Socialized medicine | Arkansas Blog

Friday, August 14, 2009

Socialized medicine

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 8:52 AM

A former Arkansan who's lived in England for three decades wrote to a friend recently about his experiences with its National Health Service. Very interesting account.

All medical service, everywhere, is subject to cost control.  In Britain we tend to have relatively shabby, crowded hospitals with few frills.  On the other hand the medical treatment is usually excellent.  My wife is recovering from near kidney failure; along the way she was treated by our general practitioner, then sent to a local hospital.  We had good, detailed, ongoing communication from the medical staff regarding her treatment.  Following the treatment on the internet suggested strongly that all of the procedures and medication were up to date and thorough.  She had endless inconclusive scans of various types, x-rays, blood tests and other examinations.  Faced with difficulty the staff in the hospital in Kent liaised with the leading teaching and research hospital for kidney problems, Guy’s Hospital in London.  After she stabilised and began some recovery she started outpatient treatment with Guy’s, which is ongoing.

The woman’s acute ward she experienced was unpleasant.  As we have supplementary private health insurance we investigated moving her to a private room in a nearby private hospital.  The word from her consultant, who worked out of both, was that while patients are at risk they are much better off in the NHS hospital which offers a lower level of comfort but a higher level of technical care.  When she was in less risk it turned out that the private hospital was reluctant to take ‘medical’ cases which are high on overheads and low on ‘big ticket’ charges.  Most private hospitals in the UK exist for queue jumping on non critical operations for which there may be a waiting list.

Adults, with a reasonable income, do have to pay a fixed charge for prescription medicines but there is an upper limit that they may be charged.  If they require multiple medications it would never come to the point of doing without for economic reason.  For the poor, children and oldies like myself there is no charge. Without concern for cost my GP wants me to continue to take beta blocker, statin and stomach pills (PPI) each day to keep away illness.  There will be a free flu jab in the autumn, though if we want to go abroad on holiday we pay a reasonable amount for inoculations, malaria pills, etc. not required here but there is no charge for prescribing according to the latest world conditions.

The key to the NHS is that it should be “free at the point of delivery” for anyone.  We pay for the NHS in our taxes and if you are here, even as a visitor, we believe it is right that you should get complete health care.  In addition, when we travel in European Union countries we have reciprocal rights to what is essentially the same health care delivered through various methods.  In most of the EU countries this is to a very high standard, in some cases probably better than that in Britain.

The health reforms in the US are clearly necessary in a country that has a higher infant mortality rate and lower life expectancy than Cuba.  It is clear to me that the basic problem is a ‘free market’ in medicine.  Such an approach is lacking in balance; when they say ‘your kid has cancer, how much can you afford’ the answer is all you’ve got.  Governmental regulation of healthcare across Europe is the primary reason for the success of the systems.  Given the current state in the USA I don’t know what changes should be made at the moment to the American medical establishment but if I had magic I would make a wish and you would have the NHS.

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (30)

Showing 1-30 of 30

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-30 of 30

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Hospitality, restaurant groups oppose bathroom bill

    Add the restaurant and hospitality association to those opposed to Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's bill to keep transgender people out of public restrooms that match their gender identity.
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation