Thursday, 9 September 2010

My deep personal sympathy for David Cameron

I was really quite upset when I heard the news that David Camerons dad died suddenly of a stroke, whilst on holiday in France. My own dear mum died of a stroke in August 2008. The week before, she'd been on holiday with me in Lourdes, France. On our return, I departed with my wife and children for a holiday in the USA. It was 4am in San Francisco when we got the call to say she'd had a massive stroke and wasn't expected to last more than a few hours. At 7am we got another call to say she'd died. I never got to say goodbye to her. Just over two years later, I still feel her presence. Sadly there are all too many things which remind me of her. Just this week when I was at the Council Cabinet meeting and Robert Rams announced that he wanted to close libraries and send all the old dears to Starbucks for their books, I felt her telling me "This man is an idiot". I got most of my political views from my mum. She was an avid reader, most week getting three books from the Library (large print as her eyesight was failing).

Our parents leave us an enormous legacy. They make us the people we are. I just hope David Cameron turns his awful experience to some positive benefit and uses it to advance the treatment and awareness of strokes. Maybe then a few less people will share our common experience of sad loss


Jaybird said...

Sadly Rog, I am not convinced that the NHS London plan to make all patients in Barnet travel to UCH is in their best interests.

Even in a blue light ambulance that is a significant delay before CT scanning and then treatment can take place.

In stroke, every minute of delay makes a difference to the eventual outcome.

Mrs Angry said...

Yes, of course, on a personal level, one has great sympathy with Cameron, and indeed anyone who loses their father or mother suddenly: the shock of s sudden death and the loss of a parent is something you never get over. Mr Cameron is fortunate, however, that his father's last years were supported by substantial wealth and privilege, and that his father never had to face the hell, as mine did, of ending his life in a Barnet contracted nursing home, or die, as an elderly man in my area did last winter, in an unheated house, unnoticed at a weekend when there was no visiting care staff provided. The truth is that the massive cuts which Cameron's government will be sanctioning will have a devastating impact on the elderly and vulnerable people of this country, while the privileged chums of Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg carry on regardless.

baarnett said...

I think there is a good case for centralising stroke care and (separately) trauma care at just a few large hospitals in London. More people would survive if we did.

The old idea of ambulances doing a "scoop and shoot" to the local hospital is gone. They are hospitals on wheels. Even with a longer journey time, it is then better to take people to bigger centres, where there are specialist doctors available 24-hours a day.

It is a cuddly idea, having small hospitals a short bus ride away from every community, but people die as a result. Unfortunately, politicians are unable to fight that public mood.

Johnny on the Web said...

Baarnett, I'm sorry but I think you are wrong. Centralising stroke and trauma services is a good idea in theory, so long as the ambulance arrives quickly and gets you to the stroke and trauma centre quickly. Unfortunately for the year 2008/09, the London Ambulance Service failed to meet the response time targets for Barnet and in the first 6 months of this year they failed to meet the category A response times (real emergencies) in 3 of the 6 months (they failed the category B response times every single month). This strategy benefits people closer to central london but as is so often the case, residents in Barnet (who also happen to have one of the highest rates of stroke in London) lose out.

baarnett said...

Johnny, let us continue the debate.

I certainly agree that getting the ambulance (or motor-cycle paramedic) to the patient quickly is vital. There can certainly be public campaigns to improve that service.

My understanding (without any medical training) is that this first attendance can almost always stabilise the patient - particularly with all the gubbins in an ambulance.

However, as I understand it, it is actually not that vital to then complete the journey to a hospital bed nearly as quickly, IF the hospital has doctors available in all the various specialities 24 hours a day, and who can build up considerable experience.

Doctors at small local hospitals inevitably only see a smaller number of stroke or trauma patients, and cannot call on specialists without considerable delays.

Maybe a "half-way-house" is to sometimes use smaller hospitals to provide further stabilisation before transfer to the bigger hospitals.

Anyway, in a time of financial cutbacks, any NHS changes are suspect, and may well be back-door ways to achieve cuts.

Are they any medical people who could comment on all this?

Johnny on the Web said...

Sadly Baarnett, this was a political decision. If you look at the map showing where the highest prevalence of strokes occur the obvious choice would have been to put the unit somewhere in North London to accomodate the requirements of Barnet and Enfield. However there seems to be a desire to reduce bed spaces, and concentrate all the specialisms in central london. By taking away specialisms from suburban hospitals and concentrating them in the centre it will inevitably lead to the situation we faced at Edgware hospital where it was turned into a Community Unit.