Health Care Horror

Here in the US, we’ve been talking about the future of health care in all its many permutations. In Great Britain, they are living with the reality of socialized health care. It is not pretty:

Care Quality Commission inspectors found blood-spattered walls and filthy conditions with brown running water, mouldy bathrooms and soiled furniture and commodes.

It is hardly surprising that more and more people are beginning to fear that, far from curing their diseases, a stay in an NHS hospital might actually kill them.

And the common factor in most of these cases is the shocking level of basic hygiene.


Florence Nightingale's GraveOnce upon a time, nurses provided the quality assurance on cleanliness. Matron ran her hospital with military discipline and enforced the highest levels of hygiene through the ward sisters.

Nurses understood that keeping patients, wards and corridors spotless was an essential part of their vocational calling. In her seminal Notes On Nursing, published in 1860, Florence Nightingale wrote that ‘the greater part of nursing consists in preserving cleanliness’.

It meant the nurse needed to have the most elevated of motives to put the care and dignity of her patients first. Accordingly, lowly functions such as washing patients, administering bedpans or scrubbing the wards were invested with high moral significance.

Though I’ve not worked in hospitals or nursing homes, my father did through much of his adult life. From him, I understand somewhat the level of care (and caring) which must be provided by those who are well for those who are not. Frankly, it is not something that I think I could do for a living.

That said, those who are unable to place their own comfort aside to care for others in the most simple and yes, demeaning, of fashions should not be providing for patients. It is rather obvious by the conditions spoken of above that these folks don’t care beyond getting their paychecks:

It is a further achievement of our monitoring, regulating culture that even the monitors and the regulators don’t seem to have a clue how bad things are – or they certainly didn’t in Basildon. This exposes one of the great pretences of the NHS: that it is there first and foremost for the benefit of patients. It isn’t. It exists these days mostly for the benefit of various trade unionists who are fully paid-up members of the Brown clientele, and who earn good money as petty bureaucrats trying to “manage” things that, if they need to be managed at all, could be far better done by fewer people in much more efficient systems.

You don’t say? People interested in the continuation of a system that benefits them before it benefits anyone under their care? How positively selfish can one be!

Now, I’ve quoted all of this to make a very simple point. The English (and their compatriots on the islands) have a single payer system. They also have a remarkable mess on their hands with regards to the lack of care, the increasing cost, the increasing number of employees in the system, etc. This is not to say that there are no good, caring, wonderful doctors, nurses, etc within the NHS–but they are much diminished by the very system which should be helping them and is not.

Why on earth would we wish to follow in these footsteps, while claiming at the very same time, that we will end up at a wonderful destination which simply doesn’t have these pesky problems which have arisen across the pond?


Many thousands of unnecessary deaths from cancer every year in Britain.