Monday, July 12, 2010


In 1988 I was admitted to hospital as an emergency because of a kidney infection. I lay on a trolley for several hours because no bed could be found in the intensive nursing ward. If you have a kidney infection it is important to keep up your fluid intake. I should have been on a drip, but no-one had time to rig one up for me, so my mother ferried plastic beakers of water to me from the wash-room. However, I was eventually found a bed, put on a drip and from that point on received excellent care.

In 2005 my father was admitted to hospital as an emergency with complications of Parkinson's disease. No bed in intensive nursing was available, but the hospital had to meet a target limiting the amount of time a patient could spend in casualty, so Dad was placed in a general nursing ward instead. Over the next fortnight my father was not given any of his medications for Parkinson's, or the other conditions he suffered from. Initially he was put on a drip, but when he pulled it out in delirium it was not replaced. He could not drink properly so my mother attempted to keep up his liquid level by posting water down his throat with a teaspoon. Dad died two weeks after being admitted. His death certificate records one of the causes of his death as dehydration.

I can take cold comfort from the bleak fact that if Dad had been given a bed in intensive nursing he might not have fared any better, as Margaret Hayward exposed a few months later.

So forgive me for being cynical about the so called improvements to the NHS under Labour. I didn't experience them. I can't say that it is really clear to me how Andrew Lansley's proposed reforms might improve the NHS for patients, but I don't think he can do worse than the Labour government.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your family has been very unfortunate. It may be that these two events were rooted in very different causes - plain insufficient resources in 1988 under a tory regime which couldn't give a toss about the NHS, wanting choice primarily for those who could afford it - and labour's tickbox culture in 2005 - ticking boxes is easy - thr trouble is that is the less important aspects of the job which are measured this way.

If the NHS bureaucracy can be reduced in favour of more front-line resources so much the better.

I don't however want to see my GP spending all his time on management (for which role I have no idea whether he has the right aptitude) instead of helping his patients directly