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July 29, 2012

The NHS and the Opening Ceremonies

MailOnline: Hey that thing about the NHS with the nurses, nannies, and bedridden children was pretty weird, wasn't it?

Last night's spectacular $42million, the brainchild of Oscar-winning British director Danny Boyle, included a segment where dozens of skipping nurses and children in pajamas leaping acrobatically on massive hospital beds, with a large 'NHS' displayed.

It was a celebration of Britain's national health service, which has provided free taxpayer-funded health care to everyone in the country since its foundation after the Second World War.

. . .

Before the ceremony, the Slumdog Millionaire director defended his decision to feature the NHS prominently in the show. He told reporters that he chose to feature it because ‘everyone is aware of how important the NHS is to everybody in this country.’

He continued: ‘One of the core values of our society is that it doesn’t matter who you are, you will get treated the same in terms of health care.’

The Commentator executive editor Raheem Kassam was one of many who took to social media to voice their opinions, and tweeted: 'Anyone else realise it wasn't the NHS who tended well to the kids in the Opening Ceremony, it was private nanny, Mary Poppins!'

. . .

Others simply thought the idea of children, nurses, and nannies in an elaborate choreographed dance was simply bizarre.

I don't know about you, but the NHS is not one of the top things that comes to mind when I think of Britain. And when I do think about their healthcare system, nothing good comes to mind. In fact, it's the opposite. I think of the horror stories I've read.

Well, here's another horror story to add to the list: One of Britain's top doctors, Patrick Pullicino, says that they're killing 130,000 people a year in a euthanasia program they call the "Liverpool Care Pathway."

NHS doctors are prematurely ending the lives of thousands of elderly hospital patients because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds, a senior consultant claimed yesterday.

Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly.

He claimed there was often a lack of clear evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway, a method of looking after terminally ill patients that is used in hospitals across the country.

It is designed to come into force when doctors believe it is impossible for a patient to recover and death is imminent.

It can include withdrawal of treatment – including the provision of water and nourishment by tube – and on average brings a patient to death in 33 hours.

Withholding water. That sounds familiar. Last month, a 22 year old man was so desperate for water, he called police. He died, though. I thought it must have been a case of one-off negligence, but withholding water is part of the program. They just did it to the wrong guy that time.

Stories like that are not uncommon.

When I think of Britain, the royal family comes to mind. Knights in armor. Swords. Arthurian legend. Newton. Shakespeare. Eddington. Hobbits. Double-decker buses. Castles and palaces. The full breakfast. Pubs. The music. Gardens. The Tower Bridge. Big Ben. That silly Ferris wheel. The great people. I think of brilliant individuals who have changed the world. And Danny Boyle included some of that. But I do not think of a soviet-style utopia where faceless factory workers hammer away at metal, apparently in service of the state. And a healthcare system where one first has to survive a long waiting period before running the gauntlet in a hospital. It's a shame they let a left-wing hack advocate his narrow, half-baked politics.

I wonder where Danny gets his healthcare.

Plus, the giant baby? Creepy.

Added: From commenter "sunny black":

My third year of medical school I worked at an NHS hospital near Manchester, UK called Stepping Hill. I walk to my Gastro rotation, the doctor is with a patient who had either Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis, and he decides that the patient needs a colonoscopy. He writes down the plan on a slip, gives it to the patient, and says to him, "Okay, we'll see you in 9 months or so for that colonoscopy."

I was shocked. I was thinking of American patients in Florida where I'm from and what there reaction would be if their physician told them they'd have to wait 9 months to a year to get a procedure done.

That's just one example of how "awesome" the NHS is. It's a big bureaucratic mess.

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posted by rdbrewer at 02:54 PM

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