Rishi Sunak, the new UK Prime Minister, refuses to answer a simple question.
He was asked three times whether he received private medical care or relied on the National Health Service, the UK’s single-payer version of the national government health scheme.
Sunak dismissed the question as “not really relevant”. But it is.
The Prime Minister is the head of the UK government and is ultimately responsible for the National Health Service, the government agency tasked with providing ‘free’ universal care and coverage to all UK citizens.
It doesn’t do anything like that.
According to the BBC, 7.2 million British citizens are waiting for medical care, or almost 11% of the entire British population. And Sky News reports that more than 400,000 people in England have been waiting for hospital treatment for more than a year.
The biggest problem right now is emergency care. According to The Telegraph, December data shows that people who suffer a heart attack wait an average of 90 minutes for an ambulance, with some waiting up to two and a half hours. For emergency care, The Telegraph continues, 55,000 people have had to wait “at least” 12 hours for hospital stretchers after the emergency room decided to admit them.
Of course, patients who suffer a stroke or heart attack are always in a race against time, as medical delays can result in permanent disability or death.
dr Adrian Boyle, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, investigated the slaughter and estimated that between 300 and 500 people die each week due to delays and related problems in the delivery of emergency medical care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a severe stress test for Britain, the United States and other countries. America’s performance in this regard has been marred by several failings by the federal government, even as the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the structural weaknesses of Britain’s single-payer healthcare system.
In the British Medical Journal, public health experts warned in May 2020 – at the start of the pandemic – that the UK government was unprepared to respond well to COVID-19.
In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened the long-standing problems underlying the UK depositor scheme. As the BBC reports, the current crisis in Britain’s deposit system, although exacerbated by a bad flu season, has been building for “decades”.
For Americans, here’s a lesson.
Liberals in Congress have said that the case for an American version of a single-payer health care system — eliminating virtually all private health insurance and devolving health care funding and major decisions to Congress and federal officials — is even stronger in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s a bold claim.
The reality, however, is this: Congress’s Single Payer Act (HR 1976) contains the key components driving the implosion of Britain’s healthcare system, including government budgeting, bureaucratic central planning and reduced salaries for doctors and nurses.
But last year, 120 House Democrats supported the legislation.
In sharp contrast to the top-down regime of Liberals in Congress, which would limit private health insurance and care for Americans, British patients are still free to remain outside the UK payer scheme and spend their own money on private health insurance and care for theirs Choice.
As already mentioned, Prime Minister Sunak has this option, although he does not say whether he has exercised it.
Big pay cuts for healthcare professionals, as envisaged in Congress’ single-payer legislation, can indeed reduce healthcare spending. But there is a high price to pay: you pay less and get less.
The UK has the lowest number of doctors per 1,000 patients in all of Western Europe, while UK nurses (only ahead of Italy and Spain) rank third lowest in their availability to patients.
British doctors and nurses are relatively poorly paid compared to their American counterparts. It is not shocking that the UK depositor system is regularly plagued by labor strikes and serious shortages of essential goods and equipment.
As in the United States and countries with advanced economies, the UK’s COVID-19 lockdowns have come at a heavy personal health cost through delays and denials of medical care, particularly disruptions in medical treatment, including chemotherapy, and preventive care . like mammograms.
Last August, The Telegraph reported that an estimated 10,000 cancer patients had waited three months. Professor Pat Price, oncologist at Imperial College of London, said: “There will be tens of thousands of cancer patients who will die needlessly because of the disruptions caused by COVID.”
Although the pandemic has been declining in Britain, as in the United States, the number of patients getting in-person appointments with a doctor in England is still below pre-pandemic levels, according to The Telegraph. There, according to the newspaper, only 2% of the general practices see their patients within two weeks.
Things are coming to a head and a broad consensus on the need for reform is emerging.
The editors of the Daily Mirror declare: “Without radical reforms, the [National Health Service] is doomed.” The Guardian, one of Britain’s leading left-wing publications, says the “crisis-stricken” NHS is “falling apart”. Keir Starmer, leader of Britain’s opposition Labor party, acknowledges the seriousness of the NHS crisis, slams the system’s ‘bureaucracy’ and calls on the private sector to help ‘clear’ Britain’s enormous waiting lists.
The right remedy requires the right diagnosis. Mounting problems with Britain’s ailing single-payer healthcare system are systemic and ingrained in the arrogant assumptions of central planning; namely, the bureaucratic decision-making that governs the health and lives of more than 67 million souls.
No one has summed up the journey ahead better than Allison Pearson, a prominent columnist at The Telegraph:
We need to free ourselves from the coercive control that the NHS has over us. It’s not our fault for pressuring them.
It’s not our fault if we expect a feverish child or a 90-year-old with a broken hip to be treated promptly. The NHS is to blame. We no longer need to listen with hushed sympathy to the pathetic excuses of their elusive managers.
We are pouring tens of billions of our national wealth into health care; What we get for it is broken, embarrassing and dangerous. NHS, heal yourself.
Liberals in Congress should heed the warnings of experience. Regardless of their promises to make their version of “socialized medicine” work “better,” the same dynamics of their bureaucratic model will replicate the same problems, waiting lists, and delays and denials of care.
This model is falling apart right before our eyes.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal