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NHS, SICKO, drugs and budgets
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, October 28, 2007

A critique of Michael Moore's SICKO from a supporter - got that? - a s-u-p-p-o-r-t-e-r of universal health care:
You would never guess from Sicko that the NHS is in deep trouble, mired in scandal and incompetence, despite the injection of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

While there are good doctors and nurses and treatments in the NHS, there is so much that is inadequate or bad that it is dishonest to represent it as the envy of the world and a perfect blueprint for national healthcare. It isn’t.

GPs’ salaries – used by Moore as evidence that a state-run system does not necessarily mean low wages – is highly controversial; their huge pay rise has coincided with a loss of home visits, a serious problem in getting GP appointments and continuing very low pay for nurses and cleaners.

At least 20 NHS trusts have even worse problems with the hospital-acquired infection clostridium difficile, not least the trust in Kent where 90 people died of C diff in a scandal reported recently.

Many hospitals are in crisis. Money shortages, bad management, excesses of bureaucrats and deadly Whitehall micromanagement mean they have to skimp on what matters most.

Overfilling the beds is dangerous to patients, in hygiene and in recovery times, but it goes on widely. Millions are wasted on expensive agency nurses because NHS nurses are abandoning the profession in droves. Only days ago, the 2007 nurse of the year publicly resigned in despair at the health service. There is a dangerous shortage of midwives since so many have left, and giving birth on the NHS can be a shocking experience.

Meanwhile thousands of young hospital doctors, under a daft new employment scheme, were sent randomly around the country, pretty much regardless of their qualifications or wishes. As foreign doctors are recruited from Third World countries, hundreds of the best-qualified British doctors have been left unemployed. Several have emigrated.
She goes on to say that obviously they don't want the "American model" (I'd guess because she has as twisted an idea of what that model is like as Moore has about the NHS), but to pretend the British or French systems portrayed in SICKO even begin to properly show those systems as they really are is quite a stretch. In fact, a particular paragraph was pretty telling:
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.”
But there a plenty of stories out there that do represent what the NHS is like. For instance, a 6 year old out begging for money to pay for her Father's cancer drugs. That isn't supposed to happen is it?
The little girl made posters bearing the words, "Please help me to save my daddy" and plastered them all over her home town of Darlington.

Her mother Tina, 48, said: "We are so proud of Chantelle. She worships her dad and can't bear the thought of losing him.

"She has put dozens of posters up in Darlington in the streets asking people for help.

"But it shouldn't have come to this – life-saving drugs like these should be available on the NHS."

The drug Mr Hill needs is called Tarceva. It is available for free in Scotland but not in England, as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence found it was not "an effective use of NHS resources".
But it will always come to "this". Bureaucrats making life and death decisions based on "an effective use of NHS resources". When they control the game, they get to make the rules and, that's precisely what happens when you leave those decisions to a third party whose largest priority is a budget.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I lived in the UK for some time a couple of years ago, and because of an illness there I had to go to a doctor. However, I was warned by my neighbors at my flat and others that NHS doctors and hospitals were the pits, so I found a pay-per-visit physician located in the fashionable Knightsbridge area of London, where Harrod’s is located, and was charged the equivalent of $200 per visit. But at least I got the care I desired and not some socialist garbage from the NHS.

Michael Moore and Hillary Clinton want to bring the NHS to America. If they do, I just may move back to the UK.
Written By: James Marsden
URL: http://
Back in June of 2005, while we were debating nationalized healthcare on another internet site I happened to read and clip this article from the Los Angeles Times (link now expired):
OTTAWA — Canada’s Supreme Court struck down a Quebec law banning private health insurance Thursday, a landmark decision that could jeopardize the nation’s universal healthcare system, once regarded by some advocates as a model for the United States.

The high court ruled that the long delays for patients, lack of doctors and other problems have put Canadians’ health at risk and that the government could not ban citizens from seeking private care if it could not guarantee treatment in a timely and reliable way. The decision will allow patients to seek private care outside the national system, stirring fears that doctors will leave the national plan to go into more lucrative private practice and create a two-tier system that benefits the rich.
Montreal physician Jacques Chaoulli, an advocate for private care, and a patient, 73-year-old businessman George Zeliotis, launched the legal challenge in 1997 after Zeliotis had waited a year for hip-replacement surgery. Two Quebec courts had upheld the prohibition on private insurance.

Chaoulli represented himself before the Supreme Court and argued that the province violated his patient’s constitutional rights by denying him timely treatment and refusing him the option of private care. Patients who were willing to pay for expedited treatment were not legally allowed to do so.

After considering the case for a year, the Supreme Court largely agreed, noting in a 4-3 decision that patients had died because of the delays.
The story was running at the same time that liberals on the internet were holding up Canada’s system as a model for the US to emulate.
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Nice tact, though. Too many Canadians are available in or around the US can set the record straight about the Canadian model(s).

Going further abroad will make it easier to make grand claims without them being disputed. One reason is there’s far far fewer Brits who truly know both systems. Most in the UK probably get a steady diet emphasizing shortcomings in the US system and how their government has the best system in place for their public.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Hell, Brits living in the states for years seem not to understand the US healthcare system, dispite having healthcare provided from their employment.

I attempted to explain how our system trumps the Canadian system and the UK, and the guy’s entire response - hand to God - was as follows:
Nothing else.

He should run for congress...
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Another tedious barrage of anecdote and prejeudice from you control freak chimps. James Marsden even criticises the NHS by proxy - your neighbours must be right !

Speaking personally, from my own direct first hand experience, I have never found the NHS to be anything short of extremely efficient, helpful, proactive entirely satisfying. From my own experience. Having said that, I’ve never had a good cup of coffee at a hospital - perhaps I should have gone to Knightsbridge and waved a bunch of fivers at a quack instead.

Oh yeah, this may be news but the NHS has been paying high wages to doctors compared to nurses and cleaners for a long time. Oddly enough the debate over nurses’ pay has become quite topical ever since they started using agencies to mix up the labour.....what’s that word again ? Ah if I can remember the NHS having problems recruiting nurses beforehand.....

How many incidences of the superbug are there at that bastion of altruism and charity the American Hospital ? I’m sure they’re all faithfully reporting all the cases, and sharing information with other hospitals so that the problem can be overcome....
Written By: Blewyn
URL: http://
Bureaucrats making life and death decisions based on "an effective use of NHS resources". When they control the game, they get to make the rules and, that’s precisely what happens when you leave those decisions to a third party whose largest priority is a budget.
And how is that different from
Bureaucrats making life and death decisions based on "an effective use of NHSHMO resources". When they control the game, they get to make the rules and, that’s precisely what happens when you leave those decisions to a third party whose largest priority is a budget.
The system you decry is what we have now.
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
The system you decry is what we have now.
You mean Medicare don’t you?
Written By: McQ

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