Monday, January 02, 2006

UK Socialized Medicine Not So Great After All

I find it hard not to fall down laughing over this article discussing reform of the UK socialized medical system. Here it is from the venerable eurolefty Guardian Unlimited, Patients Now Have a Wider Choice of Hospital:

Patients will from today have a choice of free treatment in up to four hospitals - including one in the private sector - in a change that the government hails as one of the most fundamental reforms since the NHS was created nearly 60 years ago.

The move - seen as meeting one of Tony Blair's key pledges for more consumer choice in the public services - is controversial among some Labour backbenchers and was yesterday attacked by the Liberal Democrats and unions, who believe it could force unpopular hospitals to close.

First of all, you can choose from a whopping 4 hospitals? Is that up from what, 1? 2? Wow. Imagine if we in Boston could choose from 4 hospitals! But wait! One of the 4 may be a private hospital, oh my goodness! Doesn't that run counter to the big government central control elitist we know what is best for you socialist philosophy that has all but swallowed Europe? No wonder the lefties are pissed over there! And check out the objection: it could force unpopular hospitals to close!!! What is this, school choice? Where would we be if we couldn't keep crappy institutions open year after year with no hope of improvement?

But for Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, today's change is the key to securing a permanent improvement in the NHS. She said: "Patients have new rights over their own healthcare. These rights will allow patients to choose services which best meet their individual needs."

Can you even imagine? A new right to choose your own healthcare? Wow.

But the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Steve Webb, said the move would benefit the rich and the well informed at the expense of other patients. "People want more control over their care, but the government's obsession with markets will mean the least well advised patients could well end up with inferior care.

"It is clear wealthier people, and those with access to better information about the quality of services, will be able to get access to the best care. Turning the NHS into a giant marketplace creates winners and losers. The downside of shopping around is that some hospitals will go bust."

And that, my friends, leaves me speechless.


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