Sunday, 20 February 2011
Hope I die before I get old!!
These men and women raised families, paid their taxes and National Insurance all the time believing that the new National Health Service and Old Age Pension would cater for them when they got sick or old.
These people were frugal and had a saving ethic in the main, during the War they had bought National Bonds and they put their money into National Savings and also into Banks and Building Societies as a safe way of saving for their children so that they could have better lives. These people actually believed that Governments do not lie and that being prudent and careful was the best way to be to provide for both their futures and their children's futures.
Added to this mix was a tacit agreement that inter-departmental warfare was not only allowable or acceptable but also to be actively encouraged.
This meant "Silo-Based" Government departments that caused tragedies like "Baby P" to happen undetected and unchecked even though in total the authorities had all the information necessary to save him.
It also brings us back to the point of this Blog today.
So, our Fred, the octagenarian who has fought and bled for his and our country, who has paid his taxes religiously, who has soldiered on for decades without state handouts and even avoiding doctors and hospitals because of his "stiff upper lip" and who have saved as much as he could from his meagre income in order to "leave something for the kids", has a fall, or he gets a urine infection or similar and ends up in our much vaunted NHS Hospital.
Well, I say "ends up" as sometimes even getting one of our privileged class Doctors off his arse and out to visit is a herculean task to say the least of it, however let's assume that this happened on a weekend and so the normal Doctor is on a weekend skiing in Aspen or similar and so Fred gets seen by an on call Locum who is not rich enough to have his own practice and is still keen enough to be a good caring Doctor and so an admission is arranged.
"Finding a bed" entails a great amount of management and many many phone calls but no-one knows by and between whom (As an aside, when I was taken in to hospital with a heart attack two years ago I was kept in an assessment unit for 8 hours whilst they "tried to find me a bed" - After 6 hours I got bored, rang the hospital on my mobile phone, got put through to the Cardiac Ward and asked them if they had a bed spare for me and found they were expecting me. I then dressed, picked up my bag and notes, left the assessment unit by tailgating a junior doctor who was going for coffee and too tired to keep an eye out for absconding patients and walked to the Ward myself. I was then undressed, checked, given a cuppa and put in to bed and then after another two hours the ward rang the assessment ward to ask if they had "lost Mr Khan?" ). NB, if you need to "find a bed", look in a fucking Hospital Ward, there are loads of empty ones there all unfilled!
At that point, the first thing the Ward Staff do is SET A RELEASE DATE FOR FRED whether he will be well or not by then. When challenged on this, the staff's defensive response is that by setting a release date it gives everyone something to aim for. Indeed it does, because come hell or high water and including if Fred is half dead on that date, the NHS want him out of "their" hospital and into the community.
The rest of Fred's stay in hospital will be punctuated by a great many tests to chart his progress or lack of it, some visits by Doctors and Registrars but very little care to see that Fred is actually eating the food that is delivered with clockwork regularity by very lowly paid workers with no healthcare training and who take away uneaten meals and dispose of them without too much comment.
And herein lies the rub. Two Government Department who, if Fred is ill, will fight each other tooth and nail to shove his care costs on to the other, actually have a vested interest in proving that Fred is actually totally OK and should be released home to the tender mercies of his Fat Cat GP who gets paid for looking after Fred even if he never visits Fred at all. So Fred is right royally fucked by the system.
Now, let's say Fred develops Dementia due to his untreated infections whilst in hospital and the arguments over getting him out of the hospital. In that case he will be transferred to a Nursing Home which will cost in the region of £700 per week and if Fred's house and or is savings are worth more that £14,000 yes fourteen thousand - less that a saloon car, the state will not pay all of that. If they do pay all of that then he will have his State and Occupational Pensions taken and he will be allowed to keep approx £22 per week as "pocket money". That's not all, if he has any living relatives, the local authorities are instructed to morally blackmail those relatives into "topping up" his care home fees instead of the State on threat of Fred being take out of his "nice" Home and put into a "nasty" Home. (And let's face it, the "nice" ones are pretty bloody horrible unless upmarket private ones). Maybe instead of bleating on in his upper-class Toff, call me Dave, half-baked way about some form of nebulous "Big Society" that even with his Landed Gentry, Eton and Oxford background and education he cannot articulate so even his peers, let alone lesser folk can understand it, he should hark back to his penultimate predecessor with a similar background and instead espouse "Joined Up Government" (Departments at least) and start considering the fact that people have been paying in to the welfare state for decades with little complaint or demurral and in their time of need they need to be treated with respect, afforded dignity and indeed loved by the Government that inherits their support for all those years.
Fred and his ilk are heroes and the salt of the earth and should NOT be considered or discussed as a burden or a problem. They have paid all of their dues.
So Fred, when you were listening to Roger Daltry singing "Hope I die before I get old!!", did you ever think that maybe when they asked you to fight a war to save this bloody ungrateful country you should have just told them "Why don't you all FFFFFFFFFade away!!" ??