The arrogance and inhumanity of a welfare-State bureaucrat is worse than even a writer of fiction would dream up.

"A surgeon, David Grace, had a backlog of 16 urgent cases. These included six people with broken hips. Now a broken hip is a serious and very painful injury. It does, of course, immobilise you. You have to lie still. You are in absolute agony unless you are very strong painkillers. This, I suspect, is not very good for anyone but especially for the elderly women who are most prone to break their hips. The condition causes them and their families fear and worry. If you are left hardly able to move for hours or days on end, you have a high risk of bed sores. This is, without doubt, an emergency. The operation to fix the hip should take place within a day or two.

So David Grace had six of these cases and 10 other cases to deal with. He went to the chief executive of his hospital trust and asked for help in clearing this backlog. She was insistent that he should not do so. She demanded that, instead, that he should operate on bunions. Grace believes - and it is hard to think of any other explanation - that this was because the chief executive wanted to meet a government target for treating non-urgent operations within nine months.

I would ask anyone to consider how they would feel if, say, their elderly mother or grandmother was lying in agony in hospital and she was left to wait for six days or more because the trust insisted on treating bunions? It is beyond shocking. It should make us think about the widespread assumption that the "public service" ethic is really so profound and reliable. Heaven help those who rely on the NHS. Heaven forgive those who expect the poor to do so.

Next time a cabinet minister boasts about reduced waiting lists, remember these six people with broken hips, lying in bed in agony, waiting to be treated in order to achieve the boast of which the minister is so proud.

But it gets more worrying still. For his impertinence is refusing to do what the chief executive told him, the trust leaned on him. An investigation was started into his 'personal and professional conduct'. He has since been exonerated. But think of the implication: that trying to treat those who need emergency treatment is not merely discouraged, it is likely to damage your whole career".

From the Adam Smith Blog


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation.

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