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Another Story from The UK

Leo spent the next three weeks in the SCBU being cared for 24/7 by highly trained nursing staff using the latest technology and a team was formed with about a dozen specialists from around the country working together to ensure Leo's many complex problems were dealt with using the best medical knowledge available. As parents we stayed with Leo in the parents residence just down the hall from the SCBU. Our room was basic, but it had cable TV and we got clean bedding and towels as well as three meals a day for three weeks. How much did all of this cost? I will never know because as a UK resident and taxpayer it was provided as a public service.

By the time Leo was three months old it was obvious he was experiencing many very difficult problems. Leo was referred to one of the top specialists in Europe, a professor consultant in neonatal neurology. The professor determined Leo needed a MRI scan, but because of Leo's small size and constant abnormal movement, no existing scanner could safely be used. It was decided the newest and fastest scanner in the country would be modified to accommodate Leo's situation. When we arrived for the scan we were greeted not only by the professor and her team but by a team of technicians and scientists from the manufacturer. The MRI magnets were partially dismantled and recalibrated and a frame for Leo was built on the spot so he could safely undergo the scanning procedure. How much did all of this cost? I will never know because as a UK resident and taxpayer it was provided as a public service.

The scan showed that Leo had received a profound brain injury before birth. He had many different tests to determine the extent of his disabilities including EEG, X-ray, video fluoroscopy, endoscopy, sight tests, hearing tests, and others. Leo was referred to eight different specialists to deal with his problems and underwent surgery to implant a portal in his stomach so he can be fed directly by tube, without danger of food being "swallowed" into his lungs. Leo's dietary requirements are very special and all food, as well as the daily feeding kits and the pump needed to deliver the feed are provided by the NHS. Leo is on about a dozen different medications and all meds, syringes and other daily disposable equipment are provided by the NHS. Leo has a wheelchair, sitting frame, standing frame, sleep system, leg and hand splints and other equipment, all designed for him and all replaced or adjusted every few months because he is a growing boy. All equipment as well as the technicians who maintain the equipment are provided by the NHS. How much does all of this cost? I will never know because as a UK resident and taxpayer it was provided as a public service.

Is the NHS perfect? Far from it! Can it be more bureaucratic and slower than I would like at times? Of course! Has there ever been an issue about Leo not receiving care because he is profoundly disabled? Never! Have we ever had to stand before a "Death Panel" and justify the vast ongoing expense of Leo's care, even though he will never be a productive member of society? NO!

When surveys ask people what is the single thing they are proudest about the UK, the winner is The National Health Service.