08 February 2008

An excuse for a video

Most things in this world are in shades of grey. Stories of quality health care in the US abound. Make no mistake, the best of health care is found in America. Even Lord Darzi's Trust, excellent though it is, is not of the standard of, say, Johns Hopkins. So one could conclude, as our masters have, that US health care is better and that the NHS should be privatised. Dr Grumble has never taken this line but he does try to keep an open mind and he has recognised that the answer to this question may not be black and white.

That anyway was the Grumble view until today when he read this article. The article is packed with reasons why we simply must not take the private route for our NHS. They are too numerous to list here. Please read the article.

One of the hospitals in Lord Darzi's Trust.

But if you don't have time or can't access the article, here are a few bullet points:

  • For-profit health institutions cost more for less good care
  • Markets undermine institutions which do not tailor care to profitability
  • Commercialisation drives up costs
  • Poor performance of US healthcare should warn off other nations from taking the privatisation pathway

Here's a few more interesting points

  • Private health maintenance organisations recruit the healthy elderly by advertising on the bottoms of swimming pools (and other similar tricks)
  • The chronic sick got skimpy care and had bad outcomes
  • Investor-owned dialysis centres have a 9% higher mortality
  • Investor-owned hospitals spend more on managers
  • Over 30% of health care spending in the US goes on administration
  • Internal markets have increased administrative costs in the UK and New Zealand
  • In Canada the overheads of private insurers are 10 times those of public insurers
  • Overcrowded US emergency departments turn away one ambulance every minute
  • Seriously ill patients cannot shop around
  • The product of health care is difficult to evaluate
  • Health care costs bankrupt more than a million US citizens each year (despite being insured)
  • US mortality statistics lag behind most other wealthy countries
  • US clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction are mediocre
  • US costs per capita are about twice that of similar nations
  • Heart surgery on healthy patients leads to first rate surgical outcomes (they have done the trial in the US!)
Given this catalogue of reasons not to privatise our NHS why on earth are our political masters hell bent on taking this route? Now what do you think is the answer to that?

This post was first published under the title Is Private Really Better? on 2nd December 2007. Dr Grumble has republished it now mainly as an excuse to show you this video:

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