posted on Sep, 18 2009 @ 08:09 PM
Hello everyone. This thread is to address many of the lies publicised in the press about the UK's socialised healthcare system. Our system is called
the NHS (National Health Service). It is portrayed in the media of the USA as a failing system that makes people wait 6 months for life saving
treatments and uses backward methods well behind modern medical research. This thread will also address the discussion of private insurance and the
myth of how everyone could afford it if they didn't waste their money.
What you are about to read is a mixture of family history and our experiences with the NHS. Please do not skip over the family history, whilst it may
seem unimportant i can assure you that it blends together
with the rest of the thread and if you skip it then you may not take the points as they are meant. I will keep it vague, or vague enough so that my
family cannot be identified by anyone who does not know us.
So let's begin.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 5 years ago. She was very lucky. You see the NHS runs a screening program for women over a certain
age. They are invited to hospital to have their breasts scanned, a mammogram. My mother went for a standard scan, 3 days later she was called in for a
followup scan, 2 days after this she was called in to see a specialist. Upon examination the specialist could not feel any lump in her breast but the
scan showed something very clearly and this is why i say my mother was lucky. Like many women my mother examined herself for lumps and could not feel
one, the specialist could not feel it and said quite clearly that it could have gone on for another 6 months and no lump would have been easy to
discern by touch. The scan quite simply saved her life.
After the specialist appointment she was within that same day admitted to hospital on a ward. Now i have to explain the treatment for breast cancer.
The usual method is to remove the lump and to remove the lypmh glands in the arm on the affected side. So if it is your right breast with the lump
then the right arm has the lymph glands removed. This is done so that the lymph glands can be examined for cancerous cells as this is often the first
place that the cancer spreads to. The problem with this is that the lymph glands manage fluid in the arm and play an imporant role in immunity.
Without them in the arm it can often lead to edema (swelling) where fluid accumulates in the arm.
However the UK was trialing a new and exciting treatment. Instead of removing all of the lymph glands they used a radioactive dye to identify the
sentinel node, the first chain in the lymph system of the arm from the breast. My mother was put in a machine that gave a real time scan of the dye
and a thin wire was inserted into the sentinel node as a guide for a surgeon.
So 9 days after seeing the specialist she was in surgery having both the lump in her breast and the sentinel node removed. The sentinel node was
examined and found to be clear, my mother was given a course of radiotherapy (i think it was radiotherapy) and put on tamoxifen, a drug designed to
reduce the risk of the cancer returning. In 5 months she'll be clear 5 years which is the time they then declare you to be clear. Although obviously
you're still at a higher risk of problems. Due to this my mother gets more regular scans.
So lets run this down shall we. After her initial, free screening that is done once a year she was in surgery within 10 days, undergoing a procedure
that was very new and only availble in certain countries that saved her many future complications. During all of this we never had to worry about
health costs, insurance premiums or anything else. My mother simply had to concentrate on getting well. Anyone who has done even basic research into
recovery will find mountains of research about stress. Stress massively increases recovery times and can even result in higher mortality rates for
many groups. From heart disease to cancer, all groups recover less well when extra stress is present.
Now for my father.
My father came over from southern Ireland when he was around 10 years old, he is now 62. After finishing school he went directly into work and paid
taxes. He was never out of work for more than a week during this entire time and has never claimed any government benefit because of being out of
work. He has been diligent in his payments to the state, even when he ran his own business. So why couldn't he afford private insurance!
My father suffered from diabetes from a young age. Insurance companies wouldn't touch him and around 7 years ago when i phoned up about private
insurance they either refused or the costs were so large there is no poossible way we could afford it. Why did i phone about private insurance? Quite
simply i did it out of curiosity as i had heard terrible stories from some friends in the USA. Let me be clear, we were not a rich family. Years ago
we were on the poverty line, we did not have heating in our home, many winters i went to bed wearing clothes, gloves, in a sleeping bag with a
mattress, and that's during a British winter, hardly the arctic.
So how could we possibly afford insurance for my dad let alone the family? Quite simply it wasn't possible and i think more of you need to realise
that many people truly cannot afford insurance. It is not because they are wasting money on drugs, alcohol, cigarettes etc etc, it's just because the
insurance companies are rather horribe. So why does this all matter? Well i'm just setting up a picture that we couldn't afford insurance and now we
desperately need the healthcare, here is why.
My father was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) nearly 7 months ago. This is a similar condition to Steven Hawking the famous phycisist,
however Steven Hawking, for lack of a better word, is lucky. Most MND sufferers die within 5 years of diagnosis. It is rare any of them survive and
sadly my father has one of the more aggressive forms. So let me take you back to the start of this and the amazing way the NHS have treated my father.
It all started with my father shaking in bed. Over successive nights he shook so violently that he woke my mother and himself. We didn't know at the
time but he was in a state of deep shock, his body had very low levels of oxygen and high levels of CO2 (carbon dioxide).
On the third night of this he woke up, very distressed and so we called an ambulance. We didn't have to call an insurance company first to see if
they would pay for the ambulance or if they only supported designated hospitals, we simply dialed 999. The ambulance crew arrived, they were very nice
guys, patient, helpful and caring. My father was taken to hospital and this began a 2 month odyssey of tests and examinations leading to a diagnosis
He was taken to hospital and the tests began, to give you an idea of the tests he went through i'll try and list some.
Numerous blood tests
Ultrasonic scan of his heart
Lung capacity tests
More specialists than i can count
A protein analysis
The list goes on believe me.
One night on the ward my father stopped breathing. He was not on any machines to identify this as there hadn't been any more problems. Even though he
wasn't on a machine a nurse doing her rounds noticed. This shows how, despite being a socialised healthcare system, the patients are still looked
after. We hear horror stories but they are the exception, not the rule. My father was resuscitated and happily there was no long term damage.
After this incident he was moved to a HDU (High dependency unit). This is one below intensive care. There were 4 beds in the HDU and 3 nurses. The
nurses here were absolutely fantastic (not to say the ones on the larger ward weren't!). They treated my father incredibly well, saw to his every
need. The machines surrounding him were of the highest quality, examining his blood oxygen level, heart rate, etc etc.
He was on a respirator as he coudln't breath properly. I remember when he was on a special drink, he was hardly eating and so needed this drink. He
didn't like the flavour so one of the nurses walked the entire length of the hosital to find the flavour he liked. Could you really ask more?
The doctors at this point told us to prepare for the worst. My father was shaking horribly due to the lack of oxygen in his system and every time they
tried to give him oxygen he'd become very unwell (later with diagnosis this was explained as his blood would become acidic when he was put on
oxygen). We spent 3 days in and out of hospital, very concerned but my father slowly recovered. After more tests he was diagnosed with MND and sent to
a specialist unit dealing with MND. He had to spend a week in the specialist unit as they calibrated a resperator he would need for when he slept.
We were given two of these respirators to take home. Each one costs around 5,000 pounds. They have a battery in so that if the power goes out the
machine keeps running. The machines will be given back upon my fathers death but there is no way we could have afforded these machines if we had to
pay for them. They come with a 24 hour call out number if there is a problem, again we don't have to pay. So what about the aftercare? My father in
his first week at home was visited by the regional nurse to assess his needs. I will try my best to give you a list of what we have received.
[edit on 18-9-2009 by ImaginaryReality1984]