NHS Seeks To Reduce Cost But Increases Pain



While The National Healthcare System in Britain seeks to cut costs and have employed measures to save 20 billion pounds by 2015, surgeons have balked and called the tactics "cruel."

What possibly could be cruel about saving money?

Peter Kay, the president of the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA), says they've become increasingly frustrated that hip and knee replacements are being targeted as a way of finding savings.

"We've started to get reports over the last nine months that access to these services are being restricted."

Why Are We Shocked? Whay Are They Shocked?

I'm not at all surprised to see hip and knee replacements being targeted as cost saving measures since these are the exact procedures that we highlighted in our post on March 7th where we noted that Canadians were opting for US treatment to avoid delays.

In an effort to check on these "rumors" of delays, surveys of surgeons were conducted by the BBC. Here are the findings:

106 surgeons told the BBC routine operations had been put on hold in their area. Others described new limits on when patients qualify for hip or knee replacements.

152 specialists said patients now have to be more disabled or in greater pain, and 118 told us hip and knee surgery had been regarded as a procedure of low priority.

The data reveals a picture of overlapping restrictions, with some surgeons reporting more than one new policy had been introduced in the same area. So, the definition of need has changed to qualify for the care. In other words, the administration has slowed the process of approving claims down by making it harder to receive these types of treatment.

In response to the delays, we find that the NHS is absolutely reassuring -

A Department of Health spokesman said: "When clinicians and patients are making decisions about joint replacement surgery, it is right that other procedures – which could provide better outcomes for patients and provide better value for taxpayers – are also considered.

"Our modernisation plans for greater patient choice will drive improvements in quality and waiting times as we focus on the entire patient pathway, not just a narrow part of it, so that people live longer healthier lives."

Makes you feel better that they will be able to save 20 billion pounds, AND focus on quality of care, AND manage wait times too doesn't it? First, they won't save 20 billion pounds. Second, it really isn't about quality if you're focused on #1. Third, focusing on #1 requires that you don't do a good job of managing wait times! Pretty funny huh?

Can you picture Americans putting up with this? Can you imagine that they would wait for a knee surgery or other procedure for eighteen months? The outcry is going to be huge. I just can't believe how many people are frankly asleep while their lives are being changed before their eyes.

I will say it again, our system is not perfect. More importantly I don't even care if we end up with a nationalized delivery system. I do care that the truth is told and that there is actual cost containment achieved in the process. There must be a gain in terms of monetary cost savings since the loss of freedom, loss of choice, and loss of immediate care will be so great. I don't see any discussion on these matters, all I see is a discussion about how people will receive free care. Unfortunately there isn't a deeper review of the type of care that will be free, or ultimately how long you'll need to wait to receive it.

Odd that our seniors won't even tolerate a discussion about social security cuts, but they happily traded a pretty good system for one that will be a disaster for them in 10 years.

Jason W Bohmann
Texas Health Design