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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

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    Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    Playing the Sympathy Card: A nurse in England has successfully petitioned her local primary care trust to pay for her cancer treatment, even though, as a rule, they don't cover it in patients in her stage of illness. Why did they bend the rules? She's a mom:

    After a meeting with her, the trust has now decided to allow Ms Clark to have the drug on the NHS.

    The trust's chief executive, Alan Carpenter, said: 'The PCT has looked very carefully at Ms Clark's circumstances and believes it is in her best interests to receive Herceptin at this stage of her treatment.'

    Ms Clark told the BBC she was delighted with the news.

    She said: 'Because I've got exceptional needs, because I've got a child with a life-limiting condition, they felt it was extremely difficult for me.

    'He (her child) has nowhere else to go and no family of his own, so they thought it was an exceptional circumstance.'

    Good for her that she was able to convince the trust to finance a promising therapy, but does this mean they are going to enter the business of deciding whose life is more worthy? Sure seems like it.

    UPDATE: This post was the last straw for a long time reader and email correspondent:

    If you were truly speaking from a position of strength and excellence that would be one thing--but you know and I know that our health care delivery and financing system is the best in the world for some of us and dismal failure for others--all to often it breaks the heart, spirit and purse.

    I will be living in the UK next year while consulting with one of the regional NHS Trusts--there is absolutely no question regarding our technological superiority but I can tell you with certainty that they clearly have done a better job with compassion, equal access to essential psychiatric services and the provision of real support rather than tired rhetoric--I don't know about your practice but every day I see the best and worst of our system--Also, as an employer the premiums we are paying are obscene--until the following dynamics change we are not in a position to jab, knock or compare--
    --a dismal and almost useless public health system,
    --the financing of the public and private system is falling on way to few people--the essential reliance on employer based financing is increasingly an economic, policy and moral failure
    --We need tort reform--we need to practice medicine not law
    --There should be ongoing State based pilots of alternative financing strategies including variations on single payor systems--the administrative overhead in our system is embarrassing--20% +--give me a break and the list goes on

    Sorry for the rant but for me enough is enough--with warmth and regards but no more time for snarky comments.

    The post wasn't meant to slam the British system, and it certainly wasn't "snarky." It raises an important issue about the rational rationing of healthcare. It's wrong to deny a treatment to someone who is single but to pay for it for someone who is a parent, regardles of the healthcare system.

    Of course there are problems with our system, but unlike my correspondent, I don't believe the British and Canadian systems are superior. Neither do a lot of their citizens.

    posted by Sydney on 10/04/2005 02:03:00 PM 0 comments


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