People going to the Accident and Emergency Departments for Routine Health Care in the NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 20th, 2012

Week in Review

One of the arguments for passing Obamacare in the US was that we were already paying for the uninsured via costly emergency room visits.  Overburdening our emergency departments.  And denying valuable resources to those who truly needed them.  For looking at a child with a sore throat diverts valuable health care resources from accident victims and people suffering medical emergencies like heart attacks.  Obamacare was going to fix that.  And make our health care system as perfect as it is in the NHS.

But it is not the utopia Americans think it is in the NHS.  As an aging population is causing enormous cost pressures on their limited resources leading to budget cuts, increasing wait times, rationing of services and doctor & nurse shortages that are making it difficult to staff both emergency and non-emergency health care facilities.  Causing people to still turn to the emergency department (A&E in the UK) for routine care (see Rise in child throat infections treated in hospital, study finds posted 10/19/2012 on BBC News Health).

Children admitted to hospital with throat infections have increased by 76% over the past 10 years, according to a study from Imperial College London…

Pressures on doctors and a maximum waiting time in A&E could be the reason behind the increase in admissions…

The researchers found no evidence of a link between tonsillectomy trends and admission rates for acute throat infections.

Instead, they suggest that the sharp rise in hospital cases of children with throat infections is probably explained by the large number of children being taken to A&E instead of to see their GP, especially if the infection flares up outside surgery hours.

Dr Elizabeth Koshy, lead study author from the school of public health at Imperial College London, said the rise in hospital admissions for this type of infection was concerning.

“Our findings relating to short hospital stays suggest that many of the children admitted with acute throat infections could have been effectively managed in the community.

“Our study highlights the need to urgently address the issue of healthcare access, with improved models of integrated care within primary and secondary care, to avoid potentially unnecessary hospital admissions for relatively minor infections in the future.”

The introduction of a four-hour maximum waiting time in A&E, in 2002, could have led under-pressure doctors to admit children with less serious throat infections, she said.

Even a national health care service doesn’t eliminate people using emergency departments for routine care.  Because with cuts in the NHS budget closing local facilities or reducing their hours of operation where else are the people to go?  To the only place that is open.  The emergency department.

So national health care has come full circle.  At least in the Obamacare argument.  We need national health care to get people to stop using emergency departments for their routine health care needs.  Trying to offer everything to everyone and an aging population has forced budget cuts and the closing of facilities that provide for routine health care needs.  Forcing these people right back to where the national health care service was trying to get them away from.  Thus they have the same problem as they did before.  And as they do in America.  Only with a massive national health care system on top of all their other problems.  Guaranteeing further cost pressures, closures and more crowded emergency departments.

Proponents of Obamacare should heed this lesson well.  For Obamacare will not be the utopia they think it will be.  In fact, it will be worse than the NHS.  Because America has about five times the population of the UK.  And will have about five times the cost pressures the UK has.  Calling for even more budget cuts, increasing wait times, rationing of services and doctor & nurse shortages that will make it more difficult to staff both emergency and non-emergency health care facilities.  Leading to even more overcrowded emergency departments.  Which will make health care more costly and less loved than it ever was before Obamacare.  Making the case for repealing Obamacare ever more appealing the more we learn about the reality of national health care from the NHS.


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