Before examining how socialized health care affects other conditions, I wanted to follow up on last week's cancer focus with two more cancer horror story articles from the United Kingdom.
Because of the pressure to cut down on the wait times inherent in universal health care, targets have been put in place to make sure hospitals meet certain time requirements. In response, hospitals put their focus on the cases that are counted towards the targets (i.e. cancer patients referred by GPs) and put the cases that don't count towards targets (emergency cancer patients) on the back burner. When the government runs health care, meeting warped government standards takes priority over treating the sickest.
People arriving at Accident and Emergency departments [Emergency Rooms in the United States] with symptoms which could indicate the aggressive spread of the disease are waiting weeks for diagnosis and treatment while “routine” cases are prioritised.
Hospital managers told researchers that treating desperately sick patients more quickly would “reflect badly” on their performance against Government cancer targets which only cover those referred to specialists by GPs.
Katherine Murphy, from the Patients Association, said the report provided “breathtaking” evidence of a confidence trick being played on the public, repeatedly told that waiting times for patients with suspected cancer are falling, while desperate cases were forced to the back of the queue.
She said: “This confirms our very worst fears, and exposes the scandal of what pernicious targets are doing to patients. We have seen other targets being used in ways that damage patient care, but of everything we have seen, this really is the cruellest of the cruel”.
15,000 senior citizens die every year because of the socialized health care system. Britain is considerably smaller than the United States, so the numbers would be far higher here if we were to follow the UK. The problems that lead to these preventable deaths are also hallmarks of universal health care: more delays, poorer treatment, less access to drugs, and more inhuman bureaucracy. Again, government targets have unintended and harmful consequences for patients.
UP to 15,000 Britons aged over 75 are dying needlessly from cancer each year, claim researchers.
Their lives could be prolonged if UK cancer survival rates matched the best in Europe and the US, it is claimed.
A new study is the latest to expose the gap between survival rates in Britain and other developed countries despite huge increases in NHS funding.
Researchers say many older sufferers have more invasive cancers, partly caused by later diagnosis of the disease either through delays in the NHS or by patients themselves.
Another factor is poorer treatment of patients here, compared with other countries which often have a wider range of drugs to use.
Shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley said 'This report exposes the huge problems with Labour’s bureaucratic, tick-box culture. Their targets for cancer survival for the NHS only focus on the under 75s, so it’s not surprising older people are suffering.
Originally posted at American Issues Project Blog.