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NHS maternity services in meltdown: A former midwife reveals how understaffed wards are sinking into chaos

By Verena Burns
Last updated at 8:39 AM on 16th December 2009

Here is a part of the story:

As I watched her being wheeled into the ward, I felt eaten up with guilt. She'd effectively been ignored from the moment she turned up until the moment she gave birth.

Plonked on an antenatal ward until her time came, with no one to reassure her during what was most likely the most terrifying moment of her life.

No woman should have to give birth in these conditions - let alone in a modern hospital with professional staff at hand.

Welcome to the modern NHS maternity ward. A world of shoddy practice, poor hygiene standards and a shocking disregard for patients' individual needs.

When I read about newly qualified midwife Theresa Naish, who hanged herself in January after a premature baby died on her shift, I couldn't help wondering if she, too, was a victim of the over-worked and under-resourced labour wards I have experienced.

Her father Thomas told the inquest into her death: 'Like all NHS staff, she was over-worked, doing too many hours in a department that was understaffed.'

Although the child had little chance of survival, poor Theresa spent weeks torturing herself that she was to blame, before killing herself.

I don't want to alarm people for, of course, the vast majority of babies are born healthy and safe, but I think it's time we admit what is happening in our hospitals.

Driven by targets and mired in red tape, our NHS maternity wards are becoming baby-producing factories where mothers' needs come very low on the agenda.


Link to story. [dailymail.co.uk]

Not a week goes by that we do not hear about incredible problems in the United Kingdom and other countries that have socialist health care. Pray that it does not happen here. The facts show that if you add together all the direct and indirect costs of health care in Britain the Brits pay almost 40% more then Americans and receive sub-adequate to really bad health care. Wealthy Brits (even those with private insurance) head to either the continent or America for their health care. I've even read about some of the wealthy heading to New York for a combined shopping & dentist trip and others heading to the States to get their cataracts taken care of. NEVER HERE!

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Helen

I keep hearing of these stories - and yes some folk go to France and other EU countries to get their new hips and other such surgeries - often paid for by the NHS .

On the other hand I don't hear of Leukaemia patients having to worry how they are going to pay for transplants and this drug or that drug in the UK . Nor do I hear of relatives still paying for treatments after the leukaemic patient has died .

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On the other hand, in the U.S. leukemia patients actually get cured. So they have time to pay off their bills.

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Be careful Stuart - not all are cured

Many are also cured in the UK .

Sweeping generalisations are bad

Last edited by Our Lady's slave; 12/16/09 11:45 PM.
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Cancer survival rates for almost all forms of cancer are significantly higher in the U.S. than in the UK (or anywhere else in Europe, for that matter), because we don't ration but rather encourage diagnostic testing. Earlier diagnosis equates earlier treatment, often with newer and more effective (albeit more expensive, hence more likely not to be available through the National Health) drugs. Earlier treatment with better drugs equates to higher survival rates.

Also, we do not yet tell geriatric patients that, at their age, they should just shut up and die already. Apparently, National Health is increasingly prescribing "palliative care" (pain killers) for elderly patients who could otherwise be treated successfully, on the grounds that the cost-benefit curve (what it would cost to cure the patient vs. what the patient could give back to society) is not positive.

It's also been reported here that palliative care in the UK has a nasty habit of slopping over into de facto euthenasia.

So, with National Health, you get the best of all possible worlds--a government agency that is inefficient on the one hand, but heartless on the other. I have yet to see any sort of nationalized health care system that did not--eventually--degenerate into a system of ruthless rationing combined with rampant inefficiency.

Health care does not grow on trees, because doctors, nurses, pharmacists, molecular biologists and the entire infrastructure for developing and delivering treatments does not grow on trees. To say health care is a "right" begs the question of who gets to decide how much and when. As soon as government starts saying doctors get paid this much, and no more, the best and brightest cease to go into medicine. As soon as government says it will only use these drugs and no others, or these treatments and no others, innovation dies. Which is why almost all medical innovation of the past fifty years has come from the United States, and not from countries that have socialized health care systems (though those are perfectly happy to use our innovations as soon as they have been superseded by something better--hence the constant preference for second best.

Of course, at present those stuck in socialized medicine hell still have a bolt hole in the United States, where many Canadians--even those who publicly endorse Canada's single payer system--come when they need first class medical care in a hurry. Not too many Americans are crossing the border into the Great White North to seek out a doctor.

The American health care system is the worst health care system in the world--except for all the others.

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And we want to patern the best medicine of the world here in the US after these countries? God help us!
Ive lived in several socialist states and Im one that is definitely NOT in favor of a government run health care system.
Stephanos I

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And of course I live , eat breathe and exist in the UK - but what do I know ?

OK - I'm ignorant about my country

BUT I gave loving care to my patients when I worked in the NHS - all my working life.

I saw the standard of care given to my husband - which was 100% loving care , and NO-ONE could have received better - not even in your wonderful USA systems

I know nothing

I'm tired of being lectured by folk who believe they know it all

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The thing is OurLady'sSlave, we can appeal to the anecdotal evidence of things going desperately wrong for the poor and the elderly in the US, but that never seems to count for anything. But polemical use is made of one person's experience of the NHS, and everyone on the forum suddenly knows with certainty what public health care is like in the UK (or Canada).

I'm originally from Canada, and now from the UK. I've never in my entire (fairly observant) life come across the sorts of horror stories that anti-health care people propagate. So when you say

Quote
I'm tired of being lectured by folk who believe they know it all

I'm with you.

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So, when British government commissions find the National Health in a state of crisis, with declining quality of care, endemic shortages and declining patient outcomes, that's all propaganda?

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I know people who have lived in various parts of the world and who have made use of their health care systems - including friends who live in the U.K. It is certainly true that the vast majority of health care providers take their jobs seriously and try to provide good health care for their patients. The horror stories we find in the news are also true - although they are still the minority experience.

Health care in the U.K. and other countries with socialist health care has slipped in a major way. That is not the conclusion of an ignorant American but rather numerous panels of British experts (and experts in those other countries). It is very true that Brits pay a lot more than do Americans (adding together all direct and indirect costs) for health care. Socialism always costs more and delivers less - that's the nature of the beast. [In the proposal before Congress there are over 100 new government bureaucracies to manage the government takeover of health care, with an estimate of over 100,000 new government employees to manage it. The conservative estimates are $25 Billion a year - taxpayer money not going to health care but to government employees.]

I will agree with Angela that she is partially ignorant about the health care problems in her own country. Most of us are similarly ignorant about the problems in our countries. One British commentary I read noted pointedly that if this were years ago and you describing the current British NHS quality to the people they would have risen up in protest (and the high cost and low quality) but because the decline was very slow over a number of years they just didn't pay attention. Sort of like putting the live lobster in the pot of cold water and turning on the heat.

I'm not suggesting that America does not need health care reform - it does. But the reform must be market-based (capitalism) since socialism always winds up being very cruel in the end.

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Originally Posted by Our Lady's slave
And of course I live , eat breathe and exist in the UK - but what do I know ?

OK - I'm ignorant about my country

BUT I gave loving care to my patients when I worked in the NHS - all my working life.

I saw the standard of care given to my husband - which was 100% loving care , and NO-ONE could have received better - not even in your wonderful USA systems

I know nothing

I'm tired of being lectured by folk who believe they know it all

Unfortunately, that is the problem with the debate in America! Those opposed to Healthcare reform will continue to ignore those (the majority) in other countries who do not have a problem with their healthcare system and continue to bash it...soundbites work better than reality at times...

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Originally Posted by Job
Unfortunately, that is the problem with the debate in America! Those opposed to Healthcare reform will continue to ignore those (the majority) in other countries who do not have a problem with their healthcare system and continue to bash it...soundbites work better than reality at times...
And Job misstates. Few in America are opposed to health care reform. The majority are opposed to reform that means more socialism. There are plenty of ways to provide better health care for more people at lower cost then with socialism. Market reforms are the way to go.

BTW, the majority in most countries with socialist health care systems want reform even more than Americans want it. For Britain there are numerous government sponsored studies documenting the problems - things that Angela and individuals might not see in their own day-to-day experiences. But Job and others who support socialism are not about to admit it. It is much fairer to examine quality of health care vs cost of health care. All objective methods of measuring continue to show that America - despite problems - provides the best health care in the world.

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If it wasn't for the Nhs I would probably be dead.

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John that was my point and sentiment exactly!
And I for one as a Catholic Christian believes everyone and I underline everyone should have access to affordable health care, but definitely NOT a government run program.
Stephanos I

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