Friday 17 November 2017

Pass Me A Handkerchief

The debate on the National Health Service goes on and from the Left we are given the impression that they are the "defenders" from the forces of change who must be wrong if they wish to change anything. In the meantime medicine and medical problems move on.

We learn more and more and realise much better the complexities and difficulties of many conditions. But the Left want to just remind us of the past, indeed the long past, as though nothing could or would change.

A choice example is this tear jerker in The Canary from Harry Leslie Smith about the indeed tragic loss of his sister, Marion, who had tuberculosis, TB, at the age of 15. He says she was denied medical treatment nor were the family given a wheelchair.

There are one or two problems here. The three towns given for his family are Barnsley, Bradford and Halifax. All of these had local authority hospital facilities plus provision for the poor, advanced for their time, and for those signed up with friendly societies. Also, Marion had been diagnosed, who by and what were his parents told or asked?

In December 1943 an uncle of mine, much loved and respected died young from TB, he was not in hospital nor was he given medication. But he had been one of the rare men working as a nurse in an isolation hospital, where no doubt he had contracted TB. He opted to die at home with his family.

The drugs that beat TB, the antibiotics were not available then. The hospital beds were for any potential survivors, most likely who had the condition spotted early, for whom long months in an open air ward might just help them beat it.

And you did not want the serious cases on the ward. The only two options were either a managed death facility, more or less an annex to the mortuary, or being at home and told to stay at home.

So contagious was the disease and so dangerous you did not want victims being wheeled around the shops or any other public place or even up or down the street. It was not just a death sentence, it was being put into isolation as well.

The local Medical Officers of Health had TB as a major priority along with other bad ones, for example Typhoid. I recall one school I attended before the NHS was created where a pupil was found with TB and they came in like the cavalry at Waterloo to deal with it.

Go home, stay at home and wait for the results parents and pupils were instructed. Parents who did not take heed were told that if they were not careful their children would be taken into isolation for months. My parents were far from happy but obeyed.

The creation of the NHS occurred at the same time as major advances in pharmaceuticals, treatments, surgery and in other fields of medicine, notably training and functioning of family doctors. It was never simply "private" and never had been.

The problem in the late 1940's arose mainly from the effects of two world wars within thirty one years, other crises, all the industrial and employment conditions on the rise, the ex-service injured and the increasing numbers of births etc. The greater movement of people added to this.

Clearly some central policy thinking and direction would be needed in certain fields, also how to give stimulus to improvement and to even out the differences between local authorities. What it did not need was the wipe out of so much of the local and charitable provision and imposition of detached bureaucracies regardless of function.

We now have the transformations possible in the digital age and other major challenges. Does the Left seriously think that these can be dealt with by people sitting in offices in London being directed by committees of politicians with poor degrees in PPE?

1 comment:

  1. "Does the Left seriously think..."

    Probably not but it is enshrined in doctrine and almost impossible to alter, as Blair discovered.