Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Rationing Health Care in Great Britain

Back in the day, in 2009 to be precise, Paul Krugman assured us that Great Britain’s National Health Service was well worth being emulated. As you know Krugman is a champion of government control over just about everything. To his so-called mind everything good comes to us from the government and from the Democratic Party. Everything bad comes form private enterprise and the Republican Party. If you know that you do not need to read any of his columns.

In 2009 Krugman wrote:

In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.

This absurd conclusion has been debunked so many times, here and elsewhere, that one questions the need to do so again. And yet, bad ideas die hard, so here are some new “scare stories” from Great Britain. They tell us that medical care is now being rationed, according to how overweight you are. If you fall within the category of obesity you will be deprived certain medical procedures. And you will also give up your right to certain kinds of medical care if you smoke.

The Telegraph reports:

Obese people will be routinely refused operations across the NHS, health service bosses have warned, after one authority said it would limit procedures on an unprecedented scale.

Hospital leaders in North Yorkshire said that patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above – as well as smokers – will be barred from most surgery for up to a year amid increasingly desperate measures to plug a funding black hole. The restrictions will apply to standard hip and knee operations.

The decision, described by the Royal College of Surgeons as the “most severe the modern NHS has ever seen”, led to warnings that other trusts will soon be forced to follow suit and rationing will become the norm if the current funding crisis continues.

Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, which represents acute care, ambulance and community services, said: “I think we are going to see more and more decisions like this.

“It’s the only way providers are going to be able to balance their books, and in a way you have to applaud their honesty. You can see why they’re doing this – the service is bursting at the seams.” 

The announcement is the latest in a series of setbacks for patients who are facing rolling strikes by junior doctors that threaten to cripple the health service as winter approaches.

The decision by Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) comes amid increasing limits across the NHS on surgery for cataracts as well as hip and knee operations.

Under the latest restrictions, patients in the catchment area who have a BMI of 30 or more will be barred from routine surgery for non-life-threatening conditions for a year, although they may secure a referral sooner if they shed 10 per cent of their weight.

What does it all mean? It means that the promise of free health care for everyone is crashing on the shoals of reality. It means that the National Health Service is going broke and that one of Great Britain’s proudest post war achievements—remember the ridiculous celebration  of the NHS at the London Olympics—is failing:

Reports of rationing have emerged after NHS England admitted in May that its provider sector overspent by £2.45billion in 2015-16,  more than a threefold increase on the previous year.

The figure, which was described as conservative by think-tanks, prompted some hospital chief executives to question the future viability of free universal healthcare.

Mr Hopson called for a “realistic national conversation” about how much should be spent on the health service, and said that if procedures had to be restricted, the reduction should be managed on an NHS-wide basis.

See also Simon Heffer's analysis:

It also suffers from grotesque overmanning in non-medical staff, a lack of strategic planning to cope with demographic change, and many of the failures associated with the absence of an effective price mechanism. Without rethinking its whole purpose and method of operation, it will, within a decade or two, simply collapse.


Sam L. said...

I'm seeing Sarah Palin's comments about "death panels" being true there first.

We should also remember that Paullie "The Beard" Krugman has a tendency to be overwhelmed by his "intellect".

Anonymous said...

If government allows itself to withhold services from people who have personal preferences that government bureaucrats do not approve of, how long before it will deny services to people who voice opinions they don't approve of either?

-- theBuckWheat

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

theBuckWheat @September 7, 2016 at 6:21 AM:

"...how long before it will deny services to people who voice opinions they don't approve of either?"

Oh, believe me -- they're coming in a Clinton administration. They'll be called "Truth Panels."