NHS Wales: Better than you’ve been told

This was not the actual ambulance involved in the case mentioned below. It is intended to be a representative picture of an ambulance. We mention this to head off anyone who wants to point out that it's the wrong colour.

This was not the actual ambulance involved in the case mentioned below. It is intended to be a representative picture of an ambulance. We mention this to head off anyone who wants to point out that it’s the wrong colour.

Readers of this blog will know that Vox Political is a staunch supporter of the National Health Service here in Wales which, under Welsh Labour, remains a nationalised system and still works better than the part-privatised Tory/Coalition patchwork on offer in England.

The site has good evidence of the choice available when dealing with surgery by appointment – but with criticisms focusing on emergency treatment, I have been frustrated by my inability to comment on this aspect of the service from first-hand experience.

Now I have first-hand experience.

Around 5pm today, a lady visiting Casa Vox had a fainting fit, directly in front of yr obdt srvt. Her speech slowed down, her arms and legs started to shake, and she folded up – concertina-like – and dropped to the floor (banging her head on a low cabinet – this was in the kitchen – because I wasn’t fast enough to catch her).

Attempts to revive her seemed to succeed partially, but then she passed out completely.

So Mrs Mike dialled 999 and asked for an ambulance.

What followed was enough to convince me of one fact:

Everything you have heard about NHS Wales, from Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, is wrong.

Even where they have singled out known problems, they are wrong because their solutions are wrong.

They haven’t experienced NHS Wales’ emergency teams in action; they are wrong.

The ambulance arrived within four minutes of the call.

Two paramedics installed themselves in the kitchen and interrogated Mrs Mike and Yrs Truly, while carrying out thorough tests on the unconscious lady.

When they decided they were happy to move her, they brought in a wheelchair and transferred her to their ambulance. Mrs Mike dealt with them after that but they were able to revive the poorly lady and she was able to stroll back in (with the aid of sticks) around 90 minutes after her attack.

This was not a case that required hospitalisation, although the paramedics had discussed it with us; they were considering three hospitals at one point and would have made the journey if necessary. In the end, it was not.

Instead, the paramedics were able to do everything that needed to be done at the scene, cutting out any extra strain on ambulance time and obviating pressure on A&E departments.

Yes, this was a minor case.

But it proved that this blog’s faith in NHS Wales is well-founded.

Yes, it is an extremely subjective viewpoint.

But if anybody wants to put forward a different view, all we have to do is ask:

What’s your experience?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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20 thoughts on “NHS Wales: Better than you’ve been told

  1. Michele Poet

    When my elderly mum fell down the stairs a few years back the ambulance arrived within six minutes and they took her to the local A&E (Morriston) where we had a massively long wait – but it was a Saturday night and there had been a car crash which took priority and my mum was ok really just a bit bruised and shaken.

    In the past when my husband fell and knocked himself out when we lived in the South of England and when I had a scare with my baby son when we lived in Nottingham both times the ambulance arrived in minutes. Obviously there are people who have had bad experiences and each time should be learned from to reduce the likelihood of it happening again – but I don’t think the services can be described as worse under Labour control. The times we lived in England and had good ambulance arrival times was under a Labour government.

    1. Methusalada

      I was going to mention that all GP’s have an emergency service but I am wrong that. I am lucky my GP service has one. Maybe all you young people who have elderly Mums & Dads should stand up & fight for one. The elderly can’t keep on fighting for the NHS or GP’s they done their bit.

  2. Steve O'Gorman

    I’m in South Wales, and I’d like to add my own observation to this. About a year and a half ago, late one night, a friend of mine keeled over in the pub. He’s got a history of cardiovascular trouble, and it seemed to us that he was showing signs of having had a stroke. We rang 999, spent ages on the phone trying to convince the operator that we weren’t wasting her time, and then spent a further forty minutes waiting while the ambulance came back from the WRONG pub – a ten mile round trip out of the way.
    While my own experiences of the NHS have been (mostly) flawless, other friends haven’t been so lucky. Ann Clwyd is my MP, so I’ve been following her story with great interest. I attended one of her parliamentary sessions last summer. We heard some real horror stories from patients, relatives and one ex-nurse who was bullied out of the profession for speaking out about the conditions she’d seen on the ward. It’s good to know that your friend received prompt and effective care, but not everyone is that lucky.

    1. Mike Sivier

      That’s a fair comment.
      As far as I’m concerned, NHS Wales is still working fine.
      And I’ve yet to meet a Tory/Lib Dem MP who’s had direct experience of it.

  3. jaypot2012

    I’ve been unlucky enough to have needed NHS services and ambulances in England, North Wales and now Scotland. I can’t complain about any of the experiences except that in Wales and Scotland we don’t have to pay for our prescriptions, can get access to free dental treatment and get free eye tests.
    Those who are being told that Scotland is ruining it’s NHS and is having trouble keeping it all together are being told lies – our NHS is working fine and our services are great – we don’t need privatised health services and we get through our 12 weeks from going onto a waiting list for surgery and actually having it.

  4. che

    my experience here in Wales: Before moving here, I lived in Kent and I fell down the stairs and fractured my neck, I was in hospital for 3 months….. my original diagnosis was to be sent home with 2 paracetamol !!! My treatment was quite appalling. when I was discharged, I was still wearing a neck brace when I came to Wales and told it could be removed and all aftercare would be carried on at Cardiff. When I attended my appointment they told me I should never have been discharged and my neck was only partly healed and had to carry on wearing the brace for another 3 months.
    I have repeatedly informed any health care workers up here that medical treatment and aftercare is far better than in England, which it is.
    My ongoing battle with ATOS and the DWP is adifferent matter !!

    1. Mike Sivier

      Most kind.
      She spent most of the evening dozing in relative comfort on a recliner chair. Being somnolent after an experience of this kind is not unusual, I’m told.
      She has, however, hurt her ankle, which twisted under her when she fainted. I feel slightly responsible for that as I did not realise what was happening and didn’t react in time to catch her.

  5. Methusalada

    I am considered by some to be ” an expert patient ” though I have never received an official award for this as yet. I am elderly & a registered disabled guy & have multiple medical conditions (too many to boast about , but willing to take on any challengers) .
    The NHS in North Wales has been the greatest life saving experience that I have personally received. I compare that with 4 other English NHS’s.

    (1) GP’s Doctor surgery help & assistance & emergency medical assistance. 10/10
    (2) The Ambulance Service from whom I have had the pleasure of Emergency Service on more than 3/4 occasions. 10/10
    (3) NHS Hospital Operation’s & Clinical assessment’s more than my fair share I suspect. 9/10
    (4) Nursing staff & assistants. They are understaffed ,over worked & inadequately supervised, they work very hard, but are unable smile a lot. 8/10
    (5) Clerical Staff & Communications within the NHS for appointments & inner & outside communications systems need some radical improvements. A generous 6/10
    (6) Hospital cleanliness & Staff Hygiene 10 /10. Visitors Hygiene 5/10
    (7) Services for the Deaf 10/10
    (8) Optical Services for Cataracts 9/10
    (9) NHS Catering food for ward patients a difficult area but in all fairness 5/10
    (10) Parking facilities for Out Patients 7/10.

    My personal free report & observations are open to all challengers in my category, especially the newly appointed Medical Chief of the Wales NHS .Not an impossible nut to crack is it ? It’s not that incredible to believe that North Wales could become a centre of excellence for medical care & provision in the NHS.

      1. Methusalada

        I try to tell things as I see them happen & how I would like things to happen in my own home . If you think I am a cleanliness next God freak no I’m not.
        But on the wall of hospital wards entrances they have hand cleaning disinfectant & I saw the staff regularly use them. Visitors 50/50.
        Then we have my soiled shoe fetish syndrome SSfS which I believe was created by my experience of being on hospital wards. Would you invite someone in to your home who has unclean soiled clothes & dirty wet shoes to roam about your own home walking on your carpets & sit on your sofa ? Most farmers change shoes or wellies in an outside porch before the wife allows them to enter their own home.
        But some of the sights you see whilst sitting on a bed at visiting times are amazing & it’s best to keep one’s mouth shut to prevent a ward riot. So you gave me the chance to express myself and I took it. Doctors & surgeons seem to often wear special blue clogs. Consultants wear ordinary shoes .Nurses all appear to wear flat shoes from the same supplier. So yes I have a foot fetish particularly about dog shit coming into hospitals. I have two dogs of my own & I am aware of the diseases that can so easily be spread around & cause infection from faeces dog & human. That is not to be taken as a political party challenge.
        OK time for a new quiz ! Do we ban all dog owning patients and dog owning visitors into hospitals ? of course not . Should we ban all dogs from entering hospitals I believe yes. Then we have guide dogs for the blind and guide dogs for the deaf. I leave that ? open for you or your readers to find out as Hospital policies differ.
        Finally should babies & under 5 children be allowed into hospital wards as hospital visitors to see daddy ,mummy or gran dad whose poorly ? Love to know what people think about that one and in particular hospital staff. They are often allowed into private hospitals or in private wards in NHS Hospitals. .

        p.s One doesn’t die so quickly or so often in Welsh hospitals except in a hospice as they do in England. However your life insurance is going to become a lot easier to collect in England than Wales !

  6. Mr.Angry

    I reside in Ruthin North Wales and suffer ill health having worked myself to death for forty years running five business’s. We have the greatest GP surgery you could wish for. The main hospitals in North Wales are now struggling simply because this government has slashed funding and demonized the NHS because their sole aim is to privatize, for their own ill gotten gains, hence the onslaught of their propaganda via their right wing media. God help us all.

  7. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Incidents like this need to be reminded the next time you read in the Daily Heil stories about the dreadful state of the health service in Wales. These tales are only partial accounts, driven by the same demand for the privatisation of the health service of the Heil’s political masters in the Tory party. The last thing they want the Welsh electorate – let alone English proles – to know is just how good their health service still is compared to the partially privatised system over the border.

  8. Niki

    I had an operation privately in London. Surgeon was great, care was ok but the attitude of the nurses was awful. Then I had one in Wales. Consultant was superlative, the nursing was brilliant and their attitude was lovely. Since this op I’ve had several others, all bar one at the Heath with the same consultant. The only difference in care over the 10 years I have noticed is that the nurses are far more busy and it takes longer to get into the hospital for an elective surgery. The care and attitude to care is still wonderful.

    My wonderful consultant has just retired and I’m realising how much he did behind the scenes in advocating for his patients. We have only just (since Christmas) been told who my new consultant is, and that he is currently undergoing training so he knows how to treat me and the handful of other Motor cortex stim patients….we have agitated to find out what is happening and I am now on the books of a pain consultant. But what I really need is the MCS adjusted….

    I have waited for a long time (a year) for elective surgeries to solve a problem with the MCS, but I’m waiting for one particular very busy consultant.

    I think NHS Wales is much to be admired but does need to be improved, and more money would be the first and most helpful thing. The lack of money is bit directly the Assemblies fault given the pittance given to Wales by England.

    As for the anmulance service. My neighbour had a heart attack, the ambulance got there within 4 mins. A lady nearby died suddenly and the air ambulance was with her in minutes to try to save her. My dad had a car accident where the driver of the other car (and at fault) was seriously injured. The ambulance took about 20 mins and been told that it was someone with chest pain that wasn’t serious….the communication issues obviously need some work….(girl was ok)


    1. Mike Sivier

      Don’t you mean the lack of money is NOT directly the Assembly’s fault – given that the funding given to Wales by Westminster is, indeed, a pittance?

      1. Niki

        Yep, darn autocorrect. Absolutely it is NOT the Assembly’s fault…will read better in future!!

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