been a strange few days, what with one thing and another.
Last Wednesday I had a speaking engagement in Canberra, where I was invited to address the Swedish Australian Healthcare Forum on behalf of the catheter manufacturer Wellspect.
Among the topics covered at the event was Infection control (a subject of great personal interest following my experiences in hospital this time last year), and my contribution was to provide the voice of that universal figure, the 'service user'. Of course, we are all service users sooner or later, but I am happy to share my experiences, especially if it means reminding those who help to set health policy that the numbers on the page represent real people.
My contribution was also intended to assist in a campaign to improve the funding of catheters and other continence products in Australia. My experience in the UK was informed by the support I received from the NHS, and the help and support I received during my rehabilitation.
The continence nurses at the National Spinal Injuries Centre had access to the full range of catheters that were on the market, in-dwelling and single use products, and 'the right fit' could be decided upon, purely on the basis of clinical decisions rather than economic ones.
my return home after rehab, I would phone a call centre and the
appropriate single use catheters would be dispatched to my door, while the
supplier would then contact the GP on my behalf to arrange a prescription.
Over here in Australia, catheters cost the user. This could mean finding $400 per month to pay for single use catheters. As a result, many people re-use products that are specifically licensed as 'single use only'. As well as this expense, many users have little knowledge of the diverse range of products that are available, and could be unaware of a solution to the serious health complications that can be associated with catheter problems.
And we are not talking about rare occurrences here, either. In the US, where the figures are better collated than in Australia, it is estimated that more than 13,000 people die from Catheter associated urinary tract infections every year.
It is impossible to put together accurate global figures, but the numbers that are recorded are usually in countries that have generally good healthcare provision, so it is not hard to imagine just how extensive the problem is in developing countries. It is a topic I shall return to, especially as my own health situation is far from uncomplicated at the moment...
In other news, I spent the weekend destroying myself chasing a basketball around. Slam Down Under is a local tournament that attracts teams from across Australia and New Zealand. Seven matches on Saturday and the semi-final and final on Sunday... Shattering, but my vital role as lucky gonk on the team seems to be paying dividends as the Illawarra Eagles followed our success in the Country Cup earlier in the year by taking the Slam Down Under B division Gold. Boom. That's going straight in the pool room....