Had I relied on the NHS 15 years ago, you’d be spared my immoral… sorry, I mean immortal prose.
To be fair, it was a brilliant NHS GP, Guy Lawley, who first spotted something wrong and referred me to a private oncologist for tests, which started within a couple of days.
However, back then I could still get to see him on a day’s notice, as opposed to the fortnight it would take today. And Guy is no longer with the NHS: he retired at 50, in disgust at having to spend most of his time filling useless forms.
Once in the hands of private consultants, and much to their barely concealed surprise, I managed to survive two different cancers, both in Stage 4 (there’s no Stage 5). An NHS patient with a similar diagnosis would almost certainly have died.
He would have had to wait much longer for each diagnostic test, especially exploratory surgery, longer still for hospital admission – and he wouldn’t have received the same state-of-the art treatment that saved me.
One example if I may. The kind of chemotherapy used in my type of cancer wipes out leucocytes, white blood cells, leaving the patient with no immunity to ward off infection and, until the leucocytes are rebuilt, at deadly risk.
That’s why, after each chemo session, a private patient receives a combination shot of three different agents, which takes 48 hours to restore the immune defences. The problem with that shot is that it’s expensive. In my day it cost £1,200 a pop, which was too rich for NHS patients’ blood.
Those poor souls received the same three drugs, but in three different syringes. That much cheaper alternative left them unprotected not for two days but for two weeks. They had to live for a fortnight knowing that any germ flying through the air was a poisoned bullet aimed at them.
This is just a bit of personal background to the impersonal statistics showing that the UK lags far behind other civilised nations in cancer survival rates. In just about all cancers, we’re at or near the bottom of the table.
Yes, I know the NHS is the envy of the world, as all other giant socialist projects always are. But the world clenches its teeth and manfully overcomes envy to get on with the business of saving lives.
Meanwhile, more than 100,000 British oncological patients a year are diagnosed when their cancer has already spread, reducing their chances of survival. The reason for this is given as NHS staff shortages, which I find baffling.
After all, the NHS is the biggest employer not just in the UK, not just in Europe, but in the world. Why then is it short of doctors and nurses saving people’s lives?
Anyone asking this question simply doesn’t understand socialism. It operates according to a law that says that any socialist enterprise, whatever its stated role, exists mainly for the benefit of its administrators and, ultimately. the state.
That’s why, while the frontline medical staffs are shrinking in the NHS, the administrative staffs are growing like mushrooms after an autumn rain. In fact, one gets the impression that doctors and nurses get in the way of the NHS’s real business, that entrusted to directors of diversity, optimisers of facilitation and facilitators of optimisation.
Whatever indispensable things those chaps can do, diagnosing cancer manifestly isn’t one of them. That’s why in 2017 115,000 cases were spotted only in advanced stages.
The same major study shows that three quarters of NHS services don’t treat cancer patients quickly enough. The guidelines call for 85 per cent of patients urgently referred by a GP being treated within 62 days (privately, I was treated within a fortnight).
Yet 94 of 131 cancer services in England failed to do that last year, almost a three-fold increase compared to five years ago. It’s useful to remember here that in some cancers an early diagnosis makes the difference between one in 10 dying and one in 10 surviving.
Every successive government pledges to throw more money at the NHS, and some even manage to do so. Politicians know vote getters and losers when they see them.
Even a hint at the remote possibility that perhaps other methods of providing medical services work better will spell the end of a promising political career – the voting public has been house-trained to worship the NHS with devotion formerly reserved for God.
This subject is impossible to discuss rationally and dispassionately. If you don’t believe me, just mention at a large party that papering the cracks in the NHS will never work, even if it becomes the only, not just the largest, UK employer.
Its problems, to use the medical parlance, are not symptomatic but systemic. The NHS, you might add, is run badly not because its practitioners are inadequate, but because its underlying idea is.
Then hasten to shield your head from the slings and arrows of the outrageous brainwashed. The projectiles will come in a swarm – as they always do when someone commits the ultimate sacrilege.
Meanwhile, the oncological argument goes on – and we are losing.