Monday, October 21, 2013

Obamacare and the Ghosts of Future Past

The future of healthcare in the United States can already be seen in the United Kingdom, and it is a cautionary tale. The Stafford Hospital scandal is a glimpse of the future in America and the recent past in Great Britain. Officials have called for its dissolution but the record of shame cannot be hidden. As many as 1,200 patients died, who shouldn't have, but no hospital officials held responsible for conditions that were inhumane.

This is what an independent government review found when it examined conditions at the hospital and reported in The Daily Telegraph on February 24, 2010:
An independent report commissioned by the Government found that patients were abused and neglected by hostile staff and were left in humiliating and undignified conditions. The impact on them was “unimaginable”, the report said.
Patients, most of whom were treated at the trust’s main hospital in Stafford, were “robbed of their dignity”, left in soiled bedclothes, unwashed and in states of undress in full view of others, it found.
Families of patients had to clean lavatories and public areas themselves, while food and drinks were left out of reach and, it was alleged, patients drank out of vases.
Attitudes of staff were at times “uncaring”. Managers were “in denial” about the problems and were concentrating on cutting costs and hitting targets to achieve foundation trust status, the report said.
There was said to be a culture of fear and bullying with staff concerned they would lose their jobs if targets were not hit.
Despite the public exposure the deaths continue and The Daily Mail on October 9, 2013 reports on how taxpayers are left holding the bag while those responsible are not held accountable:
A scandal-plagued hospital trust has today admitted breaching health and safety law after a  a patient died when nurses failed to notice she was severely diabetic and needed insulin.
The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of Gillian Astbury, yet no staff will face the consequences in the courts.
The 66-year-old lapsed into a fatal diabetic coma while being treated at Stafford Hospital in April 2007, when staff failed to read her medical history during a 10-day stay.
After her death the NHS trust was prosecuted as an organisation, meaning that individual nurses, doctors and managers will not face jail for their failings.
Today it has pleaded guilty through its barrister to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to properly manage and organise hospital services, including its systems for record-keeping, patient information and communication between staff members.
It now faces a huge fine, funded by the taxpayer, because magistrates sitting in Stafford committed the case to the town's Crown Court after ruling that their sentencing powers for the offence were insufficient.
This is the future that awaits all Americans beginning in 2014 as Obamacare is fully implemented, but has already been experienced by American veterans for some time who are receiving government healthcare through the Veterans Affairs Department. Thousands of veterans in the United States have been unnecessarily exposed to disease due to unclean practices in government hospitals.