Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Paying for care

This morning I heard on our local news that Debbie Hirst, aged 56 from Carbis Bay, is being denied the breast cancer drug Avastin that could extend her life because it is not available on the NHS.

The news comes despite three cancer patients at Treliske already paying for Avastin privately. The reason, according to the government, is that guidelines have changed, meaning that co-payment (allowing patients to contribute towards NHS treatment) is against the values and principles of the NHS so it must be stopped.

Earlier this year our hygienist left our NHS dental surgery on maternity leave. Several months later I started having excruciating abscesses and toothache. I ended up having five teeth removed and was told that I’d lose the lot fairly soon because I had bad gums. I panicked. I’m not 50 (quite) and didn’t want to lose all my teeth just yet.

I asked my dentist if he could recommend a hygienist and was told that I’d have to move dentists to get to see a hygienist, but knowing what pain I’d been in, he said he’d refer me to a private periodontist. ‘But it’ll cost you,’ he said.

I was desperate. I said yes.

It cost me a horrific amount of money which I’m still paying for on HP, but nine months on my gums are so much better, I have had no more teeth out and if I continue looking after them, I should keep all the teeth I have.

Now that my NHS dentist has another hygienist and I have finished with the private treatment, I will go back on the NHS.

A two tier system I would say.

The other instance was more recently with my gynae problems. Here again I was desperate, but was able to see a specialist once, privately and quickly, but continue to see her on the NHS.

That saved me six weeks of what would have been agony. I got a leg up the ladder. I was very fortunate that I was able to pay the necessary amount to go privately (and recoup the money in words!).

And yet the government say we can’t have a two tier health system.

In the same breath, I hear that it’s perfectly possible for people unable to get treatment over here to be treated in Europe. And claim the cost back from their NHS Trust.

Excuse me. If that isn’t two tier, what is?


Philipa said...

Excellent post flowerpot and I think it totally disgusting that poor woman is being denied the drugs she needs.

At the risk of being called names I cannot understand the huge amount of money being spent on interpreters for people, some of whom have been in this country 20 years, and ethnic liason officers and the like, some of whom earn 30-40K, and people who have been in this country no more than a few weeks getting free NHS treatment (particularly AIDS) costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. It's like boasting to the street that you're worthy for feeding the neighbours whilst starving your own.

Miss Understood said...

I don't understand the NHS at all.

I was told, 10 years ago, that both my fallopian tubes were blocked and I was unable to conceive naturally. The NHS were prepared to a cost of £10,000 to attempt to unblock them and rectify the problem, with just a 10% success rate. My other option was IVF, for which I had to pay for myself....and which was a few thousand punds cheaper with a higher chance of success. It didn't make sense.

I know that's not what you were talking about, but the whole bloody system is a mess.

Flowerpot said...

philipa - I know, the entire system seems to be supporting the wrong people. why? and you can bet that if it was a politician's mother who was ill, they'd get teh treatment needed.

Flowerpot said...

MissU - I think the NHS is in a terrible state. I heard the doctor being interviewed this mornign and his hands are completely tied by government directives. Makes you (and him) want to cry. The whole thing seems not to be about patient care at all. I'm sorry you had such a bad time - your experiences sound crazy.

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

To be fair, my experiences with the NHS when I was diagnosed with cancer were second to none. Everyone moved rapidly and I wasn't kept waiting and worrying.

But I do know people who haven't had sucha good experience and when the NHS is bad, it's really bad.

Flowerpot said...

aoj - Himself has also had very good experiences with cancer on the NHS. But why shouldnt people opt to pay for some of their care? It would help the NHS! And not many people can afford to pay for all of their care.

Rebecca Taunton said...

Well, you know my experiences on the NHS FP...

I think the whole system is top heavy (too many managers), with little common sense, and too much money being drained away in wasteful excess. I don't think it was designed to cope with this number of people but that's no excuse. It should be better.

Flowerpot said...

RT - I quite agree on all counts. And yes, I know you've had an appalling time and I only hope you have a better 2008 healthwise.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Very well put. Glad you are okay.

Why should you get better treatment if you go private? Does this mean that we are not all equal? Those with money to spare are being treated with priority. Or am I wrong?

Crystal xx

laurie said...

i don't know much about your system but we are moving more toward a two-tiered system too. some doctors are refusing insurance payments (which are always lower than what they want to charge) and going only to private pay. in other words, only rich people.

julia said...

'I hear that it’s perfectly possible for people unable to get treatment over here to be treated in Europe. And claim the cost back from their NHS Trust.'

That's a good one. In Canada we're moving toward a two-tier system, as well. Instead of attempting to fix the one we have, a second system is being allowed to creep in because people have been leaving the country for treatment, anyway. I assume the logic is that waiting times for the public system will shorten. But private health care will be more attractive to pretty much everyone, so where will the public health care go? Down the drain, I'm afraid.

Flowerpot said...

crystal - in my case I saw a private periodontist who provides a service that an NHS dentist doesn't. In the other case, yes I was treated as a priority because I went privately. No we definitely are not all equal - sad and makes a nonsense of teh NHS.

Flowerpot said...

laurie - sorry to hear your system is going like that. I don't know what the best system would be, but it seems overly laiden with bureaucracy here.

julia - sounds like everywhere is opting towards a two tier system in that case. Shame the public health system is failing though.