Annals of Government Medicine

For a surprisingly long time, the British were proud of their system of socialized medicine, apparently because it was considered egalitarian. Now, however, a series of scandals in the National Health Service has focused attention on how low-quality government medicine is. The National Health Service has been rocked by one report after another of appallingly bad care, with many Britons demanding that NHS officials be criminally prosecuted.

Personally, I don’t think that’s appropriate: if you ask for socialized medicine, lousy care is what you get. Still, “lousy” doesn’t do justice to the scandal that has engulfed the NHS. Here are two examples from the last 24 hours, as reported by the Telegraph:

“Pensioner’s hospital death ‘due to confusion caused by NHS targets.'”

David Pattrick, 69, was found dead, face down in vomit and faeces, in a toilet cubicle in Colchester General Hospital two days after an elective gall bladder operation.

Professor Roger Motson, then head of the clinical team treating him, blamed NHS targets for the confusion over who was accountable for the patient.

Apparently no one knew who was supposed to be looking after the patient, and he wasn’t missed for quite some time after he failed to return from the bathroom.

This woman couldn’t get into an NHS hospital–which is often a good thing–because they missed the fact that she was suffering from measles and pneumonia:

“Pregnant woman turned away from hospital in agony.”

A pregnant woman claims hospital staff turned her away three times before diagnosing pneumonia and measles – and warning that her baby could be stillborn. …

She went to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Woolwich, south London, in agony but was told to take Paracetamol for a “virus”, she says.

She then endured a week-long ordeal, which saw her waiting in cramped cubicles with “sky-high” temperatures, severe stomach pain and soiled sheets which had to be changed by her partner.

Eventually was diagnosed with measles and pneumonia, and warned that her baby might be stillborn, deaf or blind.

This turned into a classic of bureaucratic medicine:

She was first taken to hospital on February 4 and dismissed three times with a severe rash, temperature, lack of appetite and pains.

Miss Painell, who is 15-weeks pregnant, said she was kept for hours in waiting rooms or small cubicles as staff argued over which department was responsible for her.

Of course they did! After all, the hospital is a government agency. Meanwhile, she and her baby are both lucky to be alive. It’s just one more day in the world of government medicine.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.