I wrote last June about an unfortunate British guy who, after his leg was broken by thieves, was told by the government that his injury wasn’t serious enough for an ambulance.
The poor chap eventually was driven home by some cops and then had to take an Uber to the hospital.
While writing about this story, I semi-joked about what would be required to get an ambulance.
If you’re about to die, they’ll send an ambulance. But not for anything less than that.
Little did I realize that the bureaucrats would prove me wrong.
Here are some amazing excerpts from a story in the U.K.-based Telegraph.
A dying pensioner wrote a heartbreaking ‘I love you note’ to his daughters while he waited two hours for an ambulance to respond to his call for help following a heart attack. …The retired mechanical fitter… pulled a cord in his flat in Prenton in Birkenhead, Merseyside, to sound an alarm in a 24/7 emergency call centre and could be heard by the call handler shouting: “Help”. …The call handler dialled 999 but Mr Volante’s case was given a low priority by the ambulance service and paramedics took 1hr 40mins to arrive. They found him dead on his living room floor.
In a touching but tragic gesture, the deceased spent some of his wait time writing a note to his daughters.
A heartbreaking note was found in Mr Volante’s flat after his death, which read: “I love you Rita, I love you Deb, Dad.” This was a reference to his two daughters, Debbie Moore and Rita Cuthell.
I suppose, to be fair, that we can’t fully blame Mr. Volante’s death on government incompetence. He may have died even if the ambulance arrived in a timely fashion.
But imagine what it would be like to place a very serious call and to be treated like an afterthought.
Though the government at least offered an insincere apology, so I guess that counts for…um, nothing.
…a North West Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “The Trust would like to express its sincere condolences to Mr Volante’s family during this difficult time.
But let’s look at the bright side. If the ambulance had been on time and Mr. Volante had been admitted to the hospital, the government may have starved him to death instead.
I’m guessing a heart attack – even one where it takes you 90 minutes to die – would be preferable.
P.S. Here’s my collection of horror stories about the U.K.’s version of Obamacare: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. By the way, Paul Krugman tells us that all these stories are false. So who are you going to believe, him or your lying eyes?
P.P.S. To be fair, some screw-ups are inevitable, even in a perfectly designed healthcare system. But I would argue that horror stories are more common when the profit motive is weakened or eliminated. If you’re a Brit and you die or suffer because of crappy government-run healthcare, there’s no feedback mechanism to punish the doctor and/or hospital (or, in the above case, ambulance service). Their budgets already are pre-determined. Likewise, if you’re an American and you die or suffer because of sub-standard Medicare or Medicaid treatment, there’s presumably no effective feedback budgetary mechanism.