published Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Spending others' money

What happens when "resources are spread too thinly" in a government-run health system?

Following a National Health Service (NHS) audit, England's government-run single-payer health care system, three of ten children's health institutions were told to stop performing heart surgeries.

SkyNews reports that Royal Brompton in Chelsea, Leeds General Infirmary and Glenfield Hospital in Leicester will no longer be allowed to perform heart surgeries and procedures following a "national review aimed at streamlining pediatric congenital cardiac surgery services." The NHS "review recommended that surgery be concentrated in a few specialist centres" according to the news agency.

Here are a few responses to the government decision to close these pediatric surgery programs:

• Bob Bell, CEO of Royal Brompton & Harefield, the largest heart and lung center in the United Kingdom, speaking to his board said, "One thing is certain, I will not be asking them for the mandate to manage the destruction of a highly valued and respected children's unit."

• Mile Collier, Chairman of Leeds Teaching Hospital said, "This result flies in the face of logical health care planning and plain common sense" noting the disregard for the 600,000 citizens served.

• Charity director Sharon Cheng of the Children's Heart Surgery Fund expressed frustration in noting her organization's plan to appeal the decision, "Clinical logic has not been taken into consideration. They have ignored co-location. They have ignored patient choice."

This announcement, made on July 4 in London, was followed the next day by the British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond declaring the planned reduction of 17 major units that involve over 20,000 soldiers "under the government's austerity drive," which resulted, in part, in response to the expense of Great Britain's costly state healthcare scheme.

On this side of the Pond, England provides a stark look into the future. One day soon, as a result of Obamacare and federal overspending, America will be forced to make similar decisions. One city's hospital will stay open, while another's closes. One child will receive life-saving surgery, while another won't. National security needs will be compromised in order to fund clinics.

When this grave day comes to our shore, it will be easy to condemn politicians. But voters who supported candidates who shower them with promises of expensive programs and unlimited benefits will deserve their share of the blame, too.

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nucanuck said...

"...Great Britain's costly health care scheme."

Our new editor tells us that British health care is costly. Are we to believe that a system that spends half as much per person as the US and achieves equal or better statistical results is costly? What does he take his readership for...fools, dupes, or just ignorant?

Various single payer systems perform better than others, but the vast majority perform equal to, or better than, the US for far less money. Single payer is the only logical system if we wish to contain costs and achieve universal coverage.

Do we care about a fair and efficient system or do we want to pretend that we are somehow superior? Our Congress may have the best health care plan in the world, but that plan is not available to most Americans.

Rather than argue against Obamacare, why not argue for a single payer system that is proven to work well?

July 7, 2012 at 1:01 a.m.
conservative said...

Liberals and Socialists inherently know the evil nature of both so they have to rely on lies and deception to sell the stuff.

Regarding healthcare they like to use the term "single payer" instead of Socialized Medicine. It is still a poorly managed, inefficient and costly system injurious to your health under either name.

July 7, 2012 at 1:38 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Conservative,

It works in the U.K. and Canada.

You still don't understand what socialism is. You're still scared of the "Communists".

You would know all about that deception and lies stuff. You're the king of the charlatans.

July 7, 2012 at 1:46 p.m.
nucanuck said...

c-man, I hear the opposition to single payer health care, but literally no one speaks up for a cost-effective alternative. If there is a better way, let's discuss it. If not, let's quit the boogey-man socialism talk and adopt what works.

FYI, Canadian doctors are not government employees. The system is private, but each Province is the single payer of most, but not all, health care. Almost everybody pays into the system. The Canadians I know are proud of their system's universal coverage in spite of the few short-comings. Some people opt for additional coverage above what the provential government offers, or pay directly for uncovered proceedures. The system works, and at a far lower cost that in the US, and shouldn't that be the goal in the US?

July 7, 2012 at 2:37 p.m.
rick1 said...

Easy, if you were only as smart as you think you are. Read this and try to educate yourself.

You still don't understand that healthcare like the U.K. and Canada have is not sustainable.

http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/news/display.aspx?id=17415

July 7, 2012 at 2:38 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Rick,

If you were 1/10th as smart as you think you are you would know that it works. The article you provided even gave recommendations on how to make the system more sustainable.

You still don't understand that their system is better than ours any way you cut it. Please educate yourself before you try to sound intelligent. You don't even read the articles you provide. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously?

July 7, 2012 at 2:46 p.m.
conservative said...

Well we certainly know what doesn't work : SOCIALISM! You Socialist and Liberals ( yes, I know they are the same ) only recomend doubling down on more of the same. Twice the Socilaism or twice the Liberalism will only increase failure twofold.

July 7, 2012 at 2:58 p.m.
rick1 said...

Easy you are the ignorant one. Read the entire report. Canadians wait an avera of 18.2 weeks in 2010 between an appointment with a family doctor and receiving treatment from a specialist, up from 9.3 weeks in 1993.

Provincial drug plans also increasingly refuse to pay for most of the drugs that are certified by Health Canada as safe and effective. Averaged across all provincial public drug programs, only 20.3 per cent of all drugs certified by Health Canada in 2008 had actually been approved for reimbursement by the provinces as of December 31, 2009.

“The provinces are bankrupting themselves to pay for a health care system that is fundamentally broken and doesn’t offer Canadians timely access to medical services. Health spending has outpaced revenues despite government efforts to control costs through rationing,” Rovere said.

To you this would sound successful and sustainable. Idioit

July 7, 2012 at 5:45 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Rick,

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/02/chart-day-waiting-your-doctor

The system works. I don't know how many times I have to say it. If they reform it a little, it will be more sustainable. I said that in my last post as well.

idioit? And I'm the ignorant one?

Conservative and JonRoss,

You two need to get together and tell each other your baseless opinions. You're both masters of hyperbole.

July 7, 2012 at 6:32 p.m.
nucanuck said...

My family of six (ages 12 to 70) has five years of experience with Canadian health care. We have not experienced unusual delays or poor quality of care from emergency to routine. More importantly EVERYONE is covered and the cost is low. Costs will no doubt rise to insure sustainability, but so will they elsewhere.

Arguing against single payer universal coverage only makes sense when you have yours and you don't care about what happens to the rest.

July 7, 2012 at 6:57 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

You're one of those slippery slope argument Conservatives. It's all hyperbole. Do you not understand that your slippery slope argument isn't valid?

"Canada has it issues otherwise there wouldn't be large numbers of it's citizens flowing into the U.S. daily seeking medical treatment of all sorts."

That is a misrepresentation of the truth.

"Myth: Canadians are paying out of pocket to come to the U.S. for medical care.

Most patients who come from Canada to the U.S. for health care are those whose costs are covered by the Canadian governments. If a Canadian goes outside of the country to get services that are deemed medically necessary, not experimental, and are not available at home for whatever reason (e.g., shortage or absence of high tech medical equipment; a longer wait for service than is medically prudent; or lack of physician expertise), the provincial government where you live fully funds your care. Those patients who do come to the U.S. for care and pay out of pocket are those who perceive their care to be more urgent than it likely is."

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_12523427#ixzz1zzai2c1p

"Canada is a small homogenous country that owes it's day to day exsistence to the U.S."

This is baseless rhetoric.

July 7, 2012 at 10:01 p.m.
nucanuck said...

JonRoss,

Canada homogeneous??? Maybe in times gone by Canada was fairly homogeneous, but today...Canada is a complete rainbow of cultures from around the world. It seems like everyone was born someplace else.

Either you are reading old material or the victim of the pervasive propaganda in the US. Canada is a country in a long-term upswing. The commodity wealth combined with good education, ambitious immigrants, and low government corruption, are positioning Canada in the world's sweet spot for decades to come. You don't have to like it, but you better believe it, because it is happening right now.

July 7, 2012 at 10:40 p.m.
rick1 said...

If a Canadian goes outside of the country to get services that are deemed medically necessary, not experimental, and are not available at home for whatever reason (e.g., shortage or absence of high tech medical equipment; a longer wait for service than is medically prudent; or lack of physician expertise).

Why do you think the examples you gave are issues in countries that have universal health care? Because countries do not have the money to purchase high tech equipment, and there are less doctors and other medical staff to treat patients in a timely manner.

Thank you for provivng again why universal health care is not successful or sustainable.

July 7, 2012 at 11:32 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Rick,

"Myth: There aren't enough doctors in Canada.

From a purely statistical standpoint, there are enough physicians in Canada to meet the health care needs of its people. But most doctors practice in large urban areas, leaving rural areas with bona fide shortages. This situation is no different than that being experienced in the U.S. Simply training and employing more doctors is not likely to have any significant impact on this specific problem. Whatever issues there are with having an adequate number of doctors in any one geographical area, they have nothing to do with the single-payer system."

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_12523427#ixzz1zzybGpxo

Thank you for proving that you don't know what you are talking about. Universal healthcare is successful and sustainable. You can keep believing your misinformation but the fact still stands, their system is better than ours.

July 7, 2012 at 11:37 p.m.
rick1 said...

Easy, read this report from 2011. The one you provided is from 2009.
http://www.fraserinstitute.org/publicationdisplay.aspx?id=17360

July 7, 2012 at 11:58 p.m.
nucanuck said...

rick1,

Controling costs may mean not having every new innovation, but when you weigh that against having health care access to all...a healthier population...that seems a reasonable trade-off.

The amount that the US spends, without full or even coverage puts the US at a competitive disadvantage when our companies have to absorb 40% higher health care costs. That is the very definition of a failed system.

July 8, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.
rick1 said...

nucanuck, and is having a shortage of doctors so people can not receive basic care for weeks a reasonable trade off was well?

July 8, 2012 at 9:18 a.m.
nucanuck said...

As was mentioned earlier, doctor shortages occur primarily in isolated communities because no doctor wants to go there. My family has never had to wait for health care and neither others I know.

The system in Canada works quite well in spite of the criticisms you may read. The US system, on the other hand, omits many and gives uneven care to the rest, all at a very high price. That is the description of a failed system.

July 8, 2012 at 12:14 p.m.
rick1 said...

Nucanuck, 'm happy that your family or others that you know have had to wait for health care but that doesn't mean there isn't a shortage of doctors.

Please read this link

http://www.fraserinstitute.org/publicationdisplay.aspx?id=17360

July 8, 2012 at 1:04 p.m.
rick1 said...

Nucanuck, my post should read I'm happy that your family or others that you know have not had to wait. Sorry for the typo.

July 8, 2012 at 1:28 p.m.
nucanuck said...

I have no way of knowing how many small towns and villages are without doctors. Much of the Canadian out-back is hard living. On the other hand, 90% of Canadians live within about 100 miles of the US border. I doubt that doctor shortages are much of an issue in the developed areas.

Certainly where we live is well doctored.

More importantly, the health care structure works and the problems are fixable.

July 8, 2012 at 8:06 p.m.
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