Pay twice for the NHS – I don’t think so…

£10-a-month fee to use NHS: Outrage at call to end era of free healthcare screams the Daily Express.

Just one tiny snag – what free healthcare? The NHS is funded from taxation – it has never been free. Free at the point of need is NOT the same as intrinsically free.

And if we pay £10 a month, will we get a NI refund or reduction? In your dreams!

I get 14 drugs on prescription, without many of which I would die. However, I also have to buy

phones,  antibiotics – without which I would also die – as they cannot be prescribed in the quantities I need to treat my COPD according to the GOLD guidelines, which I have been doing for 10 years or more, and which NICE now embraces (but won’t allow sufficient antibiotics).

As for paying £10 a night as an in-patient, given the abysmal conditions in my local hospital, where I spent 10 weeks last year (where do they think I’m going to find £700?**), they should pay me!

In one 6-week period I contracted 5 hospital-acquired respiratory infections, culminating in my having my right pleural cavity aspirated. And they want me to PAY for this?

Then there is the bay system, in use throughout the NHS estate as far as I know, where up to a dozen patients are crammed into a small, badly-ventilated and poorly-heated room – in two rows facing each other (patients by the windows have a view, of sorts, but freeze in winter and bake in summer). Given the average punter’s abysmal grasp of hygiene the bays are perfectly designed to spread infections.  Even the nurses, on my last stay, when I refused to relinquish a side room because the bays were too dangerous (my immune system sucks), agreed with me.

The bays could be made safer if patients were permitted to keep the curtains around the beds closed – it would stop the dozy bastards across the room, or in the next bed, coughing all over everyone else for a start, as well as providing badly-needed privacy – but no, that’s not allowed. The old-style open wards were much better. Not only could many more patients be overseen by one or two staff, patients were also further apart, lessening the risk of infection. With the bays, patients are hidden behind closed doors – easy for the staff to ignore. On one occasion it took over 2 hours for nurses just feet from the bay doors to respond to a patient’s buzzer, and that was despite my personal intervention suggesting they might like to check on the guy in case it was an emergency. It wasn’t, but they didn’t know that. At one point, with the buzzer still sounding, a group of them stood under the flashing light outside the door, chatted for a while, then buggered off!

***

**£10 a night is almost half my pension. Out of the rest I still have to pay the direct debits for my utilities, broadband, phones, TV, and service charges. The only actual saving is on food, and hospital food is shit. Last year, during admissions between March and November, the food went from good portions of decent quality to tiny portions of crap that I wouldn’t feed to a dog (and that’s when staggeringly incompetent staff didn’t fuck up my orders – in one week 14 meals out of a possible 21 failed to appear). A tenner a night for this, too?

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