March 16, 2003

Ten Months of Waiting for Nothing

One of the things that I received for my birthday was the results of my barium enema. Especially if you havenít been a regular reader of my Meanderings, you may think it very strange that I would discuss barium enemas at all, not to mention my own. What Iím really offering, however, is a comment on the National Health Service.

The surprising thing is that I got the results so soon. This was all as a result of an attack of what appeared to be diverticulitis on 4 May last year. When I arrived by taxi for an emergency appointment with my GP, he thought I had a perforated bowel and called an ambulance to get me to the hospital. I had gotten in to see the GP immediately and had gotten to the hospital within minutes. Within five hours there was actually a bed for me. They never figured out what was wrong with me and eventually I was given an appointment to see a specialist.

Because of a cancellation I was able to get in early to see a specialist in mid-September. After a quick poke and prod, the specialist couldnít find anything immediately wrong and ordered the aforementioned barium enema. Again, I got lucky and due to a cancellation was able to have the procedure done in February. The results were sent back to my specialist and I was informed yesterday.

The results are that my colon is normal and I donít have diverticulitis. So it took 10 months and 10 days to have one investigative procedure that produced no useful information. I have had attacks since 4 May, so it wasnít a one-off. So now I have to go back to my GP to decide where to send me for further tests. At this rate it could be years before I have any idea what is actually wrong. I wish I was exaggerating for effect. I wish.

Iím Not Alone

In having to wait 10 months for a relatively cheap, basic investigative procedure I shouldnít feel alone as a victim of the NHS. Though the Labour government had set a target date of 31 March for reducing the waiting list for operations to less than one year, it has not achieved this. A health minister indicated 10 days ago that the target would be met, but it appears that about 7,000 people have still been waiting more than a year.

That isnít to suggest that progress hasnít been made. A year ago there were 21,400 people who had been waiting more than a year for surgery. By January 2003, there were still 9,600. Apparently it helps if you make a big fuss. This is difficult for British people, who have been trained to endure with a stiff upper lip. From the Sunday Times: ďOlive Wilkes, 78, from Leeds, had an operation to remove her gallstones last week ó after her plight was reported in a local newspaper. She had waited 13 months.Ē

Olive should consider herself lucky. She only has gallstones. Excruciating, but not life-threatening. The newspapers always have stories of cancer and heart disease patients who have had similar waiting times. They drop off the waiting list and into the grave.

Trouble North of the Border

The Public Health Institute of Scotland has revealed the result of a study showing that Scots have the lowest life expectancy in western Europe. Scottish women are at the very bottom of the table, while men are die earlier only in Portugal.

It is not a problem with the fresh Scottish air. In part, it seems to be just the opposite. Scotswomen have the highest rate of death from lung and oesophageal cancer and Scotsmen the second highest, due to the insatiable use of tobacco. The other major factor is the propensity for both genders of skirt-wearing Jocks to drink like fish. Apparently, north of the border they donít believe that you can have too much of a good (or bad) thing.

And if things werenít bad enough in Scotland already, a new biography of Rob Roy MacGregor will remove the romanticism and legend. A former professor of Scottish history at St Andrews University has demonstrated in Rob Roy: The Man and the Myth that the quintessential Scottish hero was spy for the English government against the Jacobites. Author David Stevenson notes, ďThe evidence of this is quite clear, it was printed well over a century ago, but writers on Rob Roy have never mentioned it. Perhaps the evidence was too much at odds with the images of him they were determined to project.Ē

Posted by david at March 16, 2003 10:48 PM

Hi...I'm a reporter in the U.S. trying to do an article on the state of health care in England. I'm looking for someone to talk about the long waiting lists. Would you be willing to speak with me?


Dave Hayes
The Kansas City Star
[email protected]

Posted by: David Hayes at September 26, 2003 05:10 PM

Ref: Article on page
‘Rob Roy the Man and the Myth’ by
David Stevenson.

Daniel Defoe wrote similar railing accusations against Rob Roy in his book
‘The Highland Rogue’. But he, at least, had an excuse. He was an Englishman spying for his own government!

I find it disturbing that David Stevenson has jumped on the same anti-Highland ‘deconstructionalist’ bandwagon.

‘Rob Roy MacGregor – His Life and Times’ by the late W H Murray (1982) clears Rob Roy’s name of all such libelous accusations.

To quote the late Rob Roy’s wife as part of the lament:

“Bu Tu seabhag an t-sluaidh,
ris an cainnte Rob Ruadh
‘s math thig breacan mu’n cuairt ‘s claidheamh dhut”


“You were the falcon of the people,
the one called Rob Roy;
well did the tartan plaid and sword look on you”

In view of David Stevenson’s book, perhaps it’s not ROB ROY’s honour, loyalty or integrity that we should be questioning!

Yours patriotically,

Paraig MacNeil
Honorary Bard/Seanchaidh
Clan Gregor Society

Posted by: Paraig MacNeil at November 9, 2003 08:00 PM

Are you the David Hayes who wrote the book
"Hunt for the Lost Squadron" re the expeditionary
effort to find the 6 P-38s and 2 B-17s which
crashed on the Greenland ice cap July 4, 1942?
One of the crew of one B-17 was a personal friend
of mine and I am searching for the author of the
above book. I apologize for my inquiry if you are
not the author. Thank you.

Posted by: Van Trees at January 8, 2004 08:14 PM