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NHS Discussion - my father

The NHS saved my father's life in 1977 when a series of major operations followed by several weeks in intensive care reconstructed his shattered abdomen and replaced large parts of his circulatory system with plastic. They couldn't replace or repair one lost and one damaged kidney. He suffered for the rest of his life from a complex of problems for which he took a daily cocktail of a dozen or so drugs including morphine and warfarin. Despite the drugs he lived with constant pain, recurring kidney problems that culminated in three years of dialysis before his death from kidney failure in 2009, and leg ulcers. His care in the final three years of his life was undertaken by NHS staff in three counties, six different hospitals, a specialist dialysis unit, a GP's practice, various specialist support facilities, several ambulance units, several pharmacies, and a variety of general and specialist nurses who came to his home at appropriate intervals.

All of these facilities were provided, co-ordinated and funded via the NHS. No complex organisation can achieve perfection in all cases. The care and co-ordination and communication around my father were not always perfect, but the NHS does not have infinite resources, nor can these resources be deployed to perfect effect to meet the needs of any one person. I find it difficult to believe that any other mix of public or private health care providers could have done better overall.

Another feature of the NHS that this family appreciates is that we did not have to get embroiled in paperwork relating to funding his care and organisating these services. We have quite enough of that in the rest of our lives, and it's bad enough worrying about and supporting your loved ones through illness without having to track through paperwork too!

I also have some confidence that other people presenting similarly complex problems of care management would have fared at least as well under the NHS anywhere in the country, regardless of the source of their problems and their own personal circumstances. I don't know how someone like my father would have fared in the US, although I know that as a veteran he would have had at least some veteran's health coverage to help. I hope that a person without veterans benefits would be as well cared for overall.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
14th Aug, 2009 16:31 (UTC)
The Veterans Administration provides the best health care in the US, by several metrics. Had your father been here, he would have been well cared for. Had he not been a veteran, then it would have depended on his insurance and ability to pay. Medical problems are a major cause of bankruptcies in the US. It's not just a hassle with tracking the paperwork. The system is stacked against ordinary people and the unfortunate ones lose all their family equity.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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