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Our Health Service — 21 Comments

  1. Both my parents have Alzheimers plus a range of the usual oldie problems, so I’m a frequent flyer at our local equivalent and can vouch for your picture being accurate. Staff at the little cottage hospital round the corner know my folks well and can sort minor issues within minutes, but all the major equipment (X-Ray scanners etc.) was requisitioned for the “Centre of Excellence”, so it’s usually get seen in 10 minutes and a 5 minute exam here, then an extra half-hour high speed ambulance trip to the big place to check the diagnosis is correct (it always is), with 5-6 hour wait and no resolution until half a dozen doctors (all busy, all in different wings of the hospital) can agree.
    Most annoying thing is, a distant relative who was a contractor there literally became a millionaire from the contract, then retired. Obviously, when his family get sick or just want minor surgery they go private across the water. Catch his brood waiting in a queue or having to depend on the over-priced facilities his firm installed? Not in a million years!

    • The way it works here is that if you call for an ambulance, even for a cut knee, you have to be brought to the “local” hospital that accepts emergencies.  You will pass several hospitals but they apparently aren’t “centres of excellence”.  There is no choice of hospital, even if you have private insurance and are entitled to much better destinations.  There was a much nearer [and better] hospital where we would have been in and out in half an hour at most, but it wasn’t on the ambulance list.

  2. Yeah, we go through this every now and then, as I think you’re vaguely aware. My own herself — Dorian — is plagued with health issues that have her out to the main hospital about once per week for checks and follow-up, and an ambulance ride seems to be at least an annual event.So different here. We have about 18 hospitals right in the greater San Francisco area, and the law of the land says you can go to any of the emergency rooms for treatment. The last time we went, the ambulance driver asked me which one we’d like, since there are two that are about the same distance but in opposite directions. I opted for the one “that-a-way,” and pointed. “whoosh!” and we were off, but no siren. Her condition wasn’t life-threatening, as we’d called due to sharp, stabbing pains, so he took it at the speed of traffic while his partner in the back gave her some drugs that sounded like fun to have but would be quite illegal for us to have around the house.Darn it, I always enjoy a nice siren and flashy light ride through the city with everyone pulling over for us. That’s only happened once.The ER wasn’t anywhere near the chaos you experienced. In short order, they had a private little room for her and I had a chair so I could wait bedside. I knew enough this time to bring my own pillow because they don’t provide them for guests of the patient. I got much better sleep than I had on previous trips. I’d be awakened by the occasional doctor or nurse who’d wander in and wake her to take vitals or adjust the IV or what-not.We were finally discharged at about five in the morning and got a taxi home.She and I personally get a form of socialized medicine here that pales in comparison to Ireland, the UK, Canada, ETC., in that she’s on “Medicaid” because of all her issues, and I’m a naval veteran so I get all my care at the local Veteran’s Administration Hospital (VA) which is fairly top-notch.Most people we know around here don’t fare so well, though. The US has a pretty fucked-up healthcare system, as I’m sure you’ve read about.
    Here’s hoping your herself feels better soon, she sure has a great carer, albeit he’s a little cranky at times 🙂

    • We have private health insurance which costs [almost literally] an arm and a leg.  We are entitled to use private hospitals which use the latest equipment and have all the specialists.  As an example of the benefits, Herself went in for an examination and they suspected a possibility of cancer.  She was immediately rushed off for scans and tests.  Luckily she got the all clear and we were on our way home after a couple of hours.  On the other hand, if she had gone to a public hospital she either wouldn’t have been diagnosed or would have ended up with a stay of several days before a scanner became available.

  3. Why the hell aren’t there any paragraph breaks? I had plenty in my long comment above, but they all disappeared when I posted. Geez whiz.
    Sorry it’s one huge block of text. I didn’t post it that way.

      • I had to go back and see if there were replies to my most recent comments since I had been using an old, now defunct email address. Using the current one on this now, still in need of approval and it’s past nine in Ireland, so I’m sure you and Celeste are out on the town dancing and partying the night away.

  4. Irish people pay a huge amount for health care and get a crap system in return. By the time the insurance companies, the Health Service Executive, and the managers have creamed off a large amount of the cash, there is a severely reduced sum left for the actual work for which the money is intended.
    How much did the car parking cost?

    • I notice that whenever there is a news item about the health service, there is usually a representative called on for comment.  These representatives always seem to be from different areas and with very fancy titles such as “Chief Secretarial Administrator  from The Health Oversight Committee” or some such.  How many departments and quangos are there in the health system?

      The car parking was a big surprise.  The parking cost a mere €11 for the eight or so hours.

      • They must be getting more generous! I once spent an evening and most of a night with man who was dying and it cost me the best part of twenty quid.

  5. There seems to be a common issue with state healthcare systems that the capital and revenue accounts have different priorities.   There’s always shed-loads of capital money available for fancy new hospitals and multi-million equipment, but relatively little for the day-to-day operational costs on high-volume routine treatment delivery.
    A cynic may suggest that there are far more opportunities for freebies, bungs and exotic ‘evaluation trips’ for those spending vast millions, but the same ‘bonuses’ don’t appear when you spend it on staff or services.   Careers are built on capital projects, not on serving the masses every day.

    • I would lay the blame squarely on the heads of management and bureaucracy.  The system is run by accountants and bureaucrats all playing around with their reports and spreadsheets.  The system should be drastically pruned so that the service is essentially run by doctors and surgeons with a minimal administrative staff.  We pour billions into the system, yet still there are annual overruns and an appalling treatment of the people who actually need the care.  

      • Don’t entirely agree on the solution – if you take a good doctor and make him a manager, you’ve usually lost a good doctor and gained a bad manager.
        Doctors, like teachers, are mere technicians – management is a quite different skill-set, one where you require people to manage resources, not mend bones or teach geography.   The problem with health services is that the bureaucracy has been allowed to become so big that it overwhelms the basic objective of the service, so I agree about drastic slimming-down, but it requires professional management, not the over-inflated jobsworths who are currently failing so abysmally to do it.

        • I agree and that’s why I mentioned minimal administration, which presumably would involve non-medial staff.  The HSE is just a massive mess of departments all producing reports and statistics and soaking up bloated wage packets.  The budget goes in the top, and by the time it reaches the bottom [the actual care area] it has been reduced to a trickle. 

  6. The ordinary guys, those at the coal face are usually good kind people, I believe that is the default for all but about 5% of the population.
    However, that 5% includes our useless politicians who interfere with everything and screw it up so our coal face people are managed by bean counters with different agendas.
    Hope everything work out for you and yours.

  7. All I can do is recommend the excellent old BBC TV series “Yes, Minister”; specifically series 2, episode 1.
    When the opposition challenges the Minister’s claims in the House that administrative personnel in the health sector have been reduced by 11%, he too quickly agrees to an independent inquiry. Sir Humphrey’s solution is to offer the chairmanship of the inquiry to someone hoping to score brownie points with the government. The Minister is concerned when he learns that a brand new hospital has been open for 15 months and has yet to admit a patient despite having over 500 administrative personnel on staff. His attempts to either open the hospital to the public or cut the administrative staff, are blocked at every turn until he comes up with a unique solution
    Broadcast February 1981, but still 100% relevant nearly 40 years on!
    Add to that the insightful output of the sci-fi writer, Jerry Pournelle:-
     
    Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy   
     
    In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.
     

  8. The Irish health service is hobbled by two bureaucracies – there is the Health Service Executive and then there are the private health insurance companies – both of whom do handsomely well out of those who both pay taxes and insurance premiums for health care.

  9. Hold on. is this Auld Ireland or Little Old Britain ? Do you poor old  sons of St Patrick have as crap a health service as us in Britain ? (Actually having suffered a broken arm last week I was surprised at my treatment in spite of my being an old fart) 

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