Watch out!  Once Brexit is out of the way, the NHS will be looking to privatise more of its services, in an attempt to save money.  Warning bells chime when, in the middle of Brexit, Boris takes time off to fly the Atlantic and meet up with Trump.  This video highlights what is good about US healthcare, but don’t expect to be getting this type of service – the deals will be for basic care with the bones stripped bare.

One reason why American healthcare costs are high is because people who use it demand – and get – much more from their healthcare. Anyone who is a cancer survivor in Britain would probably welcome a Nurse Navigator to help deal with NHS delays, cancelled appointments etc. but somehow I don’t see the NHS providing them – at least not for every cancer patient.

The NHS constantly compares itself with US healthcare, but overlooks there are countries that have a much better system than ours, but at little extra cost. Whilst Jeremy Hunt was Minister he was a guest of Kaiser Permanente in the US, but as far as I can see he never once jumped on Eurostar to see how and why they do healthcare better in Europe.  I wonder why?

The US system, as it is, costs considerably more than the NHS, but there are reasona.  Two are…..

It is usual in the States to ask for a second opinion.  and cost is included in your insurance package.  Ask for a second opinion from the NHS and the system isn’t geared up for this.  It costs money.

Americans are more likely to sue if something goes wrong.  So their health costs reflect the high cost of the insurance staff have to carry.  The NHS relies on a Machiavellian ‘complaints procedure’ making it difficult for patients to sort out what went wrong

So what benefits do Americans get?

The video shows a Nurse Navigator; what we would probably call a Cancer Nurse Specialist.  Some years ago a  Health Minister promised every NHS cancer patient woud get a CSN.   Was I the only person who never saw one?  .

It seems we keep on being given promises, and when they don’t happen the current Minister announces yet another plan – which is due in five year’s time.  By which time they hope we will have forgotten.

I well remember receiving an email from the Marsden anouncing the name of the CNS who had just been appointed, who would be looking after me (and a few others).  I rushed to book an appointment. She left shortly after.  Another was appointed – and she left.  And so it went on.

Case study – What happened when US firms got involved

One of the NHS committees I was on looked into care of elderly people.  The Dept. Health (DH) appointed an American Management Consultant (AMC) to run this. Their ‘expert’ facilitator knew all about Power Point presentations,as she stood with her back to us reading from her crowded screen.

For a year we worked on the scheme:  it soon became obvious it was an expensive tick-box exercise to satisfy the DH.  We could see problems as the AMC tried to impose their values on our NHS system.  We were even told the scheme’s name – Whole Systems Integrated Care – and wondered what OAPs would make of it.

During the exercise the AMC flew NHS big-wigs over to the States. They returned to inform us that 200 American nurses were coming over to work in the scheme, trained in the AMC’s school,”because the NHS has a nurse shortage”.  These nurses were to be paid £50,000 a year, and the AMC would get a fee.

We tried to find out if anyone had thought of offering British nurses this salary, but nobody was saying. Visions of London’s OAPs being confronted by strangers speaking with American accents came to mind.  How would the nurses cope when told “it’s my waterworks that trouble me, love”?.

To stop this mis-use of NHS money, lateral thinking was called for.

I asked the AMC if everything was being  done to ensure these American nurses were made welcome?

Yes, they were all having an Induction week (200 x 1 week’s salary)

Would they get the same benefits as British nurses i.e. would they be guaranteed NHS care? And would this be mentioned in the job advertisements?

The AMC head honcho nodded eagerly“of course”.

  • In the States your Medical Insurance package is first thing you look at before accepting a job.
  • US nurses know all about the NHS and its problems, waiting times, etc.

Result was 6 (six)  U.S. nurses applied for the job.

And I had a big smile on my face.

How scheme was finally set up

Eventually AMC finished their contract and a British NHS genius called Anzelle was appointed to manage the scheme; she was pure management gold. Re-naming the scheme My Care, My Way she proceeded to change everything else we had objected to.  If the NHS had got her and our committee round a table at the start, we could have come up with the same scheme in a quarter the time without the mega-fee paid to AMC.  That’s where the money goes.

Incidentally the AMC are still around and doing well on NHS work.  Their British website claims  “We work with clinicians and service users to redesign clinical services and pathways, implement best practice, reduce variation, and improve performance and quality outcomes”.  One dreads to think where they are involved.

How you can take advantage of US health system for free

Americans have a very generous spirit.  Googling cancer problems, up came info from Dana-Farber – one of the very top US cancer hospitals.  Their doctors have made a series of short sensible videos, using layman’s language, telling you what you need to know, not what they think you should know. NHS websites could learn and copy.

There is free information on all their major cancer sites:  MD Anderson, Johns Hopkins, ASCO etc. Writing to thank webmasters for superb information (supplied for free), I got in to cyber conversations with press officers, and they would generously supply more superb information for free.  They have even told me that we could copy and paste information for free as they regard this as a public service. So I do.

I used the sites when I suspected I had Neuropathy, which could ONLY have come as a side effect of cancer treatment. The Marsden blamed everything else; eventually (after exhaustive tests), King’s College hospital confirmed  my neuropathy was due to side effects of cancer drugs, and NOT any of the conditions the Marsden had tried to blame. I finally convinced Marsden doctors when I printed out info from US websites and shoved it under their noses!.

A friend tells me this is now up on the Outpatients wall at Sutton! But apparently no acknowledgement from whence it came!

What My Care, My Way finally looks like – we don’t need AMCs to tell us how to set up services:

This system is now up and running in Lonon.  Watching the video, I know most of the staff, the doctor – even some of the patients – and they prove that the NHS could save money if it asked patients, locals etc.  what was needed.  We don’t need glitzy American input (except perhaps for websites).  But then the CCG wouldn’t get their trips to the USA.

 

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