Stazjia’s Commentary

Posts Tagged ‘death

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Child Cruelty – Local Council Apologises

I didn’t want to write anymore about the case of Baby P because I find it immensely distressing and I can’t get out of my mind what that poor child suffered and how alone and distressed he was. That’s before I even think about the pain.

Yesterday a member of the ruling group of the local council, councillor George Meehan, apologised at a meeting. He said, “There is no failure to apologise in full by this council, we do so unreservedly.” When asked if he apologised personally, he said, “I have no problem saying I personally apologise.”  Now read more

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Of course we are very lucky here in the UK to have a National Health Service (NHS) that is “free at the point of need.”

The problems start as more advanced treatments come on the market for life threatening illnesses like cancer because many of them are extremely expensive. There is a limit to how much tax the government can impose to pay for the NHS and the budget still has to be found for all the existing treatments and other expenses.

Because the NHS is administered regionally, we have now entered an era of ‘postcode lottery’. People in some areas can get an expensive drug to treat their potentially fatal cancer while people in the area next door can’t. To complicate the situation, at present, patients can’t pay for the extra drug themselves and continue to get free NHS treatment and other drugs they need. If they pay for one drug, they have to pay for everything including doctor’s consultations, hospital stays, etc. It’s only the wealthiest people who can afford to do this or those with very good and expensive health insurance – quite rare in this country.

Some people can raise the money for the expensive drug denied them by their local health authority, maybe by remortgaging their homes, taking out a bank loan or some other means. Because of the rules, though, they can’t do it without sacrificing the rest of their treatment.

It’s come to the point that people die because they are denied life-saving treatment and they and their families have to live with that knowledge as the disease progresses.

There has been a big outcry in England about this and opinion now seems to be swinging in support of allowing people to pay for the extra drugs without losing the rest of their NHS treatment. The same debate is taking place in Scotland where the NHS is administered by the Scottish Parliament. There the debate seems to be going in the opposite direction. The argument against allowing paying for some treatment is that, first, “the NHS is free at the point of need” and second, it gives better off patients an advantage against poorer ones and so makes the NHS unfair. The whole point being that the health service is supposed to iron out inequities between people with money and those without.

I can see both points of view. Why should some people be allowed to die because they can’t afford to pay for extra drugs but why should everybody be allowed to die who could benefit from new drugs because they aren’t allowed to pay for just the ones the NHS can’t afford?

I suppose that, in the end, there is no advantage to letting everybody die when some could be saved – denying the more prosperous treatment won’t help the poorer patients. The terrible thing is that this is the kind of dilemma that the NHS was supposed to stop happening.

It’s very strange thinking that I could die at any time. It was brought home to me again yesterday at the end of the Men’s Single Final at Wimbledon when Roger Federer said he’d be back next year. I thought, ‘Oh, good, maybe he’ll win again’ (not that I have anything against Nadel). The next thing I thought about was that maybe I wouldn’t be here to see it. Maybe I’ve just watched my last Wimbledon Fortnight on TV this year.

Because I can’t work now, I don’t have much money. It’s OK, I’m not asking for donations! No, what I was thinking about was getting a Christmas presents over the next few months, maybe making some peaches in brandy as gifts. Then I realised, I might not be here for Christmas. I’m even in two minds about spending money on some wellington boots for when I take the dogs out in the rain. It seems a waste if I’m not going to get much wear out of them.

I’m not walking around being miserable about all this. It feels more like being sensible. I’ve just bought birthday gifts for my two nephews, both 2 years old, one at the end of September and the other 10 days later in October. I’ll give one gift to my brother for his son and the other to my sister for her son. They’ll each have a long lasting gift from me even if they won’t remember me.

The thing about knowing I’m not going to live very long is that it’s a bit like knowing I’m going to miss the ending of a novel or TV series. What is going to happen in the lives of the people I care about after I’ve gone?

I don’t think about this all the time. In fact, I still plan what I’m going to do. For example, I’ve got lots of ideas for new Squidoo lenses. I’m part the way through making a patchwork quilt and I plan to finish it and use it. I still want to get my free bus too and ride the buses free of charge!