N.H.S. Patients Must Wait

I live in the United States, where many of us have admired the National Health Service (N.H.S.) in the United Kingdom (which some of us refer to generically as “England,” although England is only part of the U.K.).

I was born in 1960, and as far back as I can remember I heard Americans say, “If we lived in England, we could just get treatment without showing an insurance card or having our family arrive at the hospital with a truckload of cash.”

(Clarification: In the early 1980s — yes, the Reagan Years, as incredible as that sounds — a U.S. federal law was passed requiring hospitals to provide lifesaving treatment without regard for a patient’s ability to pay.  The patient could be discharged as soon as his or her condition was sufficiently stable, so the law still didn’t meet all patients’ needs.  Nevertheless, it saved lives by preventing fatal hemorrhaging, cardiac arrest, ruptured appendices and other nightmares.)

The National Health Service has regional branches, and the crisis addressed in the Guardian story (link below) concerns N.H.S. England specifically.

We’ve already heard about patients in the U.K. waiting longer to see specialists, and there are rumors of cutbacks in maternity care which may be forcing some women to give birth outside the hospital.  If the real situation is even a fraction of what we’ve been led to believe, Theresa May should go into the nearest N.H.S. hospital herself, put on a scrub suit and offer whatever help she is qualified to do.  Encouraging Parliament to provide better funding might also do some good.

I suspect the root of the problem is the fact that the very rich in the United Kingdom no longer pay their share of taxes.  The current paring down of care will endanger lives, if it hasn’t already.  This sounds very similar to what we see happening in the United States, with our wealthy President and his allies flipping off the real world in favor of enriching themselves.


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