The Left has a penchant for constantly citing Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) to support their clamors for socialized medicine. However, the NHS is failing; a new report states that the NHS has reached its “breaking point”:
“Pressure on all services is rising and care is increasingly being rationed. Waiting lists should not be rising, and yet they are,” said Mark Porter, council chair of the British Medical Association (BMA).
“Doctors always want to deliver the best possible care for our patients, but we can’t continuously plug gaps by penny pinching and poaching from elsewhere in an overstretched NHS.”
Therein lies the Achilles heel of socialized medicine: without a profit motive, there is less incentive to enter the field of medicine, resulting in a dwindling supply of doctors and nurses as demand from patients increases, resulting in shortages and rationing.
Here are seven things you need to know about the failing NHS.
1. The NHS was first created in 1948. It was formed through the guidance of Health Minister Aneurin Bevan, who pushed it through despite opposition from the Conservative Party, medical field and even within his own Labour Party. Bevan later said he benefited from “the stupidity of his enemies” in the establishment of the NHS. Shortly after the NHS was created, the Conservatives took power and issued a committee to determine the best way to provide health care; the committee determined that the NHS was the least expensive method to do so. The NHS has been cemented into the U.K. ever since.
2. The NHS is facing staff shortages. According to the UK Independent, district nurses declined by nearly 50 percent from 2000 to 2014 and 15 percent from 2014 to 2016. The NHS is also looking at the possibility of conscripting “hundreds of doctors from India” and Pakistan as well as requiring doctors to work in the NHS for five years once their training is finished to deal with doctor shortages, particularly in the Accidents and Emergencies (A&E) departments.
The shortages have been particularly grueling for student nurses who have been overworked and put in situations where they felt overwhelmed, to the detriment of patients: (H/T: UK Telegraph)
“On my third placement there was a young girl who needed to have an NG tube put in,” said Meera, 22. “The doctor explained the procedure and it really frightened her, but because we were so overworked it took about three hours before we were able to do it, so this girl spent three hours panicking and crying about a tube going up her nose and down her throat.
“I eventually had enough and did it myself. I felt really out of my depth, but knew it had to be done.”
“I was on a geriatric ward in Portsmouth and it was really understaffed,” said Jess, 21.
“There was this patient who must have been about 90. He looked really miserable. As he had severe dementia it was difficult to communicate with him to find out what I could do to help, but after about 20 minutes of sitting down with him I finally realised that the water glass on the tray in front of him was out of his reach. It was such a simple task – move the glass closer to the patient so he could drink – but everyone was so busy rushing around that nobody had really noticed him.”
3. Patients face exorbitant waiting times. A report from the Patients Association found that “tens of thousands of” patients seeking routine surgeries had to wait over 18 weeks; there was an 80 percent increase in elective surgeries from 2014 to 2015. Additionally, more major operations, such as hip and knee replacements, had average wait times of over 100 days.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, told the UK Guardian, “The Patients Association has noticed a clear trend over recent years in the increasing time people are waiting for operations, as well as the number of people waiting longer for elective surgery.”
“Every day we hear from the people behind these statistics on our national helpline: individuals who are in pain, worried they will lose further mobility, or will take longer to recover when they finally get their surgery,” Murphy added. “Their family members and careers are also having to share the added uncertainty and pressure faced by patients whilst they are waiting for their operations.”
4. Numerous unnecessary deaths occur under the NHS. A study conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concluded that around 750 patients a month – one in 28 – pass away due to subpar quality of care, which includes “inattentive monitoring of the patient’s condition, doctors making the wrong diagnosis, or patients being prescribed the wrong medicine.” In other words, patients needlessly die as a result of the incompetence of the NHS.
For example, in January an elderly woman died from cardiac arrest after waiting 35 hours on a trolley because there was a shortage in hospital beds. A 73-year-old man also died from an aneurysm in the same hospital as he languished in the waiting room.
Here’s what the NHS had to deal with right before January 1: (H/T: UK Daily Mail)
A&E units had to temporarily close their doors to ambulances 42 times;
Nearly a quarter of patients waited at least four hours to be seen, while 372,000 in total turned up to casualty;
One thousand beds were closed every day of the week to contain the spread of winter vomiting bug norovirus;
More than 457,000 patients called the NHS 111 helpline.
Other factors that lead to unnecessary deaths include NHS hospitals not informing other hospitals about terrible workers and the NHS’ bad habit of sacrificing patient care to cut back on costs: (H/T: Forbes)
NHS doctors routinely conceal from patients information about innovative new therapies that the NHS doesn’t pay for, so as to not “distress, upset or confuse” them.
Terminally ill patients are incorrectly classified as “close to death” so as to allow the withdrawal of expensive life support.
NHS expert guidelines on the management of high cholesterol are intentionally out of date, putting patients at serious risk, in order to save money.
When the government approved an innovative new treatment for elderly blindness, the NHS initially decided to reimburse for the treatment only after patients were already blind in one eye — using the logic that a person blind in one eye can still see, and is therefore not that badly off.
Additionally, the Forbes piece notes that a quarter of those diagnosed with cancer are barred from receiving “the latest drugs proven to extend life”; should people seek those drugs on their own, they will banned from the NHS altogether.
According to Forbes, “Britons diagnosed with cancer or heart attacks are more likely to die, and more quickly, than those of most other developed nations. Britain’s survival rates for these diseases are ‘little better than [those] of former Communist countries.'”
5. The NHS has a death rate four times higher than the U.S. following major surgeries. According to a study conducted by University College London and Columbia University, a little less than “ten percent of British patients died in hospital afterwards compared to 2.5 percent in America.”
The UK Daily Mail provided more details as to why this is the case:
Professor Monty Mythen, head of anaesthesia at University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “In America, after surgery, everyone would go into a critical care bed in a highly-monitored environment. That doesn’t happen routinely in the UK.
“In the Manhattan hospital the care (after surgery) is delivered largely by a consultant surgeon and an anaesthetist.
“We know from other research that more than one third of those who die after a major operation in Britain are not seen by a similar consultant.”
Prof Mythen said waiting lists in the NHS would “put patients at greater risk”. He added: “We would be suspicious that the diseases would be more advanced simply because the waiting lists (in the UK) are longer.”
6. Dental health under the NHS is atrocious in certain regions of Britain. Per the UK Telegraph, “almost half the adult population of England (48 percent) and a third (31 percent) of children have not seen a dentist within two years” and “almost 62,500 people are admitted to hospital in England per year because of tooth decay – three quarters of them, or 46,400, children.” Dental charities that typically do work in the Third World have stepped in to provide private dental care.
It’s hard for those in the NHS to find dentists, in part because of a lack of dental schools and quotas. As Mark Levin wrote in his bestseller Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, numerous dentists will stop taking patients once they reach their yearly quotas since there’s no incentive for them to take more patients; those fortunate enough to obtain a dental appointment “are often given cursory treatment. It is not uncommon for a dentist to spend five minutes on a cleaning.”
7. The NHS provides insufficient care for mental health. A UK Guardian survey found that over 72 percent of consultant psychiatrists consider the NHS’ mental health care for those under the age of 18 to be “inadequate (58%) or very inadequate (14%).” It’s not hard to see why, as patients under the age of 18 will periodically deal with A&E staff who treat them in a dismissive manner, which only worsens their condition. Patients under the age of 18 also suffer from “a lack of inpatient beds” and “delays in their condition being assessed.”
In general, the mental health results have not been stellar for the NHS in recent years, as the Guardian highlights:
New NHS figures show that the number of deaths annually among mental health patients in England has risen 21% over the last three years from 1,412 to 1,713.
The number of those killing themselves or trying to do so has also increased, by 26% from 595 in 2012-13 to 751 in 2014-15. It covers both those being treated as inpatients for serious mental health problems and also those who are being cared for while still living at home.
Figures obtained by Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP, show that the overall number of “serious incidents” – involving unexpected or avoidable deaths, serious harm, injury and abuse – has climbed 34% to 8,139 a year. They have become so common that one trust, North East London foundation trust, had a total of 633 last year – almost two a day.
These numbers are the result of patients facing “a byzantine system of long waiting times, lack of psychiatrists, overreliance on pills as an easy solution, and a sense of limbo for all but the most severe cases,” per the Guardian.
Overall, Britain’s NHS is reflective of the failure of socialized medicine: longer waiting times, rationing, poor quality of care and unnecessary deaths. Socialized medicine, the Holy Grail of leftism, is a nightmare. The U.S. should take note of the NHS’s major shortcomings, as that is where the country is headed if we fail to repeal Obamacare.