I’ll be praying for her and you

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~ by Servetus on January 3, 2018.

29 Responses to “I’ll be praying for her and you”

  1. A lot of the hospitals in my area are cancelling planned surgery in January but I hoped this didn’t include serious/life saving operations, poor Margaret I hope things improve.
    My thoughts are with the whole Armitage family.

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  2. I read that NHS was canceling only non-essential or non-urgent surgeries right now. He’s clearly saying otherwise. Maybe this is one of those times when his social media clout can help him get to the head of the line.

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    • I suspect the UK doesn’t work like that. Hopefully, if her situation is dire, he can afford to pay for services. I’m not sure how that works in the UK; it’s possible in Germany with the dual public / private system.

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      • There certainly were private care facilities when I was a nurse in the UK but that was many moons ago. I actually worked in one for a time. In fact IIRC Prince Charles was a patient there at one time (not while I was there) as he got sick while they were at Balmoral. Having left the UK over 40 years ago I don’t know what the situation is re fee-paying health care nowadays.

        I will certainly be praying for Mrs Armitage and all the family at this worrying time for them. I hope she gets her surgery very soon.

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        • I’ve got no problem with people paying out of pocket who can afford it — reduces the burden on everyone else. But that’s a very American viewpoint, I suspect. It’s a shame that the NHS is being so systematically deprived of adequate funding.

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  3. Certainly, he probably can afford to pay, if necessary, but you know, there’s faith in your particular surgeon who knows the whole story, etc. Also, I suspect they were OK once she was rescheduled once, but maybe now that it’s been twice, they’re feeling the urgency.

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    • His parents are at the age, too, where things that are normally routine start to be anxiety-provoking.

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      • Also based on repeated experience if the medical situation is complex people end up back with Nhs specialists anyway as they are more experienced and have the more recent and complex stuff. But we’re talking here increased level of medical complexity and risk not routine interventions. It’s exactly the situations i have experienced too.

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  4. I think any adult caring for an elderly parent knows the frustration in encountering situations like this one. I hope all goes well for their family and the surgery is successful

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    • Yeah, it’s enraging (I read stuff like this and relive all my 2012-2014 trauma, and then think that we have it with dad still ahead of us and wonder if I am up to it) and worrying. There are definitely a lot of people cheering for her now, though.

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  5. In surgical scheduling there are many challenges. My mom broke her hip five years ago and was in her mid 80s. It was “urgent” to us, in that she was elderly, uncomfortable and at risk of a clot forming. Her surgery was also cancelled twice such that she did not have it for almost 48 hours after her fall, due to more serious operations bumping her (we are in Canada). Of course we were all rather upset, but at the same time we knew that the surgeries that preceded hers at that point were the really serious “must do now” procedures. I would hope that Mrs Armitage has hers soon, and I fully understand their frustration. I also doubt that anybody’s celebrity or social media status would be of any advantage to get to the head of any line. We had a family member who was “in the business” (specifically as a fellow surgeon from a different hospital) and it did not make any difference in my mother’s case, and my own personal view on that is that it’s simply unethical to adjust a wait list based on the identity of the people on it. In Canada we cannot pay privately to have it done quicker, and based on what I know of the UK I don’t think that’s possible either. There are also a host of other reasons why surgeries don’t happen when they optimally should, which have to do with staffing issues in the ORs and availability of anesthesiologists. Usually over holiday time periods hospitals close down many of their operating rooms and are working on a pretty reduced schedule (lots of people on vacation) which makes it even more challenging.

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    • I’ve been told there’s a flu epidemic starting in the UK too just now, which probably doesn’t help things out in terms of making staff available.

      I can’t comment on the ethics without more information (although in ignorance of the facts, I tend to agree with you, and I also suspect that the NHS has a body that prioritizes care in situations like this), but I also think this is an area where there’s just a vast difference of worldview between US-Americans and almost everyone else. In the US, a lot of people self-select out of health care because they know they can’t afford it anyway, but then rely on a system that’s heavily conditioned to accommodate emergencies because in turn, so many of them are created. The emergency is system is expensive, but it’s ample, whereas the normal care system is under-supplied and getting worse. In the UK, in contrast, it’s my impression from talking to colleagues from England that people expect to have regular health care access and make certain sacrifices they find acceptable in order to get that, and that health care crises and crises relating to aging aren’t seen the way that they are in the U.S.

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    • IDK. If I were in the same position, where there is a real urgency, and I thought I could successfully pull some strings or exert pressure, I would pull and push.

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      • I don’t know what he’s doing, or not doing, or what the Armitages preferences in this regard might be … but I really do think there could be a cultural difference at work here.

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        • Fair enough. I’m a pushy New Yorker.

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          • LOL, you’re an American. (shrugs) The people I know from the UK (which, admittedly are the not the wealthiest or the poorest — they’re mostly academic and professionals) all have this very strong regard for fair play and not getting more than their fair share and so on. I always think watching people at UK bus stops is an instructive lesson in English behavior. The social contract is organized in subtly different ways.

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            • An example occurs to me — my friend and colleague the former Cambridge professor witnessed my reactions to the beginning of my mom’s health problems. At one point, I was discussing with him the question of getting a second opinion, whether it was worth it, and what it would cost. That was a revelation for him. I mean, I assume they have access to second opinions in the UK, too, but it was essentially a normal thing for me and something I would consider important, and it would have been extraordinary for him. In essence, I’m not troubled by the idea that family resources could obtain better care for us, and he was really bothered by it. I don’t know if that’s generalizable — just saying I’ve observed it.

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              • So those in the U.K. normally don’t seek second opinions? Or there health care system doesn’t allow it? I’ve become a firm believer in second opinions after I sought one from a doctor who ultimately saved my hubs’ life.

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                • I never asked him, and I don’t know how typical his attitude was, so I can’t say what people in the UK would normally do as my sample is too small — but my impression was that he didn’t see it as a customary practice. I can kind of see that; if you have a professional making a determination, why should the system pay for a second opinion? There are a lot of HMOs in the US that are set up that way as well. Nothing would stop you from getting a second opinion; you’d just have to pay for it yourself, out of pocket.

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    • Exactly on all counts except one can go private here if one chooses. In serious illnesses based on experience i would always stick with nhs however. You’re right in that winter and local storms have made things worse in scheduling at the moment

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  6. I hope everything will be well soon in the Armitage family.
    If the British health care system resembles the one where I’m from, you cannot switch to and from private/public at leisure. So, if you’ve begun examinations/treatments in a public hospital, you would have to start all over in a private setting. This takes time. Also, private hospitals can have waiting lists. Depends on the illness.

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  7. My assumption was that he was protesting NHS cuts using his family situation as an example – not pushing for preferential treatment. He’s not the only British celebrity tweeting the #nhscrisis tag today.

    Also speaking personally, I wouldn’t be happy if my mother was bumped from her surgery slot because an actor used his influence to get his mother in. Maybe because I’m British I struggle to understand how anyone could think that a fair way to conduct oneself.

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    • I agree that on some level he was trying to make a political statement. (Which was why the Twitter responses were interesting in that most seemed not to want to jump in on the political question — and then some of those who did were jumped in return for being “asshats.”)

      This is a question upon which I have a relatively strong opinion, based on my experiences in different places, and my culture, and so on. I know what i would prefer to see, what I have seen, how I have behaved. That said: All health care systems prioritize and ration in some way according to a particular set of principles they internalize. These are different in the UK than they are in the US. (Every time my dad tells me that “socialized medicine” rations health care, I point out that we do, too, just according to different rules.) in the US, money and string pulling / “who you know” always let you jump the line. Always. In the health care system as at the IRS or the criminal justice system or Disneyland. Most Americans consider this to a greater or lesser extent normal; some are critical of it while others rationalize it along some level of merit (“but I worked for this and I deserve it”). In any case, that’s the status quo here, so it’s not surprising that Americans would say, what can you do? How can you push her up the queue?

      Instructive to me was something I learned in grad school. During the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the Spaniards thought the Aztecs were barbaric because they engaged in human sacrifice, ripping the hearts out of living beings. The Aztecs thought the Spaniards were barbaric because when they were questioning uncooperative Aztecs, they tortured them in public by holding their feet over open flames. I’m not an absolute cultural relativist, nor am I neutral in the particular question of health care provision — but it did make me realize how our cultural assumptions guide our views.

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  8. I do work in the front line in an NHS hospital in Surgery and this time of year is always a nightmare. The biggest problem we face is we are an aging population and the elderly are vulnerable. It is my 35th year as a nurse and I can say that we carry out a lot more surgery and on sicker people that we did when I started my career and those people need more care post op. There needs to be a huge switch in thinking social care in the community needs to be affordable so that people who are over the acute phase of their illness can convalescence either at home or in short stay facilities. 50years ago women did not work in such huge numbers and so they cared for elderly relatives at home.

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    • The same problem is about to hit the US in spades. Or, I should say, it’s already hitting around here. I spend a lot of time looking at job ads and it’s instructive to see what different kinds of health care professions make and how in demand they are.

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    • I love this reply by Kate and keep coming back to it. When the NHS was conceived anyone with a serious illness probably died. No one expected miracles so the notion of universal health care was attainable because most people’s engagement with it was of a limited duration. The problem is now that the British still see free and unlimited healthcare as a basic human right but aren’t prepared to pay for it in higher taxes. We hear about NHS cuts but no political party could get elected if their mandate included raising taxes to Swedish levels. Brexiters got traction with the lie that the NHS would be £350 million (per week?) better off out of the EU because that seems like the perfect answer to prop up a system which is no longer sustainable without hitting the pockets of the electorate.

      Last year I spent three weeks in a large NHS hospital in the UK, supporting a dying relative. He was moved in and out of the critical care unit almost daily, and it became obvious that the moves were nothing to do with his health and everything to do with bed availability. To move him from critical care to a general ward when he was clearly going downhill seemed counter-intuitive but we could only conclude that the bed was needed for someone sicker , or more likely to survive. Everyone we came into contact was overworked and exhausted, and yet they all gave the absolute best they could. The cardiac consultant who had to ask for permission to withdraw care ( we didn’t give it) told us how devastated he was to be losing a young person to an illness he should have been able to treat. But in the end it was just bad luck and a perfect storm of a congenital deformity, an infection and a rogue blood clot and no amount of advocacy was going to change that. If the NHS had been better funded my relative might have had a more peaceful death but sadly he would still have died.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And the demographic curve (high postwar birth rates) are working against the UK (as against most of the industrialized West).

        You say something else I could write a book about, and it’s something else that’s changed since the immediate postwar: “sadly he would still have died.” Doctors can’t fix everything.

        I’m sorry for your loss.

        Liked by 1 person

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