Monday, 11 March 2013

NHS must remain in Public domain

About ten years ago documentary maker Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize me fame) made a documentary about living on the Minimum wage in the US. At one point he was injured and went to the local ER, where as he was unable to afford health insurance he had to pay $90 for filling out paperwork and sitting in the waiting room without treatment.

This is illustrative of what could occur here should the NHS start to be broken up.

As a case study let's take an average family and look at their NHS usage.

I was brought up to believe you weren't sick until you were bed ridden. I've very rarely been to the doctors and maintain a self medicated existence usually involving aspirin/ibuprofen or Lambs Navy rum. My health insurance would be quite good. The same is true for my wife who soldiers on through the same illnesses as me and apart from two trips to the maternity wing she has been fairly healthy.

Of course there are the attached services like weighing, health visitors (a service I would much rather do away with considering the hassle we have had from a non-mandatory service), etc etc that would be an added cost or drain on your premium.

Now we reach the kids.

My little girl Sophie has had problem's with walking, we thought it was a muscular problem and she has been attending psyiotherapy for the last two months, with a total of about 15 appointments. She has also been referred to the paediatrician who has seen her twice, she's been fitted with her third pair of Peadro boots to help her walking, a set of splints to help align her feet and is to be given a pair of special tights that have plates etc to help keep the legs where they are supposed to be and using the right muscles.

The latest news has been that she may have Cerebral Palsy or a type of hereditary Spastic Parapalgia (Though I keep getting the wrong condition - it was something like that), which can get worse over time and could in some extreme cases lead to paralysis. I'm hoping that this was just to prepare us for the worse but... Anyway, that aside, the fact is that Soph has more follow up appointments and an MRI scan.

If it turns out to be the second option - again I think it is a version of this I can't remember the exact term and keep getting it wrong but it is something like that - it is something my mother-in-law has (She's had similarly large amount of tests, medication and psyio for it) and developed in her late forties, my wife could similarly develop it.

My followers on Twitter will also be aware of the deteriation of my Grandfather's mental health with a possibility of dementia as well. Well that's been moved forward and he has undergone tests for a possible blood clot in his leg, referrals and we are looking at the possibility of being put into full time care.

Oliver, my son, has been pretty good but had a nasty recurring vomiting bug which saw him have several doctors appointments. Then about three weeks ago we saw a rash on his leg that wouldn't fade once rubbed. Immediately fearing meningitis we rushed to Casualty where he was examined and given a clean bill of health. Going back to the Morgan Spurlock example, that could have cost us quite heavily and how many people will think twice before seeking medical assistance? How many cases could turn out fatal?

A few years ago my wife found a lump on my back and I had it checked and was given the all clear. Her father had a lump, didn't go to the doctors until it was too late and he died when she was nine. Not going to the doctors could be fatal.

My concern is that certain medical care could become unaffordable for the working poor and only those who can afford treatments can have them. Whilst this is good for population figures it is bad for the majority who may not be able to afford things. An MRI can be exceptionally vital, the line between life and death but if you're not covered by insurance and you can't afford it you aren't having it. I'm going to be honest, had it been privatised I wouldn't be able to afford to pay for my daughter's treatments be it by premium or on the day. How many parents are in the same boat? You'd try and move Heaven and Earth to find the money but sometimes it just isn't there. Could you sit back and do nothing knowing you couldn't afford to do anything? It would be soul destroying...

The NHS has to remain a free service for all, with the option of using private providers if you so wish in certain services. What needs to happen is a streamlining of the NHS management, get rid of the middle managers and quangos that are there to solely make sure figures and would be targets are met - pay the nurses what they deserve and pump the rest of the money into improving services rather than them being forced to keep asking Government for it. Any move to fully privatise the NHS MUST be opposed.

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