Friday, August 29, 2008

Just more old people dying

Thousands of people are dying needlessly in UK hospitals, and the silence is deafening. Last year, 22 people died every day from a simple bacteria called C. difficile. Some hospitals manageed to record over 100 deaths from this bug in just 12 short months. In the UK as a whole, the C. difficile death rate is exploding.

Take a look at the following table. It looks at the death rates of six hospitals. The first three had the highest death rates during 2003-07, the second three hospitals had the lowest death rates.

Do you notice anything odd? The second group of hospitals recorded no deaths whatever from this bug. That is right; no C. difficle corpses in the hospital morgue.

The top three hospitals had death rates in three digits. These hospitals were wasting people at the rate of one a week. Ironically, the worst hospital - the Royal United in Bath - had a comparatively good year in 2007. Only 59 people died, the previous year it wasted 94.

There is nothing inevitable about this calamity. Some hospitals can consistently avoid their patients dying, while other hospitals have people dropping dead like flys.

Let us be honest. We all know why there isn't more outrage. It is the victims; they are mostly pensioners. Somehow the idea of an elderly person crapping their life away in some anonymous hospital ward doesn't engender much sympathy.

This issue really upsets me. It says that there is something really rotten in the heart of this country. We all know that with more effort, and better hygiene management, these deaths could be avoided. Yet, we really don't care enough to insist that our hospitals are kept clean. Let us all hope we don't get old.

Did anyone mention MRSA?


  1. There -is- something really rotten in this country. Something not so nice as before. For me, I don't feel comfortable with many new aspects of UK life. Overcrowding for one.
    I think that the attitude towards pensioners is a reflection on a hardening of attitudes to others.
    We don't have much in common anymore.

  2. Umm, tragically, I am the ultimate cynic and I believe you will find that the hospitals with no deaths from C.difficile simply lied.

  3. Involving C. diff?

    You can die of C. diff.

    You can die with C. diff.

    Which is it?

    It is being tested for much more routinely now.


    In Asia last year 1 billion died. In Antarctica only 1 hundred died.

    It is obvious therefore Antarctica is a much healthier place to live? No?

    In St. Georges in Tooting thousands died last year.
    In a small residential home in York only one died last year.

    Therefore St Georges is a plague hospital? I know where I'd rather be if I was ill!

    The table is statistically nonsense without correction for occupancy in terms of person-years. Not to mention correction for how ill the residents were to start with.

  5. I have had it with paying for this sub-standard service. UK doctors are the best paid in Europe, have the most priviliges (lots of paid-for education and skirt-chasing jolies on cruise ships), and probably for what they do, the best taken care of in the world (considering they can do all sorts of private work on public space and coin). It is time they rolled up their sleeves and did some cleaning or gave a tithe from their high salaries to hiring of cleaners.

  6. Tables of truth or not the issue should be that no person should die from this disease or any other hygiene related nosocomal infections.

    I am a vet and we pack our patients into very small areas often one on top of the other. Our patients general shit and piss in such a way that they can get it on the roof of the kennels. Do we have persistent infections bouncing around the wards? No! This is because we clean constantly. Infact we never stop. The kennel maids clean, the nurses clean and I clean. It is that simple. Remember parvo? We still see it at least once a week and we have never had an additional nosocomal infection, why, because we clean the animals their cages and ourselves.

    The last time I was in a hospital the nurses would not clean up my wifes vomit. They would not even let me clean it up. We waited 2 hours for a cleaner to spread it over a larger area with a mop from a bucket of filthy water. All this time the nurses were gassing at their desk and we saw no doctors.

    It really is that simple, they managed it in the victorian age they can do it now. Its just that no one cares!


  7. I have worked in both the Canadian health system at a top hospital, and the British at the best hospital in the country (so all the surveys and inspections say). And I would have to say the whole thing was chalk and cheese. In Canada, the staff of all professions talk to each other and support each other. In Britain, the doctors float on a cloud of BS and snobbery, while the nurses are a load of old slap from a hen night in Ibiza. It is time the NHS got professional and ALL staff worked together for the benefit of the patients.

  8. It's simple cost benefit analysis.

    Cleansing services were privatised, reducing workers' numbers and wages. (I'd like to see figures going back 30yrs)

    Another benefit is that the people who die are poor folk on State pensions, more money saved.

  9. did they have cleaners 30 years ago or did the nurse role up their sleeves. I suspect the later!

  10. erm, yardley green hospital on that list is not a hospital. It's part of Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham. The reason it would have no deaths from C Diff is because for those years listed it was a small audiology clinic......not saying nobody caught C Diff in that time from there, just trying to show why that being mentioned in that list is absolutely insane.

  11. Maybe at some point this open-palmed entitlement seekers are going to realise that death is an inevitable conclusion to growing old.

    There's going to be a massive die-off in the UK sometime in the next ten years because the country has run out of money and can't, won't and shouldn't support all these coffin dodgers for the extra year or two that modern medicine can squeeze out of them. It happened in Russia, and it'll happen here.

    If you've got oldsters you care about, be ready to protect them yourself rather than trying to palm them off onto the taxpayer.