British Health: From Nightingale to Nightmare

The United Kingdom has lost its way. Despite the latest scandal in its National Health Service in which a hospital has been named and shamed for horrific and abominable standards of treatment, the media are asking if this might be more generalized. Where have they been? Of course it is...

Ask anyone living in the United Kingdom and they will tell you they are terrified of going into hospital because they know they will come out worse than when they went in - or else they will tell you they know of someone who decided to pay for the private treatment ward of a hospital because the wards run by the National Health Service provided such unacceptable standards of treatment.

Then the media asks "Will people start to lose their trust in the NHS?" Well, they already did, a long time ago. The latest furore is about patients in Stafford Hospital, whose quest for acceptance as a Foundation Hospital saw it pay more attention to funding than to patient care. The alert was raised when a man went in for a routine colonoscopy, had his bowel perforated and died within hours in agony. The hospital did not accept that its duty had been breached. Between 2005 and 2008, up to 1,200 patients died at this hospital, unnecessarily according to some reports. These are not total deaths, they are the number of deaths which should have been avoided.

The result was patients lying in bed unfed, in some cases so thirsty they had to drink dirty water from vases of flowers brought by visitors, patients lying for days in seas of excrement in their beds, patients being bullied and visitors derided when they dared to complain. Unbelievable? Not for those who have had any contact with the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. Why, a close family member was asked three weeks before he died, while lying helpless in bed, "do you know how much money you are costing the National Health Service?"

Let us be perfectly honest, this type of situation is more and more the norm and not the exception, is it not? What about the child just a week or so ago who was found with his mouth taped up to stop him crying?

And the patient that had so many hospital infections that the hospital told the undertakers to bury the body in a sealed coffin so as not to contaminate the ground?

This, after five public inquiries and thirteen million pounds of taxpayers' money spent on report after report after report.

And the bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, is once again the economic system prevailing in the United Kingdom, one which respects the vectors of market-oriented economies where the bottom line rules the roost over and above the standards an institution is obliged to respect.

From Florence Nightingale, leading the way and providing a shining example for the standards of nursing to the current nightmare, the British National Health Service is a disgrace, a shame and a festering wound on the face of British society. Ooh, and er... the Government proposes more cuts.

John Whitehouse



Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey