Monday, July 09, 2007

NHS only for the peasants: Doctors won't go there for their own treatments

MORE than half of the country’s hospital consultants have turned to private medical treatment instead of using the National Health Service. A survey commissioned by Bupa, the health insurer, found that 55% of senior doctors pay medical insurance, despite the reduction in waiting times for operations on the NHS. [No mention of the endemic superbug problem?]

The Patients Association, a pressure group, criticised specialists for spurning the NHS when most patients cannot afford private care. Katherine Murphy, communications director, said: “Those who work in the NHS at the highest level should have enough confidence in the system to use it themselves.” Consultants earn, on average, 110,000 pounds from their NHS work.

Dr Jacky Davis, a consultant radiologist in London and a founding member of the campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, believes doctors are deserting the NHS because they are no longer guaranteed special treatment. “Until recently, doctors could go to any of their colleagues for treatment for themselves or their family and that was accepted as one of the perks of working in the NHS. Now there is less leeway for doctors to treat each other,” said Davis.

Bupa surveyed 500 consultants, more than 90% of whom work in the NHS. All the consultants questioned carry out some private practice. Dr Natalie-Jane Macdonald, medical director of Bupa, said there was a gulf in the differing expectations of private medicine and the NHS. “The NHS target of having to wait no longer than 18 weeks by December 2008 is ambitious but our members would still see that as a very long time to wait,” she said. As well as having shorter waiting times, private hospitals advertise their lower rates of MRSA – the so-called superbug.

About 6m adults and children in Britain, one-tenth of the population, are covered by private medical insurance. Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the British Medical Association consultants committee, defended doctors’ preference for private treatment. “What consultants do with their own healthcare is very much a personal matter,” said Fielden. “Consultants will try to minimise the time they are away from work in order to maximise their ability to care for patients.” He also maintains that consultants might switch from the NHS to avoid being treated by colleagues or recognised by their own patients. He claimed that if the NHS could guarantee privacy by offering more single rooms, doctors would feel less need to go private. “This certainly isn’t a reflection of the consultants’ faith in the NHS,” he added.


Discrimination against the English

A comment from Prof. Brignell on what the British government does to keep the Scots happy (i.e. give them more money):

Two elderly neighbours live either side of the English/Scottish border. The one to the north is entitled to free drugs to combat cancer, dementia or blindness due to macular degeneration. The one to the south is denied all of these. The body that is responsible for this denial not only has an Orwellian name, but also an Orwellian acronym. It is NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

Australia: Sickbeds in public hospital corridors

Mexico, here we come!

HEALTH bosses have been forced to appoint a crisis manager to deal with a severe bed shortage at one of Brisbane's largest hospitals. In recent weeks, growing numbers of patients at the Princess Alexandra Hospital have been put on trolleys and treated in corridors because there are not enough beds available.

Now Queensland Health is copying a policy used by the National Health Service in Britain, in the hope it will speed up the process of finding beds for emergency department patients. The system, which will be in place from July 23, involves a nurse acting as a bed monitor to find beds within the hospital. An emergency department source, who refused to be named because of a Queensland Health ban preventing staff from speaking out, fears the policy will backfire. "Nurses with a full patient load should not be made to leave assigned patients to run up and down the corridors. This is a substandard way of treating patients."

Queensland Health spokeswoman Kirrily Boulton declined to discuss staff concerns. A member of the PA Hospital district executive said patients would be transferred to a bed as "quickly as possible upon arrival in the wards". "This system will help ensure that emergency staff can focus their attention and resources on critically ill patients as they arrive," he said.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Ross Cartmill, who works at the PA, said the hospital needed an extra 100 beds. He said surgery had been cancelled in past weeks because patients on trolleys were cluttering areas around operating theatres. "There aren't enough staff to look after patients on trolleys as well as beds and it can become dangerous," he said. "As well as the safety issue, it is also an inadequate way to treat patients in terms of privacy."



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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