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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

NHS’s Horrifying Present is Obamacare’s Terrifying Future



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I have written often here of the meltdown being experienced by the NHS. The cause? Centralized control that deprofessionalizes physicians, rations healthcare, and turns the system into a bureaucratic nightmare. 

Tellingly, the NHS was the model for many Obamacarians–particularly the centralized control part. This despite the fact that NHS quality of care is in free fall. And now, there are apparently bureaucratic coverups–coupled with suppression of a whistleblower–under way to protect the dysfunctional system. From the column by the splendid Melanie Phillips:

So now, having had the inquiry into the inquiry that suppressed facts about the failure of the original inquiry, there is to be a further inquiry into the bullying of the woman who tried to blow the whistle on the uselessness–and worse–of the inquirers. Really, the saga of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has progressed from tragedy through scandal to farce, and has now plumbed astonishing new depths of moral and political squalor. For at the weekend, after the revelations of the cover-up over deaths from negligence at Morecambe Bay hospitals, we learned just what happened to Kay Sheldon, a non-executive director at the CQC, when she tried to bring to light failings at the regulator which were putting patients’ lives at risk.

And now we also know–just as had been suspected from the start–that the culture of bullying, intimidation and lies in the NHS reached to the very top.

Hmm. Sound familiar?

Worse, centralized control can kill:

The ensuing debacle was not just the result of a botched merger: it reflects an NHS culture which is profoundly, systemically and almost certainly irredeemably rotten. At the very root lies an appalling litany of serial incompetence, indifference and even cruelty by front-line staff. Let us not forget the dreadful events themselves in Morecambe Bay hospitals, where at least 16 babies and two mothers are estimated to have died through neglect. And in Mid Staffs, neglect and cruelty reached such a pitch that patients drank from flower vases to relieve their thirst. Now, 14 more hospitals are being investigated for unusually high death rates. And we know from example after sickening example that too many elderly patients are treated all too frequently with a callousness that defies belief.

While thousands of NHS staff are highly professional and dedicated, far too many have simply lost the ethic of caring. And these failings are not being addressed; because what rules in the NHS, from top to bottom, is a culture of ruthless unaccountability in which the buck stops nowhere.

The problems of the NHS may seem very far away. But they are our future unless we prevent the Obamacare debacle from fully taking hold. 



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