Credit: Courtesy

Man Dies Because Socialist UK Health System Doesn’t Do Lifesaving Surgery on the Weekend

“The capacity depends on the availability of specialist staff able to carry out the procedure which has varied over time.”

A middle-aged man died last month of a stroke at a U.K. hospital that was not offering the lifesaving procedure he needed over the weekend.

Colin Rogers, 55, was taken to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, on April 14, a Sunday. He had suffered a type of stroke called a basilar artery occlusion, which if caught in the first 24 hours, can be treated with a thrombectomy.

The nearby University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff provides the blood-clot removal surgery, which is often successful in limiting brain damage and preventing long-term disability, Wales Online reported. It is said to be 80-90 percent effective at unblocking blood vessels, compared to 30 percent with clot-busting drugs.

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However, the required speciality staff was not available on the day Rogers arrived.

According to Rogers’ son, Callum Rogers, 26, his father could still have been transferred to a specialist in England if it had been a weekday.

“My dad was denied the chance of survival as Wales does not have access to this treatment and doesn’t have any units,” he said. “We were also told [by a stroke consultant] that if he fell ill on a weekday they would have had a chance to transfer him to a specialist unit in England. Because this was a Sunday it was impossible.”

“To find this out is just gut-wrenching,” Rogers added.

A spokeswoman from the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee, which manages access to specialists in the United Kingdom’s socialized healthcare system, would not comments on the specifics of Colin Rogers’ case. But she said services were subject to availability.

“In south Wales, WHSSC accesses treatment from provider hospitals in Cardiff and Bristol on a case-by-case basis dependent on the capacity available at the hospitals when required. The capacity depends on the availability of specialist staff able to carry out the procedure which has varied over time,” she said. “To the extent that specialist staff are available, this is a seven day a week service.”

New of Rogers’ death came amid a debate in the United States over the need to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, a federal agency that provides healthcare to veterans. Long held up as representative of government-run medicine, the V.A.’s effectiveness – and flaws – have come under renewed scrutiny as Democrats have increasingly embraced “Medicare for All.”

Following Rogers’ death on April 18, his family remembered him as a “proud family man.” They said he had been looking forward to spending more time with his 6-month-old grandson, Henry.

Having been failed by the state, they turned to private enterprise in search of solutions. Their crowdfunding page on JustGiving has quickly raised nearly $5,000 for clot-removal treatment for stroke victims, well beyond their goal.

“Up to 500 people a year in Wales may die or be left profoundly disabled because of a lack of availability of endovascular thrombectomy. Colin is not the only person to have died because of this postcode lottery and this is not a new problem,” the family wrote.

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“We want to make a difference so that people are not failed by the system as Colin was.”

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Cover image: Callum Rogers poses with his daughter. (Courtesy)

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