Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Too bad that they have already paid for the care via higher taxes

A hospital told a road accident victim that she would have to wait a year and a half for an NHS brain scan, but could have the procedure done privately at the same unit in two weeks, The Times has learnt. In a case that highlights the crisis in diagnostic tests, King’s College Hospital, London, warned Rachel King that, because of “heavy demand”, the MRI scan that her consultant had sought could be delayed for 80 weeks. But a handwritten note at the end of the letter gave a telephone number for the hospital’s “self-pay” private clinic, where she could have the procedure in two weeks for £983.

Ms King’s case is the starkest example yet of widespread delays in diagnostic tests across the health service. One in five trusts has waiting times of more than a year for MRI scans, and two in five have waits of more than six months. A quarter of trusts said that 25 per cent or more of their scanning capacity was not used but lack of staff and resources prevent increased usage. To cut the backlog, the Department of Health has signed a £90 million contract with Alliance Medical Ltd to provide mobile MRI scanners. The contract has proved controversial, but both AML and the department claim it is now working well and cutting waiting times.

Ms King, 32, from Erith, Kent, was knocked down by a car in January. She suffered a broken collarbone, five broken ribs, a shoulder blade broken in three places and head injuries. She was in hospital for 17 days. After she suffered dizzy spells and reduced vision, her consultant referred her for an MRI scan. She said that she was appalled to receive the letter from King’s, saying that, because of “heavy demand”, the scan would be delayed. What added insult to injury was the handwritten note on the bottom, which read: “If you want to go privately call 0845 6080991 for prices.” When she did, the telephone was answered by King’s College Self Pay, who said that the cost of such a scan was £983, and she could have the procedure in a couple of weeks. It’s insulting” she said. “I was absolutely distraught. I need reassurance that the damage isn’t permanent. All I want is to know if it is going to get better. “I still have falls, and I can’t return to work or drive. I’ve never signed on the dole in my life but I have had to now.”

King’s College Hospital said in a statement that it recognised that an 80-week wait for scans was unacceptable. It had recently received funds to expand its services, with the aim of getting waiting times down to 26 weeks by next March. Patients identified as clinically urgent by referring doctors would be seen sooner, the statement said. It added that the handwritten note had been included because Ms King had discussed with her consultant the possibility of going private. “It is not considered best practice to have handwritten additions to letters and internal processes will be reviewed in the light of this letter,” it said.

Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, said: “It is simply appalling that while ministers crow about the drop in treatment waiting times, there are still thousands of people languishing for months, or even years, on hidden waiting lists



With long waiting lists for services, what is this Australian State going to do? Sack doctors!

NSW Government plans to cut orthopaedic surgeon numbers in Sydney's public hospitals will mean people live in pain for longer, the state opposition said. South Eastern-Illawarra Area Health Service plan to make up to eight orthopaedic surgeons redundant from the Prince of Wales, St George, Sydney and Sutherland hospitals, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today.

Opposition health spokesman Barry O'Farrell today said the plans to cut surgeons from some of Sydney's busiest hospitals highlighted the Government's hypocrisy on elective surgery waiting lists. Waiting lists remained significantly longer than at the time of the last election in March 2003, Mr O'Farrell said. The latest figures show the number of people on the waiting list in April was 66,114, while in March 2003 it was 55,324 - an increase of almost 20 per cent. "The Government shouldn't be cherry-picking elective surgery," Mr O'Farrell told reporters in Sydney. "It shouldn't simply be doing the easy cases and leaving those people, who have difficult surgery and are living in pain, to go wait for months and months and months."

Mr O'Farrell called on the NSW Health Minister Morris Iemma to rule out the number of surgeons being reduced in the South Eastern-Illawarra Area Health Service and elsewhere in the state. Instead of cuts to front-line services, the Government should slash the bloated health bureaucracy, he said.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation.

Comments? Email me here. If there are no recent posts here, the mirror site may be more up to date. My Home Page is here or here.


No comments: