Private clinics used by the NHS in England are being safety checked
Thank you for sending us your comments.
A selection of your views are published below.
Panorama: Dying to be Treated?, was broadcast on BBC One at 8pm on Wednesday, 30 September 2009.
I work as a surgeon. I was horrified, but not surprised by the findings of the programme. I would just like to comment on the terms "small operation" and "minor operation" when describing such operations as knee and hip replacements. I can assure you these are by no means minor or small. A hip operation for instance is normally performed on an elderly patient with associated co-morbidities such as cardio-respiratory and renal dysfunction. The removal and replacement of a hip is an extreme insult to the body. There are significant risks of haemorrhage, blood clots in leg or going to lung, fat embolism, prostheses infection or failure, wound infection plus many others. Add to this the potential complications of general anaesthesia. It is not like having a tyre changed on your car. The media and particularly the BBC have used such terms as minor to describe serious operations that carry significant risk to the patient. It is only due to the training and skill of the anaesthetic and surgical teams that ensure patient safety in the vast majority of cases.
A word in favour of private treatment on the NHS. It is six weeks since my cholesystectomy. I was treated at a private clinic, next door to the local NHS hospital. My surgeon was the same one who performed the same operation on my partner several years ago in the NHS hospital. I was not seen by an NHS surgeon but the clinic had my notes when their surgeon saw me two weeks before the operation. I had a very thorough check up by a nurse who took a detailed history 3 days before the operation. Although there were some complications with the laparoscopic procedure I was feeling fit and well within hours and discharged the next day. The clinic called me to follow up a week later and, following a conversation with the nurse I had a check up with the surgeon (on a bank holiday) - there was nothing wrong but my minor concerns were answered. Another week later I returned to work. The waiting time for the first appointment was only four weeks and for the operation another four. I had a private room with satellite TV and my own bathroom. Good food, delivered on time (they even brought my lunch two hours after the lunch time operation, followed by my evening meal on time). The care was excellent and professional, the surgeon reassuring and the results excellent. In fact the whole thing was less painful and distressing than having a gall stone attack. Your programme has found some cases where it all went wrong - in my experience, the NHS booking system (which gave me the wrong appointment with the wrong consultant - a dermatologist) and the postal service (which delivered my appointment letter after the date of the appointment) were the biggest problems.
- David King
Excellent programme. What I want to know is how we can do what the surgeons suggest and make sure politicians stop throwing cash at private companies in a mistaken belief that private is better and then invest the money properly in the NHS.
- Judith Klaus
Thank you very much for highlighting this - we had a similar experience when our Mum had her cataract operation done at a private hospital for the NHS. They treated her with disdain and were totally unprepared when things went wrong after her operation. The consultant failed to communicate with the nursing staff and a catalogue of errors ensued that eventually led to her death. Like the patients you showed tonight she was well and independent before going into hospital. I thought that the failure of the clinic on your show to accept responsibility and to apologise was shocking - especially in the face of such damning evidence and the coroner's report. One word to describe that Tracy McNeill - PATHETIC. Well done to the families for pursuing this (as I am) with the hospitals. It is hard but vital.
- Helen Bronstein
Such a shame the NHS consultants who contributed weren't asked about their views to their reduction in private income from their private clinics as a result of these new ISTC healthcare providers getting through NHS WAITING LISTS - shame on us for no longer being grateful to NHS consultants for them turning up to work and us meekly waiting for them to call us... at some point in the future... maybe 2 years! - heaven forbid the patient (and taxpayer!) should expect a speedy, quality service. MORE COMPETITION PLEASE, NOW!
I'm sorry to say this was one of the most biased programmes I have ever seen on the BBC. Jeremy Vine asked some of the most leading questions one could imagine, and his interviews seemed to suggest his mind had been made on this subject long before filming began. Instead of producing what could have been an in-depth and searching investigation on what certainly is a thought-provoking and very important set of issues, this was an attempt to prove one side of a very contentious and politically emotive argument. Why should I be interested in watching the BBC and Jeremy Vine spend half an hour serving their own agendas? It does not respect the issue, the participants, those very unfortunate patients and families involved, nor indeed the viewers. I hope Panorama, Jeremy Vine and the producers can see and appreciate that a more balanced approach is needed, far more appropriate and offers a greater respect to all.
It is a shame that a programme like Panorama with such a good reputation has stooped to this kind of Daily Mail sensationalist misrepresentation of the facts. Tonight's programme will have unnecessarily frightened people, and we are none the wiser for Jeremy's investigation, you should be ashamed.
Your programme tonight totally opened my eyes and made me reopen all my paper work and letters as I too was a weekend patient, and been suffering for two years since and now disabled, in my case it was a doc in training surgeon I since found out. I was brought into a nhs hospital to cut waiting lists down at a weekend and a surgeon who I thought fully qualified that I had never met before only a few minutes before my operation, to wake up with intense pain and some I expected but from that day I become a disabled person who may never work again I was only 38 now live the life of a 60 + yr old person.
- AJ King
The programme showed two patients that died from keyhole surgery to remove their gall bladders. In the first case the surgeon cut through a vein & the patient bled to death because the treatment centre had no blood stocks & lacked important surgical equipment. Though one would have thought the surgeon might have checked before hand. The investigating surgeon decided the patient shouldn't have been referred to the centre for the operation because they'd had previous surgery so might have adhesions that would make keyhole surgery difficult. One can only assume the surgeon didn't bother to read the patient's notes before conducting the operation. In the second case the surgeon cut through the patient's bowel & they died from total organ failure due to the infection caused by this. Yet the investigating surgeon concluded his brethren from the Royal College of Surgeons were completely blameless in both cases. It didn't seem to me that the surgeons were blameless. They are the ones that cut through veins & bowels. They are the ones that didn't check notes or blood stocks before conducting the operations. Begs the question is it safe & fair to have surgeons investigating surgeons?
- Dave Jobson
After watching last nights Panorama programme "Dying to be Treated?" (it was) probably the most one sided programme I have seen. Having had foot surgery and a knee replacement at the Shepton Mallet TS. The staff, treatment, and facilities are second to none. Yes, nearly all the staff are from overseas makes no difference. All very professional and highly skilled. I am due another knee replacement but due to complications I am unable to return to Shepton Mallet because of their stringent checks and infection controls. I would still recommend the treatment centres. Having had different operations at general hospitals in the last two years. Treatment centres are the way to go. As for the man suing for damages maybe a diet might help.
- Gary Chilcott