Alfie Evans’ parents seems to have run out of legal options. Britain’s National Health Service, its courts, and even its pundits have decided that they know what’s best for the child and that’s for him to die, no matter what his parents wishes or the legal options may be. Anyone who disagrees is simply advancing their own agenda.
So, what is that agenda? Usually some combination of the insane belief that life has some sort of intrinsic value or the antiquated notion that parents have some sort of prerogative over how their children are treated by the state.
But perhaps the biggest agenda that these horrible people have is somehow discrediting Britain’s blameless NHS, the greatest socialized medicine system in the world.
In a London Guardian rant penned by Gaby Hinsliff, quite subtly titled “Alfie Evans’ parents needed help. The vultures came instead,” she decried those who “have sought to use the case to score cheap, wildly inaccurate points over healthcare reform in the US; to claim this is where ‘socialised medicine’ gets you, when without the NHS and its daily miracle of providing treatment free at the point of use, Alfie’s parents would now be struggling with medical bills running into the millions.”
Leaving aside the closing shot — which is not at all backed up by any facts — we should ask ourselves whether or not this is the case in our coverage.
Are we just taking cheap shots at the NHS under the guise of caring about Alfie Evans? Are we doing a grave injustice to the U.K.’s state-sponsored medical scheme by insisting that Alfie’s parents wishes be respected instead of turning their child’s fate over to wiser minds like Gaby Hinsliff?
Well, for an answer to this, perhaps we should go to the city of Manchester — home to two pretty good soccer teams, a musical legacy that includes legendary acts like Joy Division, The Smiths, Oasis and Happy Mondays — and a bunch of hospitals full of rats and cockroaches.
“New figures show that thousands of pests including cockroaches and rats have been found in NHS hospitals in each of the last five years as the cost of tackling them has spiraled,” the Manchester Evening News reported in December of 2016.
“Data obtained by the Press Association under Freedom of Information laws shows there were nearly 5,000 pest control call-outs by NHS trusts to hospitals in England in 2015/16 – equivalent to around 13 a day.”
“The areas where pests have been sighted included maternity wards, children’s intensive care units and operating theatres,” the article continued. “The amount of money hospitals spent on treating pests reached nearly £1.1 million in the year to March 2016 and the overall figure is likely to be far higher as 87 of around 150 trusts responded to the request.”
“Across the four hospitals run by the Pennine Acute Hospitals trust in the Greater Manchester area, there were 302 pest sightings in the last year, marking a fall from 346 in 2011/12.”
Well, perhaps they’ve gotten their act together in the intervening two years. Or not: In February, the U.K. Daily Mail reported that maggots fell from the ceiling of a cancer clinic and that a new study found there were an average of 12 pest control call-outs a day.
See, down from 13. Progress! And all for the low, low taxpayer cost of £5,000 a year per person.
So, what does that get you? Well, you can pick your own general practitioner — sort of. As the NHS’ website points out, while GPs technically have to take you, there are all kinds of ways they can just simply say no, including they think that you’re too far away or that your circumstances might require a closer doctor.
That happens more commonly than you think; a 2017 study found that people were finding it increasingly hard to find a GP that would accept them and 28 percent said they were having trouble getting in touch with the GP they have. And, if you want to see a specialist, you have to get your GP to sign off on it.
Oh, and then there are the wait times: “NHS officials have introduced new limits which mean patients in some parts of the country will be made to wait at least three months for routine surgery, such as hip operations and cardiac procedures,” the U.K. Telegraph reported in February. “The Royal College of Surgeons last night attacked the move, raising fears that other parts of the country could follow suite in a desperate attempt to cut costs and push spending into a new financial year.”
The NHS’ woes could fill a book-length screed, so let me just say that I think I’ve sufficiently proved to Ms. Hinsliff that, yes, there are things to complain about. I’m not saying America’s pseudo-private government-regulated dumpster fire of a health care system couldn’t use a lot of improvement, although I don’t think Alfie Evans’ parents would be out millions for his care and no evidence is provided by Ms. Hinsliff. We’ve attacked American health care in these pages aplenty — although I think for different reasons than Hinsliff would.
The point we’re trying to make is a consistency of hubris when it comes to the socialized medicine that Blighty’s government provides its citizens. The system defends itself in unqualified terms, saying that it alone knows how to effectively manage patients — including when, against the wishes of a child’s parents, that child’s life support is shut off. Yet, all of this is clearly evidence it can’t even manage itself.
This is the “daily miracle” of the NHS. Be thankful, you ungrateful British plebs. And all of you Yanks, you’d best praise the occasionally rat-infested wait-time paradise that can occasionally decide whether or not your child lives.
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