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The British Medical System and its Problems

By January 9, 2024Commentary

The United Kingdom has a fully government run health care system–almost all facilities are owned by the government, providers are employed by the government and services are paid for by the government.  It has pretty much been a sorry affair.  Long waiting times for needed services, concerns about quality of care, limitations on receiving some advanced therapies.  Supposedly the system removes anxiety about being able to find and afford health care, but it has produced a whole different set of anxieties–whether you will get the care you need in a timely fashion, whether a competent provider will treat you.  As is the case in many developed countries, Britain has a rapidly aging population, which means more health conditions and more demand for services. A new report examines how the British health system will deal with its aging society.  (UK Report)

The issues explored are relevant to the US as well.  The report notes that as people age, they are more likely to have multiple health conditions, usually chronic.  In the UK, older people tend to move to rural and coastal areas, further away from concentrations of health resources, making the task of meeting their needs harder.  A critical need is to keep those approaching old age healthy and living independently, which means a lower drain on public finances.  There is a paucity of research on treating the specific health conditions and meeting the specific health needs of the elderly; more funding should be dedicated to this.  Old age is often accompanied by isolation and loneliness and greater need for mental health support.  There is an enormous amount of detailed discussion about addressing the health needs of the elderly in this report and it is easy to read, so worthwhile for anyone interested in the topic.

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