We love the NHS

Lots on this everywhere. At the bottom I have links to some of the posts I have read recently.

I am motivated to write because of the rubbish that some in the USA are saying about the NHS. It is striking to note that apparently as a proportion of GDP we pay approximately half what Americans do for health care, that we have better hospital infection statistics and are ranked a lot better by the WHO. See this comment:

I looked up this info a few days ago for someone so I have it to
hand Lisa. The UK HAI (hospital acquired infection) rates seem to be
lower than the UK ones nowadays

UK HAI rate 7.6% http://bit.ly/CAzs8
US HAI rate 10% http://bit.ly/2aegk

The link to the US rates is to a wikipedia article but there is a
ref in that to the original source for you to check out the figures.

and from this comment:

We spend 8.5% of our GDP on healthcare, compared to 16% in the US. This
seems like incredible value to me. The end result is that we have a
longer life expectancy than US citizens, and fewer of our babies die in
infancy (actually fewer babies die in infancy in Cuba than in the US,
which is a fair indictment of your system). The WHO rated us 18th and
the US 37th in terms of the healthcare we provide to ALL our citizens.

As a Methodist Minister I see a lot of the NHS. We have a lot of elderly people in the Methodist Church and so, more than most outside the NHS, minister see a lot of the results: visiting people in hospital, when they are ill, when they are getting better, when they are talking about it after or when we are doing their funerals.

I will not talk about people I minister to, I don’t think is is right or fair. But I will say that many of them need the NHS a lot and that most of the time they get excellent care from the local doctors surgeries and from the NHS. In a huge majority of cases they are very happy with the care they get.

For those who are hearing about how bad our system is a few anecdotal family stories:

One example would be my mother-in-law. Just over two years ago just after moving to Raunds she had a heart attack (83 at the time). I went round just after midnight and called the ambulance. They were there within 15 minutes and the operator stayed on the line the whole time til they arrived and confirmed with them that they were on the scene. During that time the operator was regularly checking with mum via me how things were and giving helpful advice how making her more comfortable.

A few days later she was transferred to Glenfield in Leicester a heart specialist hospital. After examining her arteries with one of those clever devices they decided on a double heart bypass which was done within 2 weeks of the heart attack. After a few weeks in hospital she came home and when it was clear she could not quite cope she got several weeks of rehabiliation care nearby in a lovely place in Rushden. Oh and home visits by Occupational Therapists to see what equipment she needed (and free loan for as long as she needed them).

Over the next year she slowly improved with a few short hospital visits to drain her lungs (including one where she got MRSA, or more likely had it and they discovered it) and she is still with us, still living on her own and coping (with a care package). Now struggling with double curvature of the spine she is on a long list of drugs (3 pages of the standard prescription forms) but still has a good quality of life.

A couple of months ago she had a heart attack scare, again the
ambulance came they were pretty sure it was ok but took her to hospital
for thorough tests to confirm she was ok.

In the last 6 months she has had two cateract operations both were done at a local private hospital by the NHS and for both they gave her a general anaesthetic and kept her in overnight for checking (she can’t lie flat for the operation so this was the only way it could be done). Now she does not need glasses except for reading – the hospital sold us a pair for £2.99 :-).

Through all that treatment neither she nor we have ever had to pay anything, or sign any papers relating to payment. That is despite after 60 odd years in this country she is still an Austalian citizen. There were questions about having the double bypass, but they were clinical – would she survive the operation, would it make enough improvement to her life to be worthwhile for her to go through (clearly the answers to both are yes).

I could look back to the years of treatement my father-in-law had for cancer that greatly extended his life and gave it a high level of quality. Care that supported the family so that exactly as he wanted he could stay at home to the end.

No this system is not perfect, our local hospital is very overloaded. But many things are improving. Over the last 4 years I have seen huge improvements in cleanliness at the local hospital and we will be getting a new local clinic.

Meanwhile we will continue to take Mum to the doctors several times a month for checkups, the podiatrist and everything else that seems to go wrong. She will continue to make friends with the doctors (although her hearing makes that a bit more difficult – I did not mention that the NHS have provided her with hearing aids for years, now very fancy digital ones).

So yes I love the NHS, it means my boys still have a grandma!

Onto the posts around the net.

First an excellent post and hundreds of comments many by people with experience of both US and UK health care: This American’s Experience of Britain’s Healthcare System (ht Pam in a comment on a cpost on theConnexion)

Watch the video at clayboy » All go mad on health care to see the absolute rubbish that is being said in the USA about the NHS (HT: a comment on NHS / US healthcare compared | connexions).

Good post by Dave Faulkner We Love The NHS

7 thoughts on “We love the NHS

  1. Paul Martin

    I thank God for the NHS. For all the shortcomings we can mention, it is so good to have a system that cares for us whether we are millionaires or bankrupts. And that is how it should be!

    Reply
  2. Mary

    American here, who follows your blog (and likes it very much, Dave).
    Almost a year ago, I got a job with benefits after over five years without. At middle age with an unconventional work history (including many years of church employment), it was difficult to get a foot in the door at companies that provide health coverage. I’m in one of those U.S. “Right to Work” states, which basically means that unions are rare and employers can fire you for any or no reason.
    Anyway, here’s my take on our current system of healthcare and the proposals to change it. Those whining about perceived and/or real problems with other countries’ national healthcare, are doing so from the privileged position of having either an employer who still pays the bulk of the cost of insurance, or who make sufficient income and are healthy enough that they can afford to purchase their own coverage, or a combination of the two. For years, such people have carried on about “you won’t be able to keep your own doctor,” even though it’s mostly the insurance companies themselves that make them change doctors…and they totally forget that for the uninsured, ANY doctor would be an improvement over their situation. I can say that for a fact, having recently been in exactly that situation. I *know* what it’s like to pray fervently that I stayed well so I could stay employed. Temporary work and a small income from a part-time church job was all that kept me from being homeless.
    We Americans have healthcare that is the rival of the world’s finest, but it’s also the world’s most expensive. In the majority of cases, those who provide the care are not being overly enriched by it; physicians’ buying power has decreased over the past several decades, and more and more hospitals are declaring bankruptcy, while the insurance companies are making record profits. Between insurance costs and our overly-litigious society, adequate medical care is a luxury that only our rich can afford, while the near-destitute among us has access to more limited basic care so long as they continue not to earn very much. Those in the middle, especially those with any “pre-existing conditions,” are simply S.O.L. (Let me know if that needs interpretation.) The insurance companies have set up a system by which they have grown huge and wealthy, even while more and more American’s can’t afford their products. Only large employers can hope to afford to offer their plans to their employees, and those employees are now paying larger percentages of the cost than ever before.
    American insurance companies are waging a very successful lobbying campaign that has whipped up suspicion against our current goverment’s attempts to find a better way to get healthcare to people than what we now have (or rather, that we essentially don’t have for many of our citizens). Can/should the U.S. federal government run whatever program(s) we come up with? I really don’t know; I do know that our Social Security system is a frightful mess and our Medicare/Medicaid system (for the aged and the very poor) is little better. But the fact remains that many of my fellow U.S. citizens are on the outside looking in when it comes to getting anything other than emergency healthcare, and getting that will inevitably bankrupt us. Honestly, getting everyone at least covered, even if it’s rather expensive to do so, seems the only right thing to do. As it stands now in my state (Texas), only those who have the least need for healthcare can qualify to get it, if their employers don’t offer healthcare coverage as a benefit. Even something like a benign heart murmur puts you in the risk pool, where insurance costs over half the average blue- or pink-collar worker’s take-home income–and that’s for only the worker. Add a spouse and/or children, and it’s even more cost-prohibitive. People aren’t, despite the fear-mongers’ rhetoric, opting out of insurance in order to buy bigger TVs and better cell phones. They’re choosing between healthcare and paying the rent, or buying food or gasoline to get to work. (Yeah, we’re the ones pretty much without public transportation outside of our largest metropolitan areas.)
    I think that even if every derogatory thing said about non-U.S. nationalized health systems were 100% true (and I know the insurance industry well enough to know that they’re masters of hyperbole and outright lies), we’d STILL be better off enacting something similar, then work at reforming what actually needs reform.
    Thanks for this entry, Dave. We Americans need to hear all we can from our world neighbors who like being able to get the healthcare they need.

    Reply
  3. Dave

    Thanks Paul and Dave.
    Mary,
    The phrase “Right to Work” seems like an oxymoron to me in that situation.
    I don’t know enough about the US system to suggest solutions. All I want is to do my part to portray what we have in the NHS more fairly.
    I was watching an old West Wing episode and a guy from Indonesia accused Toby of hypocracy, seems to me the same is true over some of what is said about healthcare.

    Reply
  4. Mary

    Dave,
    Absolutely correct on the oxymoronic nature of “Right to Work.” It’s a phrase favored mainly by large, anti-union employers who want people to believe that if unions were to take hold, many good, honest, non-union workers would be denied the “right to work.” Not so, but large, anti-union employers have much more money with which to lobby our lawmakers than do the very non-union workers (who have no access to unions) whom they’re anxious to hire for below-average wages.
    I really do appreciate your posting information about the NHS. Most of what I hear about it these days is coming straight from fear-mongering types who hold up the UK’s system as though it is a dire warning of pending disaster for us. I know that solutions aren’t easy and that this is a crazy, complex issue. I’m glad for you that you aren’t especially familiar with it.
    I am a West Wing fan, and I know the episode you mentioned. There is HUGE hypocrisy within the “debate.” Much of it’s coming from elected officials, who as members of Congress have some of the best health coverage in the country, at very little cost to themselves. I’ve thought for a long time now that for as long as we have such a large percentage of our citizens who can’t qualify for and/or afford health insurance, our elected officials ought to have to purchase their own insurance and find out what it’s like. Want to serve as a US senator or representative? Then give up your health insurance and learn what approximately 20% of your constituents face. Something tells me that they’d figure out a workable system within six months and get it to the President’s desk post haste.
    Well, I’m sure this has been far more venting than I ought to have done here on your excellent blog. I’ll hush up for now. :)

    Reply
  5. Melissa

    Hello, I wonder if you (readers & blogger) could help in a monumental way to shape the health reform debate in the US. I study health policy in Texas – we have the highest rate of uninsured folks in the country – nearly 6 million, 1.5 of which are children. I grew up in Texas, then married a Brit and earned citizenship. I worked with low-income families in both countries, and after spending some years, I saw that people’s outcomes seemed better on many measures in the UK. So I understand how the NHS (aside from health care) provides stability for families, and so much more – that’s why I went home.
    The debate on the American health care system has spanned a century, and with only incremental successes (Medicare & Medicaid, and more recently with the SCHIP programme). I’m sure you all have a seen how ideology has shaped this debate (I’m more certain that it’s difficult to wrap your head around).
    Americans who are already ideologically opposed or confused about the government’s role in health care hear what the Dan Hannins and angry British (I can’t recall names) cancer survivors had to say and have taken it to heart.
    I have spent the last three years looking at the specifics of this – costs, uninsured rates, messaging, dealing with private insurance carriers, etc.
    I found it interesting that few have turned to the churches to help shape the moral message in a more complete way.
    You all could help by sending messages of good will, prayers that American’s medically vulnerable (remember just because someone has insurance doesn’t mean they’re also not at risk of denial of coverage, or expensive bills, etc).
    I think the politics have to be left out – the single-payer (NHS style approach) is opposed by most Americans – mostly because they don’t understand how it would work – stay with the beast you know, and all that.
    But stories that highlight good health, and prayers that Americans get this too in a fair and equitable way – whatever solution is crafted – I think would be helpful. Particularly at a grassroots level – less Fox news and more Pen-friendy.
    Could you help by targeting specific organizations, Methodists at state level, national, individual parishes – perhaps even broader – other Christian groups, etc.
    I thought you might all be interested in the link below:
    http://texasimpact.org/sermoncontest
    And all the best!

    Reply

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