» And now the NHS not giving out drugs for free is apparently a bad thing ¦ What You Can Get Away With

Enough people have linked to the latest stop on Tory MEP Daniel Hannan’s ‘Look at me, America! Look at me!’ tour – an appearance with bloviating imbecile Glenn Beck – that I thought I ought to take a look. And I managed a couple of minutes before the urge to smash my head against a wall – though at least I could get the NHS to deal with that without them claiming that my medical insurance doesn’t cover me for self-inflicted injuries – became too strong to allow me to continue.

But, in that time, I learnt something. Mainly that while many people may hold to the belief that the plural of anecdote is not data, for Hannan the singular of it definitely is, with his tale of his friend with a broken ankle’s experience of an NHS A&E Department on a Friday night enough to damn not just the NHS, but the entire idea that American healthcare needs reforming in any way.

Let’s break down this tale of Hannan’s. First, he doesn’t tell us that his friend is a medical professional, but he appears to have self-diagnosed his broken ankle, and got to A&E all by himself – note that there’s no mention of an ambulance in this story. So, at one of the busiest times in the week for A&E, someone presents themselves at reception with what seems to be a non-critical case. With there not being a line of doctors and nurses waiting at reception to diagnose and triage patients immediately on their arrival – they were probably spending their time with people who were inconsiderately in danger of death whilst earning less than Hannan’s friend – he’s told to wait, and most likely take a seat, while they arrange for one of the finite number of medical professionals they have to come and see him. Remember – this is at the busiest time of the week.

Now, this isn’t good enough for our intrepid hero who demands that they give him – with his amazing powers of self-diagnosis – painkillers there and then. Now, the worst I’ve ever done to my ankle is sprain it, and I suspect breaking it hurts a lot more, so you’d probably want painkillers that are somewhat stronger than the ones you can buy in Boots. When the receptionist – most likely not a medical professional – says they can’t just give them out on demand, and there are many many reasons why no competent medical institution in any country would do that, Hannan’s friend demands that they sell him painkillers, yet they won’t do that. And for Hannan, this is a damnation of the NHS, not a triumph for a responsible member of NHS staff.

Let’s look at it from the perspective of the A&E worker – someone comes in, insists they have a broken ankle, refuses to wait to see a member of the medical staff and insists you give them painkillers. When you refuse, they start offering you money in order to get them. Now, is this the action of a responsible member of society with remarkable skills in self-diagnosis, or could it be a clever addict attempting to get hold of some prescription drugs with a vaguely-clever if unoriginal ruse? Even if we assume that you recognise that the man is a friend of Daniel Hannan’s and thus a totally sane and upstanding member of the community, do you – not being trained to prescribe drugs to random members of the public – give him some anyway, sure that whatever you give him will do the job required and not cause any undesirable side-effects or allergic reactions?

Is Hannan claiming the situation is different in American hospitals? Having only limited knowledge of them, I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure that emergency rooms – even at their busiest times, when Americans are indulging in their ‘quaint custom’ of shooting each other on every night of the week, not just Friday – don’t just dish out prescription painkillers to anyone with a handful of cash who claims to have a broken ankle.

But then, we are talking about a discussion between Daniel Hannan and Glenn Beck, so we’re at a level where reality as you or I might understand has been left far behind.

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5 comments untill now

  1. Perhaps in Dan’s friend had pointed out that he personally knew Dan Hannan MEP, he might have gone to the front of the queue?

    Anyway, if his only problem was painkillers why didn’t he just hang around on a street corner for five minutes, flash his cash, and get some heroin. Self-diagnosis being his strong point, I’m sure he’d be fine.

  2. Hannan is an idiot. But please stop with the insulting racism.

    Americans are indulging in their ‘quaint custom’ of shooting each other on every night of the week,

    That sort of crap is insulting, and if it were a racial group condemned as racist. Perhaps I’m being over sensitive, but when a person you love is constantly attacked for accident of birth, well, it starts to get a bit old.

    As for the wonders of the NHS – I’ve known many people treated like crap with self inflicted wounds by NHS staff, simply because they’re self inflicted.

    The NHS and the US systems are both piles of crap and both for similar reasons – politicians seek to control them.

    If governments would give up their war on the poor and stop supporting monopolies in the medical profession people could afford their own healthcare – and have money left over to help others who are temporarily in need.
    Instead, government colludes in price fixing, reduces opportunity and then say they’ll fix it all if only you give them more money and more power over your life…

  3. That’s juste amazing, it is always strange to read such things (particularly for a non american)…

  4. It wasn’t insulting racism, just a satirical response to Hannan’s comment on the video about the British custom of ‘beating each other up on a Friday night’.

  5. A family member recently died from cancer and was cared for within the NHS during her final weeks. Whilst there is much wrong with the system, there is also so much that is wonderful, and that is primarily the incredibly warm hearted and compassionate nurses who who will sit and care and cry and laugh with their patients.

    A relative from America was blown away by the nurses over here, saying the US healthcare system is possibly more efficient as it is ran like a business, but certainly not, in his experience, as personal and caring as ours.

    Having said that…Friday night at A+E is not a time or place for tea and sympathy! Silly man.