Was Daniel Hannan so wrong?

August 17, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 2 Comments

We had an American friend staying with us this weekend and I had a very interesting conversation with him about the whole furore regarding Daniel Hannan MEP’s comments about the NHS, made in America with reference to the Obama Healthcare debate.

Just in case you missed it (where have you been?), he said that the NHS was a mistake. It begun with the best of intentions but in reality is it hasn’t worked.

Well the thing that astonishes me is how the rest of the UK is jumping up and down and saying, ‘No, no, our NHS is a marvel,’ and my conversation with my American friend crystallized for me where the misunderstandings are coming from.

Penguin: But you do have some kind of social system in the US, don’t you? Medicare, MedicAid, something like that.

American: Oh yeah, but that’s really, really under-funded.

Penguin: Just like the NHS.

American: Lots of people who need it can’t get treatment on it.

Penguin: Just like the NHS.

American: And of course all the best doctors won’t work in that system – they go private.

Penguin: Just like the NHS.

American: And basically the whole system’s failing. [Pause] Just like the NHS, huh?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that I think a national health service is a bad idea; nor do I think that we should jump up and adopt the current American system. In fact I think the NHS has been making strides in the right direction (although whether it can continue that with a proposed 20% funding cut in the three years from 2011 I don’t know), but the fact remains that it’s a bloody mess, and that holding up as a shining example to the American populace is frankly ludicrous.



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  1. I think the concept of free healthcare for all is amazing but as you say, the system isn’t working as it should. Maybe more people over here should take out private healthcare, it’s not that expensive (is it?)to ease pressure on the system.

  2. You know what? I have private healthcare, and I’d love to ease the burden on the system, but … they don’t cover ‘long-term conditions’ and RA is, obviously, a long-term condition!!

    And until very recently there was this totally absurd system in place whereby if you had treatment for any condition privately, you were officially not allowed to then get the same condition treated in any way on the NHS (although generally the GPs ignored this) … so if your insurance provider said, ‘We’ll cover this but not this’ you’d have to shell out from your own pocket, potentially thousands of pounds. Sometimes the NHS doesn’t help itself! However, that’s now been resolved and they are allowing you to use both systems if that’s the way it’s panning out.

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