Posts Tagged ‘NHS’

Forced budget cuts at the NHS lead to rationing

February 28, 2011 1 comment

It can’t happen here, right?

NHS managers are blocking hospital appointments for patients to save cash, a survey of family doctors has revealed, and at least one health trust proposes to stop sending obese people and smokers for routine hip and knee surgery because their unhealthy lifestyles lower the chance of the operations’ “success”.

With the health service asked to find an unprecedented £20bn efficiency savings over the next few years, many are resorting to moving procedures out of the NHS. In Kent hospital managers say abortions will now be provided by the charity Marie Stopes with hospitals only dealing with complicated cases. Last winter local GPs were asked to “stop referrals” for many procedures.


Health trusts are having to pare back costs in new ways. NHS North Yorkshire and York, the area’s primary care trust, is planning to stop patients who smoke, and those with a body mass index of more than 35, from having routine hip and knee operations.

The rules of economics apply to the English as well as to Americans.  When the government needs to rein in costs in a regulated healthcare market, the inevitable result is rationing.  Plain and simple.

You can’t fight city hall. Or the NHS (Government is so virtuous edition)

April 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Yet another disturbing government-run healthcare story from across the pond (my bold):

Jenny Whitehead, a breast cancer survivor, paid £250 for an appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon after being told she would have to wait five months to see him on the NHS. He told her he would add her to his NHS waiting list for surgery.

She was barred from the list, however, and sent back to her GP. She must now find at least £10,000 for private surgery, or wait until the autumn for the NHS operation to remove a cyst on her spine.

“When I paid £250 to see the specialist privately I had no idea I would be sacrificing my right to surgery on the NHS. I feel victimised,” she said.


Whitehead’s case […] reveals that patients who go private in despair at long waiting lists still risk jeopardising their NHS treatment. Department of Health officials admit it remains official policy.

Whitehead, 64, a former museum assistant from Yorkshire who works as a volunteer at a hospice, went to her GP in December for back pain. Because of her breast cancer history, she was immediately offered an MRI scan to check the disease had not returned. It revealed a cyst on her spine, pressing against her sciatic nerve. Her GP referred her to a consultant at Airedale NHS hospital.

She was told the next available NHS appointment was in May, so she accepted the offer of a private slot to see him the following week.


The specialist promised to add her to his NHS waiting list for surgery. After two months, however, hospital managers told her she had been barred from the waiting list because she had seen the surgeon privately. Now her only alternative to paying £10,000 privately is to go back to her GP, seek another referral to the same specialist, this time on the NHS, and face another 18-week wait.

“We will scratch together the money if we absolutely have to, but I feel it’s incredibly unfair,” said Whitehead. “I’ve paid full National Insurance contributions all my working life and feel I should get this operation on the NHS.”


Bradford and Airedale NHS trust said it was looking into the case “as a matter of urgency” but added: “Anyone who chooses to pay for a private outpatient consultation cannot receive NHS treatment unless they are then referred on to an NHS pathway by their consultant.”

Isn’t government grand?  Specifically, isn’t government determining which procedures you can or cannot undergo, grand?

I’m not saying this is going to happen once the US officially completes its transformation into a  nationalized healthcare system in about 10-15 years.  If anything, I’d ask my liberal and progressive friends who think that government, and only government, is so virtuous and kind so as to look after the healthcare needs of it’s citizens, if this is the kind of government they’re constantly referring to?  Surely a government bureaucracy in the USA is far more superior to those in the UK?  Those in France?  Italy?

The bottom line is that the power of government is scary. 

[Via Memeorandum]

Consequences of Obamacare

March 16, 2010 Leave a comment

With all the talk about government tightening its grip on healthcare in our own country, it’s easy to forget that there are several other countries whose healthcare sectors are locked in the vise of government “oversight”.  Britain has the National Health Service, the NHS, which has regulated healthcare for decades. 

Here is an eye-opening piece about how inefficient and mediocre the entire exercise really is:

Over the past decade, the British Government has dramatically increased spending on health. […] real spending on the NHS has risen by more than 50 per cent and the proportion of the GDP devoted to spending on the NHS is now close to the EU average of about 10 per cent.

We can argue about how efficiently that extra money has been spent; plainly there have been improvements in waiting times, access, equipment, infrastructure and some standards of care. There are more staff, and a notable improvement in outcomes has been achieved[…]

Unfortunately, that’s not the whole story. A large amount of the additional funding seems to have been eaten up by higher salaries that have failed to make a significant difference to productivity. Crude targeting and relentless reorganisation of systems, some of which seems to have done a great deal more harm than good, has further compounded the sense of waste.

The curiosity of the political debate over the future of the NHS is how little of it there is. As Barack Obama has discovered to his cost, any politician who embarks on health care reform does so at his peril. Politicians, therefore, tend to leave well alone. Twenty years down the line, a funding shortfall will be someone else’s problem.

In Britain, the difficulties are made worse by sentimental and idealistic attachment to the founding principles of the NHS, a system of health care free to all at the point of delivery that was once the envy of the world. The NHS is a sacred cow that no politician who values a future in government dares touch[…]

Can anything be done to correct these problems, or do we just trundle on regardless until financial and operational crises brutally impose unwanted solutions? The starting point for any serious debate on the future of the NHS must be the realisation that there are limits to what publicly funded health care can and should be expected to provide.

Many of the treatments and services now routinely expected of the NHS are beyond the imagination of the service’s founding fathers, and certainly beyond what they would have regarded as an appropriate claim on taxpayer funds […]

The next stage of the debate needs to be the realisation that if people want better health care, they must be prepared to pay more towards it. Yes of course much could be done to improve productivity. A relatively recent report by management consultants McKinsey suggested that the NHS workforce in England could be cut by 10 per cent, saving £20 billion by 2014, without affecting the quality of service. Needless to say, the report was suppressed and when it was leaked its findings were rejected.

But there is only so far you can go with cost-cutting before eating into the fabric of the service, and it won’t remove the relentless pressures of ageing populations and technological advancement.

Remember all of this the next time you hear liberals bloviate about how the United States is the “only Western nation” that doesn’t provide healthcare for its citizens.  To them, government is the only way–they’d much rather have a corrupt and bloated Federal bureaucracy overseeing the basic healthcare needs of the citizenry.

Meanwhile, the NHS is showing that it’s not about healthcare, but about feeding the insatiable beast of an ever-growing bureaucracy.  Government entitlement programs with their bloated overhead and payroll never contract.  On the contrary, they are constantly in need of expansion.   Once the bureaucracy gains a foothold in the political psyche, it’s almost impossible to tear down.  The beast will suck the innovation right out of the system.

The Telegraph piece is a glimpse into the future with Obamacare.  Instead of higher quality of care, we can look forward to nebulous bureaucrats, ubiquitous Congressional committees, etc.  In short, we can look forward to the politicization of healthcare.

Funny thing about government-run healthcare

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Politicians tend to give themselves raises, while doctors and healthcare workers on the federal payroll get the shaft:

Hospital consultants, GPs and senior civil servants were furious last night after being told that their pay would be frozen this year while MPs enjoy a 1.5 per cent rise.

Gordon Brown announced pay freezes for senior public sector workers including NHS managers, judges, dentists and generals, to help to save £3.5 billion within three years.


The Government also rejected a recommendation from the Senior Salaries Review Body to raise minimum salaries for top officials to £61,500 and to award a 2.25 per cent increase for all NHS managers earning less than £80,000. It also refused to fund a gross increase in GPs’ pay, including inflation-related costs, of 1.4 per cent. Instead, ministers froze GPs’ pay and told family doctors to find efficiency savings to fund inflation-related costs.

But of course, government-run healthcare in the United States will be different, right?  I mean, our bureaucrats and politicians are much more virtuous than those across the pond.