Because the system prides itself on creating equity by putting the needs of society as whole ahead of any given patient, it means that the needs of individuals often get lost in a sea of managers, administrative targets and rationing decisions.“The individual is essentially a supplicant,” said Philip Booth, program director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, a free market think tank in London. “He’s irrelevant to the whole system as far as the National Health Service is concerned” […]For instance, the former Labor government responded to complaints about waiting times at hospital emergency rooms by instituting a target for NHS hospitals to treat patients within four hours. Under pressure to meet these targets, the Daily Mail reported in 2008, hospital administrators let seriously ill people wait in ambulances for hours outside the hospital so that they weren’t technically counted as patients. As a result, the ambulances weren’t available to answer emergency calls.
And that’s just the start of it. Read the whole of this harrowing and depressing piece to get a sense of just how bad things are in English health care. Luckily, as the article points out, recent scandals have removed some of the traditional opposition to criticizing the NHS, and people are slowly and cautiously becoming more comfortable calling for serious reforms to the system. We hope their voices are heard.Meanwhile, the British example provides a good example of how controlling costs through top-down rationing can lead to severe abuses and horrific scandals. We definitely need to bring the cost of health care down in the US, but the UK’s method is not the way to do it.[Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.]