Thursday, December 12, 2013

Telling harsh truths about the NHS is a bitter but necessary pill

The Telegraph reports:
Take the scandal of cancer treatment in Britain. Figures from the Department of Health suggest that up to 10,000 deaths a year could be avoided if patients were diagnosed at the same earlier stage as other countries. Charities complain that, for example, patients with bowel cancer are frequently mis-diagnosed, or ignored and treated for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Last week, a report showed that, in half of GP surgeries, only a minority of suspected cancer patients are being fast-tracked to a specialist. Britain is second worst in the developed world for survival rates in breast, bowel and cervical cancer.

If doctors in primary care are not particularly good with children, then this, too, carries a price. A recent study suggested that, if the NHS was as good with children as Sweden, we could save almost 1,500 lives a year.

In Sweden, however, a lot of things are done differently. GP clinics can be run as companies and charge about £20 per visit. They compete for patients, and advertise. Doctors are ranked by patients, who like to seek out the best. If a patient feels the same lazy doctor tends to send everyone home with paracetamol, word gets out. The surgery gets less custom. The patients, through the market, are in control. Hospitals such as St Göran in Stockholm are run by profit-seeking companies and are used to providing better service for less cost. So Sweden, by some measures the most socialistic country in the free world, has no qualms about private clinics serving state patients.
Death by socialism is very sad.