Friday, February 26, 2010

The National Health Service

As Congress argues about whether national health care can ever be a reality here in the United States (with fears of socialism abounding), the British National Health Service (NHS) is often brought up as an example of socialized medicine gone awry.

Just a few days ago, I received an email from a contact who wanted me to share with my readers some real facts about the NHS in order to counter many of the falsehoods bandied about. The NHS was established in 1948 for the benefit of the residents of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and contrary to popular opinion here in the US, residents of those countries can indeed purchase private health insurance, go to private hospitals and otherwise pursue high-quality care.

An article on Health Express extolls many of the positive aspects of the NHS, readers can click here to peruse the article in its entirety.

A few highlights of this review of the NHS include:
  • The first successful "test-tube baby" was born under the auspices of the NHS in 1978
  • Nurses make up 30% of the NHS workforce
  • Almost 1 out of every 23 residents of Wales and England are employed by the NHS
  • The NHS pays for and supports 16,000 home births per year
  • Life expectancy for both men and women has increased by 10 years since the NHS was founded
While I have no illusions that the NHS is perfect, and I have no doubt that there are plenty of British citizens ready to complain about their healthcare (or lack thereof), it's interesting to hear of the successes of the NHS, and have additional information from which to form an opinion.

Meanwhile, millions of American children and adults still live without any health insurance whatsoever, and a considerable percentage of home foreclosures in the US are due to health care bills which homeowners simply cannot pay.

Health care in the US is frequently a sad state of affairs, and perhaps some day we'll look back on the millions of uninsured as a sad stain on our health care history. Til then, the debate rages on........
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