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Primary care blog: Good luck to Barack Obama, but the US must envy NHS health care

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RCN primary care guru Lynn Young is enthralled by the US presidency, but remains eternally grateful for the NHS. Even Barack Obama has his work cut out if he is to fix the shocking inequalities of US health care.

By the time Nursing Times bloggers read this, the USA will have their 44th President in place and living in the elegant setting of the White House.

Being president of the USA is not for the faint-hearted; Barack Obama has the double burden of huge expectations from his own constituents, and the rest of the world.

Who has not been charmed and excited by this handsome young man with electric oratory? He has captured our imagination and we all wish him good fortune and good luck in his future and awesome endeavours.

He will certainly have his work cut out, and it is easy to believe that US citizens will feel the pangs of disappointment before too long.

I know that the BBC's Panorama is sometimes justifiably accused of being alarmist, but the recent edition that focused on the dire state of the American health system was truly shocking.

Even though our own NHS can sometimes offer patients imperfect care and treatment, the sheer relief of receiving that treatment when needed - without having one’s insurance policy and bank account scrutinised - must never be taken for granted.

Forget the fact that the US is fighting a war on two fronts, and that the economy is rapidly slipping down the toilet: its healthcare services for the uninsured are woeful, and herein lies the problem. While the US can safely boast the very best health care for the rich and abundantly insured, it is the poor and uninsured who suffer.

As the unemployment rates in America rapidly escalate, so too do the number of medically uninsured citizens.

President Obama is about to face one heck of a fight if he is to develop even a basic health care service for all its people – regardless of their ability to pay.

For those of us who saw Panorama, the striking images of young and old sufferers of cancer, diabetes and other debilitating conditions queuing for hours in the bitter cold for a free health consultation was pitiful in the extreme. Surely there must be a better way of doing things in the world's richest country?

President Obama has made encouraging public announcements on his health proposals. Already, the lobbying groups are putting millions of dollars into fighting the upcoming health campaign. The almighty insurance companies are feeling threatened and will pay handsomely in their battle against the 44th President. Where the Clintons failed, us lucky Brits must wish for far greater luck to the Obama camp.

The working population is in fear of losing jobs and their accompanying health cover. Jobs are also disappearing off the working statistics in the UK, but although this is extremely tough for those concerned, our well-funded and comprehensive NHS continues to save and improve many lives every single day.

We are a lucky, lucky lot.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Sorry, but the realities I read about, online, in the UK press tell another tale. The NHS is bankrupt and is not only under serving patients, others are dying because of indifferent and denied care. Critically ill patients are let down by carers, left to die. In villages and towns, desperately needed clinics are being shunted aside, and privatized (semi-private, for profit?) health facilities are being pushed to take their place. I've read articles about musicians in the north holding benefit concerts to raise money for the effort to fight for better NHS care.

    Michael Moore's film, "Sicko" did not present an accurate portrait of the health care system in the UK or Europe, and you do not serve the interests of your people by pushing propaganda. I've learned that you've marginalized UK health care professionals, and undermined the quality of care of patients. Nurses and other caregivers in the US do not need to take advise from someone promoting an agenda that destroys quality and safety standards. What's more, you would do more to address the promotion of inhumane end of life treatment, like that advocated by some UK physicians and Baroness Warnock, the intent to push chronically and/or critically ill patients to die.

    Frankly, what I read about the health care system in the UK makes me ashamed. How can anyone rationalize what is the embrace of fascistic policies?

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