No prickly bottom!

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The soapbox part of my belated birthday greetings to our NHS  generated some interesting discussions with family and friends.

But did you see this on Twitter a few days ago?

I’d no idea that the private sector was so deeply embedded into our NHS.

The writer of the tweet received mountains of Twitter support and the story was reported in The Guardian last Saturday.

The Nova Healthcare website makes for interesting reading.

You might like the description of the facilities provided by Nova Healthcare on the fourth floor of the Bexley Wing of St James’s Hospital in Leeds. I thought St James’s hospital was 100% part of our NHS but it’s not so simple.

The report of the Care Quality Commission into Nova Healthcare also makes interesting reading especially on page 7. This tells you that 53% of patients of Nova Healthcare are funded by private insurance schemes; 40% by our NHS and 7% from Northern Ireland.

The cover of the CQC report asks: Who runs this service.

The answer given is HTI St James’s Ltd.

A quick search of the Companies House website indicates that three of the seven active officers of the HTI St James’s company are all based in Alpharetta, Georgia USA. That seems a long way from Leeds!

If you like reading balance sheets you can read the most recent accounts for Nova Healthcare up to December 2015 here.

On page 7, the CQC Report helpfully explains that Nova Healthcare is “part of Aspen Healthcare which became shareholders in 2015.”

You might find this article from May 2017 interesting: US owner puts Aspen Healthcare up for sale.

It’s been said somewhere that we take our NHS for granted until we need it and it’s only then that we start to realise what’s going on. Well, in recent weeks, my eyes have been well and truly opened to the extent of the privatisation of our NHS!

If you’re a Twitter user and a supporter of our NHS, you might like to follow @NHSMillion.

I went along to our local NHS hospital on 25th July to commence the second cycle of my chemotherapy.

The side effects from cycle one weren’t too bad apart from a massive lack of energy and considerable feelings of fatigue. But I was lucky in that I missed the vomiting and diarrhoea that makes chemotherapy so difficult for some patients.

A nurse checked my weight and blood pressure and I was getting ready for another round of prickly bottoms and an ice cold arm when the ward sister came to say that the oncologist wanted to speak to me before chemotherapy commenced.

The oncologist explained that the results of a biopsy on my primary cancer had revealed a “wild” Kras gene which meant that I could receive a targeted antibody therapy as well as the chemotherapy. The chemotherapy drugs would have to be changed to drugs that worked with this antibody drug but overall it would be a more effective treatment. It’s a treatment that’s specifically designed for advanced, metastasised, colorectal cancer to reduce the cancer and extend life. This is certainly an exciting development and I’ve an appointment to commence the new treatment next week.

The drugs are to be administered via a Hickman line aka a tunnelled central line. I never watch hospital dramas on TV and, being of a squeamish, wimpy nature, I usually close my eyes if any surgical stuff comes up in documentaries. But I thought I needed to know what the procedure entailed and found this to be the best explanation on Youtube.

The irony of this most helpful animation being produced by BUPA isn’t lost on me!

Once the Hickman line is in place it stays in until the end of the treatment. I shall be going for treatment in two-weekly cycles for twelve cycles. Day 1 of the treatment is as an out-patient of the chemotherapy department and I’ll be sent home with a pump attached to the Hickman line which will continue to deliver the drugs for a further 48 hours. A district nurse will come to the house to disconnect the pump and then it’s pick-and-mix time from an extraordinary array of potential side-effects. These include a skin infection that makes teenage acne look decorative. However, as the helpful Macmillan leaflets emphasise, no-one gets all the side effects and some people don’t get any side-effects at all apart from the fatigue and lack of energy which appears to be non-negotiable.

I’ll let you know how things develop and thanks, as always, for the messages of support.

thank you
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