The Servants Which Never Serve

A person should not have to be primed for a row when they deal with a public service, but that is the conclusion I’ve come to, when it comes to dealing with Britain’s ‘National Health Service’. I assume from bitter experience that they are going to screw up, be rude, be uncaring, be bureaucratic or obstructive or even a combination of all of these things. Now I know that there will be a lot of people who will say ‘oh but the NHS is lovely’, fair do’s that is your experience, but it is not the same experience that me or my family and friends have had.

My own personal recent gripes about my experience of the NHS such as the obstructive and arrogant reception staff that I encountered today, and who have ensured that I have another week to wait for dental treatment, are pretty minor when compared to what NHS problems others have had.

In my own circle, the number and type of NHS cock-ups is astounding. There’s been poor quality and inflexible out of hospital medical care for housebound relatives. Another family member being treated with Chemo for cancer was placed by hospital staff in a room that also contained old sheets that were stained with blood, faeces and other clinical waste. A friend having fertility treatment who was told ‘don’t ovulate on a Sunday as we only collect eggs on a Tuesday’. A district nurse who couldn’t explain to the satisfaction of both a patient and their relative what a flu jab did or what the side effects of it are, would also feature highly on my all time list of NHS dimwittery.

An elderly man who was put in a hospital bay that not only had no light bulb in the light fitting over the bed, but who was also found to have been issued with medication for another patient, is just one near miss among many that have taught me to never trust implicitly those who work for the NHS. Although there are many good and kind staff who work for the NHS, there are enough of the other sort to make dealing with the NHS an unpleasant and often stressful experience.

This experience is on top of the background knowledge that the NHS has deliberately killed those patients who they have judged to be unworthy of life via the innocously sounding Liverpool Care Pathway, and has given us the Stafford Hospital scandal and the mass deaths that were caused there. In addition there is the constant rumble of stories of NHS incompetence and now a rash of baby deaths caused apparently by a contaminated medical product. Envy of the world, I don’t think so!

Illness, accident or even the natural life processes such as pregnancy and birth, are often worrying and stressful enough, without having to feel that when dealing with the NHS you are playing a lottery. A lottery where the results are either good service or bad service and which also decides whether the staff you see will be brilliant, average or worse, malevolent.

Those who are fans of the NHS often refer to it as the ‘envy of the world’ and they may be right but only if the rest of the world is coveting a heath system that is inflexible, removes choice from customers, is unwieldy, bureaucratic, and which is all too often killing, injuring or endangering those who make use of it.

I count myself lucky, today the NHS has only mildly pissed me off, at least they haven’t killed me or poisoned me or even cut my balls off by mistake because the paperwork was wrong.