THE NEWSDESK: We need to save heart patients' lives and live up to the ideals of Aneurin Bevan

South Wales Argus: THE NEWSDESK: We need to save heart patients' lives and live up to the ideals of Aneurin Bevan THE NEWSDESK: We need to save heart patients' lives and live up to the ideals of Aneurin Bevan

ILLNESS is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, nor an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community.

The words of Aneurin Bevan, the founding father of the NHS.

And this week, they bear repeating.

I'm thinking of our story on Friday revealing the fact that Pill councillor Ron Jones died after being on the heart surgery waiting list for 15 months. It is though he is one of the 99 patients in Wales who have died on the heart surgery waiting list in the last five years.

His partner's decision to reveal his suffering was important.

Not because it should be used as yet another stick with which to beat the NHS in Wales, or the NHS in general, but because Ron Jones was a Labour stalwart who believed in the NHS and loved it as this country's finest creation. Which it is, still, despite all its problems.

And people such as Councillor Jones deserve so much better at it hands. But, make no bones about it, there are those out there who would use this heart surgery crisis in Wales as an excuse to introduce privatisation by the back door.

People who have far less love for it than Councillor Jones did.

I can't help thinking that the injection of privatisation has worked ever so well for us in other respects like the railways and utility companies, hasn't it?

Has competition driven down our power bills or increased them?

Is our railway network a seamlessly functioning piece of joined-up transport planning?

And here's the crucial difference with this public service - people's lives depend upon it.

Do we, here in Wales, want to end up with a system based on private health insurance or have a version of private health insurance within it?

Do we want a two-tier NHS where those with enough cash can leap-frog those who have none?

I cannot think of many people who would answer yes to those questions.

So the best defence of our NHS, here, devolved in Wales, is to look at how we are running it. To give no comfort to those who would use it as a way of deflecting attention from the deficiencies of the NHS in other parts of the UK, or use it a method of arguing for more private sector involvement.

It is simply no good to say, though correctly, that the Welsh Government's budget has been cut. Yes, it has. But this is not a case of people waiting for minor procedures.

It is not even a case of people waiting for procedures the lack of which debilitates their lives and leaves them in pain - like orthopaedic operations. That is bad enough.

This is a case of playing Russian roulette with heart patients whose conditions are immediately life-threatening.

I know from family experience how dangerous such heart conditions can be - 16 years ago this month, my mother underwent a quadruple heart bypass operation at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff which neither my family nor her doctors doubt saved her life.

I have nothing but praise for the surgical, intensive care, and nursing teams who treated her. Nothing teaches you the value of our NHS better than a loved-one's serious illness.

For months before that operation, our family lived with growing fear about this heart patient's condition. The knowledge previous generations had been struck down by heart disease.

We are here to tell you these cases do not improve - stabilisation is the only outcome to be hoped for before surgery. Deterioration is a constant threat.

The fact that patients are now waiting for more than a year in that terrible limbo - affecting everyone who loves them - is not acceptable.

A system which does not differentiate between those whose lives could be lost and those whose lives will not be lost is not fit for purpose.

We need to ensure our NHS in Wales is a shining beacon for the ideals of Nye Bevan. And that doesn't mean adding yet more layers of bureaucracy to the health system.

What it means is someone in government in Cardiff Bay sitting down and saying that the funds we have must be directed at the places with most pressing need.

We need an injection of common sense so very, very badly.

Comments (7)

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4:24pm Sun 2 Mar 14

siameselady says...

The Welsh assembly government should never have been given control of the Heath service in Wales. It has been meddled with by Am's who simply don't know the implications of their actions. I have absolutely no faith in a WAG controlled NHS.
The Welsh assembly government should never have been given control of the Heath service in Wales. It has been meddled with by Am's who simply don't know the implications of their actions. I have absolutely no faith in a WAG controlled NHS. siameselady
  • Score: -1

7:29pm Sun 2 Mar 14

scraptheWAG says...

all the pople that voted for this daft devloution crap should go to the bottom of the waiting list and pay the millions of pounds that the daft nonsence cost.
all the pople that voted for this daft devloution crap should go to the bottom of the waiting list and pay the millions of pounds that the daft nonsence cost. scraptheWAG
  • Score: 0

9:05pm Sun 2 Mar 14

Llanmartinangel says...

WAG are starving the NHS of cash to buy an airport, recruit 400 pen-pushers for Cardiff Bay and fund Welsh language projects which don't work. Incompetent doesn't come close.
WAG are starving the NHS of cash to buy an airport, recruit 400 pen-pushers for Cardiff Bay and fund Welsh language projects which don't work. Incompetent doesn't come close. Llanmartinangel
  • Score: 5

8:25am Mon 3 Mar 14

scraptheWAG says...

Llanmartinangel wrote:
WAG are starving the NHS of cash to buy an airport, recruit 400 pen-pushers for Cardiff Bay and fund Welsh language projects which don't work. Incompetent doesn't come close.
they even rob the education budget of £500 per annum per child to fund another AM post or welsh language book.
[quote][p][bold]Llanmartinangel[/bold] wrote: WAG are starving the NHS of cash to buy an airport, recruit 400 pen-pushers for Cardiff Bay and fund Welsh language projects which don't work. Incompetent doesn't come close.[/p][/quote]they even rob the education budget of £500 per annum per child to fund another AM post or welsh language book. scraptheWAG
  • Score: 1

11:03am Mon 3 Mar 14

Mervyn James says...

The answer is much simpler, ditch the drunks, the druggies, the fatties, the cosmetic surgery, sorted.
The answer is much simpler, ditch the drunks, the druggies, the fatties, the cosmetic surgery, sorted. Mervyn James
  • Score: -3

1:19pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Mwy Eira says...

What cosmetic surgery ? Just because they fund it in England doesn't mean they do here. That is media hype. England may do boob jobs on teary, failed glamour models but AB don't. Instructions from WG don't allow it.
What cosmetic surgery ? Just because they fund it in England doesn't mean they do here. That is media hype. England may do boob jobs on teary, failed glamour models but AB don't. Instructions from WG don't allow it. Mwy Eira
  • Score: 2

4:15pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Crossbenchtory says...

Private involvement in both education and healthcare is the only way forward. Britain has been in decline ever since government started getting involved in every aspect of people's lives. In Wales we suffer more because the socialist WAG has an ever increasing appetite for interference in not only peoples lives but also their deaths, as can be seen with the legislative and moral abomination that is presumed consent for organ donation.

Socialism has set Wales on the route to penury, it is killing people with a failing NHS and it has reduced our educational standard to that of a dribbling vegetable.

We need evolution not devolution!
Private involvement in both education and healthcare is the only way forward. Britain has been in decline ever since government started getting involved in every aspect of people's lives. In Wales we suffer more because the socialist WAG has an ever increasing appetite for interference in not only peoples lives but also their deaths, as can be seen with the legislative and moral abomination that is presumed consent for organ donation. Socialism has set Wales on the route to penury, it is killing people with a failing NHS and it has reduced our educational standard to that of a dribbling vegetable. We need evolution not devolution! Crossbenchtory
  • Score: 0

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