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What kind of government lets people go blind?

On 30 June 2006, the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt wrote a letter to The Times and The Guardian stating: 

“This Government is committed to a publicly-funded health service that is free at the point of use and available to all, regardless of means.”

If that is the case, then why is Norfolk Primary Care Trust refusing to fund medication that could prevent old folk from going blind?  What justification can there be?

Twenty thousand people in England and Wales could lose their sight this year because they are denied these desperately needed drugs not available on the NHS.

The Eastern Daily Press has highlighted four heartbreaking cases this week of pensioners going blind, being forced to pay privately for injections to slow the progress of age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in the UK, including 84-year-old Sheila Pearl who said poignantly:

“You are faced with a very clear choice – either cough up, if indeed you are able to, or go blind. Or I suppose I could solve the problem by popping off.”

And 96-year-old Philip Hemmings has so far spent £4,000 savings on the medication:

“I’m not yet sure how long I can afford it, but when the money is gone, it’s gone.”

Cross-party MPs in Norfolk have taken up their plight, including sacked Home Secretary Charles Clarke, who agrees:

“There’s a massive issue here about all NHS resources and what is and isn’t funded. I’m very sympathetic to their case.”

I felt total despair when I read this, and total disbelief that our older generation should be allowed to suffer in such a cruel way.

Sympathy is not enough, these vulnerable people desperately need the medication they are entitled to so they can retain some quality of life in their winter years. What kind of heartless government denies it? The cost of treatment is £1,800 for up to three injections into the eyeball, a pittance compared to the cost of long-term care if they go blind.

How is Patricia Hewitt allowed to stay in office when she has so clearly failed to keep her word about providing a publicly-funded heath service that is “free and available to all”? Perhaps she should try walking around with a blindfold and white stick to find out what it feels like for these helpless pensioners, to empathise with their agony.


48 Comments

  1. What kind of government lets people go blind?

    Ellee,

    the same kind of government that will not allow NHS cancer patients to be prescribed the same beneficial drugs in England, yet can allow them to be prescribed in Scotland!

  2. Ellee, this is one of the many benefits of the United Kingdom! The drugs are freely available, but only if you are Scottish and live in Scotland…

  3. Glass Boat

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/17/ncomputer17.xml

    Good to see the mainstream media picking up on this story now…

  4. As for priorities,
    we often disregard or do not fund those things which can be fixed and can make a real difference – like keeping your teeth

    and are dazzled by promises of immortality the ‘wonders’ of hip replacement surgery and miraculous cures for cancer, or fashionable heart surgery – a lot of which is high cost surgery.

    We want to provide day surgery for complex treatments (and don’t mention complications, sweep them under the carpet or bury them in the paperwork)
    We want to provide medication for every ailment imaginable. But simply providing medication, does not mean the medication works, or that the condition has been treated.

    And with dentistry, you have to know the reality on the ground to believe it. Those who need most dentistry are often those who can least afford it. And they need labour intensive dentistry (not attractive to dentists) – hence these patients are offered minimal dentistry, whilst the problems in their mouths grow.

    Of what use is an annual check up – whether teeth or breats – if a solution is not provided or made available when (or if) it exists.

    One thing is things we cannot treat, because we haven’t yet found a cure (or treatment)
    and another is things we do not treat, though we have the cure, simply because there is no money in it

  5. Mens Sana, not into twisting words
    and this is not about ‘boxing clever’

    We all now NHS hospitals have shareholders, the State is the stakeholder, those who pay NIC and the patients are the shareholders, until someone decided to turn patients into ‘clients’ and introduce ‘costs & pricing’.

    And we all know that community centres and GP surgeries (built by ths state & councils) were privatised and GPs became shareholders in GP practices (for peanuts) – and some built ‘new’ GP practices (with State & NHS Funds).

    Jusy like 2 million Council Homes were sold to Housing Associations in stock transfers for a tenth of the market value …

    And the recent ex-MOD homes selling for £120,000 plus in Norfolk, were sold only a few years ago by government to a Housing Association for less than £40,000 each – and leased back.

    Addenbrookes hospital (Cambridge) is a Foundation Hospital – means it is funded by the NHS & MRC (and Cambridge University) but if nhs patients had little say before, they have none now. Addenbrookes hospital is not accountable to anyone – and can refuse anyone treatment. And they would rather spend £15,000 on court fees than provide a patient with £2000 in treatment (which is available on the nhs) if only to prove a point.

    Choice means surgeons and hospitals can choose which patients and conditions to treat, that usually means patients who can PAY, and conditions they can bill the government for (for most profit).

    Nothing or little to do with what patients or the community needs. And who sits on The Board of Trustees at Addenbrookes? Three guesses.

  6. mens sana

    Q9 all I said was I don’t know about dentistry, not that I don’t care about the state of the nations teeth (or yours). But someone has to decide priorities for funding and you haven’t answered who you think that should be. Back to the topic of the thread this is an area where the elderly often do very badly out of the NHS as they are often not seen as a priority, and lose out to more high profile areas such as cardiovascular medicine or cancer

    but again FYI surgeons are not shareholders in private or NHS hospitals. Indeed many private hospitals (eg Nuffield) are not for profit organisations-they don’t have shareholders. Unbelievable as it may seem to you they are not just in it for the money, but of course they have to break even to survive

  7. Elle, further to your letter by Robert Sturdy:

    The ‘specialised’ pharmaceutical industry needs to raise the funds or capital for its research and development …
    If its research is costing £5 million a years it needs £25 million for five years or £50 million for the next 10 years (at today’s costs)

    But what is not justified is their pricing –
    they’d rather give 1000 patients treatment costing £12,000 a year, than 2000 patients treatment at £6,000 – holding out in the hope that PCTs and NICE will pay the full £12,000 (adding to the NHS burden from the increasing costs of drugs).

    You are quite right why should the patients be putting pressure on the government to pay these extortionate prices – (often by reducing spending elsewhere). Seems people are good at getting patents registered, and working for high pay and high rewards in labs and research in comfortable surroundings, and less and less people are interested in patient’s needs and real patient care.

    If we are in it for the money, if we are like any other service or restaurant – then we should compete on standards of service – and not expect the government to ultimately pick up the bill of overpriced (value added) meals or pills.

    Especially when the real medical value of the pills is often subjective or controversial.

  8. Mens Sana,
    I have absolutely no problem with people paying for treatment, or having boob implants of paying for IVF

    I have a problem with people losing their teeth because they cannot afford private fees.

    I have no problem with doctors making money. But if a GP is a shareholder in a multimillion pound surgery – (nice retirement fund) – who do you think is paying for this other than the NHS.

    If a surgeon is a shareholder in a foundation hospital – take addies cum papworth – who want to be a ‘world’ leader in heart surgery – note the word ‘world’ offering treatment to the world and his mother or anyone who can pay.

    And who decides what surgery is a priority – or which patient. I presume your mother or your wife (or loved ones) and their conditions are ‘your priority’ – but that is human nature, and applies to everyone’s mother (and loved ones).

    If I’m unlikely to suffer for diabetis, heart conditions, cancer, Alzheimer’s or abortion – then clearly these are not MY priorities.

    If MY problem is MY Teeth – them than it is clearly MY priority. Why should those who have no ‘sympathy’ for my condition expect me to worry about there’s.

    Imagine if you are refused surgery to save your leg from amputation to pay for someone’s IVF treatment or boob job. You’d have a Right to be pissed off. – And it does happen!

  9. Mens Sana, said “For dentistry, the situation is rather different, as many people are forced to self-pay. I don’t know whether what you say is more widespread in dental practice, but I suspect you may well be right”

    You suspect right, and that is the way health care is heading. Choice means the hospital can choose not to treat you, choice means those who can pay or have private health insurance or need one of the surgeries deemed ‘worthy’ by the BMA – get access.

    Whereas patients who cannot pay will increasingly not be referred or offered treatment.

  10. mens sana

    Newmania:

    Its quite simple isn`t it . It has become apparent that they are greedy and selfish and should be paid a lot less.

    Yeah, right

    Also all care home workers are paedophiles, all tories are racist bigots all socialists are useless ( actually that last one may be right)and all bloggers are rude and make gross generalisations

    I have discussed my views which I think are fairly balanced, and acknowledge that doctors have their faults and sometimes represent a vested interest which can be a block to progress to essential NHS reforms, at length. I don’t really think there’s anything more to say on the matter-if you really have such a low opinion of us then I hope you find one day that a doctor does something good for you to change your mind-nothing I say is likely to do so!

  11. electro-kevin

    The NHS promises too much, far more than it was intended to provide.

    Perhaps we should have the NHS for life-saving treatments only and insurance/charity for the rest.

    What a wasted opportunity the National Lottery is – Olympics indeed !

  12. Newmania, I disagree with your comment to mens sana. I really don’t mind what doctors get paid, or if they do private work. I just care that they provide the best professional help for NHS patients, like these vulnerable elderly people who are faced with blindness. It seems it is pretty much a postcode lottery, and this link highlights another case of an elderly person who has been forced to buy her own medication, borrowing money to stave off blindness:

    http://new.edp24.co.uk/content/news/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&category=News&tBrand=edponline&tCategory=news&itemid=NOED15%20Apr%202007%2017%3A55%3A55%3A660

  13. Qusar and others have posted tremendously here Ellee. I am disappointed that Michelle is unable to defend Doctors and I think we all know why .She has nothing to say.

    I still think Qusar is mssing the wood for the trees .
    ” to provide a service for all patients – free at the point of delivery”

    How is that ever going to be possible ? It isn`t . Noone seems to want to face up to deciding what we can not expect.

    Men Sana – Are you a Doctor then ? Its quite simple isn`t it . It has become apparent that they are greedy and selfish and should be paid a lot less. Whether or not they consider themsleves to be nice people is a matter of no interest whatsoever.The levels of reward reported are obscene for people who do not create wealth and must be redressed.

  14. mens sana

    Whoops Q9 thought you had stopped the anti doctor rant but I see not-so in answer to your second tirade I will say this

    There are 2 issues here: First How much money is enough? The answer is that it is almost impossible to provide a universal health system which will provide all possible healthcare for free-No matter how much money you spend you could always spend more. Therefore you need to make sure that money from the government is spent wisely and well.

    Second where should the money come from? I think it is sensible to encourage employers to provide health insurance for their employees, as this means that the money spent by the government will go further. I have no ethical problem with people who can afford it paying for their treatment. Clearly you do and I suspect we are unlikely to find common ground here

    But why does this siphon money away from the NHS. There are several NHS institutions who make a significant amount of money from private practice which goes to subsidise their NHS service. What I think is important is that private and NHS patients are as far as possible treated in the same institutions by the same teams. Then you know their treatment will probably be of a similar standard. This is one area where the system currently falls down. I also think people should be allowed to choose their doctor.

    We can’t afford an NHS which will do everything (Find me a healthcare ssystem in the developed world which is free and where there is no rationing) so some treatments have to be rationed. Who do you want to make those decisions? Will you be the person to say people can’t have IVF or cosmetic surgery or expensive cancer treatment. If not, who will? Would you rather it was doctors or beaurocrats and bean counters?

    And can I just say again you are so wrong about the motivation of the vast majority of doctors. I guess you will need to meet a good one before you will be convinced

  15. mens sana

    Well Q9, without wishing to bore on about a pet subject…

    The reason I quoted the surgeons fees is that you were implying the doctors were pocketing the lot-this is not the case as you admit. Even so the prices you quote are well above the BUPA all-in price for the operations

    The fact is that long hospital waiting lists have more or less ceased to exist (One of very few things I will credit this government for)-you will not wait for more than 13 weeks for a routine operation anywhere in the country so who are these specialists and what treatments are you talking about?

    The reasons for going private for medical treatment are now 1) you can choose your own doctor, 2) you can access some treatments not available on the NHS and 3) You will see a consultant every visit.

    I have no doubt that there are a few bad eggs in the basket who use their NHS practice to promote their private practice, but I have not come across it in my own area

    For dentistry, the situation is rather different, as many people are forced to self-pay. I don’t know whether what you say is more widespread in dental practice, but I suspect you amy well be right

  16. Mens sana, let’s get one fact straight.
    If a National Insurance or an NHS with £90 billion – that is £1500 per man, woman & child cannot provide for the nation’s health.

    How do you propose private health insurance will do better. What proportion of the total spent on health care in the uk is spent on private health care?

    The only thing private health insurance and private health care does, is syphon NHS funds and resources away from the NHS to private health care – and private health care is only available to those who can afford it, who have private health insurance, or whose jobs offer private health insurance – and increasingly less is available for those who cannot pay, who are often those who need it most.

    That is exactly what happened with dentistry, and that is the way health care is going. Those who need low maintenance, get what they perceive as adequate treatment, those who need more expensive treatment and can afford to pay, get whatever is available – and those who need more labour intensive treatment but cannot afford to pay get – often late, often minimal, and therefore inadequate dentistry.

    But hey, why don’t we scrap the £90 billion NHS altogether – let’s go all the way – you want a market economy health service – if you cannot pay, you don’t get treatment.

    Oh yeah, and who is going to pay for all this expensive heart surgery at Papworth cum Addies.

    And what about all those people who will not be able to pay for hip replacement or other surgery upfront – and ‘reclaim’ half the costs.

    The sickness in the nhs, is that the nhs was built (and funded) to provide a service for all patients – free at the point of delivery
    but increasingly more and more doctors, think that it would be a nicer world if they only had to treat patients who can pay or who have private health insurance.

    Reminds me of a hotelier in the Costa Azul. He used to love the revenues & benefits (profit)from tourism, he just wished those pesky brits would stay at home – and just send him the money.

    Me thinks doctors & surgeons want the NHSs £90 billion, but don’t really want the patients.

  17. Hi Mens Sana,
    The Surgeon fees are only a portion of what the operation costs – you need the theatre, and the theatre staff.

    It is a fact that just as there are some dedicated staff in the nhs – they are increasingly becoming a ‘minority’

    The program where they showed the reality of how ‘surgeons’ can hold to ransom the whole hospital (including hospital Chief Executives).
    They literally determine how many operations are conducted. I am not suggesting they should do twenty hip replacements a day, but it was shown that if surgeons (each surgeon) conducted one more operation a week, the waiting lists would be greatly reduced.

    And I personally know specialists, who occupy nhs posts – who will not (cannot?) provide you treatment on the nhs (for free) – but will be happy to fit you in in their private Clinic for a private fee. I say go and work in your private clinic and service those patients willing and able to pay your private fees – and leave your nhs post open to someone who is committed to providing treatment on the nhs.

    Don’t use the nhs to trawl for patients who can afford your fees. This is what happens at the Eastman Dental Hospital.

    And it happens in every dental practice – where a dentist says there is nothing can be done (not that the nhs does not pay) and that there’ll be a three or six month delay – but if you are willing to put £1000 on his desk or write a cheque, he’ll fit you in tnext week.

    Of course those patients who need most work or labour intensive treatment are inevitably those who cannot afford to pay – and who have received inadequate treatment for the past 10 or even 20 or more years!

  18. Well, that’s New Labour for you…

  19. The cost would also miraculously decrease once the government negotiated a contract with the drug company to supply it for the NHS. That’s what usually happens. Hopefully the publicity will shame them into changing but it does seem the NHS is very bad financial shape.
    In Canada there was a big furor about the Ontario government not funding a certain drug for cancer patients. Everywhere, the bottom line is what counts, not people.
    jmb

  20. mens sana

    Having said all that I have, I none the less agree that the elderly in our hospitals do not always get the treatment they should.

    But then the elderly do not get the respect or treatment they deserve from any part of our society: from children who are not taught to respect anything at all (except celebrity) to adults who are often (and with many very honourable exceptions) too busy to devote time to looking after their elderly parents; to the government who fail to support pensioners on many levels. This is a failing of our society reflected in our health service. We will not put it right by tinkering with the hospital system or the way doctors are paid

  21. Glass Boat, I had forgotton about that IT system, I have written about it in the past. And thanks for the link.

    Welshcakes, I have read your post and found it very moving.

  22. Glass Boat

    Yes, Ellee, but don’t forget that having pissed £12 billion up the wall on their IT Programme ‘Connecting for Health’ [sic] they have to make some savings somewhere.

    Check out the attached website for an intelligent take on the performance of Patricia Hewitt [n.b. it does contain some naughty words] but it also has a link to the petition of get rid of the absolutely abysmal and clueless Patricia ‘if you’ll just let me finish’ Hewitt.

    http://www.stablesound.co.uk/index.php

    this might seem to make light of a serious topic, but humour is the most effective weapon against this evil harridan ruining our beloved National Health Service.

  23. My father died at 81 of bowel cancer and had poor treatment at a Norfolk hospital.In the end, my mother paid £6,000 for him to have a private operation at Addenbrookes which gave him another six weeks of life which were very precious.

    It saddens me that our elderly people are so helpless and vulnerable. I can understand if they don’t want intrusvie treatment for the reasons that you mentioned mens sana.

  24. mens sana,
    Until recently, I was happy to see things your way, secure in the knowledge that senior doctors could be trusted to weigh up all the factors you listed and come to sensible decisions.

    These days, following a few high profile prosecutions of doctor mercy killings and the whole media frenzy that surrounds each one, and my suspicion that doctor’s hands are more tied than in the past, with perhaps several bureaucrats managing each doctor closely to contain costs and hit targets, then I’ve rather lost faith in the idea that the doctor acts solely in the best interests of the patient. Maybe this was never the case, but it was still reassuring to believe it was so in the past.

  25. mens sana

    John that is very sad. I do not believe that many doctors withhold treatment for people over any particular age-I certainly would not do so, as I believe that most 80 year olds want to liv to be 81 as much as 50 year olds want to live to be 51 and so on.

    However we do have to recognise that treating many conditions in the elderly can lead to a futile trail with multiple drugs, side effects, hospital admissions etc which simplay may not be in their best interests. For example an elderly neighbour of mine was recently admited to hospital for treatment of pneumonia. She spent 5 weeks conscious on a ventilator in ITU before eventually succumbing. She told me before she died that she wished she had died the first night she was admitted to hospital, as she would have done if not treated so aggressively.

    Were her doctors right or wrong to treat her? I don’t know, but these are difficult decisions and often need to be made very quickly. All we can hope for is that doctors do the best they can, and do their best to do what the patient wants

  26. One of the many unwritten rules of our glorious all caring NHS, although I understand that this policy is now openly stated by many senior doctors, is that once one is above a certain age treatment will usually be witheld. I’m sure that the 84 year old you described would fall into this category.

    I watched my mother die a few years ago and the only treatment that she was given was morphine to ease her passing. I suspect being 94 years old was the reason, but it is difficult to prove that this defacto euthanasia is official policy.

    Perhaps I should be grateful that, at that time at least, the NHS trust concerned still had enough money left over after paying for business consultants and administrators to pay for the morphine.

  27. Ellee, just to say that I feel strongly about care for the elderly and have just posted on it and linked to you.

  28. Dear Ellee, I am not even going to try and respond to some of the anti-doctor comments above. I work in the NHS and I daily see the dedication of NHS staff working together, ward clerks, porters, nurses and doctors. As for your comments about the PCT, then this is exactly the kind of idea raised in the localism chapter of the book I edited ‘The Future of the NHS’, the chapter written by Dan Hannan MEP and Tim Kevan. Unfortunately the one thing that is here to stay is that healthcare needs to be paid for. Hope you are enjoying the sunshine. Michelle

  29. mens sana

    Ellee I have no problem with that sort of approach at all, provided that appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure that the drug is what it says it is, but unfortunately for most really expensive drugs the savings would be minimal (though I suspect a significant saving could be achieved on many relatively lower priced medicines). This is the main reason that drug companies are unlikely to drop their prices just for us-it would affect prices internationally as well

  30. mens sana, I feel they should over-ride what the PCTs say in the best interests of their patients. I gather from your last comment, that is not possible, I did not realise from your last comment that you had a medical background.

    Regarding the prices of drugs, could the NHS not follow the recommendation of my MEP Robert Sturdy which he outlined in this recent letter to The Times:

    28 February 2007

    Exclusive letter to The Editor, The Times. For points of clarification, please contact Robert Sturdy on 07785 328968 or 0032 2284 7294.

    Dear Sir,

    Patricia Mulcahy suggests we adopt the German system of printing prices on the drugs labels. (Times letters, 28 February). I would like to suggest we use the parallel distribution method to access cheaper pharmaceuticals in the United Kingdom.

    A recent investigation by the Office of Fair Trading into NHS spending on drugs highlighted the failure of the European single market. While it is understandable that our world class pharmaceutical industry sticks up for its shareholders, shouldn’t market forces allow consumers to go elsewhere if they are being overcharged domestically?

    This is already happening, but only to a certain extent. The system is called parallel distribution, with medicines being bought from an EU country where they are cheaper, then re-packaged and sold in the UK where they are more expensive. This system helps consumers and could also enable the NHS to reduce the cost of medicines.

    However, interference from the European Commission, supported by the Labour Government, despite claiming to be strong supporters of the single market, is preventing it from functioning as it should. What’s the point of being in a single market if it isn’t allowed to work?

    Yours faithfully,

    Robert Sturdy MEP
    Member of the Agriculture, Environment & Public Health Committees

  31. mens sana
  32. mens sana

    Hi Ellee-in what way do you think the medical profession are ignoring those in need? I spend hours demanding PCTs pay for expensive treatments for my patients.

    In the end the PCTs do not listen very much to doctors, believing us to be in the pocket of the pharma companies and unable to put our own patients plights in perspective (perhaps they are friends of Q9 and newmania). Sadly the only thing that tends to get them interested in funding these sorts of treatments is media attention. I really don’t think you can blame the medical profession for an individual case like this (but see note re vested interests above). If I prescribe a drug which the PCT has refused to fund, the pharmacy will not dispense it

  33. Clearly something needs to be done to help these elderly people retain their fading eyesight, this is such a desperate situation. How can our medical profession ignore those in this kind of need? It surely goes against ALL ethics and the NHS mission statement, which must be along the lines of Hewitt’s statement.

  34. mens sana

    Oh and Q9 the fees you quote are just a bit off: I believe the surgeons fee for a hip replacement is about £850 and for a heart bypass operation I know it is £2,275, so get real!

  35. mens sana

    Quasar9 you still have a very bitter and twisted view of doctors which I do not understand. A lot of what you say has some truth in it but it is completely hidden by your weird doctor-hatred. For example:

    “Specialists & Surgeons working both in the NHS and their private practices – are in conflict of interest. They prevent the NHS being able to employ another specialist or surgeon to work full-time for the NHS, whilst they are free to disappear any time to work in their private practice.”

    This is complete rubbish. According to the consultant contract, NHS consultants are not allowed to do any private practice unless they have fulfilled their entire contracted commitment (normally 40hrs per week) to the NHS and in addition offered their employing trust an additional 4 hr session. OK i don’t claim that to be very long hours compared to those put in by many private sector employees, but the idea that we are in some way spending half our lives in Harley street enriching ourselves while being paid by the NHS is utter boloney.

    BUT there is a lot of truth in the point that there are a number of vested interests in hte health system which prevent real reform from being taken forward. Doctors of course are one. Pharma companies, hospital managers and health unions are others.

    As regards moving towards an Australian style system (Newmania this is sensible otherwise see comments to Q9 above!). I think this is probably the best model, and one we should think about moving towards. But what it would actually mean is that the government would fund a certain basic level of healthcare just as at present. Treatments such as this one which are not government funded are not normally paid for by insurance companies in Australia (unlike in the UK, where insurance companies usually fund licensed therapies): people have to fund them out of their own pockets, so in fact many people would be no better off, we would just be more honest about the fact that if you have money you can access better healthcare (as you can with education, cars, houses etc)

    Oh and I’m afraid that we have to face the fact that the health economy which sets drug prices in the developed world is the US economy. Pharma companies will not reduce prices until the US insurers and HMGs start to squeak. This is now beginning to happen, but we in the UK are such a small part of their market that they will not change their pricing structures to accomodate us as it would potentially threaten their US pricing.

  36. That’s scandalous; it’s like the £2.50 pill they won’t give for Alzhiemers.

  37. Just saw Qasar9’s comments and it really makes one think. He’s right on this.

  38. How is Patricia Hewitt allowed to stay in office?

    Because the British public keeps re-electing Nu-Labour. Blair was always a pretty boy who’d fall prey to the predators who groomed him and he has progressively dismantled not only the health but the legal system as well.

    Patricia Hewitt just follows the leader.

  39. With the population ageing as it is, I think things like this can only get worse, I’m afraid.

    Until the “Grey Vote” has a majority, of course!

  40. Another common misconception is that the government sets the priorities.
    Where does government get advice from?

    There was a case yesterday in Law & Order where patient care was not provided for conditions that could be treated by medication (cheaper costs or false savings)

    1 – This requires a belief that medication is equivalent or as good as ‘patient care’
    2 – This requires a belief that the patient can and will self-medicate, or that the medication is available (accessible) to the patient
    3 – This requires a belief that giving a patient aspirin or more powerful pain killers has dealth with the condition

    You try and tell that to your mother if she is waiting in agony for a hip replacement – and that’s one of the darlings in today’s medicine.

    You try and tell that to someone with toothache
    A pain killer is not going to solve or cure the condition, it is just going to hide the condition till it becomes so bad – the only option left is extraction.

    Of course if medication could replace the enamel on your teeth (or even replace your teeth) if medication could remove the pain from your hip and ‘fortify or nourish’ the bone, if medication could miraculously restore your sight, Then medication could probably be classed as a silver bullet or miracle drug, preferable to surgery & patient care. But we are not there yet – not by a long shot.

    And the standards in surgery & dentistry (for more serious cases) leave a lot to be desired.

  41. Newmania, it is a blind spot many people have

    Much Research is funded thru educational grants for Research and MRC (only partly by ‘private’ business – even in the USA).

    A lot of the pharmaceutical income comes from prescription drugs – ergo government PAYS.
    Halve the prices to patients and Primary Care Trusts PCTs, make it available to twice as many patients, and the pharmaceutical industry still makes the same handsome profit.

    No, GPs (or dentists) may not drive Ferraris, but they are shareholders in multimillion pound surgeries (nice retirement fund) and I haven’t seen any established ones living in poverty or struggling to get a mortgage – not in the uk.

    Their last pay rise – and – reduction in hours, means there are not enough funds left to hire another 20,000 junior doctors to care for more patients. But hey, the GPs are happy!

    Specialists & Surgeons working both in the NHS and their private practices – are in conflict of interest. They prevent the NHS being able to employ another specialist or surgeon to work full-time for the NHS, whilst they are free to disappear any time to work in their private practice.

    Of course if they are getting £12.000 for hip replacement or £20,000 for heart surgery, they really don’t care if it is in an NHS hospital Theatre or in a ‘private’ Clinic.
    But if the NHS wasn’t willing to pay the prices set by the BMA & RCS (a monopoly) or if we had more surgeons & specialists, prices would have to come-down.

    Their price-fixing would be classed illegal by the Monopolies Commission in any other field: whether the Oil industry or Microsoft or Utilities, or …

  42. Having read the comments, I think it is time that doctors stood up to PCTs and the governemnt and said they were going to provide the best medication for patients. In cases like this, their health and well being would come before budgets. Doctors shouldn’t have to worry about making books balance. I know that’s naive, but isn’t that what a health service is meant to do?

  43. oops
    These are the questions .
    1 Where do we we move resources from
    2 can we run the thuing better

    Answers
    1 The blood sucking greedy Doctors . God I detest them , they prattle on about problems when you can see their Ferrari parked outside a run down Surgery. They really aree about the most loathsome freeloading self loving conaaratists that we have ever paid for, at huge expense ,to train .
    2 Of course by increasing privatisation on the Australian model

  44. What Pharmacetical companies are subsidised by the goverment? That sounds like nonsense to me.
    Thats one of your best posts for a while Ellee IMHO . Two thoughts

    Suffering will always be with us , its a question of how to best use necessarilly limited resources. Free and avaiable to all is not possible and everyone in Health provision knows that. There is no limit to the demand for free resources and not much limit to what might be demanded nowadays . Thsi is just the Lie-basic from labour .

    Where would you take money from . I `

  45. Elle, you are asking the wrong question
    You should be asking –
    Why are doctors who are paid by the government
    and the pharmaceutical industry who are subsidised by government
    failing to provide patients the treatment they need.

    We pay doctors to tell you what you need, but it is not available on the nhs – if you’d like sign a cheque and pop in to my private practice – we’ll have you sorted in no time
    HUH?
    Or why are the pharmaceutical industry so mean that they charge absurd prices for treatment – to cover R&D costs – my ass.
    Instead of providing 1000 patients treatment at £12,000 a year, they could provide 2000 patients for £6000 a year – no additional R&D costs – and manufacturing costs are peanuts.
    It is pure and simple greed

    Elle if you want to blame someone for patients not getting the treatment they need, don’t blame the government, PCTs or NICE

    Blame the BMA, doctors, specialists, surgeons and pharmaceutical industry who are denying the patients access to treatment – to drugs and surgery often developed in the first place, thanks to government research grants …

    and the GPs whose pay rises mean the NHS cannot afford to employ another 20,000 junior doctors to ‘care’ for patients and further reduce waiting lists.

    Not putting patients on waiting lists is not a legitimate way of reducing NHS waiting lists, it is the way privatised Foundation Hospitals propose to reduce patient waiting lists.

  46. Its a difficult thing:- I think in western society, we can (in theory) afford whatever we need to recover from an illness or afliction.

    I have a blood disorder, and there are certain drugs the doctors let me use, at my age , but if I was older I would not be given them… This is the moral problem of medicine today…

  47. Ellee, why are you surprised? The state is not your friend.

  48. It is appalling and shows, yet again, that the elderly are at the bottom of everyone’s list. But I have to say I don’t remember the Tories being exactly all heart in cases like these.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ellee Seymour - MCIPR, PRESS CONSULTANT, JOURNALIST, POLITICAL AND PR BLOGGER. » Charles Clarke omits to mention his Home Office failures - [...] Norfolk PCT is in crisis, with some vulnerable patients forced to pay for their treatment And a local judge has complained…
  2. Dear Kitty. Some blog :: UK: Blair government lets pensioners go blind :: April :: 2007 - [...] From the blog of Ellee Seymour in Britain: What kind of government lets people go blind? [...]

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