Protest while you can – Dead patients don’t vote. Rationing in action…


Access to Hospital Emergency Services is seen as an important safety net in the rural areas. From Rhyl to Pembrokeshire there is protest, and these people are not exactly the affluent who can afford to buy choice. Access to chemotherapy and cancer therapies close to home is a bonus, and avoids the problems of travelling feeling sick or vomiting. If the outcomes are going to be much better by travelling then it might be sold to the public as being worth travelling an hour to get better treatments. This is not the case for most minor ailments and for cancer, but it is for Ischaemic Heart Disease and Neurosurgery. I have not heard the protesters saying that cardiac surgery or neurosurgery should be available in Rhyl or Haverfordwest. But there is some consolation in protest. If we wait too long we certainly cannot vote or protest!

Ernest Hemmingway in “Death in the Afternoon” describes the process of waiting for help and hoping that the injury wont kill you. Recently  a friend attended the local hospital with 30 minutes chest pain across his chest shoulders and both sides of his body equally. The A&E attendance at 11.15 was followed by a 12 hour trolley wait. He might well have had a heart attack but in this area there is no quick access to cardiac surgery (Stent)  and the standard treatment is clotbuster drugs. He could easily have made it to Swansea, our nearest cardiac surgery unit, in 12 hours! As it was he had “angina” and is on treatment – but he might easily have died and lost his “vote” on the future of our health services.

A fairer way to ration would be to demand that the affluent in the cities, who have speedy access to tertiary services, pay a premium for that greater service. They already earn more and pay higher taxes. Is that enough? A final thought, if the Welsh Assembly still existed, would these cuts and changes still have happened, albeit later? Would the post code lottery in Wales be as bad as it is?Devon has not got away with their experiment in overt rationing. Most rationing will have to be universal, and seen to be fair to those in rural areas, if we are to avoid civil unrest…..An example is Proton therapy (coming to the UK after it’s unavailability shamed successive governments) (Ashya King and Freya Bevan), available to none, except if the CCG changes its mind (media pressure) or the family/community raise voluntary funds. Another example is Parkinson’s disease (Antonia Bannister reports for the Coventry Telegraph 23rd Feb 2015: Anguish as Coventry grandfather is denied Parkinson’s ‘wonder-drug’ on NHS ) where post code rationing is rampant.. because victims don’t have a voice. Politicians, you do not have permission to experiment with privatisation, and pharmaceutical excess on your people…S

(Facebook rep at a boardroom table) Suppose, gentlemen, we could deliver to your pharmaceutical companies an audience of more than a billion inexplicably depressed people.pend the money where it is efficient but ration overtly.

Will Hazel for the Health Service Journal says 234d Feb 2015 that: NEW Devon was ‘pit canary’ for CCG rationing plans.

FINANCE: ‘Queues’ of clinical commissioning groups could have implemented controversial plans to restrict access to certain services had a high profile attempt at rationing in Devon been successful, a local commissioner has claimed.

David Jenner, chair of the eastern locality of Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG, said the group had been a “pit canary” for more radical NHS rationing, with CCGs around the country ready to follow suit if it had got its plans through.

In December NEW Devon announced plans to require obese patients to lose weight and smokers to stop smoking before they could have routine surgery…..


This entry was posted in A Personal View, Patient representatives, Political Representatives and activists, Post Code Lottery, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

2 thoughts on “Protest while you can – Dead patients don’t vote. Rationing in action…

  1. Pingback: Doctors form new pressure group to prevent “marketisation” of NHS – Rationing by chaos | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

  2. Pingback: Grieving for the NHS. The softer specialities and locums. Ration for higher earners, and where insurance could cover. | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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