The NHS is a wonderful thing, even in it’s current state it is truly a joy to be able to give healthcare to all. I recently had a patient from Bulgaria refuse blood tests and wound dressings as he thought he would be billed for each thing that we did, he almost couldn’t believe that the whole thing was free.
Let me tell you now about Mrs M, a lady in her late 60’s who has recently left my ward after a 4 week stay. She was in a car crash and sustained rib fractures and a broken non dominant wrist (previously very arthritic anyway) all managed conservatively. In Bighospital we take all chest trauma to general surgery, even if it is just a few cracked ribs.
Why the long stay you may ask? Mrs M is obese with a large apron of fat that has to be lifted up out of the way when she goes to wipe herself after she does the toilet. Due to the broken wrist, she felt it was too tricky to manage to wipe her backside herself so she could not go home. She lives with her husband but felt too embarrassed to have him either lift the apron or wipe her bottom.
So she remained on the ward for 4 weeks until she decided that she probably could manage actually and would just go home. She complained bitterly every morning about the bed not being comfortable or the chair being too hard or some other slight problem with her surroundings.
She couldn’t go to a rehabilitation bed somewhere because she didn’t meet rehab criteria so she stayed in the general surgery ward at a cost of over £14000 for the 4 weeks because she found the idea of her husband helping her embarrassing.
I do not know quite what to make of it, would this happen in an insurer funded health system? Am I being an unkind and nasty cow that has lost touch with medicine and caring for patients? I don’t know, I am just astounded that this lady has spent 4 weeks on the ward for want of someone to help with personal hygiene.