August 14th, 2009

Socialized Medicine: The British View

We Brits love our NHS.

Many of us (including Professor Stephen Hawking) think we owe our lives to it.

Universal healthcare, free at the point of delivery- brilliant, eh?  No worries about keeping up with the payments, no women in labour being turned away from hospitals because they don't have the insurance, no-one suffering or dying because they can't afford the drugs.

Sure we have our complaints:  the NHS has been mismanaged, over-managed, underfunded- there are constant scandals and controversies- but no politician would dare suggest dismantling it- not even those on the far, far right.  The battle for socialized medicine was won in the 1940s- and now there's no British institution- not the monarchy, not the BBC, not the "mother of  parliaments"- that's more highly regarded or more firmly bedded in.

We understand you Americans are being offered a system of socialized medicine similar to ours and that some of you, instead of dancing around in your pyjamas and firing off skyrockets, are actually campaigning noisily against it. This surprises us. It fact it bewilders us.  If we didn't regard you Americans as cousins we'd be going "Foreigners, eh?" and doing that thing where you hold your forefinger level with your temple and twirl it round and round.


Since I wrote the last post, David Cameron (the leader of the British Conservative Party) has had to undertake a damage limitation exercise after a Conservative MEP (Member of the European Parliament) went on American TV to rubbish the
National Health Service.

Over here, you see, even Conservatives (which roughly- very roughly- translates as Republicans) think socialized medicine is a good thing.