Saturday, January 13, 2007

Some futures aren’t much fun to contemplate

Reuters recently reported an interesting dust-up taking place in the U.K.
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“The National Health Service in England faces a shortage of nurses and family doctors over the next four years, according to a leaked government planning document seen by the Health Service Journal” and NHS “also predicts an oversupply of 3,200 hospital consultants [i.e., specialists], the medical weekly reported on Thursday.”

In response the Director of The Royal College of Nursing said "Just a few weeks ago, the secretary of state for health told MPs that the NHS had employed too many nurses but now her department has evidence predicting a shortage of 14,000 nurses within the next four years."

Meanwhile, the British Medical Association said it was "absurd" to suggest the NHS needed fewer hospital consultants.

Sounds like an ugly fight over money and control – and central planning of health care. The Reuters article is interesting because American media tend not to report much about other nations’ actual experience with their universal health care plans. That's a shame because it's so relevant to the public debate that this country is trying to have.

It’s wrong to argue that there is nothing good in universal, government-controlled systems. At the same time it’s also wrong to pretend that such systems have no serious problems.

This little glimpse inside the British National Health Service is telling us something about a possible future for America. Some futures aren’t much fun to contemplate.
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