The angry debate over health care reform in the U.S. is triggering another round of outrage overseas. Officials in Great Britain are now fighting back to defend their system from the criticisms of America’s right.
Comments about Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) — some calling the system “evil” or “Orwellian” — have drawn the attention of many U.K. residents, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who this week joined a Twitter campaign to defend health care in his country.
Andrew Clark, the New York correspondent for The Guardian, joins Martin Savidge to discuss how Britons view the U.S. health care debate.
Below, read comments from British bloggers who defend their health care system.
For more on alternative health care systems around the world, see the Worldfocus signature series “Health of Nations.”
British Twitter users have launched a campaign to defend the NHS, using the hashtag #welovethenhs.
Gordon Brown was among the many who participated in the campaign, tweeting:
PM:NHS often makes the difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death. Thanks for always being there
Another Twitter user, Andrew Learmouth in Aberdeen, writes:
I’d be dead, my mum’d be dead and my dad wouldn’t be getting a new knee if it wasn’t for the NHS. Worth every penny
Geraldine in the U.K. chimes in:
went private when I was rich, used NHS when I’ve been poor. No diff in level of care whatever. Happy to pay taxes for it.
Steve Ince in East Yorkshire adds:
Many of my family would have no quality of life without the wonderful work of the NHS and the hardworking staff. Thanks!!!
Bloggers, too, shared their experiences with Britain’s health care. Gareth Wyn in Stockwell, London, explains his own reasons for supporting the NHS:
The American Right seem to be getting their knickers in a twist, all over the fact that the Obama Administration wants to provide them with a basic level of health care and that the NHS is so bad that people are being left to die in hospitals. […]
I suspect that no one would claim that the NHS is perfect but it saved my life and that of my mother when I was born, it was fabulous when my grandparent were alive and even when they were near death. My mother, father, uncles have all had fabulous treatment for cancer related illness, I’ve had wisdom teeth extracted, a number of surgical procedures, all for free. I am able to call the doctor at 8.30 to make an appointment, and will have seen him and be in work by 10.30. Cost nothing except my tax payments. In fact I would be happy to pay a bit more tax if it meant an even better service.
Blogger Sarah in Cambridge shares her own experience:
Word of this is getting around – apparently in order to discredit the, as I understand it, somewhat limited reforms that President Obama is proposing for the US’s very expensive, and not all that effective health care system, right wing pundits in the US have been using the NHS as a scare story about all the bad things that can happen under “socialised medicine”.
I want to make a personal point. When I was eight years old I was walking home from school one day. An illegally parked truck was blocking my view along the road. I edged out to look round, and at that moment I’m told someone stepped out from one of the garden gates on the opposite side. A car which was travelling along the road swerved to avoid them, and narrowly missed the truck I was peering out from round.
I experienced this as a screeching of brakes, at which point I guess I must have had a ton of adrenaline dumped into my system. I came to rest on my back […] I felt a pain more intense than anything I’ve ever experienced in my stomach – far more pain than an eight year old should have to deal with. I looked up to see a circle of faces looking down at me.
In due course an ambulance arrived. It took my to the Chesterfield Royal Hospital where I spent a week on the Nightingale Children’s ward in a lot of pain, being fed through an IV line in my arm, feeling deeply sorry for myself.
Through all of this there were no insurance companies involved, nobody ever asked how the x-rays, the doctors, the medicine, the bed, etc. were to be paid for, no questions were ever asked about whether we had “coverage”, they just sent an ambulance, took me into hospital, looked after me for a week, and got me back in a fit state to be sent home. When I was eight years old the system the US right wing wants to portray as some kind of socialist dystopian disaster simply did its job and saved my life.
So yeah, thanks for that NHS, and don’t believe everything you see on the television, especially if there are political lobbyists involved.
An American blogger living in London compares the U.S. and U.K. health care systems:
I figured I could add some of my own experience with NHS since I moved to London. Like most Americans exposed to anti-socialist rants on the poor quality of socialized healthcare, I was a bit wary and skeptical. Would I be waiting in line for hours? Could I trust the quality of care? Would the system be unnavigable and complicated? Fortunately, my experience was quite the contrary.
I felt it was important to share this after reading and watching some of the anti-healthcare reform initiatives spreading back home. The system is efficient, provides satisfactory care and it’s FREE. Totaling up everything I’ve had done since my arrival here, I probably would have had to pay around $2,000 back home