NHS Wait Times grow so long that the NHS farms out Health Care to Private Providers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 8th, 2013

Week in Review

Nationalizing health care will lead to longer wait times and a rationing of services due to a shortage of doctors, nurses and support staff that will be needed to treat more people.  This is what the opponents of Obamacare said.  While the proponents told the opponents that they were full of [deleted expletive].  Figuratively, of course.

But national health care does increase wait times and rations services.  And to see this all you have to do is look to Britain’s National Health Service (see NHS waiting scandal leads to private healthcare spend by Eleanor Bradford posted 6/4/2013 on BBC News Scotland).

NHS spending on private healthcare has risen dramatically since waiting time scandals came to light, BBC Scotland can reveal.

Spending across Scotland rose by nearly 60% last year to more than £40m, compared with £25m per year in the two previous years…

NHS Lothian admitted it would have to spend £10m clearing a backlog of patients after it emerged it had been manipulating its waiting time figures in order to meet Scottish government targets.

NHS Grampian consistently denied any wrongdoing but its spending on private healthcare increased as closer scrutiny was given to the way health boards were meeting government targets.

Last year its spending nearly tripled to £6.3m. NHS Grampian has the highest number of patients marked down as “unavailable” for treatment out of all 14 Scottish health boards.

Health boards are allowed to stop the waiting time “clock” if patients say they are unavailable, but the number of unavailable patients in Grampian is seven times higher than the average for mainland health boards…

“We understand that waiting times are important to patients and that most patients prefer to be treated as close to home as possible.

“The NHS Grampian Board recently agreed a £16m investment programme that will increase capacity by building new theatres and employing more doctors, nurses and support staff. The additional local capacity will be available in 2014.”

The NHS pays private sector health care providers outside of the NHS to provide the care they cannot.  A shortage of “theatres…doctors, nurses and support staff” has made it impossible for some health boards to meet the mandated NHS wait times.  Their wait times have grown so long that they fudge their reports to hide how poorly they’re doing.  One group of bureaucrats lying to another group of bureaucrats.  As one sets unrealistic goals the other cannot meet.  But the private sector can.  Because when people pay for their health care health care providers have the money to build theatres and hire doctors, nurses and support staff.

So what are the official wait time targets?  The above article links to another describing them.  Here are some excerpts (see Waiting time targets: What they mean for you by Eleanor Bradford posted 1/21/2013 on BBC News Scotland).

Legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament last year means that, from the start of this year, you have a legal right to be treated within 12 weeks, unless you’re waiting for diagnostic scans or waiting for one of the excluded treatments outlined below…

Since December 2011, no-one should have waited longer than 18 weeks from the point they were referred for treatment until that treatment occurs. This includes all scans and diagnostic tests…

You should wait no longer than six weeks for eight types of scans and tests.

These are: upper endoscopy, lower endoscopy, colonoscopy, cytoscopy, CT scans, MRI scans, barium studies and ultrasound scans (unrelated to obstetrics)…

You should wait no longer than 62 days for treatment if your referral is “urgent”.

Once a definite diagnosis of cancer is made (eg following a scan) you should wait no longer than 31 days for treatment. However, this is only the first treatment…

The waiting time “clock” stops if you are unavailable for any reason, but you should specifically agree to a period of “unavailability” being applied to your case and a letter should be sent to you confirming this to be the case.

If you can’t make the first appointment offered, you should be offered a second one.

Both should be “reasonable” – in a location you can get to and in a timescale that is possible, but it is considered reasonable to offer you an appointment in another health board area…

If you miss your appointment and don’t ring in advance then you will be referred back to your GP.

If you still need treatment your GP will need to make a new referral and the whole process starts again.

So, to summarize, you go to see a general practitioner (GP).  That’s like the doctor you make an appointment to see when you think you have the flu so you can get some antibiotics.  The GP refers you to a specialist if you have something serious.  The specialists then refer you someplace for treatment.  And when he or she does the clock starts running.  And some time in the next 18 weeks you should start your treatment.  Unless they note you as ‘urgent’.  Then your treatment is in the next 62 days.  Which is 2 months.  But if they find that you have cancer they cut that in half.

This is why their emergency rooms are overflowing in Britain.  People don’t want to wait these long wait times.  So they go to the emergency room (A/E in Britain).  Funny, really.  For this is the very thing Obamacare was going to stop in the United States.  Uninsured people going to the emergency room.  And here they are in Britain with all the free health care they could want.  Still going to the emergency room to escape those horrendous long wait times.

Perhaps the opponents of Obamacare were not full of [deleted expletive] after all.

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