Scenes From the Front Lines of Socialized Medicine

Be prepared to close your eyes: they ain’t pretty:

A council was warned by police that an 81-year-old woman needed urgent care but failed to act – leading to the woman starving to death in her own home, it has emerged.

Stroke victim Gloria Foster depended on agency nurses who visited her home four times a day for food, water and medication.

But after the agency was closed down last month – for allegedly employing illegal immigrants – her council did nothing to look after her.

It has now emerged that on the day the raids took place, Surrey County Council was given a list of all the agency’s clients and contact details by the Metropolitan Police. According to the Daily Telegraph, this included Mrs Foster.

But the council failed to provide any alternative arrangements for the widow’s care and she spent nine days alone at home.

When someone eventually went to her home, in Banstead, Surrey, on January 24, they found that Mrs Foster had all but wasted away.

She was severely dehydrated, suffering kidney failure, had serious bed sores and only a faint pulse.

She was taken to Epsom Hospital but died on Monday.

Detectives from Surrey Police are now investigating Mrs Foster’s death and have seized her care register as evidence.

We may look for solace in the knowledge that she lived a long life and had already suffered a stroke. But what person deserves to waste away over nine days? She obviously had a lot of fight left in her.

Sadly, she wasn’t all that alone:

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Jo Wood, Mrs Foster’s god-daughter, said: ‘Can you imagine just lying there not being able to move for nine days? It must have been horrific. What happened to her is simply unforgivable.’

Her friends have previously said that what happened to her had been ‘appalling’ and demanded answers from Surrey County Council, the local authority responsible for her care.

Ann Penston, from Sutton, said: ‘How on Earth could this have been allowed to happen?

‘How can they just close this thing down and not identify the people they were supposed to be taking care of?

‘She did not deserve to go out like this – in agony with a total feeling of being lost.’

No children, but a god-daughter and friends. They could have helped.

I don’t blame them, not in the least. They thought their beloved Gloria was being looked after. She should have been looked after. But some unimaginable SNAFU by the health service led to the agony and tragedy of her death. Let Mrs. Foster’s sad end be a lesson to us all: never—ever, ever, ever—rely on a bureaucracy if the issue is life and death. The bigger the stakes, and the bigger the bureaucracy, the worse the possible outcome.

And it could have been even worse:

University Hospitals Bristol Foundation trust is being sued by a group of families over its treatment of newborn babies and young children who died or suffered complications at the hospital in a landmark case which raises fresh questions over the NHS’s treatment of its patients.

The ten families – of whom seven lost children, while three children survived – are seeking an admission of wrongdoing by the hospital trust, which would also open the way for compensation payments for those who face looking after the surviving children who were damaged by their treatment.

In some cases nurses are accused of switching off or turning down alarms supposed to warn them that children’s conditions were deteriorating.

Other parents say that there were so few nurses caring for children who had undergone heart surgery that they administered medication, monitored oxygen levels and even cleaned up vomit themselves.

The legal case is the latest to hit the NHS and comes in the wake of the damning report into Stafford Hospital, where up to 1,200 patients died needlessly and hundreds more suffered appalling care.

I’ll spare you the heartbreaking details. Because I’m nice. They’re heartbreaking.

Just one detail:

Most of the cases disclosed today occurred at the cardiac unit of Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

The hospital was opened in 2001 after the children’s cardiac unit based in the Bristol Royal Infirmary was closed, having been dubbed “the killing fields” after the deaths, which followed botched operations by surgeons.

It’s long been the dirty secret of Britain’s NHS: the care is free, but you get what you pay for. Just ask Mrs. Foster, these kids, and the 1,200 others (and countless others) who died “needlessly” under socialized medicine.

People are beginning to notice:

Why have so many nurses stopped CARING? An investigation into the crisis-hit NHS

My 89-year-old mother has suffered with dementia for the past seven years. Over that time she has been in and out of hospital. Some of her care has been excellent, but some has been shocking.

Once, when she collapsed, she was taken to Kingston Hospital, in South-West London. After a long and stressful evening in A&E, a bed was eventually found for her at midnight.

What a relief, I thought — she was safe and I could go home. As I stooped to whisper goodbye, a nurse shoved something in my face. ‘Sign this,’ she said bluntly. It was a form to absolve the hospital for any loss of my mother’s valuables.

Instead of relief, I now had to worry that someone might wrench her wedding ring off her finger. So much for a place of safety.

If her admission was worrying, it was the manner of her discharge which was particularly shocking. Although I had told the ward I would collect her when I finished work, the nurses dressed her and allowed her to leave alone.

When I arrived at the hospital a nurse told me that my mother had said she would go home by bus and they had let her go. I rushed off to see if I could find her, without success, and the hospital then alerted the police. She eventually turned up at her home, four hours after she had left the hospital.

I never witnessed any deliberate cruelty towards my mother during her many spells in hospital. Yet aspects of her care were still horrifying. Some of the staff were ignorant, apathetic or both. Nor was there proper continuity between the different people who saw her, or clarity about who had overall responsibility for her case.

It’s a telling reflection on our hospitals today that whenever my mother seems ill now, I try to avoid any actions that might lead to a hospital admission.

How have we reached this situation where our hospitals, which ought to be places of refuge and care, seem frightening and potentially dangerous? What’s happened to nurses who were once the embodiment of compassion? How could people employed to care, leave elderly patients confused, frightened and hungry?

In order to find out the answers to these questions, I spent three months looking into the NHS’s problems. In this three-part investigation for the Daily Mail, I document a ward culture that puts bureaucratic targets before care — and where a gulf is opening up between university-trained nurses and unregulated healthcare assistants.

A couple of clues suggest… something. “Unregulated healthcare assistants”, “illegal immigrants”, there may be something distinctly un-British in Britain’s NHS. Reader Joe has previously suggested a racial element—much to your surprise, I’m sure—which I brushed off as unsupported by any evidence. But whether the nurses (or healthcare assistants) are from Poland, Patagonia, Pago Pago, or Penzance, they seem to have taken both the health and care out of health care.

PS: Maybe a little royal concern will fix things:

A four-year-old boy died after one of the hospitals shamed by David Cameron as having persistently high death rates repeatedly failed to diagnose his cancer.

Mackenzie Cackett’s tragic plight won the heart of the Duchess of Cambridge when she made a trip to The Treehouse hospice where the little boy spent his final weeks last year and where she is patron.

With Mackenzie vomiting and complaining almost daily of headaches, his desperate parents went to the scandal-hit Colchester General Hospital four times over seven months before doctors finally discovered a tangerine-sized tumour at the top of his spine.

It was removed but when the cancer returned it took a further two months for doctors to diagnose it, after dismissing his symptoms as ‘unrelated’ to his original tumour.

The hospital, which is under investigation over its death rates, has admitted making ‘administrative errors’, which meant that crucial appointments were never made and Mackenzie’s diagnosis and treatment was delayed.

The envy of the world.

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