We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

How confused does the NHS have to be to reprimand a patient who can’t breathe for coming to the hospital to save their own lives?

This recently happened to a friend of mine who caught Covid-19. With no previous health issues, she is healthy and full of zest. Then, out of nowhere she developed difficulty breathing and found she couldn’t swallow properly. So she did what any sensible person would have done: She called 111, and following their advice, mind you, made the trip to A&E. You would expect that a 19-year-old rushed into a Bristol A&E with breathing difficulties would be treated with compassion and seen immediately. But you’d be wrong. Not only was my friend subjected to a six hour wait for an ECG scan, but she was also reprimanded for coming in at all, despite the fact she was told to do so and had a positive Covid-19 test. In short, a pantomime of chaos whereby hospital staff were shocked that an ill person had entered their midst.


More strikingly, she was told ‘it’s only Covid, you’ll be fine, you can go home.’ Only Covid? Only the virus which has led to the imprisonment of all youth in the continuous drudgery of lockdowns; so it’s all for just a pat on the head from a school nurse and told to go back to lessons? It’s nonsensical and entirely hypocritical. If a severe bout of Covid means nothing to the Bristol NHS trust anymore, then why do Dr Whitty and all his merry men keep going on about it?

Alys Watson Brown, writing Covid rules are trumping decency and common sense in the NHS – I’ve experienced it.

The NHS is the envy of the world and don’t forget to clap, citizen.

14 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    There’s no way out of this, is there? This is a terrible story, but we all know, don’t we, that absolutely nothing is going to change.

    No matter how badly the NHS fails, people are unwilling to blame it; the usual response to any problem is to demand that more money be spent on it. Certainly any politician who suggested radical reform, such as replacing the NHS with a single-payer healthcare system, like in France and Germany, where the hospitals are privately run, but paid by the government, would be committing instant career suicide.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    Chant after me: ‘In the name of the N, and of the H, and of the Holy S’

    The National Health Service has essentially supplanted more traditional forms of faith in Britain as an object of veneration and worship. Blasphemers offer criticism at their peril.

  • Roué le Jour

    It would be interesting to interview the person who said it was “only covid.” Was that the indifference to human suffering that we associate with socialized medicine or a professional opinion?

  • John Lewis

    6 hours delay in providing treatment in a hospital which, judging by that days admissions, must have been relatively uncontaminated by patients.

    I’m old enough to remember “performance standards”.

  • Molly Millions

    1. It’s only Covid, you are not in a risk group so go home
    2. It’s deadly Covid, we have to massively increase state power & regulate everyone’s movements.

    seems they can have it both ways.

  • Io_

    The NHS is a crapshoot. Because each trust has a monopoly if you’re in an area with a poorly run trust, tough shit. Put up with it or move.

    I also recall that Bristol NHS trust is one of the flakier ones in the country (must take after the city).

  • bobby b

    If she was one of the unvaxxed, she could have triggered the nurses’ and staff’s disgust at being one of the “selfish ones”, causing them to sarcastically tell her “it’s only Covid”, in the manner of “you never took it seriously before, and now you want us to jump for you?! Ha! Go home and you can just see how serious it is” while giving her pointedly slow service.

    I know people who would react in exactly this way.

  • asiaseen

    hospital staff were shocked that an ill person had entered their midst.

    Inded, how inconsiderate. You are supposed to go to hospital to be made ill.

  • Mike Solent

    I had a hilarious experience a few years back when having a very minor operation to remove a sort of cysty thing on my left little finger. I had told them I wanted local anaesthetic, partly because I saw no reason in adding even the small risk of general anaesthesia, partly because I was wildly curious and did not want to miss any of the fun; it was my first, and so far, my only experience of surgery. My decision, which was in any case the default for such a simple procedure had duly been noted by my gp. Each person I met at the hospital started with the words ” As you’re having a general anaesthetic” First the receptionist, then a nurse, then the anaesthetist, then another nurse, each of them said this, then scribbled down a note after I had explained their error. I sat waiting for a bit, happy and chilled. (I had been told off by the anaesthetist in a humorous manner for having far too low a heart rate and blood pressure for a person about to undergo even minor surgery and was happily smug.). Finally someone came to me and wheeled me off to surgery; ( I do not see why I could not have walked, it was my little finger for goodness sake! Perhaps its a control thing, whereupon the surgeon apologised for the delay because it took a bit of time to set up for a general anaesthetic. He took it in good heart when I explained he needn’t have bothered and that I had told at least 6 clinical staff of this. The operation was as fascinating as I had thought it would be, the only disappointment was that I could not actually see what was going on. I was wheeled off for a very nice cup of coffee and a couple of biscuits, also very nice, and finally told I could go away, whereupon Natalie came to pick me up. Everything anybody did to or for me was very competently done ( with the possible exception of wheeling me around rather than giving me a map and sending me off to surgery) but the information management was shocking; there had been at least 5 opportunities to correct an initial error and each had not been taken. Under different circumstances such a failure could have had dire results.

  • Everything anybody did to or for me was very competently done (with the possible exception of wheeling me around rather than giving me a map and sending me off to surgery) but the information management was shocking (Mike Solent, August 8, 2021 at 1:33 pm)

    I could tell several similar stories from friends and relatives. The latest involves the NHS sending home a 92-year-old relative after a few days in hospital. The nurses’ care of her on the ward was fine. The wildly contradictory accounts (sometimes wildly contradicting what had been assured to us face-to-face an hour earlier) of which day in which week she would be delivered home (where it was essential that certain people and equipment be present to receive her, and these needed non-trivial scheduling on our part) exceeded the story above. All the NHS employees in that account at least had an agreed expectation (‘general anaesthetic’) and were just apparently unable to correct it, whereas having and maintaining a consistent story was the problem in our case, and not always because of delays but quite as inconveniently from the reverse – from the abrupt advancing of an ‘assured’ not-before date.

    The effect is no surprise in a large bureaucratic organisation. The doctors and nurses who work at the coalface knew their jobs would be demanding, were extensively trained and see the patients face to face. One a patient reaches them, they can (within limits) decide on treatment in their ward, operating theatre, whatever. By contrast, the information flow between the many tiny subgroups is the job of the administrators, the bureaucrats. And in the NHS, the correct definition is often,

    bureaucracy (noun): the rule of nobody (compare aristocracy, democracy, kleptocracy, etc.)

    It’s not that NHS administrators are all bad people: I have both a niece and an old university friend who are NHS administrators (i.e. “Some of my best friends are NHS administrators.” 🙂 ). But when the system lets nobody fix things (i.e. makes it very difficult for anybody to fix things), disfunctionalities like these accumulate.

    The OP example seems to go beyond this (and it’s far from the only such case I’ve heard of, both from Samizdata and elsewhere). But my own anecdotal experiences, like the comment above, usually involve reasonably competent and caring medical staff defeated by the burden of NHS admin.

  • Jim

    “but the information management was shocking; there had been at least 5 opportunities to correct an initial error and each had not been taken. Under different circumstances such a failure could have had dire results.”

    You’re assuming that not giving you your preferred method of treatment was an error. More likely is that its easier for them to give the general and all the ‘missed’ opportunities to remedy the ‘error’ were nothing of the sort, just a conscious ignoring of the patients wishes in favour of what suited the staff better. Never forget that the NHS is run for the benefit of its staff, and any healthcare that gets done is entirely coincidental to that primary aim.

  • Stonyground

    I had a small lump removed from my bottom lip and was also scheduled to have a general anaesthetic. When I said that I was happy to have a local they just changed it so I didn’t have that problem. I did have the experience, on another occasion, of being wheeled around when I was perfectly capable of walking though.

  • Paul Marks

    To be fair to the British National Health Service, most health services (government and corporate) claim there is no Early Treatment for Covid 19 – many private doctors in the world have been offering Early Treatment for Covid 19 for a long time, but according to the international establishment (not just the British National Health Service) all these private doctors are lying – TINET there-is-no-early-treatment.

    The international establishment will also point you in the direction of alleged studies that “prove” there is no Early Treatment for Covid 19 – and when it is shown that these studies (such as one in the Lancet magazine in Britain) are crude forgeries, the international establishment just change the subject.

    In short something a lot bigger than the National Health Service is at work in the Western world.

    As for the specific matter of the British National Health Service – my last experience of it was when I injured my back last month.

    As they did not answer the telephone, after a few days I managed to get myself to the doctor – or rather to the address from which doctors operate.

    I was told that appointments are only made by telephone – and so I could not make an appointment to see the doctor.

    Again, to be fair to them, I have greatly improved over the last month (I can now walk – at least a certain way) – without NHS treatment. So perhaps I was just wasting their time – for which I apologise.

  • The Jannie

    “Give them the clap they so richly deserve”
    (It seems to fit neatly, even if it was Barry Humphries on a different subject in the ’70s!)