Monday, August 12, 2019

Problems at Britain's National Health Service

This time the information comes to us directly from Great Britain’s National Health Service. The nation’s pride and joy, the NHS was transformed into a spectacle at the London Olympics in 2012. Naturally, a certain coterie of people saw the show and concluded that we should have our own National Health Service, free medical care for all.

Of course, free medical care also means rationed medical care. If the government takes over healthcare, we can reasonably expect that we will see results that compare to those we see in Great Britain.

The latest NHS scandal, reported by the NHS itself, is that 4,400,000 people in Once-Great Britain are waiting for non-urgent medical procedures. We are talking about hip and knee replacements, which might not feel quite so non-urgent to those who need them.

The UPI reports the story (via Maggie’s Farm):

Britain's national healthcare system said Thursday a record 4.4 million Britons are waiting for surgery -- a figure one medical leader called "unacceptable."

New statistics posted by the National Health Service also showed a 16 percent increase of patients who'd waited for more than 18 weeks for non-emergency operations, such as hip or knee replacements.

The NHS figures showed 233,000 Britons had waited for more than six months and 37,000 more than nine months.

At the least, we ought to understand that governments tend to ration health care. If you imagine that government bureaucrats will hand out health care willy nilly, without regard for cost, you are living in a dream world. 

The NHS believes that the cause lies in tax laws. If you are a physician and work overtime in Great Britain you will be clobbered by the tax man. Taxwise it makes no sense to work overtime. Ergo, physicians do not do it.

The UPI, again:

Some have blamed NHS pension rules, saying they discourage experienced doctors from working more shifts because they incur larger tax bills. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the system is unfair and proposed rule changes to create more flexibility for physicians.

"We're taking action today to change the NHS pension system so that doctors don't have to face a huge tax bill when they do overtime," he said. "It's good for the NHS and it's good for patients because it means that people will always be there to treat you."

The British Medical Association said a member survey showed 30 percent of consultants and 42 percent of general practitioners had cut back their hours because of the pension rules.

Some intrepid souls have questioned whether that would work. Might it not be the case that some of those who refuse to work overtime simply do not want to work overtime. As noted in a prior post, female physicians are less likely to want to exchange family time for overtime. Female physicians are happy to spend less time on the job. Government run health care must reduce on-call hours, to the advantage of women who want to spend more time with their children:

Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, questions whether the proposed changes will be sufficient -- and said the number of patients on waiting lists is "utterly unacceptable."

"Although the government has made welcome moves this week to reduce waiting times, by directing more money to hospital infrastructure projects and trying to resolve the pensions issue that has been exacerbating waiting times, there is still a big job ahead," he said.

"Hospitals need a clear plan for reducing waiting lists over the next five years. Part of this plan has to be increasing hospital beds across the country -- at the very least, 3,000 are needed. We also need the staff and resources to run the wards these hospital beds will be on."

The United States might one day decide to go down the path of national health care. If you think that you will have the same health care at a lower price, you are living in a dream world… the kind inhabited by those who cheered when Hugo Chavez turned Venezuela socialist.


Sam L. said...

I'm sure our Democrat legislators would love to institute the NHS here.

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