Monday, October 20, 2008

UK Physicians Paid To Not Send Patients to Hospitals

The October 19, 2008 UK paper The Telegraph reports that British physicians practicing in the government-run National Health Service (NHS) have been paid thousands of pounds to not send patients to hospitals for specialist treatments:
Dozens of incentive schemes have been uncovered which allow GPs to profit by slashing the number of patients they refer for hospital care.

Under one scheme, GPs stand to gain £59 for every patient not referred to hospital, if they cut an average referral rate by between two and eight per cent.

...A leading surgeon said that patients' cancers had already gone undiagnosed after they were denied specialist care under two such "referral management" schemes.

Orthopaedic surgeon Stephen Cannon... said: "I recently encountered two cases in which patients referred to physiotherapists later turned out to have a malignant tumour. If they had been sent to a consultant the outcome may have been very different.

"In one case a young man was referred to a physiotherapist because of sudden knee pain. Had he come to a specialist the symptoms should have been recognised and he should have been urgently referred to an oncologist. In this case, after the delays, the outcome was amputation. It was devastating for the patient and his family.
Remember, this is the "compassionate" system of socialized medicine, in which all patients have a theoretical "right" to health care.

Of course, in reality, whenever a government attempts to guarantee health care as a right, it must also control that service. Far from being a "right", health care becomes a privilege dispensed at the discretion of government bureaucrats.

Cost containment will eventually take precedence over quality of care. The results in UK are tragic, but should not be surprising. The only question is whether Americans will learn from this example...

(Via Instapundit.)