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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Coalition’s NHS changes ‘to cause irreparable harm’ say doctors.

The BBC reports:

The overhaul of the NHS in England will cause irreparable harm, according to leading public health doctors.

In a letter to peers, who will debate the changes next week, nearly 400 public health experts said the changes must be rejected as they represented a risk to patient care and safety.

The doctors suggested it would fragment services, possibly threatening vaccination and screening campaigns.

The revelation that such influential members of the public health community have put their names to the letter comes on the day Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is to address the Conservative Party conference.

More on this story here.  Bravo to the 400 public health experts for speaking out.  And let's hope that peers listen to their views and reject a truly appalling bill for which there is no democratic mandate.


Douglas said...

It looks like the US Supreme Court will soon rule on the Constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the several States. But over the years, the meaning of the phrase "regulate commerce among the several States" has been greatly expanded to include things I believe the Framers never imagined.

If the US government can mandate that individuals purchase health insurance, why can't they mandate that individuals purchase a Chevrolet Volt?

Neil Clark said...

Hi Douglas,
Hope all's well. I would argue that free health care is a basic human right. Do you agree?

Douglas said...

I vehemently disagree for multiple reasons.

If health care is a right, then it becomes the government's responsibility to secure that right.

It follows that illness with better organized constituencies (AIDS, breast cancer) will get more and better attention/funding than illness with smaller, weaker, less organized constituencies (prostate cancer, autism).

It follows that the government will select winners and losers in the health care marketplace. That might be great if you're a surgeon, but not so great if you're a chiropractor, homeopath, or Ayurvedic doctor.

It follows that the quality of care will decline, because fewer people will become doctors, because their remuneration and work environment will be government-controlled, and therefore politicized. This is why NHS has a significant number of doctors from other, less-developed countries.

It follows that medical innovation and advances will decline, because government control provides a disincentive to innovate. I offer as evidence the number of clinical trials that take place in the US, compared to the number of clinical trials taking place in the UK and Canada.

It follows from economic logic that when something is "free" it will invariably become scarce from overuse. People tend to spend their own money more rationally than they spend other people's money.

I believe you mean well, but that you just haven't fully thought through the consequences, because it's something you've lived with all your life. I believe your attachment to 70's comedy shows and your attachment to NHS are equally irrational, but your attachment to 70's comedy shows doesn't have negative health consequences for your country.

I submit that it's a citizen's responsibility to provide their own health care, and the government's responsibility to avoid encroaching on the health care marketplace.