I was browsing blogs recently and one I hadn’t seen before attracted my attention. It belonged to a British doctor, a general practitioner (known in America as a ‘family doctor’).
One particular post caught my eye. It was a short, yet definitive, statement on Britain’s National Health Service, entitled – “Why The NHS Works”:
I saw a patient last week, who has recovered from major surgery. He has had brain surgery and is now likely to do very well. I am pleased. He is well.
The whole process worked beautifully. He was diagnosed quickly and effectively. He was assessed further at the local hospital who referred on to the Regional Centre where he was well looked after, nursed excellently, and when he came to see me, he and his wife were delighted.
He is an ordinary working-class bloke from Dullsville, who has been looked after.
His care, I reckon, would have cost around £200,000. He knows that. We, the healthy, paid for him to have his treatment.
This is the NHS that I joined as a Junior Doctor 36 years ago.
I get a bit fed up of politicians and journalists telling me that the NHS needs reform.
It blinking well doesn’t. What it needs is aforesaid politicians to go away and do something else with their time. I’d rather they dredged their moats, or tended to their duck houses.
Leave us alone.
The British National Health Service is under attack yet again, by politicians who’ve no idea how to organize a piss-up in a brewery, let alone a complex organism like the NHS. The government is responding to pressure from corporate industry to privatize the NHS and move it towards the ‘American’ system.
For those still in any doubt, the ‘American’ system is one of the largest cash-cows in the United States for multinational drug and insurance companies, private hospitals, and certain medical professionals who’ve sold out their Hippocratic Oath in favor of a very fat bank balance.
Unfortunately, the ‘American’ system is a complete and utter disaster for the average patient, who stands to lose his home, belongings, in fact everything he owns, when the debt collector calls about his recent hospital bill for appendicitis or open heart surgery.
The doctor who wrote the post, highlighted above, estimated the cost of his patient’s treatment at about two hundred thousand British pounds, or $320,000. The patient paid nothing out of his own pocket. Every working person in Britain chipped in a few pence and paid his costs for him, just as he will do for others now that he’s fit to return to work.
The cost per person per month is minimal, a fraction of the charges imposed by even the most affordable of medical insurance companies in America (though, I’ve yet to discover one).
Recently, there’s been much ado from certain Republican members of Congress about the ‘Obama Healthcare Bill’, passed last year. They want it withdrawn. Killed. Dead.
In order they not be criticized for partaking of the (relatively) cheap medical insurance available to members of Congress, certain of them have refused it and taken out their own private insurance, like most American citizens have to do if they need cover.
Yesterday, one of those Republican members was interviewed on the Public Broadcasting Service. I believe it was Joe Walsh of Illinois. He was asked how much it cost to insure himself, his wife, and one child, given that he had turned down the Federal policy.
His answer was: $1,200 per month. For the sake of British readers, whose jaws I can guarantee will drop, that’s 750 British pounds every month.
Of course, Walsh can well afford it. A Congress member earns $170,000 a year -just over 106,000 British pounds. He was asked how working class people could afford to pay those sorts of sums.
Being a politician, his response was way too long to reproduce here, and anyway, it completely failed to address the question.
Politicians in America have much in common with their European counterparts. In particular, allegiance to corporations who willingly subsidize their already overblown salaries.
There are many Americans who’ve been hoodwinked into believing ‘socialist’ medicine is inspired by the Devil. Quite why the Devil would want to heal free-of-charge is beyond my comprehension. It sounds more like something Jesus of Nazareth might do.
Socialist medicine: Where the healthy pay a little…so all who are sick may get well.
 “Why The NHS Works” The Jobbing Doctor, January 30th 2011
Filed under: Don’t dare get sick