Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best Health Care: NHS vs France!


Friends moved to France after their retirement and lived in one of the wine growing districts.
 ©2008 Am Ang Zhang
They were extremely pleased with the Health Care they received from their doctor locally. After all, not long ago, French Health Care topped the WHO ranking.

Then our lady friend had some gynaecological condition. She consulted the local doctor who referred her to the regional hospital: a beautiful new hospital with the best in modern equipment. In no time, arrangement was made for her to be admitted and a key-hole procedure performed. The French government paid for 70% and the rest was covered by insurance they took out.

They were thrilled.

We did not see them for a while and then they came to visit us in one of our holiday places in a warm country.

They have moved back to England.

What happened?

Four months after the operation they were back visiting family in England. She was constipated and then developed severe abdominal pain. She was in London so went to A & E (ER) at one of the major teaching hospitals.

“I was seen by a young doctor, a lady doctor who took a detail history and examined me. I thought I was going to be given some laxative, pain killer and sent home.”

“No, she called her consultant and I was admitted straight away.”

To cut the long story short, she had acute abdomen due to gangrenous colon from the previous procedure.

She was saved but she has lost a section of her intestine.

They sold their place in the beautiful wine region and moved back to England.

The best health care in the world. 

Now we know.

Let us keep it that way.

NHS: Best Health Care Days!

NHS & Private Medicine: Best Health Care & Porsche

Do we judge how good a doctor is by the car he drives? I remember medical school friends preferred to seek advice from Ferrari driving surgeons than from Rover driving psychiatrists.

My friend was amazed that I gave up Private Health Care when my wife retired.

“I know you worked for the NHS but there is no guarantee, is there?”

Well, in life you do have to believe in something. The truth is simpler in that after five years from her retirement, the co-payment is 90%.

He worked for one of the major utility companies and had the top-notch coverage.

“The laser treatment for my cataract was amazing and the surgeon drives a Porsche 911.”

Porsche official Website

He was very happy with the results.

“He has to be good, he drives a Porsche.”

Then he started feeling dizzy and having some strange noise problems in one of his ears.

“I saw a wonderful ENT specialist within a week at the same private hospital whereas I would have to wait much longer in the NHS.”

What could one say! We are losing the funny game.

What does he drive?

A Carrera.

Another Porsche.

We are OK then.

Or are we.

He was not any better. And after eight months of fortnightly appointments, the Carrera doctor suggested a mastoidectomy.

Perhaps you should get a second opinion from an NHS consultant. Perhaps see a neurologist.

“I could not believe you said that, his two children are doctors. And he has private health care!” I was told off by my wife.

He took my advice though and he got an appointment within two weeks at one of the famous neurological units at a teaching hospital.

To cut the long story short, he has DAVF.

I asked my ENT colleague if it was difficult to diagnose DAVF.

“Not these days!”

He had a range of treatments and is now much better.

All in the NHS hospital.

“I don’t know what car he drives, but he is good. One of the procedures took 6 hours.”

Best health care.

I always knew: Porsche or otherwise.

Best Health Care: NHS GP & NHS Specialist

Does having a good hunch make you a good doctor or are we all so tick-box trained that we have lost that art. Why is it then that House MD is so popular when the story line is around the “hunch” of Doctor House?

Fortunately for my friend, her GP (family physician) has managed to keep that ability.

My friend was blessed with good health all her life.  She seldom sees her GP so just before last Christmas she turned up because she has been having this funny headache that the usual OTC pain killers would not shift.

She would not have gone to the doctor except the extended family was going on a skiing holiday.

She managed to get to the surgery before they close. The receptionist told her that the doctor was about to leave. She was about to get an appointment for after Christmas when her doctor came out and was surprised to see my friend.

I have always told my juniors to be on the look out for situations like this. Life is strange. Such last minute situations always seem to bring in surprises. One should always be on the look out for what patient reveal to you as a “perhaps it is not important”.

Also any patient that you have not seen for a long time deserves a thorough examination.

She was seen immediately.

So no quick prescription of a stronger pain killer and no “have a nice holiday” then.

She took a careful history and did a quick examination including a thorough neurological examination.

Nothing.

Then something strange happened. Looking back now, I did wonder if she had spent sometime at a Neuroligical Unit.

She asked my friend to count backwards from 100.

My friend could not manage at 67.

She was admitted to a regional neurological unit. A scan showed that she had a left parietal glioma. She still remembered being seen by the neurosurgeon after her scan at 11 at night:

“We are taking it out in the morning!”

The skiing was cancelled but what a story.

Anorexia Nervosa: Chirac & Faustian Pact

3 comments:

Dr No said...
An excellent story and one that every politician of every persuasion should have nailed to his/her front door.

The smart arses will of course highlight the fact that the French bit was elective, and the British bit emergency, and it is well known that the NHS is better at emergency stuff/hopeless at elective stuff etc etc - but in so pointing out, they will of course have shown that they have missed the point!
Cockroach Catcher said...
"An excellent story and one that every politician of every persuasion should have nailed to his/her front door." Thanks, Dr No. What impressed my friend was the young doctor did not send her away as a middle class neurotic. She was lucky not to have seen some other OOH doctor that shall remain nameless.
Anonymous said...
Our NHS.

I cried a little reading this on New Year Day!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pelican & CAMHS::Anorexia Nervosa & Big Waves!

It has been a few years since The Cockroach Catcher retired and in that time, the landscape of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has changed. Can CAMHS survive the storm like the pelican?


Without much public notice, much of this sub-specialty has shifted into private hands. Just around half the last time I looked. Now there is talk of looking at CAMHS with the offer of money! Wow! Or was the outcome going to be: lets sell the profitable parts of CAMHS such as Anorexia Nervosa and leave the rest! i think I know what it would be. Just look at Dermatology!!!

Dermatology shows how NHS being decimated

By Dr David Eedy, President of the British Association of Dermatologists - 15th December 2014 11:24 am
The news that a third of NHS contracts in England have been awarded to private sector providers since the service was reorganised in 2013 is a fact that dermatologists and their patients are all too aware of.
In fact, some estimates put the figure at 70% of NHS contracts going to private providers in just the first year.
Dermatology is a prime example of how government meddling is decimating the NHS, despite the fact that each year, 54%of the population is affected by skin disease, and 23 to 33%of the population at any one time has a skin disease that would benefit from medical care.

I have personally dealt with "gaming" by private insurers. Now, it looks like the gaming is over as the payer is the NHS. You only need to look at the papers to realise that Anorexia Nervosa in particular is a growth industry. They are difficult to treat, recovery is not guaranteed and when the payer is the NHS: WOW!



©2014 Am Ang Zhang 

In the field of medicine, to promote something one needs to publicise something that is not directly related to what you want to promote. Vitamin D deficiency is one such item in recent times. Instead of promoting limited sunshine, the tablet or capsule is being promoted, everywhere! We have for a long long time various hints of Statin and its various beneficial effects. Yet a close friend had dementia and diabetes and another had double vision. The latter recovered 6 weeks after stopping the Statin, not so my friend with diabetes. She could no long remember me.

Another friend had open heart surgery and her surgeon told her to throw away the Statin.

There may indeed be some good doctors left, in the NHS.

Looks like the attack is now on Anorexia Nervosa. The Cockroach Catcher had to face a team from a private hospital wanting to make money from the NHS by asking the NHS to continue to fund anorexia treatment as she has USED UP her health insurance money. Now the situation is much worse in our beloved NHS as there is a number of closures of NHS Adolescent Psychiatric inpatient units and many such In Patients are sub-contracted to the private sector even before the term AQP emerged.

Has it not occurred to anyone that there are some very clever people working for the so called AQPs.

As we move into the gaming era of the NHS, The one diagnosis that will be on AQP's list will be Anorexia Nervosa. Unlike hip replacement, the variation of the condition is such that it is ripe for Private Providers to make a case for a fairly long drawn out treatment. AQP will not worry as "the longer, the better". Of course the patient must not die and if you think I am skeptical, I am as I have seen it even before all this Reform or Deform.

That is why I have argued that where there is such an incentive, "gaming" will happen and Mr Cameron. Don't say that nobody told you.

The NHS: Money Tree

“….Ethics in medicine has of course changed because money is now involved and big money too. What was in dispute in this case was that the private health insurance that sustained Candythrough the last eighteen months had dried out. The private hospital then tried to get the NHS to continue to pay for the service on the ground that Candy’s life would otherwise be in danger. The cost was around seven hundred pounds a night….’

Let us not forget that many private hospitals can make more money from the NHS because the NHS does not exclude. The NHS pay for everything including those Private Health Insurers chose to exclude.

This is my take on my patient:
“……A quick calculation gave me a figure of over a quarter of a million pounds per year at the private hospital.  No wonder they were not happy to have her transferred out.  Before my taking up the post, there were at one time seven patients placed by the Health Authorities at the same private hospital. Not all of them for Anorexia Nervosa, but Anorexia Nervosa required the longest stay and drained the most money from any Health Authority. I have seen private hospitals springing up for the sole purpose of admitting anorectic patients and nobody else. It is a multi-million pound business. Some of these clinics even managed to get into broadsheet Sunday supplements.  I think Anorexia Nervosa Hospitals are fast acquiring the status of private Rehab Centres. Until the government legislates to prevent health insurers from not funding long term psychiatric cases, Health Authorities all over the country will continue to pick up the tabs for such costly treatments……”

Creativity is key to the resolution of many Child Psychiatric problems and the fact that Anorexia Nervosa patients can change dramatically in a split second is testament to the need for such an approach. (The Chapter “Seven Minute Cure” in The Cockroach Catcher describes such a case.) 

But when there is good money involved and especially when it is the taxpayer's, creativity of treatment no longer comes into play. Patients will suffer!


Please Mr SoS, explain to me the good of the AQP of your new world order!

In the new world order of our NHS, private provider (AQP)for commercial  reasons need not let the public have access to information about their activities etc, and even the doctors they provide.

Just look at one of the OOH, one doctor for 950,000 population!  As they say, be very afraid.

Even as we like our NHS as much as our woods: looks like private providers for public services is in the PM's mind. Sometimes it is public (taxpayer) money for private failures: catastrophic failures when it is someone's life.

Wait, most of the time they are the same doctors so introducing competition is not going to improve anything.


Choice? Really!!!

Anyone who cared to Google Private Health Insurers will find that many conditions are excluded from their "comprehensive" Health Care. The full list is too long and I might be infringing their copyrights. See if dialysis and intensive care treatment are covered. What kind of "comprehensive" Health Care is it to exclude both.

Check out the John Lewis Hospital, sorry Circle. Same story: exclude baby intensive care, dialysis and mental health.  

Just try not to get this funny E. Coli. As when you need dialysis you may have to choose NHS. But then, you might be so ill and unconscious.....mmm interesting thought. How does one choose when very unwell? 


According to the NAO:
In 2009 the total value of the market for PH(Private Healthcare) in the UK was estimated at just over £5.8 billion. Private hospitals and clinics account for the largest part of the overall PH market, generating an estimated £3.75 billion in revenue during 2009. Fees to surgeons, anaesthetists and physicians generated an estimated £1.6 billion in 2009.

The total number of UK citizens with Private Insurance is estimated to be around 90,000. Not millions!!!

It is not difficult to work out what good value the NHS has always been.

The NHS was not perfect, far from it and yet successive attempts at fixing it has produce the opposite effect: it needs more fixing.
If you read that line again from the NAO report, it was clear where the problem was: fees to surgeons, anaesthetists and physicians!!!
Yes, that was the main recipient of Private Health income.

To become a Consultant in the NHS used to be prestigious and even those aiming to doing mainly private work will have to wait till they achieve Consultant status in the NHS.

The NHS for all its sins tried to keep every consultant as close to the MAYO ideal by insisting on the same pay-scale.

Several levels of Distinction Awards were used to keep some professors and top consultants happy. Later the name of the Awards was changed and yet it was still the same soup.

If Consultants were prepared to give up one session of pay, then there is no limit as to the private work they can take on. It was a safe way to start your private work and you keep the rather nice NHS pension.
                                                         
What is generally not talked about is that you keep one foot in your NHS hospital and one in your private one.

So far so good and yet this is where the problem starts.

It does not need a genius to work out that people worry about their health and do not want to wait for a suspicious lump to stay in their body too long. They will pay. We need not even mention the manipulation of waiting lists, etc. Then big companies realise that they can attract staff by offering Health Insurance and the rest is as they say history.

Then the rules changed and every consultant can do a maximum of 10% of their NHS pay in private work without having to give up anything. Some hospitals even allow you to use their facilities for a small fee.
Why not, more private patient means less expenditure for the NHS.

Private Insurers discovered that too and they started offering a small fee if you can wait for your operation at your free NHS hospital.

There has never been any control of Health Insurers and I suspect it was not even because they have a strong lobby: just the feeling that the NHS was for everybody so no one could be excluded.

But Health Insurers are cleverer, they exclude chronic conditions, many psychiatric ones belong to that group and often they will exclude after a while.

Cherry picking without extra labour.
Cherry picking soon©2007 Am Ang Zhang 

So, indeed it was a clever move by the present government to simply hand over a portion of money to the GPs and say: get on with it, the best price or better still, why not treat them yourself. You are all doctors, forgetting one of their own just had neurosurgery done at Queen Square.
Until, now Consultants are to be excluded from the consortia. Most are not making too much noise for a very good reason.

There just are not enough of us Consultants and the reform is really COVERT rationing by any other name.



Mar 01, 2008
This is not about Stephen Hawking's famous book that sold over 9m copies world-wide, but a collection of material that relates to Anorexia Nervosa in a chronological order. You see, I believe in free sharing of knowledge ...
Mar 19, 2011
Not all of them for Anorexia Nervosa, but Anorexia Nervosa required the longest stay and drained the most money from any Health Authority. I have seen private clinics springing up for the sole purpose of admitting anorectic patients and ...

Jun 17, 2008
Anorexia Nervosa comes to mind and this is one of the conditions that have for want of a better word captured the imagination of sufferers and public alike. I have already posted an earlier blog on its brief history. ...
Feb 23, 2010
This is not about Stephen Hawking's famous book that sold over 9m copies world-wide, but a collection of material that relates to Anorexia Nervosa in a chronological order. You see, I believe in free sharing of knowledge ...
Apr 30, 2010
Not all of them for Anorexia Nervosa, but Anorexia Nervosa required the longest stay and drained the most money from any Health Authority. I have seen private hospitals springing up for the sole purpose of admitting ...
Feb 21, 2010
Anorexia Nervosa: Chirac & Faustian Pact. Reading a new book sometimes brings you the unexpected. In Ahead of the Curves, the author told of the story he heard of Jacques Chirac and his pact with West African marabouts, ...
Feb 29, 2008
Anorexia Nervosa: a cult? I have long recognised that Anorexia Nervosa is really only a symptom, like a headache, for which there is no “one-size-fits-all” cure.
Jun 08, 2011
... to full hip-replacements, from Stents to Heart Transplants, from Anorexia Nervosa to Schizophrenia, from Trigeminal Neuralgia to Multifocal Glioma, from prostate cancer to kidney transplant and I could go on and on. ...
Jul 20, 2009
Edward Burne-Jones.
Without the effect of drugs that would double the bodyweight, we have in the end one of the most beautiful portraits of the Pre-Raphaelites. Burne-Jones’ life is of course another psychiatric book: his mother died when he was six days old and many felt that all his life he was searching for the perfect mother he so missed. It is indeed ironical that the art world has been much enriched by what was essentially untreated bereavement.