Monday, September 03, 2012

Taking the pain out of taking out the pain

A welcome respite from considering issues of health care finance and clinical choices in the US is to drop in from time to time and view such issues in the UK.  Here's a report from The Mail about a recent NHS action:

Family doctors are being told to try to talk women out of having Caesareans and very strong painkillers during birth to save the NHS money. New guidelines drawn up for GPs urge them to encourage women to have natural labours with as little medical help as possible.

What I like about the UK is that such stories prompt sarcasm and humor rather than the political invectives we often see in the US.  Helen Rumbelow responded to the new guidelines with a humorous piece in The Times, entitled "Pay as you scream--an exciting new revenue stream for the NHS."  (Sorry, no link currently available without a subscription.)  Excerpts:

Now of course I agree with this [proposal].  We all know that women in labour are prone to hamming things up.  It's kind of attention-seeking and frankly, unfeminine.

If only they could take it like a man with a mild cricket strain, then we'd give them all the pain relief they needed, no problemo.  So I think the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives shouldn't just "tell" a woman they can't have an epidurtal because the NHS is short of cash.  They should use this as a retail opportunity.

When the anaesthetist turns up, he or she would ask how much the woman wants pain relief.  £200 much?  I think we would find, given the level of trauma, we could push up our price point.  £2,000 anyone?

Husbands, how much do you value taking that "shoot me now" look off your loved one's face?  It's a win-win for everyone--the NHS would boost its coffers, and don't ladies love to shop?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can certainly sympathize with the sarcasm (I regarded myself as a wimp when I discovered exactly what labor pain was like), but the wording of the first sentence does this initiative a disfavor. There are definitely medical indications for avoiding Caesareans and epidurals - it's not just the money.