Annals of Government Medicine

Britain’s National Health Service is a product of the socialist wave that overtook the U.K. following World War II. It has long been held up as an exemplar by those who seek to impose socialized medicine in other countries, like ours. But today, the state of the NHS is dire. The Wall Street Journal headlines: “The U.K.’s Government-Run Healthcare Service Is in Crisis.”

Now the state-funded service is falling apart. People who suffer heart attacks or strokes wait more than 1½ hours on average for an ambulance. Hospitals are so full they are turning patients away. A record 7.1 million people in England—more than one in 10 people—are stuck on waiting lists for nonemergency hospital treatment like hip replacements.

Horror stories multiply. Many Brits die while waiting for ambulances.

Just before 5 p.m. on Nov. 18, the family of Martin Clark called 999, the U.K. equivalent of 911, after the 68-year-old father of five began having chest pains. After waiting half an hour, the family said, they called again and pleaded for an ambulance, saying Mr. Clark’s condition was getting worse. In another call 15 minutes later, they told the dispatcher they were going to drive him to hospital themselves, according to the family, even though the dispatcher encouraged them to wait for the paramedics.

Twenty minutes after the family had left for the hospital, the dispatcher left a voice mail to say the service still didn’t have an ambulance to send. Mr. Clark died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Malpractice can happen anywhere, but inept treatment has become routine at the NHS:

About a week later, 5-year-old Yusuf Mahmud Nazir died from what began as a throat infection. His family said they had taken the boy, who was having trouble breathing, to the emergency room at their local hospital in Rotherham, which gave him some antibiotic pills after a six-hour wait and sent him home. The family said it pleaded with the hospital a few days later to let Yusuf be admitted and given further tests, but were told the hospital was full.

By the time the family got Yusuf by ambulance to another hospital, he had severe pneumonia. He died days later from organ failure and cardiac arrest.

Interestingly, Britain has more doctors per capita than the U.S., although its overall health care expenditure is considerably lower. This is remarkable: “The NHS is Europe’s biggest employer, with around 1.2 million staffers.”

With the NHS crumbling, one-eighth of British adults paid for private health care last year. The rest waited in line, sometimes with fatal results. One can only wonder why anyone would want to impose the British system here, notwithstanding the obvious flaws, largely government-caused, in our own health care system.

There is much more at the link, which I have made publicly accessible.

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