X-Message-Number: 21883
From: "John de Rivaz" <>
Subject: Government Health Services
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003 11:24:35 +0100

Here in the UK we have a two tier system, although politicians will hotly
deny it.

There are insurance based health services where the insurers are in
competition with each
other, although they all use the same hospitals and doctors to do the work.
There is an exception of a few private only hospitals, but the doctors and
surgeons are usually also shared with the government system.
You get privacy, and choice of timing, practitioner and venue for treatment.

With the system run by the government you get none of the above but you pay
nothing extra when you are ill -- it is all paid for by general taxation,
although there are some additional charges such as a flat rate for
prescriptions and high car parking charges at hospitals. Both systems often
use the same practitioners.

The government system produces serious economic loss by silly "rule book"
situations. For example a patient was kept in hospital for two months after
being admitted as a cardiac emergency, and eventually given relatively minor
treatment lasting a couple of hours and sent home cured. Had he gone home to
await the treatment, he would have gone on a waiting list and waited six
months to a year. Another patient had a stroke. In order to be
assessed for future treatment a team of five were needed. As some of the
team were on holiday, there was a delay of a couple of months before all
five could be assembled. The delay was so excessive that when he was
assessed he had deteriorated so much that he needed much more expensive and
radical treatment before he could be discharged. The avoidable costs in both
these cases amount to about half the price of a house over here.

These problems are common to any large organisation, I suggest it is the
size of the government organisation rather than, or as well as, the fact
that it is "government" that causes a lot of the problems. No one is trusted
to use his own judgement and common sense, which surely could have avoided
the two situations referred to above. The trend in the UK is for hospitals
to concentrate more and more people. Small hospitals are closed, leading to
more traffic movements and congestion around the remaining ones, which are
being extended all the time, usually by building in former car parks. In
some cases helicopters have to be used for urgent cases because congestion
makes ambulance transport unreliable. Also, concentrating sick people leads
to more cross infection. Indeed hospitals have been described as
"supermarkets for germs" where the humans are the goods and the germs
(viruses and bacteria) are the customers :-)

It has also been suggested that if the airlines were run like hospitals, a
jumbo jet would crash every week. I am not sure whether this is based on
avoidable deaths (it should be) or whether it is a silly statistic not
considering the fact that many people who go to hospital are incurable by
present day technology anyway. Neither am I sure whether this relates to
hospitals all over the world or just one country, and if so whether it is
the UK or US.

Sincerely, John de Rivaz:  http://John.deRivaz.com for websites including
Cryonics Europe, Longevity Report, The Venturists, Porthtowan, Alec Harley
Reeves - inventor, Arthur Bowker - potter, de Rivaz genealogy,  Nomad .. and

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