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March 14, 2006

Our Glorious NHS

You want to go and read this. Yes, you’ll really want to read this on our Glorious NHS.

You reaction might be like mine, a desire to both weep and vomit at the same time. This is what they do with our money.

I’ve said it before and shall no doubt have to say it again, we need a bloody revolution. Mr. Eugenides is far too polite. Twice.

March 14, 2006 in Health Care | Permalink


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Do you even pay taxes over here Tim?

Tim adds: Yup. Income arising in the UK is taxable even if you are non resident but still domiciled.

Posted by: Brian | Mar 14, 2006 11:07:14 AM

You think the NHS is bad?

You should try some "health care" in deepest darkest Africa.

I live near the biggest hospital in the world -- Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa.

Queues for treatment can be 2 days. Doctors know in advance that many patients will die simply because the docs cannot get to everyone in time.
3300 beds (not a misprint) are not enough, and there are hundreds of patients lying on the floor. AIDS is rampant, and open wounds are left untreated for hours or days.

And Bara is actually pretty good. You should see some of the bad hospitals in Africa.

Basic cause of this state of affairs?
Corruption, incompetence, graft, lack of resources, and so on. In a word, GOVERNMENT.

Nothing new there...

Posted by: Craig | Mar 14, 2006 1:20:56 PM

The plight of Africa is another issue and an important one but the issue in this thread is that: "Spending on the NHS in England has more than doubled since Labour came to power" in 1997 - as Tony Blair keeps reminding us.

The question is whether tax payers in Britain are getting value for all the extra money spent.

"Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said she should be judged on resolving the financial crisis in England's NHS, after its head resigned."

We shall see. I think we should try to ensure that the Special Advisers in the Deprtment of Health (DH) see the reports on Dr Crippen's blog. This DH website shows the Special Advisers to be: Richard Olszewskil, Steve Bates, and Paul Corrigan. http://www.dh.gov.uk/PublicationsAndStatistics/FreedomOfInformation/EreadingRoom/EreadingRoomArticle/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4125290&chk=kl436U

Perhaps the Special Advisers in the Department of Health might like to comment.

Posted by: Bob B | Mar 14, 2006 3:30:21 PM

Well, that's convinced me. I mean, who needs WHO figures, independent watchdogs or annual audits when you have the anonymous account of a single doctor?

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data". The singular of "anecdote" isn't "data" either. I mean, I know they teach this stuff at university, even to economists. Try harder.

Tim adeds: Quite: anecdote would be datum.

Posted by: ajay | Mar 14, 2006 4:43:37 PM

Where in earth has all the money gone?

Posted by: Laughing Cavalier | Mar 14, 2006 4:56:16 PM

Bless you Ajay.

The problem is that these "anecdotes" are not isolated.

Let me put this another way: your hypothesis is that Dr Crippen's account is just a single anecdote and that it is not illustrative of a huge, systemic problem in the NHS which the targets and annual audits do not pick up.

There is an easy way to test your hypothesis: show this account to a large sample of doctors and ask them if it is a true reflection of the current standard of care in NHS hospitals.

Go do. We will be delighted to hear your results.

You should also have a read of some of Dr Crippen's other recent posts, particularly regarding QoF scoring. Nice measureable targets, ticks in boxes all of which can neatly aggregated so that Ms Hewitt can report on how well everything is going. Only problem is that it is absolutely meaningless as a measure of the level of care provided to patients....


Posted by: The Pedant-General | Mar 14, 2006 5:41:19 PM

Anecdote? He had a fucking picture. What more do you want?

The NHS is cracked, worn-out, overwhelmed, broken. It's the last bastion of Stalinism in the UK. It needs destroying, pronto. Most of the senior people in UNISON and half the Parliamentary Labour Party strung up on gibbets would be a good start.

Posted by: David Gillies | Mar 14, 2006 11:03:21 PM

Ajay, you miss the point entirely. In the league table, this gentlemen made his hospital look absolutely splendid because they sent him home swiftly, thereby listing him as a success, even though he had that horrific bedsore. Guess what, mate: when you can redefine success that inclusively, youc an make any institution's statistics look successful. And that is what is going on in Britain today in the NHS, in the police force, and in the schools.

Posted by: Omri | Mar 15, 2006 6:00:14 AM

Oh, well, if he had a picture that's completely different.

So, just to recap, your argument is that all statistics, regardless of source, are meaningless and everyone is lying, except this one bloke, who is completely representative of the situation at large. Oh, and the NHS is "the last bastion of Stalinism" and must be destroyed.
Well, I'm convinced.

And Tim: ho ho. But there is a reason why we scientists say "the plural of anecdote is not data". It's because an anecdote is basically "some bloke down the pub told me once". Now, you tend to rely on that sort of thing quite a bit - see below - but you shouldn't, because there's no way of knowing how true it is.
("But he HAD A PICTURE!")
Yes, yes. And www.theforce.net has pictures of Wookies.

Posted by: ajay | Mar 15, 2006 10:18:59 AM


Chocolate Rations are Up again!

Posted by: Rob Read | Mar 15, 2006 11:01:29 AM

A couple of weeks ago I put another of Dr C's anecdotes to an NHS manager. This was the one about A&E wards being divided by a curtain. Once on the other side of the curtain you count as being admitted to a ward even though you have not actually seen a doctor. In this way the hospital gets to tick a box on waiting times and get extra cash while not actually treating anyone.

My friend confirms that this is commonplace.

Anecdotes are often representative of a wider truth.

Posted by: Bishop Hill | Mar 15, 2006 7:02:39 PM

Ajay, you now for certain that at least one datum in the NHS league tables was fudged horridly. Do you know how many of the remaining were filled in good faith? 99.999% ? 99%? 75%? 50%? 0%? You have no way of knowing (unless, that is, the NHS decides to send yet another form for the doctors to fill out, a statistics manipulation disclosure form...) But you do know that bad faith is a factor here.

And at that point, you're better off relying on anecdotes.

Posted by: Omri | Mar 16, 2006 12:40:43 AM

My boy (4 1/2) broke his arm yesterday and due to the fact that we don't have medical aid, we were rushed to Baragwanath with him.Arriving there, they tended to my boy straight away at the various departments we had to go to (casualty, orthopedic, x-ray, PSAW, and the theatre).He was treated immediately.In all these wards, I never saw people lying on the floor with open wounds.Only 2 things really irritated me 1) the fact that most of the cases were self-inflicted in a state of drunkenness or aggression as well as abuse (which I know is not self-inflicted, just MADNESS) 2) the fact that one man was sitting on a bench with 3 kids from the terminal wards running around in the passage where people were moved from casualty to the various wards. He got aggressive when I shouted at a child who ran RIGHT into my husband, carrying my very heavy/sore/sleepy boy and they could have fallen, in which case my murdering everyone in the facinity would've been inevitable. Point I'm trying to make is that we were treated very well and according to my research and the doctors who operated on my son, they've done the right thing perfectly on a type of fracture which is very rare. I was impressed.

Thank you!

Posted by: Lizette | Jun 3, 2006 5:25:29 PM