The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal.com’s “Best of the Web” written by the editor, James Taranto.
MediaCare and the NHS
Mark Colvin, a journalist with the ABC, Australia’s state-owned broadcaster, has a disdainful essay about the ObamaCare debate. He dismisses skeptics as a bunch of liars and tells this story, which is supposed to illustrate the glories of socialized medicine in the form of Britain’s National Health Service:
I became ill in Britain in 1994, not long after an assignment for the ABC in Rwanda and Zaire.
The disease I had contracted proved exceptionally difficult to diagnose–it’s rare, and presents a varying range of symptoms. After several visits, my National Health Service doctor had the sense and humility to confess himself beaten, and sent me to London’s Hospital for Tropical Diseases. There, also on the NHS, I was tested exhaustively for every known tropical disease.
If I’d been in America, I’d have already have spent thousands–in Britain I’d spent nothing.
But this was also where one of the failings of the NHS kicked in: waiting-lists. The Tropical Disease doctors discharged me with instructions to see another specialist, but when I rang him I discovered he couldn’t see me for six weeks. My condition was deteriorating fast, so when the ABC’s Dr Norman Swan got on the phone from Sydney to offer help, I jumped at it. He got to work and within a day had made an appointment for me with the doctor who would go on to save my life.
Insured by the ABC, I ended up spending almost six months in hospital. I was in a private ward, but treated in a National Health Hospital. The food was better in the private ward, and I had privacy, but I am certain that the treatment was the same. My doctors were sparing time for me out of their public rounds.
Norman Swan is a physician turned medical journalist, an Australian Bob Arnot or Sanjay Gupta. So the NHS is great, provided that (1) you have insurance provided by a foreign employer, and (2) you’re friends with a media-star doctor, who can help you jump the line.
The BBC, meanwhile, reports on another side of the NHS. The Beeb leads with a bureaucratic error: Janet Brooks emailed the NHS’s National Patient Safety Agency after the death of her 76-year-old father, Tom Milner, and she got a response with the salutation “Dear Tom.” But this clerical negligence was the least of it:
Mr Milner, who had terminal leukaemia, was not given his prescribed pain-relieving morphine in the last two days of his life, his family say.
They claim he was left in agony and lay in his own urine and blood at the NHS palliative care ward at the hospital.
The health trust responsible for his care said staff had “acted appropriately.”
Fortunately, though, we can dismiss this story out of hand, thanks to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, who has written, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”
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