Monday, October 12, 2009

Is this the future we will face?

The drive to impose a nationalized health system on the US is a major goal of the far Left. They really are quite rabid about it. I've previously discussed the failures of all health systems and why I think the US is the least worst of the lot. I'm no defender of the muddled system we currently have where various laws and regulations horribly distort the system and limit choice. But I couldn't possible embrace the nationalized system that the UK has, for example. Consider these two recent cases in the British press.

Matthew Millington enlisted in the British military at the age of 16, some 15 years ago. While stationed in Iraq he was diagnosed with a lung illness and it was determined he needed a double lung transplant. But the National Health Service gave him the lungs of a man who had been a heavy smoker and which contained cancer. Because Millington was taking drugs to surpress his immune system the cancer had a field day and spread rapidly.

Remember, the NHS hospital gave Millington lungs infected with cancer during his transplant. They also gave him drugs to suppress his immune system which allowed the cancer to grow. And when the cancer was discovered they said he was ineligible for another lung transplant because the hospital's rules. I quote the Times of London: "Because he was a cancer patient, he was not allowed to receive a further pair of lungs under hospital rules." The cancer he had, which made him ineligible for a second transplant, was literally given to him by the hospital.

The Times reports: "The cancer was discovered only six months after the operation, because of a lack of communication between radiographers and consultants. The tumour had grown from 9mm to 13 mm in that period." The hospital admits "a string of problems, including difficulties with communication, record-keeping and patient handover."

Hazel Fenton, 80, came down with pneumonia and was placed in the local NHS hospital. Doctors determined immediately that she was terminally ill and placed her in a controversial NHS program "to east the last days of dying patients." The program is actually something else entirely. When a patient is placed in the program the hospital ceases to feed the patient and given them care, allowing them to die.

And that is what the NHS was doing to Hazel. They refused to feed her, to ease her last days, by ending her life. Hazel's daughter, Christine Ball, was there to fight for her mother. She fought the hospital for days before finally getting them to begin feeding her mother again. Nine months later, the woman the NHS deemed in her "last days" was alive and well in a nursing home near her daughter.

The Times reports: "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." Miss Ball was equally blunt: "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."

Ball says that while she was trying to convince the hospital her mother was not dying a nurse asked her for instructions on what to do with her mother's body.

The Times also writes: "In a separate case the family of an 87-year-old woman say the plan is being used as a way of giving minimum care to dying patients." The daughter of the woman in question says that her mother was put on "the plan" and "her medication was withdrawn. As a result she became agitated and distressed." Justified as a way to make the last days easier for the patient it appears "the plan" is a way to make medical care cheaper and meet budgetary restraints by denying treatment to old people.

Meanwhile another scandal is brewing in regards to NHS staff members who become sick. It appears that the National Health Service doesn't trust its own care when it comes to their staff members. Recent documents reveal that over the last three years the NHS spent £1.5m (about $2.4 million) so that their staff could receive private treatment outside the NHS system. Some 3,000 NHS employees received private care paid for by the NHS, care denied to patients of the NHS. Norman Lamb, Shadow Health Secretary for the Liberal Democrats said: "If the NHS thinks it necessary to pay for private treatement for its staff to jump waiting lists then it raises serious questions about whether the current system is working as it should."

One local newspaper looked at how the NHS paid to have ambulance staff receive private care and was told by a spokeswoman for the amubulace service that "we want to get [our staff] back o work as quickly as possible so they can continue to provide services to the people of the east of England..." Apparently to give quick service they have to scuttle the NHS and go private.

The BBC recently reported that a report on NHS procedures show that: "More than 5,700 patients in England died or suffered serious harm due to errors lastest figures for a six-month period show." And another NHS report shows that one in 50 patients are receiving treatment to undo the harm done by the NHS with previous care. This includes those with reactions to medication, those suffering from "misadventures" during surgery and "adverse incidents" related to medical equipment.

Another example of how nationalized systems lower costs comes with the drug tocilizumab. This drug appears to work very well for patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have not responded well to other medications. But nationalized systems are known for being cheap and being cheap means not offering medical care deemed too expensive. The NHS has an agency called the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (which they abbreviate as NICE). NICE is not nice when it comes to recommending drugs. NICE said that the medication is too expensive and has advised against its use, not because it is ineffective or dangerous, but because it costs too much. The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society says the decision is "extremely bad news."

However, while they can't afford to pay for medication that would ease the pain of patients, the NHS can afford to continue to pay executives who no longer work for the NHS. A publication in Wales reports: "The Western Mail understands that chief executives and finance directors displaced by new arrangements that came in last week have a guarantee that their existing salaries will be protected for 10 years." So, a job is ended, but the staff member stays on salary for 10 years at full pay.

Photos: Upper left, Lester Millington with a photo of his deceased son, Matthew. Mid right: Christine Ball with her still quite alive mother, Hazel Fenton.k

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