NHS trusts delaying surgeries to get people to pay — or die

posted at 12:30 pm on July 30, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Thanks to the pressing and continuing developments in the debt-ceiling negotiations, we missed this exposé of the UK’s health-care bureaucracy and their attempt to save money on surgeries by forcing people into private care — or death.  An independent watchdog accused the National Health Service of forcing waiting times for surgery even when unnecessary in order to reduce the number of publicly-funded procedures in an attempt to save money.  In fact, as the Telegraph reports, the NHS forced private hospitals to delay surgeries, too, in a “levelling down” of health care service to keep the NHS from looking bad:

Health service trusts are “imposing pain and inconvenience” by making patients wait longer than necessary, in some cases as long as four months, the study found.

Executives believe the delays mean some people will remove themselves from lists “either by dying or by paying for their own treatment” claims the report, by an independent watchdog that advises the NHS. …

Under government targets, patients should be treated within 18 weeks of referral by a GP. But even when surgeons could see them far sooner, the study found that some trusts made hospitals wait as long as 15 weeks before operating. The tactic forced private hospitals, which were more likely to be able to treat patients quickly, to operate as slowly as overcrowded NHS units in an “unfortunate levelling down”.

Some managers insisted that longer waiting times would lead to overall savings as “experience suggests that if patients wait longer then some will remove themselves from the list”. Interpreting this statement, the panel noted: “We understand that patients will ‘remove themselves from the waiting list’ either by dying or by paying for their own treatment at private sector providers.”

Those who opted for private-sector providers ended up paying twice, of course, as their taxes fund their coverage by the NHS.  That is why these systems actually end up favoring the wealthy, who become the only patients with the option of getting around the bureaucratic nightmares and care rationing imposed by the NHS.  Equality in this instance comes from forcing efficient and effective providers to degrade their service in order to keep people from noticing that the government-run providers perform more poorly.

And, of course, we have the spectacle of what government rationing does to health care.  Because NHS blocks price signals to the consumer, the demand on the system is higher than it should be.  At the same time, the revenue from taxes doesn’t cover what would even be adequate care, while at the same time, the compensation from the government system discourages providers from expanding their services.  Rationing is the inevitable result, which in this case literally became the death panels about which Americans worried in the ObamaCare debate.

Speaking of which, the biggest fan of the NHS here in America is coming to the end of his recess appointment.  Donald Berwick still runs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), having never even bothered to complete his Senate questionnaire or start a confirmation hearing.  His recess appointment will run out in a few days, after Congress recesses for the month of August, unless the Senate stays in session to prevent other recess appointments by Barack Obama.  Obama renominated Berwick last year for the position, but 42 Republicans signed a letter in March of this year pledging to block a confirmation, prompting Democrats to give up on Berwick.

However, Obama has not put anyone else forward for this position, which means that the post will go vacant in a few days … unless Obama issues another recess appointment for Berwick.  Will Obama keep a man who cheers a system with the “death panels” that the White House insists it doesn’t want?  We’ll soon see.

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“Free” national health care. The devil is in the details, yet the British are still overwhelmingly in favor of it, just as the majority of Americans still favor Medicare.

Once dependence on the state is ingrained, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it.

Drained Brain on July 30, 2011 at 12:36 PM

They’re just not doing it right, we know better over here because we have Obama in charge/ crr6

txmomof6 on July 30, 2011 at 12:38 PM

PLEASE STOP THE AUTO PLAY VIDEO ADS!

ronsfi on July 30, 2011 at 12:45 PM

stab them UK patients with those steely knives so the cost of their care don’t kill the NHS beast….

ted c on July 30, 2011 at 12:48 PM

It’s more “socially just” this way.

3 cheers for social justice!

Mord on July 30, 2011 at 12:49 PM

… exposé of the UK’s health-care bureaucracy and their attempt to save money on surgeries by forcing people into private care — or death.

.
… and under ObamaCare,there will be no private-private care …
.
.
Is ‘crr6′ still commenting here?
.
Why?

Arbalest on July 30, 2011 at 12:50 PM

NIce Death Penale, Obamacare… Any similarity??

Khun Joe on July 30, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Panels…

Khun Joe on July 30, 2011 at 12:51 PM

However, Obama has not put anyone else forward for this position, which means that the post will go vacant in a few days … unless Obama issues another recess appointment for Berwick. Will Obama keep a man who cheers a system with the “death panels” that the White House insists it doesn’t want? We’ll soon see.

CMS is now tied to the Worker’s Compensation system in America and beginning in 2012 CMS mandates being a part of every tort claim in the Nation.

CMS is not ready to deal. They are now beginning to collect data from liability insurers; everything from auto to general liability to product liability to homeowner liability.

Look out. They’re coming. They’re not sure how they’re going to kill you but they’re figuring that out…. In the “out years”. Lol.

Key West Reader on July 30, 2011 at 12:58 PM

PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year: ‘Death panels’

Shutup wingnuts, listen to your betters.

/

faraway on July 30, 2011 at 12:58 PM

We won’t kill you, we’ll just make you wish you were dead.

/NHS

ted c on July 30, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Is ‘crr6′ still commenting here?
.
Why?

Arbalest on July 30, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Ramadan.

Key West Reader on July 30, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Will Obama keep a man who cheers a system with the “death panels” that the White House insists it doesn’t want? We’ll soon see.

Sure he will. Good thing that SP called them what they really are, death panels.

Schadenfreude on July 30, 2011 at 12:59 PM

How about an article on the socialized medicine in Holland where one in eleven is euthanized involuntarily by a doctor and one in five is euthanized by volutary (Korvorkian) and involuntary combined.

Is there anyone in America foolish enough to think for a second that the “Kill them after they’re born” Obama/Dems will suddenly become moral enough to not kill off all those expensive older folks who tend to vote against him, and have the wealth which can then be confiscated? Killing other humans is like losing one’s virginity, once you’ve decided it has no moral hold on you, the second time it’s real easy to do. How else did Nazi Germany kill so many without guilt?

Don L on July 30, 2011 at 1:02 PM

PLEASE STOP THE AUTO PLAY VIDEO ADS!

ronsfi on July 30, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Use the Foxfire browser. I have never seen these ads using Foxfire. Good Luck :)

IowaWoman on July 30, 2011 at 1:08 PM

PLEASE STOP THE AUTO PLAY VIDEO ADS!

ronsfi on July 30, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Please WAIT for the ad to finish or REMOVE yourself from the site. /:)

bluemarlin on July 30, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Is there anyone in America foolish enough to think for a second that the “Kill them after they’re born” Obama/Dems will suddenly become moral enough to not kill off all those expensive older folks who tend to vote against him, and have the wealth which can then be confiscated? Killing other humans is like losing one’s virginity, once you’ve decided it has no moral hold on you, the second time it’s real easy to do. How else did Nazi Germany kill so many without guilt?

Don L on July 30, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Obama supports

\

Kermit Godsnell

Key West Reader on July 30, 2011 at 1:14 PM

A TIME OF INNOCENCE

I’m glad that a Chicago politician would never think that a process in the hands of government like this would be corrupted by influence or cronyism.

Now this is not to suggest that private enterprise does not sin. But….the government?

IlikedAUH2O on July 30, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Will Obama keep a man who cheers a system with the “death panels” that the White House insists it doesn’t want?

You betcha’!

It’s good to be the King!

GarandFan on July 30, 2011 at 1:19 PM

“Free” national health care. The devil is in the details,

The details are that the UK spends 50% less of its GDP on healthcare than the United States. Of course the quality of care isn’t comparable.

bayam on July 30, 2011 at 1:33 PM

“Death Panels” – that’s a really catchy phrase that cuts to the quick. Did you just make that up Ed?

bw222 on July 30, 2011 at 1:37 PM

worker’s paradise.

r keller on July 30, 2011 at 1:49 PM

The details are that the UK spends 50% less of its GDP on healthcare than the United States. Of course the quality of care isn’t comparable.

bayam on July 30, 2011 at 1:33 PM

The further details are that there is no accounting for lost productivity or pain and suffering, or premature death due to substandard survival rates for childhood or adult cancers. It only looks less expensive because certain categories of very real costs are excluded by design.

I’d take the Swiss system over any alternative to what we have now. Competitive nonprofits. The UK’s approach is a poor performer, national pride be damned. Same for Canada.

DrSteve on July 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

I don’t think a recess appointment can be renewed in another recess. Didn’t we go through this with John Bolton?

rockmom on July 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

It’s popular because it has the word “free” in its title. As in “free medical care for all.” Who can be against “free care?” Your taxes may go up, but that’s another argument. One that can be diverted by taxing someone else. At leastuntil you realize that due to high taxes you have no job.

Fred 2 on July 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

When I did business in the UK, you couldn’t hire anyone worth a dime without paying for private coverage. At that time, I was told almost 40% of UK citizens were covered privately and that was the only reason the NHS worked at all.

flyoverland on July 30, 2011 at 2:14 PM

They’re just not doing it right, we know better over here because we have Obama in charge.

txmomof6 on July 30, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Yes, as little Bammie said, comparing 1994 to 2008, “it will be different this time because you’ve got me”.

slickwillie2001 on July 30, 2011 at 2:15 PM

The details are that the UK spends 50% less of its GDP on healthcare than the United States. Of course the quality of care isn’t comparable.

bayam on July 30, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Hahahaha. And of course, the U.S. can continue to spend, spend, spend at those levels because we’ve got plenty of money to burn, right bayam?

AZCoyote on July 30, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Somehow the whole point of providing healthcare has been turned into a game show of Save Us The Money instead. Then we can provide it or not and get rid of a lot of the poor and middle class. The people in the UK need to call their MPs and complain like we call our elected reps and complain if they want to get it changed. Just kiddin’ folks, that doesn’t work.

Kissmygrits on July 30, 2011 at 2:37 PM

To the tune of R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.:
.
Death panels coming to the U.S.A.
Death panels coming to the U.S.A.
Death panels coming to the U.S.A., yeah, yeah!
Dyin’ in the U.S.A.

mrt721 on July 30, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Executives believe the delays mean some people will remove themselves from lists “either by dying or by paying for their own treatment”

Reminds me of that old anti-smoking commercial with the tobacco executive meeting.
“…another X smokers also quit. Actually, technically, they die.”

Count to 10 on July 30, 2011 at 2:46 PM

But good news. Chocolate rations are up next week.

Firefly_76 on July 30, 2011 at 3:45 PM

I was once told by a US skin cancer specialist that I should have surgery to remove a melonoma and surrounding flesh within 6 weeks to ensure a 95% chance of survival. The longer I left it, the higher the chance of the cancer getting into my lymph system and destroying me. Being uninsured at the time I inquired with the NHS back home and was told I’d probably wait at least 12 weeks for surgery. I paid the money and had it done in New York at a week’s notice. Can’t believe I even considered putting myself in the hands of the NHS. Bellvue hospital was excellent and they even slashed the cost of my treatment given that I was paying for it all out of pocket. For the same price I could have bought, oh, a couple of flat screen TV’s and a new laptop. Best money I ever spent.

Sharke on July 30, 2011 at 3:52 PM

To think that the Bayams and crrs want us to believe socialism is awesome.

CW on July 30, 2011 at 3:58 PM

PLEASE STOP THE AUTO PLAY VIDEO ADS!

ronsfi on July 30, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Dude… Firefox + adblock = way more enjoyable internet

ReformedAndDangerous on July 30, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Like the libs say there is no such thing as death panels, they are simply “end of life counselors”. Very similar to libs saying wars are not wars,they are “man-mad disasters”. Words, just “words”.

volsense on July 30, 2011 at 4:04 PM

This is Obama’s version of Government Controlled Health Care.
This is our future unless Obama is a one term president and Obamacare is repealed.

Kini on July 30, 2011 at 5:20 PM

You guys that are gung-ho on budget cutting should be for “death panels” if you want to remain consistent. Sad but true. We’re going bankrupt, and we can’t spend large sums of money on iffy geriatric cases. If you are for such spending (which will only increase as the boomers grow old), then please don’t protest when the debt ceiling gets raised over and over again all while we gut the military.

toliver on July 30, 2011 at 7:18 PM

That is why these systems actually end up favoring the wealthy…

One of the changes adopted during Hillarycare was to make it illegal for a doctor who had accepted Medicare patients in the recent past to treat such patients with any uncovered procedures. So, if you want any non-covered treatments once you qualify for Medicare then you have to give up Medicare which now means you also have to give up Social Security.

The people who are can receive such treatments – think of the experimental treatment for Ted Kennedy – are former government workers who were not covered by SS.

We will have a two tiered system: one for the wealthy and former government employees and one for us peasants.

Laurence on July 30, 2011 at 8:10 PM

The further details are that there is no accounting for lost productivity or pain and suffering, or premature death due to substandard survival rates for childhood or adult cancers. It only looks less expensive because certain categories of very real costs are excluded by design.

I’d take the Swiss system over any alternative to what we have now. Competitive nonprofits. The UK’s approach is a poor performer, national pride be damned. Same for Canada.

DrSteve on July 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM

I agree, the nonprofit model is very effective, as proven in the US and abroad.. But one way or another, for the US to be a competitive place to manufacture, health care costs must come down. This issue is far more pressing than corporate tax rates or loopholes.

The hard part is for politicians to reduce costs and waste while protecting the income of doctors and nurses. It will be hard to accomplish given the political power of big pharma and insurance co’s in DC.

bayam on July 30, 2011 at 8:13 PM

Sharke on July 30, 2011 at 3:52 PM

How long have you been out of the country?
Are you paying tax in the U.K?
If you don’t, why do you expect our taxes to pay for you?
If you were uninsured and didn’t have the money to pay,would
you be happy to wait 12 weeks?

Thats the whole point of the N.H.S, that health shouldn’t be based on ability to pay.

mags on July 31, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Are you paying tax in the U.K?
If you don’t, why do you expect our taxes to pay for you?
If you were uninsured and didn’t have the money to pay,would
you be happy to wait 12 weeks?

Did you actually READ his story? I think you need to reread it again. It was actually quite inspiring. He paid out of pocket and DID NOT expect our taxes to pay for him.
Reading comprehension is a lovely thing.

Noelie on July 31, 2011 at 8:43 PM

The hard part is for politicians to reduce costs and waste while protecting the income of doctors and nurses. It will be hard to accomplish given the political power of big pharma and insurance co’s in DC.

bayam on July 30, 2011 at 8:13 PM

No, the hard part is for them (and you) to finally admit that politicians have no business sticking their noses into healthcare at all. It isn’t their job to reduce costs or waste and the best way they can protect the income of doctors and nurses is simply for them to mind their own damn business.

My doctor is quitting his practice due to obamacare, and my health insurance is getting more expensive even faster than before obamacare. Politicians don’t know how to run a healthcare system, so everything they’ve tried in this arena has made the problems worse. There are no exceptions to this, EVERYTHING they’ve done has failed. Perhaps they are the problem. As a bonus, once the govt is out of the healthcare business the healthcare lobbies will have no power in DC. Think about it (for once).

runawayyyy on August 1, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Noelie on July 31, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Read my comment. I am in the U.K and talking about OUR
taxes.
(Are you talking about British or American taxes)?
If you live outside the country for a length of time and don’t pay taxes you are not intitled to the N.H.S.

If he doesn’t pay taxes here why would he even inquire about the N.H.S and believe he had a right to access it.
The only reason he didn’t try to use the N.H.S was because he thought it was crap,not to save us money.
Did he even see any British doctor,who could of fast tracked.
Waiting times differ around the country and he could of shopped around for lowest times.
The referral time has to be 2 weeks, if the doctors believed they only had 6 weeks to save him then there are system’s in place to address that.

I work in the N.H.S and every time Americans attack the N.H.S i get annoyed.
It has nothing to do with Americans so leave us out of it.
There is not a huge movement here to implant the N.H.S in the U.S
My main question was ,if he was uninsured in the U.S and didn’t have the money to pay for it, what woukd of happened ?

Sarah Palin called it ‘evil’ and we would of killed her son at birth,i work in it so am i an evil-doer?

I have read that we have enforced amnio’s and abortions.
The funniest one was the claim that if Stephen Hawkings was born in the U.K we would of killed him by now.

Posters should be discussing the problems with their own
healthcare model, they could start by addressing the high maternal death rate in the U.S
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1383244/America-WORST-maternal-death-rate-industrialised-nation.html

Waiting

mags on August 1, 2011 at 2:00 PM