Saturday, January 03, 2009

But the medical care was free....

Stewart Fleming was lucky, according to some. He lived in England which has nationalized health care. I won't say his treatment was free, after all he was very heavily taxed to pay for the care so that it would be there when he needed it.

And he needed it. Mr. Fleming, 37, was attacked by a virus that was devestating his body. His physician was horrified by what he found and called the local hospital to tell them of Mr. Fleming's condition. The doctor gave Fleming's wife, Sarah, a note explaining to the hospital exactly how urgent Mr. Fleming's condition was. The virus was attacking his heart and other major organs. The matter was very serious indeed.

When the Fleming family arrived at Medway Maritime Hospital, Sarah gave the staff the note from the physician urging the immediate admission of the father of two. Sarah was told to get to the end of the line and wait. The English National Health Service has rules about quickly a patient must be seen after admission to the hospital. As I've reported before the way the NHS gets around the rule is to simple force sick patients to wait and wait and wait before they admit them. By shifting the waiting time to "pre-admission" they can claim prompt service after admissions. A patient, who can't be seen for eight hours is thus left sitting for five hours before admission and then the NHS claims the patient only had to wait three after since the "official" waiting time only begins at admission.

And that is what happened to Mr. Fleming. The hospital refused to admit him immediately. Instead they left him waiting for hours. First, he waited for hours before he was admitted and then he waited hours before seen by a physician. And this was an urgent case. Sarah Fleming said they arrived at in Emergency care "before 5:30 pm. He was finally called through to be examined at 11 pm."

As Mr. Fleming was waiting the virus continued to attack his heart and his liver and his kidneys. He was put into a medically induced coma but that didn't help. The doctors amputated a leg that was infected hoping that would help. Unfortunately it was too late. The virus had spread too far and a few days later Fleming died. But the care was free (if you don't count the taxes)!

When the Medway NHS Foundation Trust was asked to comment about their treatment Mr. Fleming the spokeswoman for the government hosptial said: "Due to patient confidentiality we are unable to discuss any details." See, even now they are just thinking of Mr. Fleming's well-being. Fleming leaves behind his wife of 15 years, Sarah, his daughter Lauren, 14, and a son, Matthew, 12.

The photo shows Mr. Fleming in the emergency ward, in severe pain, as he's waiting to be treated.

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