Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

March 2, 2005

Britain Canceling Surgeries

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:00 am

I was going to title this “Great Moments in Socialized Medicine (2)” but decided to be more descriptive.

Health-care reformers in the United States often cite the British National Health Service (NHS) as an example of the sort of “single-payer” health care they would like to use as a model for the U.S. It will cut costs, they claim. Here’s one way nationalized health care cuts costs, as reported by the BBC.

More ops cancelled at last minute

The number of NHS operations cancelled at the last minute in English hospitals increased by almost 2,500 at the end of last year, official figures show.

Between October to December 17,402 operations were cancelled at short notice for non-clinical reasons.

This was an increase of 2,471 on the number cancelled in the three months between July and September 2004.

Why, you ask?

Operations may be cancelled at the last minute if a bed is no longer going to be available, or if staff are needed elsewhere.

In other words, they limit costs by limiting the number of beds and the number of staff (doctors, nurses, etc.). If they run out, they just cancel a bunch of surgeries. If this was your week, too bad. Oh, that colon cancer surgery you’ve been waiting a year and a half for? Cancelled, we ran out of beds this week. Back to the waiting list; when your name comes up again we’ll see if the cancer is still operable, and if so, we’ll reschedule. If not, sorry. Better luck in the next life.

The scary thing is, these figures are an improvement!

The Department of Health said the increase seen in October to December compared with the previous quarter was in line with seasonal trends.

The figure was a little lower than that for the same quarter in 2003, when there were 17,782 last-minute cancellations.

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