Pop quiz. Without clicking the link to see what I’ve cut out, what is this about?
… the scandal over hidden waiting lists at a growing number of [...] hospitals (seven so far) — wherein dozens of [people] died while waiting months for vital treatment, and [somebody] covered up the lengthy wait times — should make everyone wonder whether we can place our trust in a government-managed health-care system.
Another mean Daily Mail article lambasting the harworking angels™ of the NHS? Nope. It’s John Fund at the National Review, talking about the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the only part of the US government that owns and runs its own hospitals the way Britain’s does. And – would you believe it? – they have people dying while on waiting lists as well. “Hidden” waiting lists, even.
Fund noticed the similarities too:
In 2012, it was discovered that more than 7,000 patients in just a few Scottish hospitals had been wrongly removed from waiting lists for surgery in order to pretend to meet government targets for treatment. One trick was offering to perform surgery on a date when hospital officials knew a patient would be away on holiday, then dropping the patient from the wait list for “refusing” the date.
Oh yes, I’ve seen that. Or failing to send any notification of the appointment, that’s another good one.
Sarah Boyack, a member of the Scottish Parliament, called the figure of 7,000 “astonishing,” given that “an extra five million pounds [$8 million] has been pumped into the NHS [National Health Service] to help cut the waiting list” in the affected hospitals.
It’s only “astonishing” if you think “underfunding” is the problem – the NHS budget has more than doubled over the last 15 years – rather than a total absence of market pressure or price signals. Long waiting lists, people dying before they have a chance to be treated, and bureaucrats trying to cover these inconveniences up are simply what happens when you get the government to run hospitals. Any government.