Sunday, September 26, 2010

#WeLoveTheNHS pt 3456

Belated but recent discussions have reminded me of the importance of not just a healthcare system free at the point of use, but one that is organised.

A story from April, about a riot triggered in a hospital in Kolkata, West Bengal in India.

Dying boy turned away, mob unleashes terror in hospitals

TNN, Apr 14, 2010, 04.16am IST

KOLKATA: Lawlessness in Kolkata touched an abysmal low on Tuesday, moving from the streets to the wards and operating theatres of two private hospitals on EM Bypass. Angered by the doctors' alleged refusal to admit a critically injured accident victim, a mob vandalized Peerless Hospital and Apex Hospital, smashed up equipment, thrashed doctors and nurses, stole the cash box and attacked policemen

Riots in hospital are astonishing, disgusting and should be condemned, as I do. Its a horrifying destruction of facilities that should be used to treat the sick.

It all started after Peerless Hospital authorities allegedly refused admission to 13-year-old Sonai Tarafdar, who was brought there around 7 am, covered in blood. He was among four killed and five injured in a collision between a van and a lorry near Bagha Jatin flyover in south Kolkata. Sonai's relatives said they approached doctors at the emergency twice, but were turned away. He gasped his last breath an hour later at the hospital gates. "The doctors asked us to get money first. We left the hospital carrying a dying Sonai in our arms," said Tapan Mandal, a relative. "They demanded Rs 50,000 before starting treatment," said Manju Gayen, whose daughter Arati was among the dead. The hospital has denied the allegation.

The corpses were lying on the road outside the hospital when residents from nearby slums started gathering. Armed with shovels, rods, axes and sticks, they charged into Peerless Hospital, dragged out staff from a restaurant and set fire to it. The security guards' office was torched, too. The vandals then stormed into the operation theatre and broke the door when surgery was on. Equipment and furniture were wrecked in the haematooncology, gastroenterology, OPD, X-ray and ultrasonography rooms. The CT scan machine was also damaged. Even the blood bank wasn't spared. The mob hurled fans and water filters and started moving towards the wards.


Peerless hospital chairman S K Roy, however, denied the charge, saying: "Nobody asked for money from the patients. The allegations are baseless and the attack motivated. This is not a charitable hospital but a corporate one*. This is an attack on the entire health industry. The government should give us protection." Dr Sudipto Mukherjee, who was at the emergency when the attack started, claimed Sonai was dead when he was brought to the hospital.

*Not quite sure what their corporate status should have to do with whether they should be protected or not, but there you go.

West Bengal, it should be pointed out, has been Communist (Marxist-Leninist, if I remember correctly, not plain Marxist) for the past 30 years.

Even private patients don't get the sort of joined up healthcare that is routine in the NHS. They do not get things like food, for instance. That comes from relatives visiting. Neither do they get medicines. Those have to be obtained (and paid for) seperately. Also, it is unlikely you will actually have an ambulance to take you to a hospital.

Zee News recently spoke, in awestruck terms, of a new fleet of ambulances that had - white heat of technology - just been fitted with defibrillators. They trumpeted that these would only cost '1 lakh Rupees' (100 thousand Rupees, approx £1250) for a callout.

Not that these Ambulances were anywhere in sight when the footbridge for the Comonwealth Games collapsed last week.

Oh yes, The Games. That list of cliches spouted by bent politicians as an excuse and relayed by know-nothing media hacks (the latest jibberer being Sunrise Radio's own equivalent of Richard Madeley, Tony Patti) on why it is run by incompetent fuckwits;

# It's like an Indian Wedding! It'll all get done at the last minute and come good like in dem Bollywood films!

Of course we are all meant to laugh along at this hokey little piece of shit, ignoring that most parents are born endebted due to their parents dowry and start saving for their childrens (daughters') wedding bribe from before she is born. 'Daughters Wedding' syndrome is also a term applied to contractors squeezing the nuts of developers in the certain knowledge that they will HAVE to pay up as it it too late to hire anyone else. This may explain why Indian families face such crippling debt.

# But its different standards in India!

Different meaning reosrting to using child labour and now calling in the Army after a lying incompetent pigs bladder on a stick (Suresh Kalmadi) managed to fob off the Indian Media and everyone else for the past 2 years with assurances that everything will be alright. Also means that Indians don't mind living in shit. Of course if that was an Australian saying that Indian public opinion would go BoNkERsMenTAl but hey lets not fuss yah? Its unpatriotic.

And the Indian Healthcare system is now being held up as a model of how the NHS could operate by Vince Cable.

In a series of wards upstairs, heart patients are recovering from surgery and waiting to go home. The average cost of surgery here is a fraction of what it costs in the West, and patients come to Bangalore from all over the world.

The very poorest are never turned away either. Under a subsidised scheme, CS Manju Nath, a local man, had complex heart surgery here for next to nothing.

Next to nothing, note. Not 'free'.


In other words, some patients are treated for a significant financial loss to the hospital. But the volume of operations is so large, that it still makes an overall profit.

So they are doing away with top-down 'stalinist' targets for hospitals and instead building, well, health 'collectives' where happy cardiothoracic operatives can toil for the empowered localist agenda of the Big Society.

So in the UK, that would be like there only being 1 or 2 large hospitals specialising in only cancer treatment. A cynic might point out that is centralising services into fewer and fewer locations, which, if you believe Conservative LibDem rhetoric is utterly against the aims of the new localism.

Vince: Fuck Off.

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