Wednesday 21 November 2007

Functions and dysfunctions

I was double-booked again today - I'd said I'd work for Al in the morning, but then the meeting I'd expected to be in the afternoon was set for 10 am. So, being endlessly good-natured, Al agreed that we could go in early so that the main work would be done in time for me to set off for the high school.

The meeting, which was the head's performance management, was productive and finished by 12.30. It was, in the end, as well that it was a morning meeting as Dilly had asked me to babysit Pugsley (the baby, a boy) while she took Squiffany (the toddler, a girl) to her dance class. Tilly (the dog, female) did not require a babysitter.

When I arrived, Dilly was cleaning the carpet. "We've had a bit of an accident. I took his nappy off, but he hadn't quite finished." I was glad I hadn't been any earlier.

The Sage offered to mind the baby while I cycled into town. I'd only just come from there, but the rule is that I shop by bike. When I got back, half an hour later, Pugsley was spread-eagled asleep on top of the Sage. He slept until his mother arrived home.

Before the meeting, one of the governors told me that his wife had had a visit to hospital yesterday. She had suddenly felt ill and breathless at work and, realising it was an allergic reaction, drove herself (yes, not the wisest thing, but the quickest) to hospital. She was treated quickly but went into anaphylactic shock - my friend said that it was very frightening, especially when the consultant was evidently concerned. The odd thing was that she had not eaten anything she was allergic to. She'd had a banana and felt that it didn't taste right, but she might already have been affected by something else. Two other people in the office were eating nuts, but not near her.

The consultant wanted to keep her in for observation, but there were no beds. I see on the news tonight that that hospital has declared a state of emergency, because there are more casualties arriving than there are places to treat them. People were being treated in the ambulances as there were no beds, even for emergency admissions, which meant that people dialling 999 were having to wait, however ill they were. This hospital is only a few years old and was deliberately built with fewer beds than the one it replaced. Furthermore, the Primary Care Trust is closing beds in the local cottage hospitals, which means that people who do not need to be in the Norfolk & Norwich but still need nursing care can't leave and so block beds for new admissions.

Last night, I was out with friends when the Sage rang, at about 10 o'clock. "Didn't want you to worry," he said, "but I'm going round to the H's - they've a bit of a problem. I'll take your car." He arrived home at about half past midnight. The husband has a kidney or bladder (didn't ask for details, but I know he's had it for some while) problem and is very prone to infections. He'd started to pass blood and rang the doctor, and was told to come to the medical centre some 10 miles away for antibiotics. He and his wife are nearer 80 than 70, she doesn't drive and he was in no condition to. No one was available to come out. Just what has been done to our National Health Service?


Monozygote said...

It's been ruined, that's what.

badgerdaddy said...

Yep, totally fucked.

I actually know someone who said he'd vote for Blair because he 'seemed like a nice bloke'. I pointed out what his party had been responsible for, and all I got back was a shrug... THAT'S why this country's fucked, NHS along with it. Makes my blood boil.

Z said...

They are deceitful and incompetent and I'm glad I never voted for them.

'Seemed like a nice bloke' - indeed, and he genuinely tried at first, but he is a quick-fix man and he did not understand that you cannot go in to government with a check list, solve a problem and move on to the next. When he started to realise that and got bored was when he began to meddle in matters that really went over his head.

As for Brown - in ten years, he ran scared of any job but Chancellor. And he'd long since stopped doing that job well.

Dave said...

Thanks for clearing up which of the little ones is which.

Does the Sage usually sleep until his mother arrives home?

Z said...

Reread it, Dave, there's no ambiguity this time. The main subject of the first sentence was still the main subject of the second. But I appreciate being kept on my toes.

How do we know said...

i agree.. a friend of mine relocated to the UK recenlty and i was appaled to find out about the medical conditions there, esp. in the public health domain.
That is a sample size of one, so I may be mistaken.

Z said...

There is still excellent work done and there have been improvements. There has been a lot of money put into the NHS. But there is still too much bad management, as well as deliberate dismantling of systems that worked well, such as out-of-hours care. Doctors are expected to think of the people on their list as clients rather than patients. Now they are paid more and not expected to work nights, why should GPs agree to go back to how it was? And running hospitals at full capacity increases the dangers from superbugs, especially as many nurses are careless of hygiene.

Monozygote said...

Yes. After 18 years of the Tories starving it of funds, it was always going to be a problem.

Once they put in "managers", aka jumped up graduates with little or no experience or understanding of the specific domain of healthcare, the thing was fucked. Arrogant meddlers with no respect for the knowledge and experience of the actual doctors, and none for the nurses.

Monozygote said...

I don't think it is the nurses who are careless of hygiene. It is because they contracted out the cleaning of hospitals to private companies, who pay at or below the minimum wage, and work their workers to the bone. No time or incentive to do a proper job.

Idiot managers trying to save money, but without the know-how to appreciate that cleaning hospitals is actually an IMPORTANT job. Effing arrogant thickies, thinking they know it all just because they have a management "qualification".

Z said...

I agree with what you say about hospital cleaning, Dandelion, but I maintain that some nurses are unhygienic. For example, until recently, they did not routinely wash their hands between patients. When my mother was in hospital and bedbound, she had to ask to wash her hands after using a bedpan and before meals, and to clean her teeth night and morning. They do not stop visitors using the patients' lavatories. Although there are antibacterial gel dispensers at the entrance to wards, there is no check that anyone has used them. Scrupulous cleanliness is not routine.

Z said...

And as for being starved of funds, money splashed about unwisely is money wasted. There are still waiting lists. Dilly has just been told today that there is a 3-month wait for an ultrasound scan on her arm, and it won't be until that's done that she will be put on a waiting list for an operation. Sounds much like it was 11 years ago, in the bad old days.

The Boy said...

I always loved it when the babies fell asleep on my chest. A lovely feeling that.

As to the NHS, as you say, money squandered inappropriately and saved innappropriately, leaving chaos as the result. I will not repeat what various consultant friends and family say about the state of the NHS as it is not polite...

Anonymous said...

Whoever negotiated on the government's behalf the contract that afforded GP's to opt out of night and weekend service for a 5% cut in pay whilst giving GP's a pay rise is akin to the government numpty who mailed out the two cd's of child benefit info. It's a no brainer that one would do less for more.

As for hygiene in hospitals, does anyone know about the ratio of MRSA outbreaks between private and public hospitals?

Also, if one takes a look at who is/are employed to run the NHS, invariably they are middle class, middle management, mediocre without a modicum of real life experience, common sense, medical related values and ethics. The latest computer programme designed to enhance 'best value'(another technological faux pas by a government obsessed with binary) meant for harmonizing and improving the health of our nation is over budget, under funded, incomplete, outsourced to a foreign company, lacking in quality and value and will not be fit for purpose once if ever it goes 'live', allegedly.

I hope you, yours and your extended yours are now in finer fettle.

Pat said...

God bless the Sage for helping the old folk.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, there is a corner of the normal blogworld (ie not the sweary politic-y ones) who hate Labour as much as I do after all :)

Just about everyone I know has a dreadful tale to tell of their encounters with the dinosaur that is the NHS. The only way to solve the problems is to uninvent it.

Plus, the NHS is only 'coping' as well as it is becuase so many people now have private healthcare, or are forced to go private for operations that should be immediately and freely available to them.

Z said...

I'm not planning to make it a political blog and, much as I hate this government and always have, it's not on party political grounds. Indeed, I've found myself much more left-wing (old fashioned term that it is) than it is on many occasions. I'm not a socialist, but I genuinely regret that their party has been sneaked away from them.

We're all disgustingly healthy, Ad, although my mother died a while ago. Nothing to do with being in hospital, although her earlier experiences did not endear me either to NHS or private medicine.

Pat, you are so lovely.