Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gravely ill man goes to NHS emergency room. Not attended to until 6 hours later. Dies

Individuals don't matter in socialized medicine

A hospital trust is facing questions after a man died having waited more than six hours to be seen in an accident and emergency department. Medway NHS Foundation Trust said it was saddened to hear of the death of Stewart Fleming but said that its emergency ward was experiencing long waits because of a high number of admissions.

Mr Fleming, 37, of Rainham, Kent was taken to the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham on December 12 by his wife Sarah. He had a note from his GP requesting immediate admission after a suspected viral infection failed to clear with antibiotics but, the father of two faced a reported six-hour wait before he was assessed again.

By this time his condition had deteriorated. He was eventually admitted and transferred a week later to the Harefield Hospital in West London but died last Saturday. Mrs Fleming said: "Why wait three hours for a triage when a doctor had already done it and put it in writing what was going on?"

A spokeswoman for Medway NHS Foundation Trust said: "The trust is saddened to hear of the death of Stewart Fleming. Due to patient confidentiality we are unable to discuss any details."


Australian private health insurer reports that private hospital surgery includes very complex and costly cases

More than half of the surgery done in Australia is paid for by private health insurance and yet this is still a "drain" on government hospitals? Leftist logic at work again, it seems

High-end surgery in private hospitals, costing health funds $100,000-plus per case, is on the rise, fuelling concerns that it is adding to, not reducing, the strain on public hospitals. Australia's biggest health fund, Medibank Private, which has paid a record $364,859 for a bowel operation, says complex and costly operations, once the preserve of big public hospitals, are being performed increasingly in private hospitals. "Traditionally the high-end surgeries would be borne by the public system. Now we are seeing people electing to use their private health insurance for these types of procedures and enjoying the clear benefits it brings," a Medibank spokesman, Craig Bosworth, said yesterday.

But the drift of advanced cases to private hospitals is disturbing public hospitals because it adding to the difficulties they already face in finding and retaining surgeons and nursing staff. The executive director of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, Prue Power, said there was "great concern" in public hospitals about the trend to private surgery and the demand it generated for scarce medical staff. Staff shortages in public hospitals made it even more difficult to deal with waiting lists and delays in getting treatment in public hospitals, she said

Ms Power called on the Federal Government to rethink the $3.6 billion health insurance rebate and the level of premium increases for health insurance. The rebate was introduced by the Howard government, which forecast that it, along with other incentives, would boost memberships, keep premiums down and, through increased use of private hospitals, relieve pressure on public hospitals. Private hospitals do more than half the surgery performed in Australia, a plus for those with private hospital insurance, who account for less than 45 per cent of the population.

Health funds, already facing heavy increases in costs, have lodged with the Federal Health Department their applications for what are likely to be significant rises in premiums to take effect from April. Ageing of the population and increasing health-care bills and use of insurance cover by members are driving up costs well ahead of general inflation, the regulator, the Private Health Insurance Administration Council, has stated.

Ms Power said each time premiums rose, so did the cost of the rebate to the taxpayer. The growth in expensive private hospital surgery raised "a basic question of equity". "Funding going to the private sector will just exacerbate the workforce shortages in the public sector." Ms Power said she was not against growth in the private sector but it was a matter of getting the public-private balance right [Who says what is right?] and of getting better integration between the two sectors.

Mr Bosworth said that the rising number of high-cost claims paid by Medibank indicated the private health sector "is increasingly carrying the burden of an ageing population and the complex technologically intensive hospital care older people often require". The overall number of very high-cost claims had leapt in the past year, with Medibank covering 149 claims costing more than $100,000 - a rise of 73 per cent. Among the high-cost operations Medibank paid for in NSW was a neuro-surgery case costing $276,595, neonatal surgery and lengthy post-operative care for a newborn child costing $256,452, and arm nerve surgery on a 24-year-old patient costing $164,134. Mr Bosworth said many of the top claims were for people aged 54 and over, showing that private health insurance was not just for "elective surgery lumps and bumps".


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