Not So Brighton: Ambulance Crew Recorded as They Debate Whether Disabled Man Was “Worth Saving”

imagesThere is a shocking tape being reviewed in Brighton, England where two ambulance workers are overheard debating whether Barry Baker, 59, was “worth saving.” The disabled man had collapses in his home and later died.

Baker had called 999 and was kept on the line as the ambulance rushed to his house after he complained of chest pains. The crew did not realize that the operator was still listening on the telephone after they arrived. The operation said that she heard the two medics making disparaging comments about Baker, his home, and “words to the effect that he was not worth saving”.

The men have been arrested on suspicion of “wilfully neglecting to perform a duty in public office, contrary to Common Law.” They have been released on police bail pending further inquiries.”

For the full story, click here.

14 thoughts on “Not So Brighton: Ambulance Crew Recorded as They Debate Whether Disabled Man Was “Worth Saving””

  1. Jill,

    Thank you for the response. I certainly do agree with your smarter, lower government spending theme.

    A few points, and I look forward to continuing the debate on this blog as the topic evolves:

    I would rather see much of our prison population freed through repeal of drug laws than to seek additional spending on entitlements in an attempt to keep them out of prison in the first place.

    I agree that medical providers, including pharmaceutical companies, should be held accountable for their products. In many cases market enforcement of science standards will be superior to government regulation. Just look at what the FDA has done. A good way to transition away from the frequent insider / pseudoscience / religious influence in the FDA would be to abolish it altogether and allow US consumers to choose drugs from among other world-approved bodies in the interim (perhaps Europe’s EMEA, Japan, Australia, etc).

    And the FDA prohibitions on the use of so-called experimental therapies by terminal patients is truly deplorable. To be dying and know that your government would deny you this choice? Somehow, though, the political elites manage to get around these rules written for the masses. Witness Ted Kennedy’s instant enrollment in a brain cancer vaccine trial, or google “Prominent political donor gets experimental drug without permission.”

    Any national health system would create massive abuses in health care access by our ruling class. By 2015 a smartly placed political donation might get your child to the top of the waiting list for a critical MRI appointment… or perhaps that’s the only way you’ll get it…

  2. puzzling,

    I feel the same way about your post and always look forward to reading them. In this case you are making an underlying assumption about illness that just isn’t accurate. Illness is the result of many things, one of which is life style choices and some of those aren’t “choices” in the sense we normally use that word. We find a great deal of illness has to do with a person’s genetic makeup. There is also a hugh problem with pollution that contributes to illness. For example the amount of estrogen in the water we drink is having effects on both male and female babies as well as adults. There is the problem of bad medical advice. For years doctors told women to take hormone replacement therapy for the prevention of heart disease and dementia. It turned out this therapy increased the occurrence of both. Medication for diabeties has turned out to be harmful, some of the cholestrol lowering drugs have killed people. We also must remember that people have accidents all the time which may require long term and immediate expensive care. So it’s just not accurate to attribute the use of health care to personal “life style choices”. People will get sick. The questions becomes then what do we choose as a society to do about this situation. Right now, you are already paying for other people’s use of medical care, you are just paying for ineffective and inefficient care, such as emergency room visits. The other choice would be to say if you can’t pay you can die or be disabled. This takes people who are perfectly capable of contributing to society and just, as in the post above, getting rid of them altogether, or putting them in the street to fend for themselves. Letting people die because they don’t have the money to pay for treatment is not an option in my mind, nor is ignoring the contribution that many sick and disabled people make to our society.

    To me this situation is analogous to the US prison population. We have agreed to put up to $40,000 dollars per year per person to put our population in prison. We are definitely spending money. Suppose we took 1/2 of that amount to programs that helped children get housing, food, and good education and stability. We would have a better society and we would spend less money.

    Every society has to decide how we spend our collective income. Right now that money is being spent on war and bailing out very wealthy people. Right now our tax dollars go to the worst form of dollar to value in health care. Why not put that money to good use? It’s no more onerous than to pay for “socialized” roads and bridges. Societies pay for what they value. Nothing is free. Other societies have gone down the path of just letting the sick die or become further disabled. That course of action leads to its own costs (as it already has in our society), both financial and to our souls.

  3. Hi Jill,

    I just noticed your post. Thank you for the response. I’ll now comment on this issue more actively, but can probably narrow our differences pretty quickly. I’ve read many of your posts and consider you a very informed, independent thinker whose contributions and opinions I enjoy and value.

    IMO, I think the weakest point in your argument is the idea that if you are willing to pay taxes to further a certain goal outside of protecting rights (health care, in this case), it doesn’t follow that you should be able to compel all other taxpayers to contribute to that same goal. This is how the government has grown as large as it has. It’s trying to do everything, much of it found nowhere in its contract with the people. It’s like buying from a vendor who then keeps shipping you stuff you never ordered and will never use… and being forced to pay the bill.

    Finding a right to health care as the basis for a national system supposes that one has a right to take from others to address your health care needs, regardless of behavior. This right doesn’t exist, for one. But more importantly, enforcing such a right would allow the government to protect the “public interest” by banning risks like smoking, alcohol, bungee jumping, skiing, stressful work schedules, and so on. Even if we managed to prevent government from creating such restrictions we are shifting many costs of risky behaviors away from those who took the risks. Witness the government approach to Wall Street in 2008. This will increase risk taking even more in the future.

    Perhaps risks sharing could be legislated? Should part of your federal tax be based on your body mass index? Perhaps the government could also compel fitness regimens for BMI offenders? Should the government mandate that pregnancies happen only happen before age 40 to lower costs of birth defects? Or do 60 year old couples have an unlimited right to fertility treatments? Will courts ultimately decide what health access rights exists? How about the right to be born? Rhinoplasty? ED treatment?

    Any national system will ultimately assign scarce medical resources not to those who might willingly pay for them, but those who fit a bureaucratic payback formula for risk / reward. There are significant and growing shortages of equipment and personnel in other national systems, and almost all medical innovation takes place outside their walls. I suppose people may never miss what they have never known, especially if it hasn’t been invented yet. We must not need it!

    My core problem with a national system is that I can’t answer a key question: when would the choices my neighbor makes in living his life stop becoming my problem? Where do these individuals get the authority to take an unlimited amount of what I and my children will work for to fulfill false rights?

    A national health system seems like a gentle, considerate, even moral and humanistic solution to many. The reality will be quite the opposite, and we will probably live to see it.

  4. puzzling,

    I’m not understanding all your points. I’ll try to address the ones I think I get. I’m not saying you’re unclear. I’m tired and fully capable on my best day of missing someone’s points, so bear with me.

    First I don’t believe national health care is going to be free. I begin with an ethical premise that I want to live in a society where everyone has access to health care. I am very willing to pay taxes to achieve this goal. There are different ways to achieve health care for all and looking into what works and what doesn’t work in other models is important for the US in creating our own system. Right now we pay the most money for health care of any industrialized nation but our health coverage and outcomes do not reflect that price tag. If we are going to pay the most money we should have the best system. We are already paying the money, now we need to allocate our resources to cover everyone and provide good outcomes. Our govt. currently funds basic research that provides the basis for innovation in the health care industry. Many pharmaceutical companies do not engage in much needed innovation, (for example, new therapies for antibiotic resistant drugs). Instead they spend vast resources on marketing “me too” drugs. Much of what we see that was innovated came from the publically funded research . For this reason I don’t think we need fear a lack of innovation.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts.

  5. Reading the comments, I sometimes forget how many progressives are here. While I share much common ground with you, nationalized health care is not such an area:

    When government pays for health care it doesn’t lower the real cost of products being produced. It’s not free. It raises taxes, either on the employer or employee, or both, so they have less to allocate on wages, investment, goods or savings. I suppose we could just borrow these national health care dollars from China, Japan and Saudi Arabia as we have been doing… leaving our kids to pay for it along with dozens of other ponzi-styled entitlements and Global Wars on (fill in the blank).

    If the cost structure for US-style health care had such a disadvantage over Japan-style health care, why does Toyota still make cars in Japan? Why don’t they make them all here, where it’s “cheaper?”, so they can pocket the difference?

    There’s many points to discuss around any national health care program, but an often overlooked one is the cost to future medical innovation. Today the United States – with a largely nationalized care system already – is one of the few countries that produces any medical advances that the rest of the world enjoys. When the economic incentive to do this goes away (or is left to Congressional subcommittees to price), don’t expect your children to have better health care options than you do because they’ll never be created.

    I’m sure the legislators will try to solve the conundrum as this predictable result from national health care becomes apparent. Corporations that participate in the system will have to take a congressional-mandated percentage of their congressional-mandated profit levels and work on congressional-mandated disease priorities, or perhaps be eliminated from the system. I’m sure these disease priorities will be set not to needs of the market, but to pet interests of our ruling class and perhaps the tragedies within their own families.

    Thankfully for our politicians, the ruling elite will continue to be at the front of the line for any of their own medical needs. Institutions will know that pleasing the government is a requirement to funding and survival. Joe Six Pack will be somewhere in the back of the line, whether he’s still making GM cars or not.

  6. I wanted to add that I thought I was at a church convention, there were so many mentions of brothers and sisters. But my favorite time of the “quality” mixing with the serfs was when one of the luminaries of the upper firmament from Toledo Edison came to make common cause with the peasants. This guy called everyone “brothers” so many times I thought I was in a monastery! He and I both left the meeting early. This allowed me to observe his GIGANTIC limo “hidden” in the back of the building, so the brethern wouldn’t see his rather PIMPED ride. God, we laughed hard about that!

  7. rafflaw,

    A few years back I had the pleasure of seeing the head of GM, the UAW and my Congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur all speak about how national health care would help the domestic car companies be competetive with foreign auto makers. To my knowledge, no private jets were involved, but it was amazing to see them agree so stongly on an issue. bush would like to cut the pay of auto workers but he won’t even consider that national health care would cut the price of every auto far more than taking away some shulb’s pay ever would. I think many business leaders would go for national health and this would be a good time to push it. I’m with Wayne, God @#$^& bush!

  8. Jill, et al,
    A true National health care system would not only benefit individual citizens, it would allow our companies to compete on a more level playing field with the rest of the world. Even a real conservative, can appreciate that.

  9. From a series examining health care costs and outcomes in the US and other industrialized nations carried in NYTimes:

    “There are three other explanations that are widely — but erroneously — thought among non-experts to be cost drivers in the American health spending. To wit:

    1. that the aging of our population drives health spending

    2. that we get better quality from our health system than do other nations, and

    3. that we get better health outcomes from our system”

    No conservative should want all this money spent for such poor results. We should not tolerate people going without health care in this society. I will gladly pay taxes for national health care and it would be cheaper than the system we have now!

  10. >rcampbell, national healthcare means you walk in and get $50,000 >worth of treatment and no bill.

    I agree with you that getting a United States version of universal tax-based national health care is the ONLY solution to the crisis in the US.

  11. rcampbell:

    When I was younger my parents took me to the National Zoo in D.C. I was fascinated by the monkeys. Being young and not particularly bright, I threw a handful of peanuts at the cage to get their attention. The monkeys, shockingly but perhaps predictably, threw some rather used and smelly organic material back at me. I see a certain parallel between my experience and your dialog with carole.

  12. rcampbell, national healthcare means you walk in and get $50,000 worth of treatment and no bill. all those you named have copays, deductibles, and other out of pocket costs.

  13. Yeah, carole, this single article tells the whole story about healthvare in Britain vresus the US. Nothing more need be said, so please, say no more.

    One wonders whether carole realizes she’s already paying for national healthcare for nearly half of all Americans (active-duty and retired military, Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, Veterans’ Admin, Social Security disability benefits) and all Iraqis?


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