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New reports of outrages in Britain’s National Health Service

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“In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors,” wrote Paul Krugman on the op-ed page of the New York Times in August 2009. “We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.” Krugman is not alone in his enthusiasm for Britain’s National Health Service nor his willingness to discount the horror stories, which have been legion. The Brits themselves reportedly are bullish on the NHS.

When the service turned 65 last July, Forbes wrote, it was featured at the opening of London’s Olympic Games in “a spectacular display with dancing nurses, delighted children, and other fantasy-based imagery.” Danny Boyle, the man credited with creating the homage, said he chose the NHS because “everyone is aware of how important the NHS is to everyone in this country” and that “one of the core values of our society is that it doesn’t matter who you are, you will get treated the same in terms of health care.” [Emphasis added]

The highlighted portion of the quote is unintentionally double-edged, reminiscent in its ambiguity to the quote ascribed to many that goes “Thank you for the gift book. I shall lose no time in reading it.”

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the British — and some Americans — love the NHS. Make that some Brits love the NHS. MailOnline notes that three new reports suggest that not everyone is tickled pink by the nation’s nationalized health care system.

One investigation revealed that a quarter of new mothers were abandoned by their midwives during labour, with some left to give birth on the floor or in corridors.

The second found that mistakes deemed so serious they should never happen are being made in hospitals five times a week.

And the third survey said thousands of patients have all but given up trying to secure appointments with their family doctor.

The reports come only a day after the NHS watchdog detailed a catalogue of failings at GP surgeries, including consulting rooms infested with maggots and patients being given dangerous, out-of-date drugs.

Public confidence in the Health Service is already at a record low following a run of inquiries exposing a culture of appalling patient care and bureaucratic cover-ups.

[…]

Police have even been called in to probe claims that staff at Colchester Hospital fiddled figures to hide the fact that some patients waited up to six months for cancer treatment.

It is no secret that Barack Obama, given his druthers, would have foisted a single-payer system on this country. Recall that early on, as health-care reform was being debated, many Democrats openly avowed their support for a “public option.” It died on the Senate floor, however, when a handful of conservative Democrats, led by then-Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, said they’d vote the law down unless the public option were dropped.

Knowing all we do about Obamacare in its current form, we should all breathe a sigh of relief that the federal government’s meddling in the health care system wasn’t more pervasive. We are still far from out of the woods. Unless Obamacare is repealed or dies its own natural death in the next year or two, Paul Krugman’s dream could become the rest of America’s nightmare.

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