The NHS, finest health system in the world

A six year-old leukaemia sufferer who became one of the first in the world to trial a new gene-therapy treatment is smiling again – after tests revealed her cancer has vanished.

Erin Cross, of Chester, in Cheshire, was gravely-ill earlier this year with deadly acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer of the white blood cells.

But after £100,000 was raised in a public appeal on ITV’s This Morning show with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, in July she jetted to Seattle with her doting parents Sarah and Antony Cross.

Leukaemia treated in the US, Andrew Marr gets his stroke treated in the US, proton beam therapy in Prague.

Ho yus, wonder of the world is our NHS.

But then that’s what you’d expect of a planned, near Stalinist, state monopoly. A lack of innovation.

6 comments on “The NHS, finest health system in the world

  1. She went to the US for an unapproved treatment? Spending money that wasn’t a gift from the state?

    I take it the NHS will now deny her any further treatment?

  2. Think you’ll find there’s plenty of innovation in the medical side of the NHS – developing and trialling stuff. I’m on a clinical trial myself.

    Surely all this seems to mean is that the treatment will become available when it’s proven? Same way tech is licensed from abroad in other industries, which is a good thing.

    Not claiming the NHS is fit for service, with each government tying to make their personal political flavour of the time. Just spent 15 hours yesterday in a severely understaffed A&E nearly half the time because the private ambulance service were playing silly buggers. Management is probably crap – from government up.

  3. Just because some hospital somewhere is trialling something doesn’t mean the NHS is going to roll it out here across the board.
    First see if it works elsewhere. Then arrange a trial here. Then see if the trial was cost effective here. Then roll out across the board as facilities and staff become available.

    A pioneering treatment trialled in one hospital can take many years to be implemented in your local NHS hospital.
    Not forgetting that there will be a lot of treatments that simply are not rolled out by the NHS.

    Spending an extra £100k per patient on a new drug that extends their life after diagnosis by 20% sounds good – until you consider its £10k a day extra. At what point does a new drug become cost effective?
    A new treatment can be measured in the millions for initial cost if new equipment is needed or a team of people trained and used per hospital.

    Say an allergy affecting maybe a hundred people in the country, with high risk factor on only a couple of dozen. How much is a cost effective new treatment for those people to remove that high risk? What would be cost effective for the NHS to pay to get that done? Or would it be not cost effective to even trial anything in this country for so few people?

  4. The NHS is the equivalent of a car that consists of a race tuned engine allied to the power train and braking system of a 1975 Morris Marina. Parts of it are world class, much of it should be scrapped and replaced with something else. A friend of mine is currently in Papworth at Cambridge for a heart op, which has gone well apparently. So far so world class (apart from the fact he’s been waiting for it since January this year). The plans for what happens when he has to leave Papworth would shame a 3rd world country.
    I’ve always said that the NHS does the crisis bits well, because human nature is such that helping people who need urgent assistance is something that comes naturally. You don’t need a economic incentive to work hard, fast and efficiently to help someone lying on the road in bits, you just need to be human.
    Unfortunately, once that emergency part is done, and the patient is no longer dying, the altruism dies. Care becomes whatever the staff can be bothered to give you, or remember to organise on your behalf. If they do a half-arsed job, who’s to know, or be able to do anything about it? Basic simple organisation and care just gets ignored, because its more about the staff and their needs than the patient.

    It has little to do with money, and everything about the attitude of the staff and their incentives – the people who work in Tesco have no more desire to be nice to their customers, or help them, or do their job in anything other than the most perfunctory manner than NHS staff do, its just that Tesco’s staff are managed by people who know if they don’t do things well they could all be out of a job, which concentrates minds.

    The NHS needs to be split into two parts – the emergency stuff, which could stay State owned and funded, because it works well, and would be hard to improve on with private provision. The rest of it, the non-emergency stuff, needs a massive dose of market forces applied rapidly.

  5. If there was a pill that could cure all possible disease, the NHS would want to subject it to fifty years of ‘trials’ to ensure none of them lost their jobs before they retired.

    And, yes, government healthcare is the primary reason for the lack of innovation over the last few decades. It’s hard to innovate when years of ‘trials’ are required before you can actually do something. That attitude will cripple new technologies based on genetic engineering rather than witch-doctoring.

    Fortunately we don’t really have to care any more, because we’ll be able to fly to a country which does allow innovation.

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