A depressing number of stories have been coming out about the National Health Service. These stories range from patients who die before receiving treatment to waiting days on a gurney. There are mistakes made that lead to wasted years of ineffective treatment or result in worse problems than the patient already had. Some suggest more funding for the National Health Service, though the sheer amount of money sucked up into bureaucracy already suggests thatÃ¢â¬â¢s what happens if we give them more. Cutting care isnÃ¢â¬â¢t an option, since the quality of care most patients get is already insufficient. Yet there are solutions to the public healthcare crisis, though no one seems to want to address it Ã¢â¬ private care.
Learning from AustraliaÃ¢â¬â¢s Example
Australia has provided a good demonstration of this already. They incentivize private health insurance and patients who can afford it getting private care. However, their public health system provides emergency care and everything else one needs to all who require it. Private pay patients may pay for additional services at public facilities, indirectly subsidizing the hospitals and clinics. Or they can choose to get off the stateÃ¢â¬â¢s waiting list and use private facilities instead, freeing up spots for public patients who canÃ¢â¬â¢t afford that option. It is a fairer model than the United States where nearly everything is private, and even those who use public healthcare programs can get hit with hefty bills.
It is AustraliaÃ¢â¬â¢s example and others that has led to a loosening of the grip of the NHS on British society, leading to a slow growth in private medical practices.
Private Healthcare in the UK
Private health insurance has existed in the UK for a long time, though it was rarely relevant to the average person. Private health insurance was available to foreigners in the UK who couldnÃ¢â¬â¢t take advantage of public healthcare without paying for it. Private health insurance allowed Brits to seek care abroad, whether it was paying for healthcare overseas because they couldnÃ¢â¬â¢t stand waiting for NHS care, wanted cheaper cosmetic procedures or needed medical assistance while traveling abroad. However, private healthcare is starting to take off in the United Kingdom.
Private health clinics are growing in number, and theyÃ¢â¬â¢re attracting people for a number of reasons. A good private GP in London can often see patients on the same day. They often consolidate their services so that patients can see the doctor, get a scan, have blood tests done and take care of nearly everything else they need in one place. The private general practitioner tends to offer a higher level of care, since they arenÃ¢â¬â¢t pressured to see as many patients as possible. For example, private GPs often give travelers a physical exam when they return home as well as a checkup and prescriptions before they go abroad. Patients get more privacy during exams and discussions, and the staffers give patients more emotional support instead of being run along the assembly line. Patients generally get better care from private doctors, since patients have more choice regarding who theyÃ¢â¬â¢ll see. This is why private GPs tend to offer free follow-ups if the patientÃ¢â¬â¢s condition has not improved.