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Britain’s Inability to Handle Last Year’s Flu Season Shows Perils of Socialized Medicine

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Socialized medicine isn’t performing well in Britain. Kevin Pham and Robert Moffit write:

Aggravated by the flu season, and budget constraints, the National Health Service cancelled some 50,000 “non-urgent” surgeries. The problem is that the urgency for a particular patient’s surgery is, or should be, a doctor’s clinical judgment. For example, surgery for a person to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), for instance, may be delayed. But delaying an AAA repair is risking rupture, and patients with a ruptured AAA have a 90 percent mortality rate.

By March 2018, British emergency departments reached new lows, leaving 15.4 percent of patients waiting over four hours before being seen. This was far short of the goal of less than 5 percent of patients forced to wait over four hours.

When considering only major emergency departments, classified as Type 1 in the National Health Service, the rate increased to 23.6 percent of patients waiting longer than four hours to be seen. The British Medical Journal reports that this is the worst performance since 2004, when these metrics were first tracked.

Outside of emergency departments, the number of British patients waiting 18 weeks or more for treatment increased by 35 percent, which was an increase of 128,575 patients from about 362,000 patients in 2017, to over 490,000 patients in 2018.

Additionally, by March 2018, 2,755 patients had waited over a year to be treated, compared to 1,528 patients in 2017. In England, the National Health Service also broke records by canceling over 25,000 surgeries at the last minute in the first quarter of 2018—this was the highest number of last-minute cancellations in 24 years. Remarkably, this was after the British authorities initiated a series of reforms that started in 2016.

[Kevin Pham and Robert Moffit, “Britain’s Inability to Handle Last Year’s Flu Season Shows Perils of Socialized Medicine,” The Daily Signal, August 13]

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