Should I cancel my operation in the wake of the NHS scandals?

The media isn't responsible for my fears about the NHS. It's the people who have been responsible for, or complicit in the most horrific examples

Share
Related Topics

Last night I was kept up until the earlier hours by a foot which felt as if it had been dipped in a vat of sulphuric acid. That is no exaggeration. The pain was intense.

Next month I am due to head to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital for an operation which, it is hoped, may do something about this. The pain I suffer from is very unpleasant; it is a deeply tedious constant in my life.

Despite this, I am seriously considering canceling the operation.

Yes the pain is horrid, but it isn’t usually as unbearable as it was last night. I have drugs on prescription which ease it, and a GP that I trust.

So the debate I am having with myself is this: Do I want the risk?

Because what we have seen of the NHS over the last few days frightens me witless. Ironically, it is more responsible for keeping me up at night at the moment than the neuropathic (nerve) pain the operation is designed to correct.

Listen, the NHS saved my life. I was rescued from under the wheels of an oil tanker more dead than alive and it took heroic efforts from the medical staff at the Royal London Hospital to keep me here. I am eternally grateful to them.

What they did represented what is truly brilliant about the service. A friend who lives in the US said it all: “Here they would have asked you for your insurance details before you got in the ambulance.”

We do not want that. That’s why I fully support what the right wing over there sneers at as “socialised medicine”.  Socialised medicine can be, it should be, a beautiful thing. The mark of a civilised society.

But let’s not kid ourselves, the service that we have at the moment has some severe problems. The people working within it, and their political masters, need to take a damn hard look at it. And themselves.

There are some who would blame the media for my fears, suggesting that they have been stoked by a succession of lurid headlines.

They would point to the fact that the majority of people who use the NHS still have a good experience of it.

They would argue that my fears are probably groundless, and that the RNOH has a tip top reputation.

I’m sure it does. But it ain’t the media which is responsible for what has been going on in the NHS. The media hasn’t stoked my fears. They have instead been stoked by the people who have either been responsible for, or complicit in the most horrific scandals. Mid Staffs, Morcambe Bay, and the rest. Here’s the worst thing: they are just the ones that we know about.

What horrifies me is the the sheer callousness displayed by some of the people involved. The bullying inflicted out on those who have sought to expose problems, people who have done nothing more than the right thing. The contempt for the victims. The cynicism.

It’s awful. How can anyone think otherwise? How can people appear on news programmes and glibly suggest that everything is now OK and that lessons have been learned when they quite clearly haven’t?

People should be screaming from the rooftops. The relatives of those who died unlawfully as a result of this institutional callousness have been. The media has been. The whistleblowers have been. They haven’t been joined by anyone in authority that I can see.

I have witnessed poor care at a relatively low level myself; I was a victim of it at times.

Oh it wasn’t exactly life-threatening. But there was the first night at Whipps Cross Hospital where I was denied pain killers for hours because a doctor could not be found to verify that what the Royal London had been giving me was OK.

There was the healthcare assistant who spat that I shouldn’t press the nurse call button because it made a horrible noise. When I was in need of morphine.

Most of the nurses there were good, that should be said, but there was one who generally behaved with a lack of respect which would have been out of place in one of those calls centres that pester you to use their dodgy payment protection insurance claims services.

Scandals grow from that sort of thing if it isn’t nipped in the bud.

The procedure I am to undergo will likely only require an overnight stay. It isn’t a major operation.

But I am desperately scared.

Read a few of the reports about Mid Staffs, Morcambe Bay, the Care “Quality” Commission. Bear in mind what I’ve experienced.

Now tell me, honestly. Wouldn’t you be?

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
 

Costa Rica’s wildlife makes me mourn our paradise lost

Michael McCarthy
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence