Daily Archives: June 7, 2013

Doctor, Doctor I think I’m a butterfly

Dr: Will you say what you mean and stop flitting about!

Right so, here I go……

The health care we receive, be it NHS/Medicare or care paid for by private insurance, can only be as good as the people providing that care.  Doctors & nurses are human, with all the same stresses and worldly cares that we the patients have. It might be troublesome teenagers, aging parents, grief at loss of a loved one or signs & symptoms of their own ill health knocking at their door.

When I was young we had a family GP who worked his practice single handed 24/7. He held two ‘non appointment’ surgeries, five days a week: 2 pm for one hour, and in the evening from six pm to seven thirty, the latter clinic often went on until nine pm, nobody was ever turned away. The remainder of the day was spent making house calls or arranging for hospital admittance or appointments.

DR H, lived along the avenue from us and had his surgery in a converted shed in the garden. It was divided into two rooms (I am going back to the 1950s &60s here).

You opened the outside door and entered the waiting room. A dozen unmatched dining chairs were placed around three walls. A well trodden square of carpet covered the floor and the remaining furniture was a coffee table with a scattering of well thumbed and dog-eared old magazines. Heating was provided by a two bar electric fire.

First patient in plugged in the fire to take the chill off the air, then went and sat next to the internal door to the Doctor’s surgery. Next patient came and sat beside them and soon there was a confessional queue of patients waiting to be seen. As a patient went in to see the Doctor, the others waiting their turn, all stood up as if in unison to move along the row of seats – sure it was good exercise and kept the blood flowing!

The surgery was no more modern than the waiting room. It had an examination table along one wall. On another was a lockable glass cabinet where he kept his few drugs and below it a small wash hand basin. On the floor near his desk and chair was a single gas ring on which sat a saucepan to boil and sterilize his syringes and needles. Finally there were two more chairs for patient and carer and at a safe distance, another two bar electric fire.

 How different that all seems to the clinics and surgeries of today:

  • Appointments to fit our timetable
  • Touch screen arrival check-ins.
  • Bright spacious waiting areas with comfortable seating (Thankfully the blasting television screens seem to have been removed).
  • Bleeping signs that show your name when the Dr is ready to see you.
  • Digital records and up to date results from X-Rays and hospital visits.
  • Out of hours doctors panels to deal with emergencies or see urgent cases in their own homes.

GPs today, mostly work in group practice. They spend their day seeing patients in surgery, on house calls or speak to them on the phone. Paper work – be it hard copy or digital – is the major headache and dirty word that they all have to deal with on a daily basis. Letters to Consultants and hospitals. Results of consultations, X-rays or blood tests all need to be read and decisions made. They have stats to fill and targets to meet and at the end of the day about 200 repeat prescriptions to sign. That last one is not as easy as it sounds. Medications that can cause so many complications by being added into the wrong mix – patient charts need checking – drug bibles need checking – eyes get tired, bodies need food, fathers and mothers need to get home and see their families…… They are human!

Many medical procedures are taken care of at the local surgery, or as a day patient in a hospital. Hospital stays are much shorter than in the past. When I had my appendectomy in 1966, the norm was a fourteen day stay in hospital. I was in bed for one full week and ambulatory for the next seven days. Nowadays that operation, like so many others, is most commonly performed as keyhole surgery and the patient discharged in a couple of days.

Today we have vaccines help us avoid:

  • Flu
  • HPV (human papilloma virus)
  • MMR – measles, mumps, rubella
  • pneumonia
  • polio
  • scarlet fever
  • Typhoid
  • Whooping cough
  • Antimalarial prevention comes in tablet form.

Cataracts, hips, knees, hearts, lungs and livers can now be replaced. With the possibility of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) (taking donated egg cells from women and removing their genetic material. These are then fused with human cells – in this case skin cells – and the fused cell begins behaving in a similar way to an embryo by producing human stem cells) the future holds great possibilities.

BUT, yes it is a big one:

For every ailment or disease we seem to overcome, there are plenty more coming to our notice every day with no cure and at times no knowledge of how to treat them.

The medical world is changing – AT A PRICE!

Back in August 2009, Ronni Bennett from Time Goes By asked bloggers from both within and without the Unites States of America, to take part in a discussion on how healthy we found our Health Service, and link to her Health Debate on 20th August 2009.

I added my My Tuppenceworth to the debate finishing up with this paragraph:

Modern medicine is both wonderful and cruel, amazing advancements have been made over the years, but we have outlandish expectations for miracle cures. We are all living longer and the way the health service works will have to change.  Illnesses such as cancer, once considered fatal, are now becoming chronic. Joints and internal organs can be replaced, but there is no such thing as a free lunch… the price is often with (like me) constant reviews and extra medication all costing the state and our pockets to stretch a very long way. We seem to have forgotten that we must die at some stage. I would like to live for another ten to fifteen years, but please don’t keep me hanging on like a vegetable, for another twenty, thirty or forty years, somebody show mercy, open the door and push me outside the igloo!

Over my lifetime, I have witnessed the results of wonderful work both at the hands of public and private health care, but I have seen some dreadful mishaps too from both sides of the coin.

The medical world is changing – AT A PRICE!

Now I wonder if shackman agrees? He was responsible for setting this topic of national healthcare vs private on the table today. Now it is time to don the scrub outfits and enter the theater to see how the other members of our team are approaching the cut: The Old Fossil, Ramana, Delirious, Maxi, Shackman speaks, Ashok, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, Padmum, Blackwatertown, Will Knott Rohit