Free’s a crowd in Tory-run NHS hospitals

Free's a crowd (as far as your Tory government is concerned): Our hospital wards don't yet look like this (it's a ward in India during a Malaria outbreak) but it's just a matter of time.

Free’s a crowd (as far as your Tory government is concerned): Our hospital wards don’t yet look like this (it’s a ward in India during a Malaria outbreak) but it’s just a matter of time.

Today, yr obdt srvt spent the morning at Breconshire War Memorial Hospital, where Mrs Mike underwent a few tests before being booked in for an operation at the end of the month.

We didn’t wait long to be seen. The surgeon made his checks, asked “When would you like to have the operation?” and booked it for the very first opportunity available.

We get freedom of choice in the Welsh NHS, you see.

I couldn’t help but comment: “NHS Wales is a mess, says Westminster.”

Conversation ensued, with us all (including the nurse) agreeing that the Tories in government don’t have a clue what they’re talking about – and in any case they don’t have a right to complain because they have withdrawn a disproportionate amount of funding from the NHS in Wales. The surgeon actually compared our politicians to a pit of snakes.

The conversation followed on very well from one I had with a friend last night, about those problems the service is known to be experiencing in Accident and Emergency. They aren’t any different from those affecting the health service in England, and have less to do with the quality of care than they have to do with bed-blocking.

Put simply: Wards are full of people with long-term care needs who have nowhere to go, because they have no family or friends who are willing to take them in and look after them. This means people admitted to A&E cannot be moved into the wards, so their places cannot be taken by new admissions – and this means ambulances start backing up outside the hospitals. Then there are no ambulances available for new emergency calls, because they are still carrying the patients they picked up at the last call.

That’s overly simplistic, but hopefully the point is made.

The Conservative-led Coalition government is perfectly content to let this go on because “Free’s a crowd” in the Tory health system.

Back in the 1970s, when my own grandmother started to get too old and infirm to live on her own, my parents took her into our house. They got the benefit of an extra pair of eyes to look after myself and my brother (Beastrabban), and the household was boosted by the addition of her pension (or rather, the part of it that she agreed to pay for her keep).

It was a very good arrangement.

And it begs the question: Are people now so selfish – so determined to avoid the responsibilities incurred by looking after the people who once looked after them – that they are actively trying to avoid the benefits that can be gained from such an arrangement?

Or (to mess up a metaphor) are we a nation so schizoid that we think cutting off our nose will improve our face?

That’s an attitude that started back in the Tory-dominated 1980s, if my memory serves me correctly.

It occurs to me that (and again, I am oversimplifying) the crisis in A&E is the price we all pay for that kind of behaviour.

It won’t be solved with money.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Linda Bruce March 13, 2014 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Think some people today are to busy to look after the old or ill.
    The rest are just selfish. IMO

    • slwardle March 13, 2014 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      That is too simplistic. Smaller families, women valuing their own careers or just their autonomy and unwilling to give up everything to be unpaid carers, the importance we all now place on adequate personal space, adult children having to live with their parents for decades and leaving less room for the elderly, all these factors play a part in the problem. We live differently now, and we can’t just turn back the clock. You can’t just put it down to selfishness.

      • Mike Sivier March 13, 2014 at 4:10 pm - Reply

        In fairness I wasn’t talking about people giving up everything to be unpaid carers. Some of your other factors would have been described as selfishness in the past (the importance we ALL now place on adequate person space? How do you define that?) but others are fair points, such as overcrowding due to decisions by politicians.
        I wouldn’t accept your criticism that my remarks were TOO simplistic, though.

  2. Florence March 13, 2014 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Fragmentation of the family unit and wider society, more time spent working, more years spent working, moving around the country to work, smaller families, higher housing costs, are all part of the capitalist system to keep workers from doing anything other than their definition of “work”. This is how we get to the situation you describe. How many being forced out of homes by the bedroom tax will result in another elderly relative having “nowhere” to go? Or nowhere for a relative to stay while recovering?

    People may be more selfish these days, but like many others in my generation, I have no family to step in if needed. No-one. So in that situation I would need to use the statutory services, provided by the local authority. But these have been stripped back to the extent that you can now see with bed-blocking.

    Undoubtedly some are the result of failure of families to care for their own, but I recently saw (when visiting a friend) an elderly lady, whose daughter had driven 90 miles to visit on a Saturday (teacher = no time off) going through hell & back on the phone trying to find out what care package would be available when her elderly mum left hospital. It wasn’t that she wouldn’t care, she just couldn’t. This is far more common now that we have all got on our proverbial bikes to work (p.s. this was in wales).

    So I sympathise with some of your feelings on this – I was one of those in a 4 hour queue in agony on a morphine drip outside A&E last year – but I thought the whole reason we had a welfare state and services was to support people if they didn’t have family care available, or finances to afford other help.

    And once the state pension becomes a means tested benefit, who among the working class will be able to support granny, as well as house her?

  3. beastrabban March 13, 2014 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog.

  4. […] Today, yr obdt srvt spent the morning at Breconshire War Memorial Hospital, where Mrs Mike underwent a few tests before …Continue reading →  […]

  5. Jeffrey Davies March 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    not long ago I was waiting to be admitted into morriston hospital yeshas mike states there are many there bed blocking but now the birds have come home to roost all those little hopitals and nursing homes been closed down thuss bb but the nhs in wales is still kicking

  6. Jonathan Wilson March 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    Well for one thing, the family thas has had to downsize to a 2 bed flat, because the children are the same sex over 10 under 16, to avoid the bedroom tax no longer have a potentially “a spare” room any more by getting hte boys to bunk so grandma can move in… or the “spare bedroom” was a “dining room/granny room” so the family moved to a smaller place so theres no room fro granny anymore to avoid the bedroom tax.

    • Mike Sivier March 13, 2014 at 4:55 pm - Reply

      Most people can’t move. They’d be avoiding the BT by taking ‘granny’ in.

  7. Thomas M March 13, 2014 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    I have no spare bedroom and if I got a cough and my Mum got it, it would either seriously hurt her or kill her outright as her lungs are not very good.

  8. jaypot2012 March 13, 2014 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal.

  9. Penny Ledger March 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    People often do not become unable to care for themselves until they are at least eighty, often with dementia as well as physical conditions. Many of their “children” are in their sixties, and are working, or have health problems of their own.

  10. […] site has good evidence of the choice available when dealing with surgery by appointment – but with criticisms […]

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