Tag Archives: NHS

UK health system considers banning surgery for smokers and the obese

Coming to a single-payer plan near you! Great Britain’s nationalized health system has proposed banning surgeries for anyone who smokes or is overweight.

In recent years, a number of areas have introduced delays for such patients – with some told operations will be put back for months, during which time they are expected to try to lose weight or stop smoking.

But the new rules, drawn up by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Hertfordshire, say that obese patients “will not get non-urgent surgery until they reduce their weight” at all, unless the circumstances are exceptional. The criteria also mean smokers will only be referred for operations if they have stopped smoking for at least eight weeks, with such patients breathalysed before referral.

East and North Hertfordshire CCG and Herts Valleys said the plans aimed to encourage people “to take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, wherever possible, freeing up limited NHS resources for priority treatment”. Both are in financial difficulty, and between them seeking to save £68m during this financial year. [emphasis mine]

This is what happens when you centralize control of an industry into the hands of government. Rather than compete and find ways to better serve their customers while saving money, as the competitive private market does, a centralized top-down government operation rations services so that fewer people can get them.

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The National Health Service of the UK is making its patient database available to researchers

Coming to your US healthcare system soon! The National Health Service (NHS) of the UK is making its patient database available to researchers.

NHS plans to change its constitution to allow patient data to be open to researchers by default, with an opt-out option for individuals. The ability to take advantage of NHS data will be a boon for research in the United Kingdom, said Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust. The more patients who are involved in research, the greater the public benefit, he said in a statement, adding that a patient once told him, “giving my anonymous data is the most painless thing I can do to help others get better.”

Some have raised privacy concerns about the data access plan, which is why the U.K. government will hold a public consultation on the idea before moving ahead, but Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, also applauds the proposal. [emphasis mine]

It is significant that the NHS’s constitution forbid the release of this data without a patient’s permission. I suspect that this privacy rule was almost certainly a condition used to convince Great Britain’s population to go along with nationalized healthcare. “Don’t worry about your health records! The nationalized healthcare system will be required to keep it private and available only to you!”

As is typical for a government program, this promise had an expiration date. Government programs like to control things, and they will inevitably do whatever they must — twist the facts, break promises, lie, cheat, — to gain that control.

Right now the patient health records are supposed to remain anonymous once they are released. Want to bet that in a few years these same scientists will demand that they need to know who the patients are in order to do their research effectively? And do you want to bet on whether that information remains secret?

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