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London Calling: Don’t Commit to Nationalized Health Care




Politicians care about votes and most voters most of the time are not sick. Tim Evans writes:

Against the popular view that the NHS provides free and unlimited health care, history demonstrates that the supply of NHS services has always been limited in significant ways. Experience shows that people have never had an absolute right to free and equal treatment on demand:

What they have had instead is an unlimited right of access to a waiting list from which (with a few exceptions) they will not be excluded. This right of access is not equivalent to a right to treatment, as any notional right to treatment has little value in practice if it is available only at the end of a two-year waiting time. The right to healthcare is unlimited in the long term but is strictly limited in the short term when healthcare is actually required, at the very least, to relieve pain or discomfort.

Today, many hundreds of thousands of people are on NHS waiting lists, and countless tens of thousands are trying to get on a list. After decades of reforms and extra tens of billions of pounds invested, out of four million patients admitted to NHS hospitals for routine treatment in 2007, more than half still had to wait at home more than 18 weeks before receiving that treatment.

While government ministers frequently shy away from talking about the parlous realities of waiting times, figures indicate that 12 percent—almost half a million people—waited more than a year for their treatment and care during 2006 and 2007. […]

While the number of people on NHS waiting lists dropped between 2008 and 2011, not least because greater collaboration with private hospitals enabled greater responsiveness, the waiting list for NHS treatment has grown since 2012. In summer 2018, the figure stood at 4.12 million people on waiting lists, up 3 percent from the year before, and up 59 percent from 2.42 million at the end of March 2010. According to research by the House of Commons Library, “Once estimates for missing data are included the waiting list is currently thought to be at 4.31 million—up 7% year-on-year and 42% over five years.”

[Tim Evans, “London Calling: Don’t Commit to Nationalized Health Care,” The Heritage Foundation, May 3]


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  1. My family has had health care in USA. England, Ireland, Croatia, Italy, Soviet Union, Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria, and Argentina.
    I could write a book on my experience on health care in these countries. Government Health care is never directed to the individual. It is done by regulation. This prevents good Doctors to deliver good Health Care.
    Love Saves Lives
    Carl Lambrecht