Tag Archives: NHS

How well is socialized health care working in Britain?

The National Health Service is government-run socialist health care
The National Health Service is government-run socialist health care

Back in 2009, a radical leftist named Paul Krugman wrote about the health care system in Britain. As a leftist, it’s his view that government-run health care is better than free market health care. Basically, he thinks that people get better health care if it’s run like the US Postal Service is run, instead of how Amazon.com is run.

Let’s see what he says in the far-left extremist New York Times:

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. Like every system, the National Health Service has problems, but over all it appears to provide quite good care while spending only about 40 percent as much per person as we do. By the way, our own Veterans Health Administration, which is run somewhat like the British health service, also manages to combine quality care with low costs.

And what about the people who say that the NHS doesn’t provide quality health care, despite getting a huge portion of the all the taxes that are collected in Britain?

At this point, all that stands in the way of universal health care in America are the greed of the medical-industrial complex, the lies of the right-wing propaganda machine, and the gullibility of voters who believe those lies.

Every bad story that you’ve ever heard about socialized health care is a lie, and you’re gullible if you believe those lies.

Well, see, now I’m confused. Because if I turn the page of the New York Times from an editorial to a news story, I read this:

At some emergency wards, patients wait more than 12 hours before they are tended to. Corridors are jammed with beds carrying frail and elderly patients waiting to be admitted to hospital wards. Outpatient appointments were canceled to free up staff members, and by Wednesday morning hospitals had been ordered to postpone nonurgent surgeries until the end of the month.

Cuts to the National Health Service budget in Britain have left hospitals stretched over the winter for years, but this time a flu outbreak, colder weather and high levels of respiratory illnesses have put the N.H.S. under the highest strain in decades.

The situation has become so dire that the head of the health service is warning that the system is overwhelmed.

[…]“The N.H.S. waiting list will grow to five million people by 2021,” Mr. Stevens said in an impassioned speech to health care leaders in November. “That is one million more people, equivalent to one in 10 of us, the highest number ever.”

Over the past week, hospitals have increasingly declared “black alerts,” an admission that they are unable to cope with demand, the health service confirmed, without releasing numbers. Most hospitals have been unable to meet emergency-ward targets of seeing patients within four hours because of a shortage of beds and staff.

Britain spends billions and billions of pounds on health care every year, but it’s never enough. And British citizens already pay far more in taxes than Americans, who get much better care.

Sometimes, statistics are not as good as a good horror story…  On this blog, I’ve written about dozens of NHS horror stories. But Paul Krugman says they are all lies, including this one from the same New York Times article:

“There’s no real system or order; it’s a jungle in here,” said Nancy Harper, who had accompanied her 87-year-old grandmother, who was lying down and complaining of excruciating pain in her lower back.

“It’s been more than five hours,” Ms. Harper said. “We get to the front of the queue and then someone more ill comes in and we get pushed back. It’s outrageous.”

The UK Telegraph had some more information about the NHS health care system:

Every hospital in the country has been ordered to cancel all non-urgent surgery until at least February in an unprecedented step by NHS officials.

The instructions on Tuesday night – which will see result in around 50,000 operations being axed – followed claims by senior doctors that patients were being treated in “third world” conditions, as hospital chief executives warned of the worst winter crisis for three decades.

[…]Trusts have also been told they can abandon efforts to house male and female patients in separate wards, in an effort to protect basic safety, as services become overwhelmed.

50,000 scheduled surgeries canceled. If this were private sector health care, then the patients would have some recourse. But when the government is running health care, good luck trying to sue them for pain and suffering. They’ve already got your money from taxes, too – you can’t get it out to go somewhere else for surgery.

Although this seems horrifying to Americans, this is pretty standard all year round for Canadians, who have a true single payer health care system. According to the Fraser Institute, the average Canadian family pays about $12,000 in taxes for their free health care. And when they need things like MRIs or knee replacements, they have to wait for months. The average wait time there for “medically necessary treatment” is 21.2 weeks. Medically  Necessary Treatment. When I ask for an MRI in America, I get in the same week that I call.

When conservatives like me oppose government-run health care, it’s because we have looked carefully at government-run health care as it exists in comparable countries, and we have decided that it does not work. Progressives need to take a look at reality in countries like Britain and Canada. How well does it work? How much does it cost? It’s no good making policy decisions with feelings instead of facts.

One million patients per week cannot get a doctor’s appointment in socialist UK

The National Health Service is government-run socialist health care
The National Health Service is government-run socialist health care

What would happen if government took over health care, and created one of the largest bureaucracies in the world?

Absolute failure.

The UK Telegraph explains:

One million patients a week cannot get appointments with GPs, amid the longest waiting times on record, new figures show.

[…]The NHS figures show the number waiting at least a week to see their GP has risen by 56 per cent in five years, with one in five now waiting this long.

The pressures left 11.3 per cent of patients unable to get an appointment at all – a 27 per cent rise since 2012.  This amounts to around 47 million occasions on which patients attempted but failed to secure help from their GP, forcing them to give up, try again later or turn to Accident & Emergency departments.

Rising numbers of patients struggled to even get through on the phone, with 27.8 per cent of those polled citing difficulties, compared with 18.5 per cent in 2012.

[…]The survey of more than 800,000 patients – which is held annually – found worsening access to family doctors across a range of measures.

GPs said the NHS was “at breaking point” with patients increasingly giving up their search for help, even though their health was deteriorating.

But, I am often told by socialists that American health care is just terrible compared to government-run health care systems in other countries. After all, who gives you better service? Private companies in a free market, like Amazon.com? Or government-run monopolies, like the Bureau of Motor Vehicles?

Let’s take a look at this analysis by a medical doctor who is also a Stanford University professor:

Fact No. 1:  Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers.[1]  Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States, and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom.  Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the U.K. and 457 percent higher in Norway.  The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher.

Fact No. 6:  Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the U.K.  Canadian and British patients wait about twice as long – sometimes more than a year – to see a specialist, to have elective surgery like hip replacements or to get radiation treatment for cancer.[6]  All told, 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada.[7]  In England, nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment.[8]

Fact No. 9:  Americans have much better access to important new technologies like medical imaging than patients in Canada or the U.K.  Maligned as a waste by economists and policymakers naïve to actual medical practice, an overwhelming majority of leading American physicians identified computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the most important medical innovations for improving patient care during the previous decade.[11]  [See the table.]  The United States has 34 CT scanners per million Americans, compared to 12 in Canada and eight in Britain.  The United States has nearly 27 MRI machines per million compared to about 6 per million in Canada and Britain.[12]

UK taxpayers pay a lot more in taxes than Americans do. Is it worth it?

Honestly, who would you rather have running your health care? Doctors or unionized government workers who never passed high school arithmetic? The free market is best.

Government-run health care system to kill child against the wishes of his parents

The National Health Service is government-run socialist health care
The National Health Service is government-run socialist health care

I was asked to blog about this story by Trina, and so I will.

Here is the straight news story from Fox News:

The mother and father of a brain-damaged 11-month-old baby on Friday were sitting bedside with the boy after losing a legal battle that would have kept the boy on life support.

The Wall Street Journal reported that doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, who are caring for Charlie Gard received permission from a court to discontinue life support.

The boy’s parents objected to the decision and wanted to take him to the U.S. for an unproven, experimental therapy.

[…]On Tuesday, the parents lost a bid to take Charlie to the U.S. for trial therapy when the European Court of Human Rights sided with earlier rulings that continued treatment would cause “significant harm” and that life support should end. 

The ECHR decision followed other decisions by British courts, all of which sided against the parents. The courts decided that the government-run NHS health care system should kill the child, rather than allowing the parents to bring the child to the US to try the experimental treatment.

National Review summarizes the reasoning of the judges:

According to the Honourable Mr. Justice Nicholas Francis of the High Court’s Family Division, who authored the decision subsequently upheld by the higher courts, death is “in Charlie’s best interests.” There was no “scientific basis” for believing that Charlie would respond positively to the experimental American treatment; meanwhile, there is “unanimity among the experts from whom I have heard that nucleoside therapy cannot reverse structural brain damage.” “If,” wrote Justice Francis, “Charlie’s damaged brain function cannot be improved, as all agree, then how can he be any better off than he is now?” It was “with a heavy heart,” the judge said, that he sided with the doctors. Charlie should be permitted “to die with dignity.”

[…]So it was that successive courts in the United Kingdom and in Europe simultaneously found that Connie Yates and Chris Gard had devoted themselves unhesitatingly to their son’s welfare for ten months, and also that Yates and Gard could not be trusted to act in their son’s best interests.

Connie Yates and Chris Gard pay the salaries of this leftist judges and leftist NHS doctors. If these judges were elected, and these doctors were in the private sector, then the parents’ wishes would matter. But since the money disappeared in taxes, there is no accountability. The government actors have already collected the money from the parents, and now they don’t care what the parents want any more. They won’t even let them bring their child to the United States for treatment that their primitive government-run system can’t offer.

But it’s worse than that – the NHS won’t even let the parents take the child home to die.

Hot Air explains:

The couple had raised nearly £1.4 million for that effort, which would have ended NHS involvement in the case, but the courts decided that they — and not the parents — were in position to decide that death rather than potential treatment was what was best for the child. Now the parents cannot even take the baby home to allow him to die there rather than in hospital, even though they pledged to cover all the costs.

[…]In a single-payer system such as NHS, the courts have clearly ruled that the state has more standing on whether to allow someone to die than the person or his/her nearest relations. And now, the state — through its socialized-medicine providers — refuse to even allow the death to take place under the circumstances desired by the family.

Lest you think that this is an isolated incident, there are a number of other failures of socialized medicine linked in this article by libertarian Daniel Mitchell, writing for CNS News. When Obamacare was being debated, I was easily able to find dozens of NHS horror stories. Just imagine that the losers at the post office or the bureau of motor vehicles were providing you with health care. That’s the NHS. They don’t care about you, they’ve already got their money from your taxes. They have no competition from other players in a free market, so they don’t care. THEY DON’T CARE.

I should note that the UK’s socialized medicine system does allow young women to get breast enlargements, and women also get free IVF treatment. All paid for by taxpayers, of course. The first duty of politicians is to get re-elected. When you put health care in the hands of politicians, they use health care to redistribute taxpayer money in order to buy votes.

Christian NHS worker who gave a book to Muslim co-worker loses her appeal

Judge Jennifer Jane Eady, Queens Counsel
Judge Jennifer Jane Eady, Queens Counsel

The UK Telegraph reports on the state of religious liberty in the United Kingdom.

Excerpt:

A Christian NHS worker suspended for giving a religious book to a Muslim colleague has lost her appeal against a ruling that the decision to discipline her was lawful.

Victoria Wasteney, 39, was found guilty by her NHS employer in 2014 of “harassing and bullying” a work friend for giving her a book about a Muslim woman’s encounter with Christianity, praying with her and asking her to church.

She was suspended for nine months and given a written warning, even though the woman had been happy to discuss faith with her and never gave evidence about her allegations to the NHS.

Ms Wasteney, a senior occupational therapist, challenged the decision by East London NHS Foundation Trust at an employment tribunal last year, but it ruled that her employer had not discriminated against her.

A judge gave her the chance to appeal against that decision, saying it should consider whether the original ruling had correctly applied the European Convention on Human Rights’ strong protection of freedom of religion and expression.

But at a hearing in central London on Thursday, Her Honour Judge Eady QC dismissed the appeal.

Following the decision, Miss Wasteney, from Epping, Essex, said: “What the court clearly failed to do was to say how, in today’s politically correct world, any Christian can even enter into a conversation with a fellow employee on the subject of religion and not, potentially, later end up in an employment tribunal.

“If someone sends you friendly text messages, how is one to know that they are offended? I had no idea that I was upsetting her.”

[…]The woman, who quit her job shortly after making the complaints, never gave any evidence about her allegations to the NHS or later to the employment tribunal.

It sounded to me like the Muslim woman encouraged the Christian woman and the Christian woman was later surprised by the complaints. I think most Christians can take no for an answer, but Christians are caring, and they see offering to pray and offering to bring someone to church as a caring thing to do. If they don’t hear a no, then they keep right on doing what comes naturally to Christians – talking about spiritual things and trying to lead others to the Lord.

It was much easier to do this in the past, before people got more concerned about not feeling offended than they were about discussing what is or is not true. So now, even in a country like England, you can be anything you want to be as long as you’re not behaving like a Christian in public. I think this is especially the case when the people who adjudicate these cases are more focused on feelings… the person who feels the most offended seems to win all the time.

Before I had an alias, I had experience dealing with co-workers who did not much like me talking about spiritual things at work. Some types of people are more risky than others, I’ve found. That’s when I started to make rules based on my experiences, about who was and who was not safe to talk to. And that’s when I decided that to really say what I wanted to say, I’d have to get an alias, and not tell too many co-workers about it.

So who is dangerous? Obviously, people who are committed to a sinful lifestyle already are dangerous to talk to. I don’t talk to people about anything interesting if they are committed to a sinful lifestyle, because they will feel obligated to discuss issues defensively, rather than in a truth-focused way. I also avoid people who are more focused on feelings, family and community above truth. They tend to be more focused on feeling good and getting along, and they are the worst people to disagree with. The safest people are people who like to argue about what is true, and who respond to evidence.

So how to detect who is safe? Well, If the person talks about themselves a lot, and about their feelings, and happy experiences, and their vacations, their families and popular culture fluff, then I would avoid them. Don’t say a word to them. The ones who are safer are the ones who accept disagreements and don’t just rush to agree with you while hiding their own opinions in order to be liked. You also want to avoid people who take everything personally, instead of debating the outside world with a focus on what is true.

I am terrified of people who try to agree with me on everything, or who cannot explain both sides of an issue respectfully. I watch what people watch on TV in the gym – if it’s sports, housewives of beverly hills, or other shallow life enhancement fluff, then I don’t talk to them. If it’s news or business, then it’s safer to talk to them – because then you can talk about facts. Beware of people who try to jump to agreement quickly, without showing any evidence or reasons for their view. It’s always better to talk about issues in the abstract, rather than offering to pray or asking someone to church. For example, you can discuss whether the universe had a beginning, or which books of the Bible were written early. Christians need to learn how to do that – how to talk about facts.

A good question to ask to test a person is to ask where they get their news. If there is no balance there, then it’s a good sign to avoid them. Two of my leftist co-workers this week asked me why I thought that the Washington Post and the New York Times were “radically leftist”. I asked them to name conservative columnists at either paper. They couldn’t name a single one. One tried to google it right in front of me! I named Arthur Brooks, Ross Douthat, Jennifer Rubin, etc. and explained why they weren’t conservative. Then I listed off a half-dozen liberal names at the Washington Post. If the person you are talking to is in a bubble, then they are too risky to talk to. Pretty much everyone on the secular left is that way, and you should check first by seeing what they read for news. If they’re not safe, then get yourself an alias and write something online, instead.

We have single-payer health care already in the VA system – is it working?

VA health care wait times
VA health care wait times

This is health care policy expert Sally Pipes, writing in Investors Business Daily.

She writes:

new report from the Government Accountability Office has confirmed that the Department of Veterans Affairs can’t take care of those it’s supposed to serve.

The GAO has placed the VA’s health system on the “high risk” list of federal programs that are vulnerable to “fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.” The agency is still struggling to recover from an 8-month-old internal audit that revealed that returning soldiers had to wait more than 90 days for care. Some patients died while waiting.

The GAO’s findings apply far beyond the VA. The agency’s problems — which include long wait-times and out-of-control costs — demonstrate what happens in any government-run, single-payer health care system.

The VA’s failings ought to give pause to the liberal politicians and policy analysts who would love to introduce single-payer health care for all Americans. But they don’t seem to have heeded the GAO report. Within a week of its release, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., called for “Medicare for All.”

Champions of socialized medicine used to point to the VA as proof that single-payer worked. In 2011, economist Paul Krugman called it “a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform.” In a 2009 debate with me, Princeton professor Uwe Reinhardt said that there’s an example of a single-payer system in the U.S. that works — the VA.

The VA offers lessons about health reform — just not the ones single-payer’s proponents have in mind.

Defenders of government-run health care claim that it will control costs by cutting out middlemen such as insurance companies. The evidence shows otherwise. According to the GAO, the VA budget more than doubled between 2002 and 2013 even as enrollment increased by less than a third.

Single-payer’s “guarantee” of access to high-quality care is a myth, too.

“Despite these substantial budget increases,” the GAO report says, “for more than a decade there have been numerous reports … of VA facilities failing to provide timely health care.”

Over the last decade, more than 63,000 veterans have been unable to get a doctor’s appointment. At least 40 veterans have died because of long waits.

Things aren’t likely to get better anytime soon. The VA has yet to act on more than 100 GAO recommendations for improving care.

Last summer, lawmakers allocated $10 billion to a program intended to reduce wait times by permitting veterans to see private doctors outside the VA system. So far, the agency has only authorized 31,000 vets to seek private care — out of a possible 8.5 million.

That has to change — 88% of veterans say that they want the ability to choose where they receive their care.

However, there is one military person who is getting health care – convicted traitor Bradley Manning. He’s getting sex-change surgery while he is in jail for leaking national security secrets to our enemies. He won’t have to wait at all for his health care. This is what happens when you take money out of your wallet, give it to the government, and then hope that when you get sick, someone in the government will decide that you are worthy of treatment. Which you aren’t, unless they want your vote.

It’s not just the VA health care system – government-run health care doesn’t work in other places:

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service, for instance, is notorious for denying patients everything from certain cancer medications to hip replacements.

The program is also financially unsustainable. According to its own medical director, Bruce Keogh, “if the NHS continues to function as it does now, it’s going to really struggle to cope because the model of delivery and service that we have at the moment is not fit for the future.”

In Canada’s single-payer system, the average wait time between referral from a general practitioner and the actual receipt of treatment by a specialist was more than four months in 2014. That’s nearly double the wait time of two decades ago.

The Canadian system is the one that Democrats want to emulate – but Canada’s rich left-wing politicians come here when they want care. They don’t want to wait in line. Why should we want to wait in line? We need to prefer consumer-driven health care over government-controlled health care.