the insurance commissioner to block double-digit premium increases–a ruling they say could leave them with hundreds of millions in losses this year. . . .
The insurers’ complaint alleges that the state Division of Insurance acted illegally in three ways: by imposing a “rate cap” that is arbitrary and capricious; by attempting to peg rates to a measure–the medical consumer price index–that does not predict future costs; and by violating a requirement to enable insurers to charge adequate rates based on their projected costs in covering medical care.
As constitutional scholar Richard Epstein noted in a December Wall Street Journal op-ed, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that regulated public utilities have a constitutional right to “a reasonable, risk-adjusted, rate of return on their invested capital.” If ObamaCare isn’t repealed, you can expect to see lawsuits like this at the federal level, and courts slapping down efforts to control by fiat the price of the insurance you’re legally mandated to buy.
From London’s Daily Mail:
A grandmother whose life is being ruined by a debilitating condition says she has been told that she cannot have an operation that could help her.
Jennifer Lane suffers from such extreme and uncontrollable shaking that she struggles to hold her baby grandson.
Mrs Lane, 52, says she was refused surgery for the brain condition dystonia by one health authority, despite the treatment being available to patients living a few streets away in another health area.
She lives in Spondon, just inside the area covered by NHS Derby City.
It has told her she cannot have the £30,000 [$46,000] operation because it does not believe it could dramatically improve her condition.
Mrs Lane lives just 200 metres [2.2 football fields] away from the area covered by NHS Derbyshire County, which has funded three such operations.
Mrs. Lane, this is your lucky day! According to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, “in Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
“A doctor denied vital cancer treatment said yesterday that she had been betrayed by the NHS,” reports London’s Daily Mail. The NHS, of course, is the National Health Service, Britain’s socialized medical system:
Becky Smith, 30, has been refused a breakthrough treatment which could prolong her life by up to 20 years.
The drug refusal came after her breast cancer was missed four times.
Without the treatment she may only have 18 months to live, the NHS surgeon has been told.
She said: “I feel so let down. I’ve given my all to the NHS and I could give it another 20 years, doing the work I love. I just need this treatment to give me a fighting chance.”
Dr Smith’s NHS trust has refused to pay for the £23,000 [$35,000] treatment, although it is available from 40 others, including one only five miles from her family’s home.
She now faces the agonising decision of whether to cancel her wedding to her childhood sweetheart and allow her retired parents to remortgage their home to buy her the chance of extra years of life.
Things would be much easier for Dr. Smith if she would just heed the words of former Enron adviser Paul Krugman: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
A cash crisis in the NHS”–that’s Britain’s National Health Service–“has left patients lying on the operating table before doctors realised vital equipment had not been ordered, according to a leaked report,” London’s Sunday Telegraph reports:
Women in labour have been forced to wait while epidural equipment was borrowed from other hospitals, while other patients have been denied chest drains and radiology supplies, according to doctors at South London Healthcare Trust.
Minutes of a meeting between medical staff and the trust’s chief executive say “cash flow” problems at the trust which has a £50 million deficit, mean vital equipment is regularly not ordered.
A separate letter sent to managers of the trust, one of the largest in the country, says consultants have been misled into carrying out operations when it was not safe to go ahead because of bed shortages.
Patients, however, have reason to be reassured. As former Enron adviser Paul Krugman notes, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
Even Krugman has not (so far as we know) defended the socialized health system of North Korea. But a spat has broken out between the U.N.’s World Health Organization and Amnesty International, a left-leaning human-rights group, over Pyongyang’s patient care, the Associated Press reports:
Amnesty’s report on Thursday described North Korea’s health care system in shambles, with doctors sometimes performing amputations without anesthesia and working by candlelight in hospitals lacking essential medicine, heat and power. It also raised questions about whether coverage is universal as it–and WHO–claimed, noting most interviewees said they or a family member had given doctors cigarettes, alcohol or money to receive medical care. And those without any of these reported that they could get no health assistance at all.
WHO’s Paul Garwood claims that Amnesty’s report is “not up to the U.N. agency’s scientific approach to evaluating health care”:
The issue is sensitive for WHO because its director-general, Margaret Chan, praised the communist country after a visit in April and described its health care as the “envy” of most developing nations. . . . Garwood and WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib insisted that Amnesty’s report was complementary to their boss’ observations. . . . Asked Friday what countries were envious of North Korea’s health, Chaib said she couldn’t name any.
Wow, that’s what we call science!