Do you love the NHS?

August 14, 2009

The National Health Service (NHS) has endured a barrage of criticism from opponents of Barack Obama’s plans to push through a healthcare bill that would rein in costs, place constraints on insurance companies and expand health cover to 46 million uninsured Americans.

Stateside critics of the U.S. President’s plans — including former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin — have branded the NHS “evil and Orwellian” and said it allowed “death panels” to decide levels of care for the elderly. They see it as an overly bureaucratic, “socialised” system of healthcare and the proposals have prompted angry scenes at town halls across America.

Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan stirred up further controversy by describing the NHS on a U.S. TV show as a “60 year mistake” and as a service he “wouldn’t wish on anybody”.

Political leaders in the UK have been united in their defence of the NHS following the onslaught. Gordon Brown used micro-blogging site Twitter to voice his support, saying: “The NHS often makes the difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death. Thanks for always being there.”

A campaign supporting the health service on Twitter, called welovetheNHS, has received tens of thousands of messages.

David Cameron, leader of the Conservatives, was quick to distance himself and his party from¬†Hannan’s remarks. “Just look at all the support which the NHS has received on Twitter over the last couple of days. It is a reminder — if one were needed — of how proud we in Britain are of the NHS,” he said in a statement.

What do you think of the National Health Service? Do you agree with our country’s politicians that it is a system we should be proud of? What are your views on healthcare in the U.S?


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YES! I wouldn’t be able to manage without the NHS due to long term health problems.

The negative comments and the subsequent outpouring of support on twitter under the #welovetheNHS tag, has really made me think about how much I rely on the service.

If you would like to hear more about a British person’s experience please read my blog post on the topic here.. – and be sure to read the comments, as there are a number of different view shared there.

Posted by Mari Walker | Report as abusive

Neither the US nor the UK has the best health system they could create for themselves – the Republicans presumably chose us rather than their more usual bugbears of Cuba or France because they reckoned the US system would not fare so well in comparisons with them.

But in truth you need BOTH – you need private healthcare systems with expensive insurance in order to stimulate the pharmaceutical and care industries into pouring money into increasingly expensive R&D – and you need national health systems to provide the bargaining power to get the costs of these treatments down once they have been proven to be of benefit.

Posted by Ian Kemmish | Report as abusive

Agree with Ian Kemmish, both a National Health Service and a private healthcare system are required. The problem being that those of us who have BUPA through an employer are actually taxed for taking the strain off the NHS – utter lunacy in anyone’s book. Yes, it is a benefit, but employers use BUPA et al to ensure their employees are back at work ASAP, not sat on waiting lists. This increases productivity, decreases the number on SSP and thus boosts money in the economy, not to mention giving the doctors even more to spend.

The USA is an appauling system, with millions restricted to healthcare that would be more akin to a third-world nation. When you pretty much HAVE to pay for your healthcare (like in the US), you may as well make it mandatory and have a Nationalised system anyway.

No system is perfect, every system is abused – you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Those with the most money want it now, those who’ve been left old and infirm don’t see why they should suffer through no fault of their own and those in work don’t see why they should subsidise those who do not work. Yet the fact remains, in a civilised society, we all have to foot the bill, some more than others. Americans don’t realise they pay for their health service through product purchase – each time you buy a Ford, you’re paying for millions of people’s healthcare, same with a GM car or when you visit Disneyworld, McDonalds or even when you use MS Windows.

How dare a country that allows it’s citizens to queue through the night for basic medical care criticise a system that would look after their (sizable) behinds should they fall ill here and only ask questions later?

Posted by Adam K | Report as abusive

There is a great deal that is good in the NHS. However the Mental Health Services are very much wanting. Money whih was at one time ring-fenced for the mentally ill has in several areas been diverted to other things. The mental hospitals were closed before Care in the Community was properly thought through . There is also a great stigma in the public about mentla illness. Most of the horrific stories they report naming peole as “schizophrenics” are because the person has become lost to the mental health services. I believe that there are still too few psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, and also Teams including other people in allied professions. People with severe and enduring mental illness are very vulnerable, and difficult for families to cope with. There has been very little done in the way of rehabilitation, and too many people with a mental illness enter the prison system. This is not to say that there are no criminals. is a web site which gives carers a great deal of support and information, which is often witheld because of medical confidentiality. Please will you do all that is possible to make provision for this very vulnerable and disabled group of people and their carers.

Posted by Alix Cull | Report as abusive

I would like to know how many Yanks have been treated under the NHS whilst in the UK …and how many of those were health tourists…..???

Hmm thought there’d be some….

Posted by William Fletcher | Report as abusive

It is all a big racket with the lobbiest’s in the states , ie the insurance companys & doctor’s pay them [republicans] to keep our type NHS out,how comes when over in vegas a couple of years ago I had a MIR scan paid with my card $425, the price for the locals [on insurance of cause ] was between $600 to $1100
Two friends of mine a few years back had private treatment here in the UK both had problems and had to be sorted out on the NHS, both wished thay had saved privatly over the years and their nest ege would have been over £100000 that pays for a lot of treatment if you wish to pay here or overseas

Posted by pottsy | Report as abusive

The NHS is great provided that you want pharmaceutical medicine. It’d be somewhat better if it could at least provide the option of some more natural options such as chiropractic, herbs etc which in many cases have been shown to be far more effective than drugs or surgery.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

With the NHS it is not so much the quality of the actual treatments provided by the NHS (operational treatment itself is VERY good) but what really lets it down is NHS Management and complete lack of accountability.

I base this on a number of experiences to a London Hospital over the last 24 months and my visit this morning with my young son and a skin condition that he has:

1) I saw no evidence of the two nurses handling my son wash or sanitise their hands.
2) When they measured him for height and weight I had to ask for each measurement – they were not too bothered about telling me.
3)Whilst we were the first appointment of the morning the Doctor was 10 minutes late – remember MPs talking about charging patients for being late or no shows.
4) Doctor made very little effort to look at my son’s skin condition.
5) Had very few notes to hand – remember the vast sum of money spent on a “Linked up computer system” so he didn’t know what medicines my child had previously tried and as a result just recomended the same thing he had already had.

Previous visits to this hospital have constantly been met by the left hand having no idea what the right hand is up to.

I just cannot see where the extra money allocated to the NHS has gone.

Reshape the management, make people accountable or if you like sackable and I am sure that the NHS would be a completely different machine.

Posted by nick | Report as abusive

The NHS is extremely good, but variablle in both location and care. Some parts such as surgery are excellent, some such as mental illness inadequate. The staff are, apart from the odd person, devoted, caring and considerate, but they are overworked. Medicine and nursing are always developing and making continual study for staff to keep pace.
There are far too many managers who do not have training in health care, and heath care is neither a busines or an office job.
The population has increased enormously and become more multi-ethnic, which can pose problems particularly of communication between professionals and patients,
A great deal has been spent on I.T. which soon becomes out dated, and personal face to face contact needs more time than is available.

Posted by maudikie | Report as abusive