Thursday, June 5, 2008

Veering off topic to the NHS

I've been reading about the NHS and how it is withdrawing treatment from patients if they decide to supplement their treatment with private medicines not available on the NHS.
Jack Hose, 71, from Bournemouth, whose entitlement to health service care was withdrawn by the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust because he chose to pay for a drug that is not normally funded by the state. Hose has been billed by the trust for £11,500.
Have a look at Doctor Crippen's site here.

I can think of three separate arguments against this

The logical argument
  1. These drugs are not available on the NHS, because they do not provide worthwhile effects for the money.
  2. We will not allow you to take these drugs because it will create a two-tier health service.
If taking these drugs gives me superior health care, then they are not as ineffective as suggested.

If the drugs are so ineffective then they are not putting me at an advantage over those that can't afford them.

The government are arguing two mutually exclusive things at once.

The extreme argument

I'm borrowing this again from a Doctor Crippen article, but this one does contain one rather rude word, so don't click unless you can take it.

You break your ankle. You go to A/E and are X-Rayed and plastered and sent home with some paracetamol for pain relief. The paracetamol really is not enough, so you go to the chemist and buy some over-the-counter Nurofen. Next day, you go back to the hospital for your plaster check appointment. The doctor asks you if you are getting any pain, and you say "not since I bought the Nurofen". The doctor refuses to see you and kicks you out, telling you that if you can afford private drugs you can afford a private doctor.
Realism argument

People can already add private aspects to their NHS health care. If you go to an NHS doctor and are referred to an NHS consultant, you can choose to pay to see the consultant privately and thereby move up the queue. The Government's argument is that you are paying for something that is available free, so it doesn't breach their principle, but if you have a serious condition and by paying you get it attended to months sooner, isn't that a two-tier service?

Given the purpose of this blog, it would be reasonable to make a few comparisons with the US health service. I will be writing about it in the future, but I don't currently have enough experience to compare and contrast the two systems.

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