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Is the UK Controlling Health Care Costs

Editor’s note: The underlined text, as you pass your cursor across it, are links to the articles in the various countries. You will be shocked by what you read about these countries’ health care systems.

Saving money in the UK

Most of the health reform dreamers look to the UK as a model of what we should be doing. Great Britain is about a decade ahead of us in moving toward national health information technology, comparative effectiveness research, and pay-for-performance. The results of these experiments are not encouraging. Here are some recent headlines:

‘Cruel and neglectful’ care of one million NHS patients exposed: One million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain, according to a major report released today.

Women heart attack victims ‘are dying needlessly’

Sentenced to death on the NHS: Patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors have warned.


You get the drift. But, by golly, they’ve got costs under control, eh?

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September 4, 2009 - Posted by | Federal Government, healthcare | ,

3 Comments »

  1. Gee this makes nationalized health care sound so amazing, where do I sign up?!?! There has definitely got to be a better solution to this health care problem without a government run program.

    Comment by anahid02 | September 4, 2009 | Reply

  2. It all makes perfect sense: once you get rid of the pesky patients, you can run hospitals much more efficiently! Did the ‘Yes, Minister’ (or was it ‘Yes, Prime Minister’?) people not do a ‘documentary’ on this decades ago?

    Comment by xanthippa | September 4, 2009 | Reply

  3. These reports are not isolated ones. Problems in Paradise have been widely reported. A few others of recent ilk include:

    An August 14 article in the Daily Telegraph reflects the government’s release of data demonstrating that a quarter of a million Britons “are stuck waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6024086/Quarter-of-a-million-people-waiting-more-than-18-months-for-NHS-treatment.html The article went on to say that

    “The figures, published by the Lib Dems, show that 236,316 people are currently waiting more than 18 weeks for a range of treatments including oral surgery, rheumatology and geriatric medicine.

    This means that nearly 10 per cent of patients are not being treated within the government’s waiting list target.

    It stands in contrast to comments made by Mr Burnham on Tuesday that Labour had wiped out all waiting lists on the NHS.”

    The Labour Party countered with this half-baked defense as reported in the article:

    “In an interview on BBC Radio Five Live, Mr Burnham said: ‘We have no waiting lists now in the NHS and people have full choice of NHS hospitals.’

    The Department of Health said the NHS had met targets for the first time last summer for 90 per cent of admitted and 95 per cent of non-admitted patients to receive treatment within 18 weeks.

    It said that the targets had been met every month since then.

    A spokesman said: ‘Record investment and dedicated staff have given patients the shortest waits since NHS records began.

    ‘In the 1990s it was not uncommon for people to wait 18 months or more for their operation – with some people dying on the waiting list.'”

    There are detailed discussions of the effect on British dental care: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/alicethomson/3553839/Bad-teeth—the-new-British-disease.html A short portion of the article states:

    “It is now virtually impossible for many people to find an NHS dentist, and if they do manage to squeeze on to a list, they could still be charged 80 per cent of the cost of treatment – unless they are a child, pregnant or on benefits.

    The health service under both the Tories and Labour has victimised the dentally challenged – that is, anyone who hasn’t inherited strong teeth and a perfect picket fence smile. Few can easily afford to go to any dentist now. My husband went to a private dentist after a 15-year gap, and was left reeling after they extracted £2,000 for 12 fillings. My three-year-old son received a bill for £90 after I stupidly asked my private dentist whether she could have a quick look at his teeth.

    A survey by Mori for the Citizens Advice Bureau this week found that seven and a half million Britons have failed to gain access to an NHS dentist in the past two years. In one quarter of the country, no NHS dentists are allowing new patients to join their lists. And despite government targets that every child should have his teeth seen by an expert every year, more than one in three children never see an NHS dentist.”

    Naturally, the British private sector responded with private care to address the shortages of dental care artificially created under NHS, as reported by the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/manchester/7616211.stm

    Then, we have the recent report on natal care and deliveries of babies in the UK. The Mail Online reports that thousands of women in the UK are having babies in the street because of a shortage of resources to care for them and their newborns: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1209034/The-babies-born-hospital-corridors-Bed-shortage-forces-4-000-mothers-birth-lifts-offices-hospital-toilets.html The article contained the following:

    “Thousands of women are having to give birth outside maternity wards because of a lack of midwives and hospital beds.

    The lives of mothers and babies are being put at risk as births in locations ranging from lifts to toilets – even a caravan – went up 15 per cent last year to almost 4,000.

    Health chiefs admit a lack of maternity beds is partly to blame for the crisis, with hundreds of women in labour being turned away from hospitals because they are full.

    Latest figures show that over the past two years there were at least:

    · 63 births in ambulances and 608 in transit to hospitals;
    · 117 births in A&E departments, four in minor injury units and two in medical assessment areas;
    · 115 births on other hospital wards and 36 in other unspecified areas including corridors;
    · 399 in parts of maternity units other than labour beds, including postnatal and antenatal wards and reception areas.

    Additionally, overstretched maternity units shut their doors to any more women in labour on 553 occasions last year.

    Babies were born in offices, lifts, toilets and a caravan, according to the Freedom of Information data for 2007 and 2008 from 117 out of 147 trusts which provide maternity services.

    One woman gave birth in a lift while being transferred to a labour ward from A&E while another gave birth in a corridor, said East Cheshire NHS Trust.

    Others said women had to give birth on the wards – rather than in their own maternity room – because the delivery suites were full.

    Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley, who obtained the figures, said Labour had cut maternity beds by 2,340, or 22 per cent, since 1997. At the same time birth rates have been rising sharply – up 20 per cent in some areas.”

    Fear not! Rationing is not under consideration. We’ll simply have an effective and efficient system like NHS.

    Comment by Douglas Foss | September 6, 2009 | Reply


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