Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Best Prepared Country for Flu in the world - a possible oops?

One of us was driving en route for a little late lunch (all our lunches are late) last Friday at about 14.00hrs and heard during the journey a Radio 4 news bulletin as we flipped the channels to help pass the huge distances involved in home visiting in Northernshire. A similar article appeared in one of the national papers too.

Swine flu seems to have died a death here in Northernshire, perhaps because the media have found, or been fed, other “stories” to concentrate on.

In informal discussions in the mess we did speculate if there might still be a few slight “increases” due although these speculations may have gone before we publish.

The start of the final Test Match and of the football season for the “I don’t feel well, boss. I have some Tamiflu do you really want me to come in . . .?” crowd might just cause a few slight blips of “swine flu”independent of media hype but related to sporting fixtures.

The news item says that so many doses of Tamiflu have been given out which, dear reader, DOES NOT equate to GENUINE swine flu cases. Estimates put the diagnostic (in)accuracy of swine flu as between 1 in 4 to 1 in 10 of prescriptions being given to patients who ring them who actually have swine flu. Based on our own personal experiences of patients not better after the magic wand of Tamiflu has been waved suggest that almost all of the swine flu line diagnoses are wrong.

This will of course be of great comfort to someone given Tamiflu with meningitis as if they tossed a coin they would have a better chance of getting the right diagnosis (using the coin) not the Swine Flu Panic Line. Heads you live, tails you die.

But still we all know that call centres and protocols are the way forward in medicine here in the UK as they are cheap, far better than (any form of) learning from (any) experience. In fact to use the newly discovered American expression this is true “Socialized Medicine” aka the current NHS.

No wonder the Americans who can afford private medicine are worried. They are like the British who cannot afford private medicine who are worried also. They know how crap the NHS can be. And is. Given a choice of seeing a doctor or ringing a call centre operative to make a diagnosis without seeing you, who do you think some of the most affluent and educated people in the world would opt for even if it meant paying a bit more?

You can see the first British moon landing being done by a gerbil with a protocol from a call centre in Watford rather than a highly trained astronaut who also happened to be a pilot. We believe the later was done by the Americans we doubt the British could do anything like it so the call centre, and the gerbil, will have to do, comrades. This is after all what the NHS does best care on the cheap.You may be able to fly a supersonic jet comrade doctor but the Department of Health insists you throw a paper airplane for your patients and call it world class aviation. They are so much cheaper than real aircraft or treatments.

Oh we must mention this.

A colleague has been asked to provide a note for a patient asked for by the patient’s employer to say he does not have swine flu. This is because another worker has been given Tamiflu and the patient’s boss does not want to run the risk of catching Tamiflu, sorry, swine flu, from any of his co-workers.

Nice little earner for any doctors here especially as we can’t test for swine flu if they wish to play this silly game for this particular employer. Will the airlines or the coach companies or railways be next? We have been asked to provide this type of letter for other severe life threatening illnesses like chickenpox by travel agents.

Remember this is the United Kingdom the worst prepared but best panicked country in the world to deal with a mostly mild viral illness.

Praise be the Party and all its plans. How could the “best prepared country in the world” have got it so wrong just like a lot of other but easily fixable things wrong in the NHS? No wonder the Americans are worried. If “socialized medicine” comes in the USA the UK could face a brain drain of NHS managers.

Would we be prepared and able to cope? Probably.

How have we managed without them thus far?

No comments: