Waiting Times in the UK’s National Health Service Grow Longer, some even Waiting a Year or More for Treatment

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

The advocates of national health care said that it will give all people quality health care.  While cutting costs, too.  Which was the claims made during the Obamacare debates.  Opponents said it was impossible to increase the number of people getting quality health while cutting costs at the same time.  For any national health care system would require massive new taxes and the rationing of services.  To make those limited resources spread over the greater number of people in the system.  Increasing wait times for medical treatment to unacceptable levels.  Like they are struggling with now in the UK.  As wait times have increased for the second year in a row in the National Health Service (NHS) (see David Cameron faces pressure as NHS waiting times grow by Denis Campbell posted 4/18/2012 on The Guardian).

Patients are enduring increasingly long delays before having some of the most common forms of surgery, according to official data that casts serious doubt on David Cameron’s pledge to keep NHS waiting times low.

New research by the Patients Association also shows that fewer patients are undergoing planned operations such as joint replacements, cataract removal and hernia repairs, as the NHS tries to make £20bn of efficiency savings at a time when demand for healthcare is growing.

A report from the association, based on information supplied by 93 of England’s 170 acute hospital trusts, found that waiting times for a range of elective operations rose between 2010 and 2011

The average wait before having a new knee fitted rose from 88.9 days to 99.2 days, while patients needing hernia surgery typically waited 78.3 days in 2011 compared with 70.4 the year before. The delay before the removal of gallstones increased over the same period, by 7.4 days, as did the delay before having a new hip (6.3 days longer), hysterectomy (three days) and cataract removed (2.2 days).

Smaller numbers of patients also had surgery for all these procedures over the same period, according to responses from hospitals to freedom of information requests submitted by the association. Trusts that supplied figures jointly performed a total of 18,268 fewer operations for these conditions in 2011 than in 2010, with those blighted by worsening vision, especially older people, most affected.

There is only one reason for these increases.  Their limited resources can’t treat the same amount of people as last year so they increased waiting times.  That is, they rationed these services more.  Now funding could have remained the same and the number of patients rose.  Or they cut funding while the number of patients remained the same.  Or more likely it was both.  More patients and less funding.  Because of an aging population.  And rising budget deficits (the NHS accounts for a very large part of Britain’s budget deficit).  Which is exactly what will happen under Obamacare.  Only on a greater scale.

But the health department said data from every hospital trust showed waiting times were low and stable and more patients were being treated, including for conditions in the report. The document was based on “partial” data and did not reflect the situation across England, it added.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “There are fewer patients than ever waiting a long time for treatment in the NHS. The number of people waiting over a year for treatment has reduced by two-thirds since we came into office and the average time patients have to wait for treatment is at the same level as two years ago.”

Okay, so the data may be a bit skewed.  For the people waiting longer than a year for treatment has fallen by two-thirds.  Which means that one third of that group is still waiting over a year for treatment.  So that’s something to look forward to with Obamacare.  A new metric to enter our lives to remind us how good Obamacare is.  People waiting a year or more for treatment is down.  Yeah.  But the US is far more populated than the UK.  So Obamacare will treat far more patients than the NHS.  So it’s not likely that we’ll be hearing that metric reported as going down.  So we’ll probably hear something more along the lines like “though the number of people waiting over a year for treatment has increased the rate of that increase is smaller than the previous year.  Just another fact to tell you that Obamacare is taking care of you.”

Let’s face it, based on the sheer size of the US and the amount of time the British have been practicing national health care Obamacare will never be as good as the NHS.  For the size of Obamacare will make the NHS look like a walk-in clinic.  Because all the numbers are working against it.  An aging population that is living longer.  And declining birth rate that creates fewer people entering the workforce than leaving it.  You put these together and it can only mean one thing.  Massive new taxes and the rationing of services.  And all on a far greater scale than in the NHS. 

The only thing Obamacare will do is make the NHS look better.  Even with wait times of over a year.

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