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David Cameron Gaffe: National Health Service is “Second-Rate”

John on January 17, 2011 at 9:55 am

Some wag has said that a gaffe is any moment in which a politician accidentally tells the truth. That’s probably the case today as David Cameron tells a BBC radio audience that he is going to shake-up the National Health Service (NHS):

The remarks came during an interview on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme as he attempted to promote his flagship policy.

‘I don’t think we should put up with a second rate – with coming second best,’ he said, quickly correcting himself. ‘We should aim to be the best.’

This is a touchy subject in Britain because the NHS has regularly been accused of being second-rate by the press. Last year I put up a website and collected dozens of these stories in an attempt to warn Americans what we had to look forward to under national care. Sample story:

Patients who have major surgery in Britain are four times more likely to die than those in America, according to a major new study.

The comparison of care, which reveals a sevenfold difference in mortality rates in one set of patients, concludes that hospital waiting lists, a shortage of specialists and competition for intensive care beds are to blame.

Fresh evidence of a stark contrast between the fate of patients on either side of the Atlantic will re-open the debate over whether NHS reforms are having any impact on survival rates.

That’s from 2003, but there are many more recent stories in that list. In fact, this one appeared in the Daily Mail yesterday:

‘Substandard’ NHS maternity care may have caused the deaths of 21 babies, a damning report has found.

An independent inquiry has revealed that the unexplained deaths, which occurred during labour or childbirth, could have been caused by delivery delays and inadequate resuscitation attempts.

Of course accidents in birth happen everywhere in the world, but those caused by “delivery delays” speak of a system that is overextended and, in many cases, second-rate. I’ll once again remind American readers that the man Obama just put in charge of our Medicare services sees the NHS as a model, even though he recognizes that they often underfund services:

The National Health Service is one of the truly astounding human endeavors of modern times…You plan the supply; you aim a bit low; historically, you prefer slightly too little of a technology or service to much too much; and then you search for care bottlenecks, and try to relieve them…please don’t put your faith in market forces. It’s a popular idea: that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can.  I do not agree.

With that in mind, have a look at another recent story from the British press. In Obamacare, America has embraced second-rate for all.

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Category: Health & Education |

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