Oh, good! After our new president saves the world economy and bails out every begging industry and state, he plans to revamp our medical care system – despite the fact, that for all its faults, it’s the best in the world on every level – doctors, nurses, hospitals and research.
My first night in London, two weeks ago, I flicked on the TV to see the British take on the events of the day, to see if the world had come to an end, and to see how their news format played out.
It was the BBC, after all!
I was there for a week of interviews and information gathering with the goal of doing my KSFO talk shows live from London that weekend. (Podcasts of the 6 hours are available at KSFO.com)
I half-listened to the news as I unpacked, but then something caught my attention. I stopped and watched the screen.
What caught my eye was a powerfully done, public service announcement to alert (and teach) people how to recognize four major symptoms of a stroke so that the victim can get immediate and proper medical attention to lessen the possibility of long-term disability or death.
The first time I saw it, the actor-victim was a man; the second time, it was a woman. Both times, they acted out the early symptoms that everyone should recognize. The voiceover was blunt but not hysterical. It simply said this is what can happen; this is what it looks like; if you see any one of the symptoms, get immediate medical help.
It was a good reminder for me, and it was reassuring that medical people would recognize the symptoms and could help victims.
I read the local newspapers and saw it didn’t play out that way with Britain’s National Health Service, or NHS – the medical system American liberals want us to emulate.
On March 9, the Daily Mail reported about 48-year-old Jeffery Wingrove who collapsed at 10 a.m. on a Saturday with headaches and vomiting. His right side became numb; he was sweating: all, stroke symptoms.
Being Saturday, his regular doctor was off, so his wife called a service. That doctor refused to make a home call and offered to fax a painkiller prescription to a pharmacy.
An hour and a half later, the doctor called back and told her to take him to the hospital. Mrs. Wingrove said she was alone, her husband was too sick to move and she couldn’t lift him.
The doctor refused to visit.
Mrs. Wingrove called a help line and was told to demand a home visit. At 12:20 p.m., she did and was refused again.
By 9 p.m., paramedics arrived, gave Mr. Wingrove some medicine and left.
Around 2:30 the next afternoon, after a sleepless night of pain, Mr. Wingrove fell out of bed and hallucinated. Finally, he was taken to the hospital and died the next day after surgery. He left his wife and two young sons.
The family filed a negligence claim against the ambulance service and the GP involved; an out of court settlement was reached.
Jeffrey Wingrove’s stroke was misdiagnosed three times!
Lawyer David Kerry called it “an outrageous travesty of professional care,” commenting “the NHS might do better spending that TV money on training its own staff.”
I started noticing other news.
- The Mail: “Mother dies after routine surgery to ease back pain.” Her aorta was pierced; the bleeding couldn’t be stopped. It was said the surgeon had gone home. It turned out the same surgeon almost lost three patients in the same surgery a year earlier.
- The Mail: 1,000 villagers are on a dental waiting list. Tony Blair promised in 1999 everyone would have access to a dentist in two years. In 2007, he admitted failure.
- The Times: An inquiry reported the NHS failed a paranoid schizophrenic in treatment and care – a finding, which came too late for the man he stabbed to death and the five others he injured. The report said he “slipped through the safety net.”
- The Mail: A report on cleanliness in care homes for the elderly showed that one in 60 were described as “squalid” with a “shoddy attitude to infection control” and patients “treated with neglect that verges on abuse.”
- The Mail: More than 8,000 patients were released from hospital more malnourished than when they entered; a 16.5 percent increase over last year.
- Daily Telegraph: Doctors who prescribe pills too quickly turn healthy older people into “patients.” It’s blamed on the “Quality and Outcomes Framework” which says medical practice income is based on hitting government treatment “targets.”
- The Mail: The NHS denies a new breast cancer drug, Tyverb, to women. The same day, Ann Marie Rogers, the woman who fought to get NHS approval for Herceptin for breast cancer patients, died of breast cancer.
- The Telegraph: Patients will get NHS approved drugs in six months instead of two years under plans to “speed up decisions” by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which is described as the rationing body.
See! Drugs and care are rationed!
Then there’s the huge controversy over “end of life” rules saying doctors could lose their licenses if they don’t comply and let patients die. One retired doctor is teaching patients how to starve themselves to death.
Now, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announces websites where people can rate and complain about school, hospital and police services. He says taxpayers will have “more control and choice.”
Of course they will.
I was stunned at the scope of these medical stories over just a few days. If this is what’s reported, can you imagine what isn’t?
Americans – get ready for the battle of your lives – literally – when the new president decides he’s the “big doctor in the sky.”
Tell him no!