It’s time we got fighting boots on and campaigned for better care.  Dept. Health seems to have forgotten cancer, and last week two consultants told me services they can offer have been cut. One greeted me “I’ve been told I can’t look after you any more”. Reassuringly, both told me they will still look after me in the same way, but I suspect they are having to be ‘creative’.  Hospital want to push me over to the junior list in clinic, to be seen by the next available trainee in Outpatients, with no idea of how to deal with complex needs.  I go to find out how to keep healthy, not to be asked “what does your Consultant usually advise?”  Luckily both consultant are very senior and told the hospital they weren’t going to cut back on essential care.   Asking them what patients can do to stop cuts, both said it would be helpful if we  wrote complaining if services are being withdrawn – I got the impression they don’t want hospitals thinking they can ‘get away with it’.

Who can we contact?  Your local CCG, and most importantly your MP

This week the invaluable Roy Lillie highlighted the dire state of our cancer care, quoting comments from people such as Kate Andrews of the Spectator,   ” If British patients with the five most common types of cancer were treated in Germany, instead of on the NHS, more than 12,000 lives would be saved each year.  In Belgium, 14,000 more lives would be saved.

There seems to be a mind-set in the NHS that won’t acknowledge treatment carried out abroad (except in the US). As a patient at the so-called ‘world famous cancer hospital’ in London, I was  treated like a whistle-blower when I dared to question their diagnosis when told that horrendous bloody blisters all over my body, appearing three days after starting Tamoxifen, were “due to your age”,

I went to France to be sorted out.  Returning, I was treated like a whistle-blower and a group collared me to say  “you are not being supportive of the hospital”.  Thanks a bunch – I had the courage to travel across the Channel and be treated by a health system that has a solution to a horrible, painful problem, but instead of asking me how,  to see if treatment could help others (it can) the staff came down on me like a ton of angry bricks.  Wonder if perhaps this was because my treatment was NOT based on expensive drugs?

There is an arrogance about the NHS I don’t like.  It’s not the consultants, most of whom tell me privately that other countries “do it better”,  but staff who ignore what is happening abroad.  I even had a CNS tell me that Tessa Jowell “had got it wrong”.  So if you work in the NHS, please look around, and see what we can copy from other countries.  Lillie’s posting quoted that other countries spend about the same amount of money on their healthcare as we do, but demand it works for them.  They take charge of their own health, and if they don’t get good care they ask for answers.  They question wastage, such as unnecessary pills, and don’t waste ‘their’ health service’s time, even charging drunks for care (if they can afford to get drunk, they can afford to pay for care to sober up).

Other countries have better mortality rates;  we should be copying them, not sneering.

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