From the Stockholm-Network of Think-Tanksby admin on 06/19/2011 1:21 PM
HEALTH OF THE NATION – UNITED KINGDOM
This new section of Gesundheit! explores individual healthcare systems throughout Europe and analyses the landscape for reform. It begins by looking at the United Kingdom and assesses the National Health Service in light of radical proposals for change by the UK coalition government. Since 1948, patients in the United Kingdom have had free access to the National Health Service (NHS) – a fully public, single payer, universal healthcare system.
Upon its introduction, its chief architect, UK minister of health Aneurin Bevan, argued owerfully that “money ought not to be permitted to stand in the way of obtaining an efficient health service” and thus established the founding principle of the NHS: that it should exist free at the point of use. . .
THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE
The NHS is financed through mandatory payroll taxes that are paid by employees, whilst employers also contribute through national insurance payments. All citizens working in the UK are required to make these contributions if they are calculated as earning over a certain level per annum, currently set nationally at around £7,000 upwards for income tax. However, payment of such taxes is not a prerequisite for treatment in the NHS.
In fact, anyone who is a resident in the UK can access NHS services free at the point of use. One of the few exceptions to this, in addition to dental and optometry services outlined above, exists only in England for prescribed pharmaceuticals. English patients in the NHS are sometimes required to pay a fixed co-payment or prescription charge (currently £7.40), although this affects only around 10% of all pharmaceuticals prescribed in the NHS once a host of exemptions are taken into account. . .
Any willing provider
In addition to moving commissioning powers to GPs, the planned reforms of the NHS will also introduce the principle that commissioners should be able to buy services from “any willing provider” so as to create greater competition between services. The idea is to facilitate a greater range of accredited providers, including those from the private sector, as opposed to formal tendering processes that can often restrict competition. . .
In truth, the plans to restructure the NHS are far from finalised and the government has recently decided to pause the legislative process, in the face of a wide range of criticism over their plans. In particular, opposition from key health professionals, such as the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing, has created the impression that reforms are being undertaken without bringing key stakeholders onside. Furthermore, the promise to increase health spending in real terms until 2015 will also be difficult to maintain given current fiscal constraints and high inflation, although it is likely that this pledge will be honoured even at the expense of other priorities.
Government medicine does not give timely access to healthcare, it only gives access to a waiting list.
The radical proposals of the UK appear to be without significant vision.