It's been a while since I've beat up on the NHS, and in light of Rudy's comments criticizing Britain's health care system, cribbed from this City Journal article, it's, I think, time to catch up with the wacky world of socialized British medicine. Some recent stories for your amusement:
From the BBC (10/24): "NHS trusts have a £4bn ($8 billion) backlog of key maintenance repairs which range from fixing heating to meeting fire safety rules, government figures suggest. The figure is eight times this year's much-heralded NHS surplus, which was achieved by making a variety of cuts."
From the BBC (10/25): "Poor leadership within the NHS is to blame for the problems with hospital superbugs, according to the minister in charge of reviewing health care. Lord Darzi told MPs on the Commons Health Committee that hospital deep clean programmes had already started. But he said the deaths of 90 patients in Kent from Clostridium difficile showed the need for cultural change."
From the Daily Mail (11/02): "A 75-year-old man was forced to spend his life savings on a vital hip operation after the NHS cancelled his appointments four times. Edward Crane claims he has nothing left after clearing out his bank account for the £9000 private surgery after waiting more than six months for a consultation at his local hospital."
From the Daily Mail (10/28): "Record numbers of Britons are travelling abroad for medical treatment to escape the NHS—with 70,000 patients expected to fly out this year. And by the end of the decade 200,000 "health tourists" will fly as far as Malaysa and South Africa for major surgery to avoid long waiting lists and the rising threat of superbugs, according to a new report."
From the Daily Mail (11/01): "Banning a heart treatment on the grounds that it is too expensive could end up costing both lives and money, doctors warn. The Health Service's rationing watchdog saysdrugcoated stents used to treat around 30,000 patients a year are not cost-effective and should no longer be provided."
From the BBC (11/01, supply and demand edition): "The number of NHS dentists in London is well above the national average, but only half the city's population use them, a London Assembly report shows."
Incidentally, Michael Moore's Sicko has been released in Europe and, as I predicted in my review of the film, the reaction has been less charitable than in the past. Writing in the London Times, Minette Marrin was puzzled by Moore's depiction of the NHS. A sample:
Unfortunately Sicko is a dishonest film. That is not only my opinion. It is the opinion of Professor Lord Robert Winston, the consultant and advocate of the NHS. When asked on BBC Radio 4 whether he recognised the NHS as portrayed in this film, Winston replied: "No, I didn't. Most of it was filmed at my hospital [the Hammersmith in west London], which is a very good hospital but doesn't represent what the NHS is like." I didn't recognise it either, from years of visiting NHS hospitals. Moore painted a rose-tinted vision of spotless wards, impeccable treatment, happy patients who laugh away any suggestion of waiting in casualty, and a glamorous young GP who combines his devotion to his patients with a salary of £100,000, a house worth £1m and two cars. All this, and for free.
Full review here.