Thursday, June 5, 2008

Today's UK Horror Story

The June 2, 2008 Daily Mail tells the tragic story of another patient who was denied medical care from the British National Health Service (NHS) because she wanted to pay with her own money for chemotherapy drugs that the government wouldn't pay for.

Linda O'Boyle, a 64-year old grandmother as well as an occupational therapist for the NHS developed colon cancer, and had been receiving treatment from the government health service. But when she wanted additional medication to help prolong her life (medication which was recommended by her consulting oncologist), she was told by the ironically named "National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence" that it was too expensive and she couldn't receive it.

She then attempted to pay for the necessary medication out of her own funds. But when she did, the NHS said that they would cut her off from access to government care (care which she had already paid for in the form of taxes all her life).

According to the article:
Mrs O'Boyle... is believed to be the first person to die after being denied free care because of 'co-payment', where a patient tops up treatment by paying privately for extra drugs.
Her husband Brian O'Boyle, who is also a manager for the NHS system noted:
"I offered to pay for it but was told I couldn't continue with the treatmentwe were receiving at the hospital -- The consultant was flabbergasted -- he was very upset."

He added: "I was always very anti private treatment. But everything she had wasn't working and it was a last resort."
Unfortunately, he had to learn about the evils of the socialized medical system they both worked for the hard way, when his own wife's life was on the line.

According to the article:
Medical experts say the ban on co-payment is one reason why Britain has one of the worst survival rates for cancer in Europe.
But the government is adamant on maintaining this cruel and immoral policy on egalitarian grounds:
Co-payment was blocked last year by Health Secretary Alan Johnson because he claimed it would create a two-tier Health Service.

...A spokesman for the Southend trust said: 'It is explained to the patient that they can either have their treatment under the NHS or privately but not both in parallel.'
This is the real evil of socialized medicine -- it punishes people for acting in their own self-interest and on the advice of their physicians. In the British system, the government would rather that people be equal than that they actually live.

(Via Michael Williams who also notes, "But at least rich people and poor people all get to die evenly! Too bad they have to die at the level of poor people, though.")