Drink driving is bad, but the NHS is far worse

The latest figures reveal that 430 people were killed in drink-drive accidents in Britain in 2008. This is a worrying statistic that brings home the risks faced by road users, but it pales into insignificance next to the terrible toll of the UK’s socialist health service.

 

The NHS indirectly kills thousands with its waiting lists for life-saving treatment, outdated equipment, rationing of essential drugs, and infections such as MRSA. On the latter issue, official figures suggest that more than 30,000 people have died from hospital infections in the last five years.

 

There is also shocking evidence that our state healthcare system is incapable of even the basic task of ensuring patients are fed properly. Not only did the number of NHS malnutrition incidents rise from 15,473 in 2005 to 29,138 in 2007 but, according to the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), almost 70,000 “patient incidents” relating to malnutrition and starvation were reported.

 

If the government insists on spending money on dubious public safety campaigns then at the very least they should be based on a modicum of economic rationality and value for money. In this context, NHS starvation levels are now so high they should surely take precedence over the comparatively limited impact of drink driving.

 

As such, the time has perhaps come for the government to rethink its 2009 Christmas public health advertising campaign. Instead of focusing on drink driving, it should make clear the grave and widespread dangers of patient malnutrition and starvation in the NHS – not to mention the risk of deadly infection.

 

Dr Helen Evans is Director of Nurses for Reform.

To put this in perspective,To take one example of the causes of those deaths, during the 4 year period described, 6,000 of those deaths in the UK were due to MRSA: A rate of 1,500 per year.The USA in 2005 had 94,000 life-threatening infections and 18,650 deaths due to MRSA per year in 2005.This is 12 times more than the UK, even though the USA only has five times more population.Conclusion: The USA health system is more than twice as bad at killing patients than the NHS.

I got my figures from here, btw:http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=84575I only did figures for the MRSA, not the C-thingie, because I’m lazy.

Jonathan – I would be very sceptical about the official figures on the number of deaths due to infections within the NHS. The true figure is likely to be far, far higher – so I would be careful about drawing conclusions from international comparisons when we are probably not comparing like with like.A more general point: The US system is overregulated and dominated by producer interests such as the medical profession. Accordingly, it is very far from an exemplar of free-market healthcare.

Hey Richard,I don’t see any reason to mistrust NHS stats any more than stats from any other source. Your original post is *about* the NHS stats. You can’t then revoke the validity of them when it turns out they aren’t so bad after all.Big hugs!

Jonathan – See this link for some evidence on the stats:http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/jun/25/health.medicineandhealthThe figures on MRSA are clearly appalling on both sides of the Atlantic. A major point of the blog post is to point out inconsistencies in the government’s attitude to different health risks rather than to make international comparisons. The evidence on malnutrition within the NHS is particularly worrying.

Helen, top stuff. A further point is that the stat’s on NHS deaths are highly dubious (and probably understate matters), whereas the drink-drive stat’s are almost certainly correct, but they include a lot of self-inflicted deaths – the relevant figure is how many innocent third parties (from which I will exclude willing passengers of drink-drivers) were killed by drink drivers, which might be as little as one or two hundred a year (as tragic as these cases may be).

Richard’s point in 5 is important. The government will spend millions of pounds or invoking expensive regulations to save some lives in one field and puts a completely different value on a life in others. And, cynically, one could say, puts a shockingly low value on life when it is directly responsible.

To follow on from Mark’s comment, the drink-drive stats include all fatalities where the driver was over the limit but this does not mean that drunkeness actually caused every incident recorded. There will clearly be a proportion of accidents classified as drink related which were caused by other factors.The stats are also worth a look because they seem to show that the blood-alcohol limit could be raised significantly without making much difference to the death rate. The majority of drink-drive fatalities are caused by those who are two or three times over.

we should not fault the NHS. do we prefer to shell out thousands of pounds for a simple check-up, minor surgery like our counterparts in America?

The US state healthcare sector – Medicaid, Medicare and S Chip – has long had a government budget larger than the Pentagon. Historically, the US government has spent a higher proportion of its GDP on its state health systems than the UK government has on the NHS. Whatever the stats might be, please lets not argue that the US system has anything to do with a free market! The health professionals, insurers and providers in the so called private sector there are are just the corporatist play things of vote seeking politicians and their regulators. The US has very little real private healthcare. China on the other hand does have a more free market system. China is a better example of a market.

[...] always watch a lot of TV and I honestly don’t know about this. But, apparently, having written this and this I am advised that the government decided to do less preaching this [...]

To put this in perspective,To take one example of the causes of those deaths, during the 4 year period described, 6,000 of those deaths in the UK were due to MRSA: A rate of 1,500 per year.The USA in 2005 had 94,000 life-threatening infections and 18,650 deaths due to MRSA per year in 2005.This is 12 times more than the UK, even though the USA only has five times more population.Conclusion: The USA health system is more than twice as bad at killing patients than the NHS.

I got my figures from here, btw:http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=84575I only did figures for the MRSA, not the C-thingie, because I’m lazy.

Jonathan – I would be very sceptical about the official figures on the number of deaths due to infections within the NHS. The true figure is likely to be far, far higher – so I would be careful about drawing conclusions from international comparisons when we are probably not comparing like with like.A more general point: The US system is overregulated and dominated by producer interests such as the medical profession. Accordingly, it is very far from an exemplar of free-market healthcare.

Hey Richard,I don’t see any reason to mistrust NHS stats any more than stats from any other source. Your original post is *about* the NHS stats. You can’t then revoke the validity of them when it turns out they aren’t so bad after all.Big hugs!

Jonathan – See this link for some evidence on the stats:http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/jun/25/health.medicineandhealthThe figures on MRSA are clearly appalling on both sides of the Atlantic. A major point of the blog post is to point out inconsistencies in the government’s attitude to different health risks rather than to make international comparisons. The evidence on malnutrition within the NHS is particularly worrying.

Helen, top stuff. A further point is that the stat’s on NHS deaths are highly dubious (and probably understate matters), whereas the drink-drive stat’s are almost certainly correct, but they include a lot of self-inflicted deaths – the relevant figure is how many innocent third parties (from which I will exclude willing passengers of drink-drivers) were killed by drink drivers, which might be as little as one or two hundred a year (as tragic as these cases may be).

Richard’s point in 5 is important. The government will spend millions of pounds or invoking expensive regulations to save some lives in one field and puts a completely different value on a life in others. And, cynically, one could say, puts a shockingly low value on life when it is directly responsible.

To follow on from Mark’s comment, the drink-drive stats include all fatalities where the driver was over the limit but this does not mean that drunkeness actually caused every incident recorded. There will clearly be a proportion of accidents classified as drink related which were caused by other factors.The stats are also worth a look because they seem to show that the blood-alcohol limit could be raised significantly without making much difference to the death rate. The majority of drink-drive fatalities are caused by those who are two or three times over.

we should not fault the NHS. do we prefer to shell out thousands of pounds for a simple check-up, minor surgery like our counterparts in America?

The US state healthcare sector – Medicaid, Medicare and S Chip – has long had a government budget larger than the Pentagon. Historically, the US government has spent a higher proportion of its GDP on its state health systems than the UK government has on the NHS. Whatever the stats might be, please lets not argue that the US system has anything to do with a free market! The health professionals, insurers and providers in the so called private sector there are are just the corporatist play things of vote seeking politicians and their regulators. The US has very little real private healthcare. China on the other hand does have a more free market system. China is a better example of a market.

[...] always watch a lot of TV and I honestly don’t know about this. But, apparently, having written this and this I am advised that the government decided to do less preaching this [...]

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