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  • In Britain’s NHS, A Death a Day Because the Doctor’s Away

    It’s another day, another failure, for Britain’s National Health Service. America has some prominent congressional advocates of a “single payer” system of national health insurance run by the government. They always promise high quality care at low cost. But, in fact, it always comes at a high price. Britons who get sick, and have to try to live through it, pay for it at a steep personal cost to themselves and their families.

    The report of conditions in the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust in yesterday’s Times makes for grim reading. Receptionists with no clinical training assessed new arrivals. Patients waited hours for emergency treatment, and when thirsty had to drink water from flower vases. The pressure to meet arbitrary targets encouraged doctors and nurses to ignore seriously ill patients in order to attend minor, quicker to treat, cases. One senior doctor admitted to leaving a patient with an arm broken so badly that the bone stuck through the skin with no pain relief for four hours. The hospital’s board ignored a threatening rise in cross-patient infections. When surveyed, only 27% of the hospital’s own staff was happy with the care they provided. All in all, investigators estimate that the hospital killed between 400 and 1,200 patients in a three year period.

    And this was not a minor, backwater organization. The designation ‘Foundation Trust’ means that it was recognized as one of the best in Britain, supposedly meeting the highest standards of governance and financial stability. The designation was awarded on the basis of a supposedly independent investigation provided by the Trust, an investigation that has now been shown to be inaccurate in every respect. Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, has accepted that “There was a complete failure of management to address serious problems and monitor performance.”

    The relevant question now is why the system failed so badly at every turn. The problem was not that Britain spends too little on healthcare: under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, spending on health grew by 68% in real terms from 2001/02 to 2006/07 alone, and it has continued to rise faster than inflation since then. The answer is that, as an investigation by Britain’s Healthcare Commission has revealed, the institution’s managers were so obsessed by meeting centralized targets and winning Trust status in order to escape that control that they ignored their responsibility to care for their patients.

    This reveals, yet again, the fundamental flaws with top-down national health care systems, and, indeed, with excessive top-down control in all areas of life. First, the more responsibilities the bureaucrats at the center assume, the more targets, mandates, goals, and requirements they push down the system. But by trying to control everything, a top-down order ends up controlling nothing, except the flow of paperwork: the more it tightens it grip, the more humanity slips through its fingers. Second, a centralized system incentivizes people to be more concerned with managing the system than with managing their jobs. And when their job is making life and death decisions, that’s a recipe not just for failure, or even for expensive failure. It’s a recipe for inhumanity.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to In Britain’s NHS, A Death a Day Because the Doctor’s Away

    1. Barb -mn says:

      Here is a story on MEDICAL DOCTORS, STAFF conducting poor ethics, malpractice, negligence, malfeasance, inefficiency and the patient who had to endure ALL AT THE EXPENSE OF THE PATIENT.

      A friend of mine had developed swellings under her arm pit. She went to the doctor as it was alarming to her. The doctor looked, felt and told my friend they were fatty tissues. As my friend trusted this doctor she had been going to for years, she was influenced to trust the doctor's diagnosis. I am without medical knowledge but when I saw these lumps, they definitely appeared to need attention.

      A few months later my friend went back to the doctor as the lumps were hurting. The doctor asked her if they grew. Well, when you get used to something that isn't normally there, and as they were in position of her not to normally be aware, she responded saying, she "didn't think so." If the doctor did her job the doctor would've known herself. The doctor looked again, did absolutely no testing and told my friend these fatty tissues were rubbing against her nerves causing the pain. A sincere and dignified doctor would have measured and tested these lumps the first time my friend went to visit her as these lumps were not normal from the beginning. My friend suggested an MRI. The doctor insisted fatty tissues, an MRI was not needed. My friend, not one to argue, became use to enduring the pain.

      She went to the doctor a third time as the pain had Intensified persistently. The doctor suggested pain pills, my friend once again suggested an MRI. Finally this derelict doctor set her up for an MRI. What was diagnosed as fatty tissues was confirmed to be cancer. She is now dying as it has since spread throughout. Starting with the diagnosed fatty tissue. Thanks to a doctor who denied confirmation of her own diagnosis. The time span was approx. 1 1/2 years from her first visit to her first treatment. It could've been days had the proper steps been taken. I have since been told doctors don't act on the obvious any more, which leads me to believe there is government intervention of some sort IN OUR PRIVATE HEALTH WHERE DISINGENUOUS DOCTORS AND OR THEIR BUSINESSES WOULD TAKE THIS ON.

      I believe honest, dignified, sincere, compassionate, willful to heal doctors would not accept this way of practice. Doctors of the past didn't put needless expense, wastes of time and certain death on the patients they cared for.

      They used their God given skill to heal, not steal.

      This has cost her so much of everything. Her treatment was more unethical treatment OF CONFUSION! She had about 4 medical, various titled, cancer people?, all asking the same questions when they could either be less the staff or sharing the information that was already given, saving HOURS!

      The problem with a medical team is the more people to deal with the more miscommunication the more cost and time wasted. Seems to be inefficient, life threatening make-work. Suggestions given but interfering with other suggestions, times when the dosage and instructions on prescriptions were confusing during consultations. Even with her chemo treatment. At one time she had (what the medical staff called) "a bad reaction" to the chemo. We believe it was due to the pouch of steroid solution that was needed in combination with the chemo that DIDN'T EXIST! Too much room for error and easy to hide the accountable. I am so deeply saddened and disappointed.

      There is so much more devastating issues regarding my friend, and this horrible experience of a terminal disease that could've been treated for a future QUALITY OF LIFE! The cancer doctor himself, is another sad display of the profession turned ugly. This is ONE example of how government run healthcare will be, only government will be much worse including cost and care and much waste!

      Someone has to bring back the doctors of ethics that once were.

      Please, those who worked to gain the position of the title DOCTOR as a person of intention to heal as efficiently and effectively within your skill of dignity and sincerity and good will to all mankind, without discrimination or bias or bad influences of others (government), make yourselves known!

      YOU ARE NEEDED! My friend deserved you. Where are you?

    2. Parantap Basu, Profe says:

      I lived in the USA and have relocated now to the UK. I have observed two systems. Let me put this choice between socialized health care and private health care bluntly.

      (i) Socialized Care: You feel a discomfort and go to the doctor. The doctor looks at you and gives some medication (even a painkiller), which is affordable, and you can buy paying about 7 pounds. If you have a chest pain, you call 999. They come and hospitalize you. The care may or may not be what you expect but you get this care regardless of status. Everybody gets the same care including the prime minister. If you are not happy with the system, you can buy a private insurance, which I have done. The private insurance basically enables you to jump the queue.

      (ii) American health system: You feel a chest pain, and go to the doctor. The receptionist asks you: "Sir do you have an insurance?" If you have it, no problem, you get all the care. If you don't, sorry the door is closed. You may probably end up in a public hospital where you have to wait a long time and even die without any care.

      The choice between (i) and (ii) is yours. Health care is a public good. Everybody deserves it.

    3. Pingback: In the Green Room: Helen Evans on How Government-Run Health Care Works | Fix Health Care Policy

    4. Pingback: We Interrupt Regularly Scheduled Programming to Rant on Healthcare « Breathing Grace

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